Crystal Mountain and The King
The great thing about snowboarding is that every single run is its own adventure, right? Whether you’re lapping the chairlift or conquering a few hikes out of bounds, every time you drop in there’s a new mission at hand: Find the line. Find the pow stashes that will deliver the most feathery face shots. Find the approaches that drop quickly, swoop, dip, roll and fall away again into ripping straight-lines back to the cat track. Find the chute that channels into trees that wade up to their waists in a deep powdery sea. You can ride the same chairs, hike the same hikes and drop into the same zones over and over and the adventure is always a new one—the mission always refreshed.
Not that we did that last weekend–rode the same zones over and over. No, we rode all over that mountain: Crystal Mountain. We revisited a few spots, sure, but more, we found new adventures in every nook and cranny, pow field and chute we could ferret out. I spent the day led around by my friend Justus, who works at Crystal, and Jake, who’s a snowboarding beast unto his own.
Mid-day we hiked The King, the pinnacle of the resort—that peak that you see there—which is reached by hiking the Throne, that spine. It’s a nice jaunt; some traversing, some boot-packing. But the rewards begin at the start: Mt Rainier National Park off to your right, the whole of Crystal Mountain Resort and the valley to your left; mountain ridges upon mountain ridges to beckoning before you. That’s when you get that feeling: There is only so much time, only so many weekends in which to explore. So you return to the mission at hand. The sun-breaks illuminate the journey.
Justus, Jake and their buddies have hiked this route many times before, but I made them take the summit picture because it was my first time, and well, you have to have the summit proof. And you have to pause up there for a bit if it is your first time, because the views are incredible and because on a good day, the run down is something to savor: light, deep and long-lasting. Our boards never touched the earth’s surface from peak to spit-out point.
We were surfing the mountain side forever, then ducking into the trees, until we shot out into the flat and pushed back along the cat track far, far below the summit and a million miles from reality, though we were in it and ready for a new adventure—ready to calculate a new mission.