7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
The Sheep Lake Chute is one of if not the most aesthetic lines within the Crystal Mountain Backcountry.
Being just south and halfway between the resort and Chinook Pass it can’t be seen from the resort but I promise it is there.
This line is East Facing and is a long approach but with a little bit of effort you can tag a few additional great lines along the way.
With it being 2 valleys South of Crystal Mountain this is a very remote tour so this is far from a beginner ski tour. 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.
In my opinion this is one of if not the best line to drop into Crystal Basin and the main one I was using for many years. Once at the shores of Lower Crystal Lake start heading West towards Crystal Peak.
Following the valley make sure to give a bit of space to the open southern slopes in case it slides while heading up the valley.
Before long you will see a small strip of south facing trees that go 2/3 the way up the slopes this is where you should ascend.
the top 1/3 should be done one at a time to minimise exposure.
Once on the ridge start heading South all the way up to the summit of Chinook Peak. Standing on top of Chinook Peak look east down the Sheep Lake Couloir and prepare for the descent.
Dropping in ride all the way down to Sheep Lake before it is time to start heading back towards the ski resort.
Skin directly north up and over Sourdough Gap where you can find some great turns off Placer Peak into the Morse Creek Basin.
For a quick exit stay low in the valley until you arrive just below the East col of 3 Way Peak before doing a direct ascent which gives you access to Silver Basin.
If you have a bit more energy in your legs you might as well climb up 3 Way Peak and ride all the way back to Crystal Mountains base. Click here for a trip within the area and much more photos https://www.whereiskylemiller.com/crystal-mountain/sheep-lake-couloir/