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Friday, July 8, 2011
The party's not over


Crystal mountain, Washington.
You think the season is over in Washington? Think again. Crystal is still open for shred, and it's like it's 1991 all over again.

It's true that snowboarding is increasingly becoming a year-round sport, especially where kids with money and dudes with a hankering to hike are concerned.

But for normal people, it's July right now. You know, flip flops, beaches, palm trees -- those types of things. And though it's never really far from the forefront of a snowboarder's mind, snowboarding -- at least in theory, and rooted in atmospheric science -- should be the last thing anyone in the northern hemisphere is thinking about right now.

Yet here we are. July 8. Summer snowboarding mayhem is in full effect on the glaciers of Mt. Hood and Whistle, but with Mammoth and Snowbird closing last weekend, the North America "winter" snow season is officially over.

Except where it's not.

After receiving 612 inches of snowfall this season -- the second-snowiest year on record -- Crystal Mountain is staying open for shred through this coming weekend, and possibly beyond. Once they make it past this weekend they will have officially beat their existing record of latest closing ever (July 14, 1999).

Crystal mountain, Washington.
Sure, you could spend next weekend camping or boating or whatever. Or you could go shred. Your choice.

The terrain at Crystal is no joke, and the mid-summer snow is no white ribbon of death, either. There is still enough snow left to ride everything: we're talking slush bumps, tree shots, cliff ollies. Leave your rock board at home.

Better than the sheer shredability of the mountain, though, is that because Baker, Stevens and Alpental have been closed for months, no one in Washington knows Crystal exists right now. This means there are no lift lines, and the lift tickets are affordable ($35). There's also wildlife viewing, year-round camping at the base, views of seven volcanoes (including the too-close-for-comfort panoramas of Mt. Rainier), and when you're done shredding, you can watch Bad Company play at the base. (Okay, no guarantees here, but the bassist did play a set last weekend.)

It's still winter at Crystal. Go get you some.