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Crystal Lakes Basin Loop

Crystal Mountain

Linking up 3 great runs in a single day

Ski Touring Moderate

11 km
1.3 km
1.3 km
6-7 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
2.1 km
Crystal Lakes Basin Loop Map

The Crystal Lakes Basin has some great ski touring potential just outside of the ski resort and within Mount Rainier National Park. Being that the main outflow of this area is to the North it offers a handful of great powder slopes if you know where to look. When I originally did this tour the ski touring policy was different at Crystal but now with limited access in Silver Basin I will describe it as if I was using the policy that is being used now. Basically the only way you can access this is by wrapping around 3 Way Peak….doe’s it make it impossible, definitely not but it does add an hour to the ski tour so below is how you can get into one of the lines in Crystal Basin.


Leaving the base of Crystal Mountain make your way up the Quick Silver Run until reaching Silver Basin. If I understand correct you can still skin up the basin but they ask that you stay lookers left of the groomed trail before heading to the Eastern Col of 3 Way Peak. While a bit challenging and steep you can wrap clockwise around the Peak before heading into Crystal Basin. From there you can head northeast back up to the Crystal Mountain Ridge before arriving at a flat spot known as the Beach. This is a great spot to drop into Crystal Lakes Basin as it is a great pitch and awesome open trees. Riding fall line all the way to the flats you should end up at the shores of Lower Crystal Lake where it is time to find a line within the basin.

Once in Crystal Lakes Basin start heading south towards Upper Crystal Lake and you will spot a nice looking Northeast Face just barely to your lookers right. Make your way up to the low low just barely to its east and before long you will be standing on top of the chute and preparing for a great run. Since this slope is Northeast there is a good chance that it can be wind loaded which can offer deeper snow if you are lucky and a nasty slab if not so lucky so always be a bit cautious. The line is short but sweet and before long you will be back at Upper Crystal Lake happy that you already had 2 great runs.

Now it is time for your exit so start heading East towards 3 Way peak where you will have to do the steep traverse again to the high col you accessed Crystal Basin from. Being so close to the summit of 3 Way Peak you might as well make the most out of it by climbing to the summit and riding down the main gut referred to as “2 Easy Turns”. From here on out keep your speed while heading down the basin and with a few seconds of bootpacking on the flats you are riding back down the Quicksilver run and back down to the base. It’s a long day but you just rode 3 solid lines.

Click here for a trip within the area and much more photos https://www.whereiskylemiller.com/crystal-mountain/crystal-lakes-basin/



Slopes become slightly steeper at around 25-30 degrees.

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between January and May


  • Bowl
  • Face
  • Alpine

Equipment required

  • Skins

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