Chair 6 climbs the 7,002-foot peak of Silver Queen and provides expert skiers with a myriad of options for tricky terrain and wide-open bowls, as well as providing access to Crystal’s famous South Backcountry.
The Ho Chi Minh Traverse | Quality: 3/10 | The traverse that accesses Campbell Basin and South Backcountry. Unloading Chair 6, you’ll see two short moguled faces on either side of the mountain to your left. Take either one and traverse towards the Throne. The two routes will meet up along the ridgeline.
There’s actually a bit of controversy surrounding the name of this traverse. Some say that in fact the I-5 traverse (from Northway) is called the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Funnily enough, just like the Ho Chi Minh trail, both traverses go from north to south.
Considerations: Traverse, Possible Ruts (we blame the snowboarders), Scary (possibly from some points), Accesses South Backcountry
Powder Bowl | Quality: 8/10 | After offloading the chair, turn sharp right past the ski patrol building to arrive at the top of Powder Bowl. A great, wide-open alpine bowl with a steady, steep, but often-mogulled pitch. Get there early and it’ll live up to its name! The further right along the ridge you go, the easier (and shorter) the run gets. Watch out for rocks near the top. Other chutes lead into the bowl on the left, but are accessed differently (see Powder Bowl Chutes). Note that this run leads down to Lucky Shot, which means you must take Forest Queen back up to get to Chair 6. An overall excellent run.
Considerations: Expert, Steep, Scary, Rocks (along the ridge), Accesses Rainier and Forest Queen Express (but not Chair 6), Moguls, Avalanche Debris (under the chutes)
Campbell Basin | Quality: 6 to 9/10 | Take the frontside or backside fork of the Ho Chi Minh traverse. Campbell Basin technically refers to the entire bowl between Silver Queen and the Throne, and contains a wide range of lines, all of which lead down to the bottom of Chair 6.
-Some of the chutes in the trees off to the left you’ll come across first need a lot of coverage and are a bit rocky and narrow. They also won’t have outstanding snow. The further you go, the more forgiving (and fun) your run through the trees will be.
-The wide-open face below the Throne is the main way down–this pitch is known as Hamburger Hill. Often moguled, this run is only about as difficult as a single-black-diamond run.
-In our opinion, the best way down near the bowl is to take the Ho Chi Minh traverse past the first line of trees (under the Throne), then take a few turns down. You’ll see a gap in the trees to your right. Cut through there and you’ll find a wide, powdery face with great northern exposure.
Considerations: Advanced-Expert, Traverse Required, Steep, Trees, Narrow, Rocks, Moguls [The terrain really does vary a lot–look at the specific descriptions to get a better idea.]
Double Oughts (Double O) | Quality: 8/10 | The lightly treed ridgeline and face far skier’s left of Chair 6. This run was actually the start of the downhill course when Crystal hosted the skiing World Cup. Ski the face directly skier’s right of the chair at first, then cut left to the ridgeline, following it down to either Downhill or the Campbell Basin Lodge. Note that you’ll need to cut right near the end to get back to Chair 6.
Considerations: Expert, Scary, Steep, Trees, Rocks, Traverse Required
Screaming Babies | Quality: 6/10 | Any of the chutes to skier’s right of Chair 6. Scope it out from the chair–some might have low coverage. Take the traverse a short ways south, then navigate the various trees and rocks. Cut right near the end to get back to Chair 6.
Considerations: Expert, Scary, Steep, Rocks, Trees, Low Coverage, Traverse Required
Rabbit Ears | Quality: 6/10 | The small chutes directly skier’s left of Chair 6. The “rabbit ears” are the two pointy rock formations sticking straight up from the ground on either side of the run. Access is a little tricky–go down the front side by the chair and cut left to get up onto the ridge on the northern side of Campbell Basin (the same one that accesses Powder Bowl on the other side). Take any of the chutes down, being cautious and watching for rocks and other obstacles. Scope it out from the chair first; it’s on the right side heading up.
Considerations: Expert, Scary, Narrow, Steep, Rocks, Cliffs, Low Coverage, Traverse Required
Powder Bowl Chutes | Quality: 9/10 | After unloading Chair 6, head left to the backside as if you were going to Campbell Basin, but turn right instead once you drop in. Keep traversing and you’ll reach a narrow ridge above Powder Bowl, accessing several steep chutes that lead into the vast bowl. All are good, though one should watch out for rocks in the narrower ones. Also keep in mind that the further down the ridge you go, the less vertical you’ll get out of the run.
Considerations: Expert, Scary, Narrow, Steep, Rocks, Traverse Required, Accesses Rainier and Forest Queen Express (but not Chair 6)
Upper Bear Pits | Quality: 9/10 | A steep, cliffy set of chutes above Bear Pits. Follow the Powder Bowl ridge on its south side until you pass the last gates into Powder Bowl and come to a couple gates in the rope line. Drop in carefully–there’s a large avalanche risk here, and several large cliffs (with warning signs) to fall off of. Watch, too, for rocks in the middle of the chutes. The uppermost gate falls into Elbow Chute, an extremely steep face that swerves to the right at the bottom through a choke point in two large cliffs then opens up into the face accessed by the second gate. Only experienced experts should attempt this. This steep terrain will open up into the main Bear Pits face. Ski cautiously and obey closures!
Considerations: Expert, Scary, Narrow, Steep, Cliffs, Rocks, Low Coverage, Accesses Rainier and Forest Queen Express (but not Chair 6)