Avalanche Safety

ski-area-boundary-sign-300x191Avalanche control work is a big part of our commitment to safety; there’s less than a 1% chance of getting caught in an avalanche while skiing or riding in-bounds.

When you leave the groomed trails for the in-bounds or out-of-bounds backcountry it’s important to be prepared and know before you go!

Beacon Practice Area

It’s important to be prepared and know how to use your beacon in the Backcountry. Hone your transceiver skills with our easy searcher practice system. This is a great opportunity to learn about using avalanche transceivers or to sharpen your skills Located at the Campbell Basin Lodge, the Easy Searcher has multiple ways to challenge yourself as you can search for virtual avalanche victims with three levels of difficulty. The system is free and open 24/7. Check in with ski patrol for questions or assistance.

Mammut Avalanche Transceiver Check Station

The Avalanche Transceiver Check Station is located on Elk Pass, at the base of Northway Peak. The system will check your signal strength to make sure your beacon is performing like it should. Listen to it beep to confirm as you go by – no beep means your signal is weak and you better check your battery.

Avalanche Training Courses

If you are a backcountry traveler, it is important to be prepared in the case of an avalanche or other natural event. Crystal Mountain offers intensive weekend-long safety and training courses featuring professional instructors with over 90 years of combined experience. Learn More

Beyond the Ski Area Boundary

Accepting the risk of skiing or snowboarding in the Backcountry beyond the boundary should only be considered with the following:

  • proper avalanche education
  • proper avalanche equipment & training (probe, shovel & beacon)
  • backcountry travel knowledge and experience
  • knowledge of local conditions including snow pack history

Ski touring tracks may lead beyond Crystal’s boundary to where there is NO avalanche control; Rescue, if possible, may be slow and costly to you. Remember that hiking, skinning or snowshoeing into closed areas is prohibited.

To the West
The Mount Rainier National Park boundary is defined by SKI AREA BOUNDARY and MT. RAINIERWILDERNESS signs and a single rope line with designated exit points. People have died after deciding to enter the Park to ski one of the several large un-controlled avalanche paths running down from the Crystal Mountain ridge. These areas are similar to Kemper’s and should not be considered any safer to ski. Those entering the Park are to leave no trace other than ski tracks, which includes not improving trails by breaking tree branches, flagging trails, or any other method. Dogs are prohibited in the park. Return to the ski area, if possible, is arduous.

To the North
The land beyond the rest of the ski area boundary is managed by the U. S. Forest Service and is marked with red signs at the far edges of the Northway and South Backcountry. Terrain beyond the North boundary is dangerous and deceptive. No avalanche control work is done there. Mellow, open pitches appear to offer good skiing but are intersected by a long cliff band over 200 feet high. Skiers accepting the risk of skiing there are advised to do so only if accompanied by someone familiar with the terrain. Death is a very real danger.

To the South
The terrain to the South contains natural terrain hazards such as cliffs and rocks. The popular traverse underneath Three-Way Peak is beyond the ski area boundary and receives no avalanche control; avalanche danger exists there at all times. Three-Way Peak is a deceptive terrain feature. Ski touring tracks that pass behind it lead only to the East side of the Cascade Mountains. Return to the ski area or other civilization,—if possible—is arduous. Rescue, if possible, may be costly to you and slow.