5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
The Lake Basin Loop is a great ski tour for people looking to get away from the crowds.
That being said it can be an incredibly long day of breaking trail but the rewards is some of the best lines just East of Crystal Mountain ski resort.
This trip links together Cement Basin, Lake Basin and East Peak.
If you are planning on doing this route remember you are pretty far from the ski resort and you will have to climb just to be able to ride back to the parking lot.
That being said make sure you have enough water and food to be self sufficient for the entire day. Starting at the base of Crystal Mountain you will find a groomer trail leading into the woods on the lookers left side of Gold Hills.
Following said Groomed trail and you will find the Bullions Basin summer trail on the lookers left, follow it for a few minutes until you arrive at a flat.
Once there you can follow the standard trail which is easy but longer or the lookers right way.
If you follow the lookers right way then follow a semi cleared out run that wraps around before crossing the creek and with a few well placed switchbacks you are back on the Summer trail. From here you need to follow the trail past the lower basin of Bullion Basin and once you go through the next switchback start looking to the left towards some steep but open trees.
This is the standard backcountry trail up to East Peak as you put switchbacks in the semi dense trees quickly gaining elevation.
Before long you are on the summit of East Peak and preparing for you first descent into Cement Basin. Ride down one of the main avalanche swaths if conditions are stable or stay in the trees to the skiers left before riding down to the open flats where you transition.
Once you have your skins on start heading north slowly loosing elevation and before long you will find a creek bed where it Y’s then cross to the other side and keep heading north slowly gaining elevation.
Before long you will find yourself at Lake Basin Col where the summer trail is buried under numerous feet of snow.
Standing at the col make your way west on the ridge slightly heading north until you are at a high point and the slopes drop off with a mellow ridge to the north and a gully to the northeast.
If conditions are stable the Northeast gully is a great line that gets wind loaded riding all the way to the valley.
From here ascend the main drainage ascend to the South where your old skin track is up at the col. Following your skin track and head back up to the point where you made your original descent and this time ride down the north ridge before heading skiers right into a lower gully.
Once again this is a short but sweet line that will take you back into the basin where you need to skin back up to the col. By now the day is getting late so it is time to head back towards the ski resort.
Follow your well beaten in skin track but this time you need to keep following the ridge until you reach the high point and the Crystal Mountain valley is below you. From here you can ride back down into the valley but you need to start off with a hard traverse skiers left until reaching the western Nose of East Peak.
From here on down the north west slopes of this ridge is a great line but be careful about wind loading as this is a known avalanche spot.
When the ridge stops and you start getting into dense trees make a hard skiers left and soon enough you we will be back on the summer trail and making your way down to Crystal Mountain ski resort.
Once their head to the Snorting Elk and get a plate of Nachos, you deserve it. Click here for a trip within the area and much more photos https://www.whereiskylemiller.com/crystal-mountain/lake-basin/