This post marks the start of an ongoing series here at the Guide: “The Basics.” Here you’ll find all you need to know about the mountain. In this installment, we’ll talk about the basic areas and landmarks of the mountain.
LODGES: Crystal has several day lodges.
- The base lodge is, shockingly, at the base area.
- The Campbell Basin Lodge, an on-mountain restaurant, lies at the top of the Forest Queen Express. Get there early to avoid long lines.
- The Summit House, a semi-pretentious fine dining establishment sits on a perch at the “summit”–at the top of Rainier Express and the Mt. Rainier Gondola. The most difficult to get seats at for lunch on an average day.
- The Snorting Elk Cellar at the Alpine Inn, between the base area and the B lot, also serves a variety of food and beverages, though it’s a little more out of the way. You can ski directly down to it from the bottom of Kelly’s Gap Road.
CHAIRLIFTS: The locals at Crystal are hard-set on calling a majority of the chairlifts anything but their actual names. Here are some rad ways to say the names of chairlifts.
- Chair 6: Chair 6. Until it was wiped out by an avalanche, the resort’s official name for this chair was High Campbell, though everyone still called it Chair 6. At this point, the resort has given up on convincing people to call it an actual name.
- Gold Hills: Chair 7. The area is Gold Hills (named after the nearby abandoned mine).
- Quicksilver: Chair 4. The run is Quicksilver.
- Rainier Express: REX. A pretty cool acronym if you think about it.
- Forest Queen Express: Surprisingly enough, Forest Queen. Also sometimes referred to as Chair 9.
AREAS: The resort runs along one main ridgeline, interrupted by numerous peaks, basins, ridges, and bowls. The trail map actually gives you a pretty good idea of the resort’s topography.
- The mountain is basically divided into three regions: the main mountain, Southback, and Northway. Southback is the sidecountry beyond the Throne. Northway is the area north of Otto Bahn–Northback is the hiking-accessed portion of Northway.
- From left to right, starting at the south ski area boundary and ending at Northway Notch, here’s a list of the peaks and passes that constitute the upper limit of the resort: Three-Way Peak, Silver Basin, Silver King, Avalanche Basin, The Throne, Campbell Basin, Silver Queen, Powder Pass, the summit, Green Valley, Grubstake Peak, Elk Pass, Northway Peak, Northway Notch, Morning Glory Bowl.
The sheer amount of place names can seem overwhelming, but over time they will become ingrained into your memory!