FATMAP difficulty grade
At 7012 feet, Silver King (aka the King) is the tallest peak at Crystal Mountain.
From its summit, you can ski/ride the relatively gentler slopes of Silver Basin or tackle the more challenging north side into Avalanche Basin.
The King reigns over Southback, Crystal Mountain's “in bounds” avalanche prone terrain.
While Southback might feel like backcountry, with few signs or hazard warnings and a long hike to access it, the ski patrol uses explosives to mitigate the avalanche hazard.
Southback is unique, and while it does receive avalanche control, it does not get as much skier compaction as the rest of the terrain.
Avalanches are always a possibility.
Ski patrol recommends that you ski/ride with a partner and carry the proper equipment.
During busy days after a storm, the patrol often lets partners with the proper avalanche equipment cut to the beginning of the often-long line when they open the gates.
Access the King through one of the two Southback gates along the Throne ridge.
Snowboarders might find the upper Southback gate, found at the summit of the Throne, easier as it does not require as much traversing.
Many snowboarders tempted to access the King through the first Southback gate end up post holing through the traverse tracks.
Once outside either gate, there are few warning signs.
The basin to the SW (skier's right) of the Southback traverse is true backcountry.
If you drop below the established traverse, hike back up.
Otherwise, you may find yourself in deep woods sliced by a few avalanche paths that lead several thousand feet to the closed-in-winter highway below.
Continue traversing around the backside of the Throne until you reach Avalanche Basin.
Stay along the established traverse skirting the ridge, watching for cornices.
At Kirner's Cornice, take off your skis/board and hike steeply 300 vertical feet to the summit of the King.