Submitted By: mtnfiend on November 27, 2011
Views: 1133 page views
As you drop off of the summit, you are on a large convex slope that is about 38°. This face is almost due East, so it tends to get sun pretty early. In the late spring, this slope can easily be corn by 9:30am at the top, so plan to be up there early. There are very few hazards on the top section, as there are no rocks or trees that are really poking through.
Depending on the size of the group, and your time frame, a lot of people will go back up and do multiple laps on the East Face from above the headwall, as this is where the most open terrain is. Once you get to the headwall, you need to keep a vigilant eye for the convexities and the sliding snow. These slopes measure at close to 45° and have been getting sun from the very first light. The tend to slide regularly, but as the snow gets heavier, they could probably do some damage. There are a few descent options to pick, that all wrap around the lake and back to the main gully.
There used to be an old mining cabin, that you can still see the remanants of just above the upper lake.
After the lakes, if you are done for the day, you should head to the right, so you can avoid the willows and connect back up with teh Crystal Lakes Road. You can take the road all the way back down to the trailhead if there is snow.[more]
I believe Mt Helen (13,164 ft) is considered a sub peak of Crystal. It's mellow east facing slope can provide good skiing opportunities mid winter (given coverage) thru spring, and it' south slopes contains more exciting options that are more worthy of a spring descent.
How to Get There
One way to get there is by parking at the spruce creek TH (10,400) just south on hwy 9 from Breckenridge (turn off hwy 9 at spruce creek rd.). Follow the spruce creek road to the plow turn around/parking lot/trail head.
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