I am a ski snob. I grew up in Montana, and my idea of skiing is a nice long run with a showering of powder, a lodge at the ‘midpoint’ where you can get a ‘the best ever’ hamburger, and a lift to the top where the expert and double blue diamond runs are. When I moved out East, I didn’t ski much for obvious reasons. Then, moving to Washington I didn’t ski because I was new in town and didn’t know many people. All that has changed now, and I’ve begun to experience Washington skiing.
Yesterday, Bill and I both had the day off so we went skiing up at Crystal Mountain. I fell in love with skiing again. It was like finding the right man after having dates with immature boys found on Match. The East Coast mountains never did anything for me. I didn’t like Snoqualmie because the mountain was too small, the runs too short and icy, and most of my time was spent waiting to ride the lift back up. Alpental, I admit, is taller and more handsome. However, the runs are mostly moguls and black. I like a few runs like this, but I really like carving turns and hitting the fall line. I’m not really interested in mogul work all day long.
Crystal Mountain is a two hour drive from Seattle, and is nestled at the bottom of Mt. Rainer (which I thought was strange that you couldn’t see it?). We drove up on a clear day, with a few cumulus clouds floating in the distance. At the mountain, we parked in the E lot and waited for the shuttle. A huge half ton truck pulling a flatbed trailer with about 20 steel benches pulled up. It was awesome!! It reminded me of Montana, and I loved it! The best part about the truck pulling up is that it was quick and easy. We pulled up to the base lodge, and got our tickets. We bought a Snoqualmie season pass and we get five free “passes” at Crystal. (Tickets are $60). Things have changed since I skied. For example, you’ll notice that I am wearing a helmet. I resisted because it’s a HELMET and I’m from Montana. But Bill insisted. Now, I don’t even notice and it keeps my head warmer than a hat anyways.
As we rode up the lift, the clouds became thicker, and at midway (yay! They had a midway!!!), we took another ski lift up and as we descended from the chair, we were skiing in a white mist. It was a bit scary because it’s a bit like a white-out and difficult to see the mountain terrain. We forged ahead and I my ski legs started coming back as I turned corners my skis weren’t as parallel as I would have liked them to be, but after a few runs, everything started coming together. I was happy as a puppy with two peters.
We ran into a friend Reid, and skied with him and his date for a few runs, and then split for lunch at a small restaurant off the Rainer Express lift. Divine. We shared a beef and mushroom soup. Then, I had an open-faced lamb sandwich on ciabatta with Gruyere cheese, a mash of Calamato olives, and horseradish mayonnaise. Bill had the Duck confit, which was good (not nearly as good as Union Square Cafe in NYC, but hey).
Even though it was cold and my hands hurt for a little bit, I was skiing on relatively new skis and learning the differences, and even though the wind kicked up sending a smattering of ice into my face, Crystal Mountain was so unbelievable that I didn’t complain. Bill would beg to differ saying the accurate description would be that ‘I didn’t complain as much‘, but whatever. I wish Crystal wasn’t so far away. At least now, I know you’re around Senor Crystal, and I’ll dream about you when riding the lift at Alpental.
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