Crystal Peak: North Chutes

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Crystal, at 13852 feet, is one of the higher peaks in the Breckenridge area and is a worthy ski objective as it offers three good lines:

1. East Face (approach via Spruce Creek and trail to Francie's cabin (or, in late season, drive up the Breck ski area and go over the top of Peak 10).

2. South Face (approach via Spruce Creek and Mohawk Lakes, or by route for East Face to make a nice loop).

3. North Chutes (approach as in 1). Here is a photo of the north chutes, which Bob Salazar and I skied on May 18, 2003. The photo is from Peak 9 summit. This line looks very impressive from near Copper Mountain. In fact, it was not too steep at all, and conditions were good. After the ski we booted up to the Crystal-Peak 10 saddle (nasty at top), skinned to Peak 10 summit, and skied the south face, which was totally covered and in excellent condition. Five thousand feet of climb for the day. One can also use a car shuttle to advantage (done by Bruce Edgerly party, 2006). Leave a car on Route 91 about two miles south of the Copper Mountain Ski Area intersection; there are some pullouts that allow parking. Start on the east side as usual: the Francie's Cabin trailhead on the Spruce Creek Road. You will have to ford Ten Mile Creek to reach the car, but this is feasible. Not only does this save the climb back to the east, it is also possible that there is good snow to ski down in the forest. This line needs a name. Suggest "No Exit" since much of the time that is the situation. Grab it early to make sure the bottom is skiable. Maybe "Early Exit" is more descriptive. Below is a better photo taken on June 4, 2007, a day when exiting would be a big problem. Go for this in May.

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