Awestruck by the beauty of Crystal Ridge

A ski instructor takes students down Crystal Ridge. | Courtesy Diamond Peak

It’s an overcast January day and I’m driving through Crystal Bay, Nev., on my way to Diamond Peak. Looking up ahead, a white streak from the top of the mountain going down toward the lake is illuminated in a sliver of sunshine. It’s where I am headed.

Once at Diamond Peak, I park at the base lodge, grab a lift ticket, ride the Lodgepole lift so I can traverse over to the Crystal Express quad. I take that lift to the top. It is gradually getting colder, a winter wonderland with frost-tipped pine trees.

“It has one of the most spectacular views in the world and I’ve skied in New Zealand, Canada, South America and all over the United States. There’s no beating that view.”
–Carl Hill

There is more snow coverage than I expected. But, also, I’m hit with the magnificent beauty in front of me: a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe. The lake looks calm and changes shades of gray and blue as the clouds pass over. Diamond Peak staff recently built the Lakeview terrain park on the left side of upper Crystal Ridge and I watch a few skiers and snowboarders hit the rails and go over the wall ride with the vastness of the lake as their backdrop.

I stay on the right side, on the groomed part of the trail, the soft snow swishing under my snowboard. About halfway down, I look up again and see Snowflake Lodge perched on top of the Lakeview lift. Soon Crystal Ridge morphs into the Sunnyside run and I make even, wide turns feeling like I have the mountain to myself.

Even though I have been on this run hundreds of times, it never gets old. About one mile down the trail, I reach Crystal Express again and go back up. Coming off of the lift and strapping into my board, a couple stops to take a picture together at the top of Crystal Ridge. I can’t help myself and pull out my camera, too.

In his 26 years of teaching ski lessons, Diamond Peak Ski School director Carl Hill has taken thousands of skiers up to Diamond Peak’s Crystal Ridge and his students are consistently blown away by the views.

“It has one of the most spectacular views in the world and I’ve skied in New Zealand, Canada, South America and all over the United States. There’s no beating that view,” he says.

Breathtaking views await at Crystal Ridge. | Jen Schmidt, Diamond Peak

To truly tackle Crystal Ridge, it helps to be a confident skier or snowboarder on intermediate/advanced terrain. For more advanced skiers, most of the black diamond runs are accessible from Crystal Ridge.

“I recommend that people immerse themselves in a lesson program to build their skills to the point of enabling them to ski at an advanced/intermediate level,” says Hill. “It all depends on the snow conditions, too. You want to go up there when it’s machine-groomed, packed powder.”

On those days that I’m stuck inside and can’t enjoy firsthand the views of Lake Tahoe from Crystal Ridge, fortunately the resort offers a live Web cam available on its Web site so that I can always see what is going. The 24-hour time lapse is also fun to play back to see the full operation from the groomers pushing snow at night to the skiers shedding it during the day.

“Watching the sunsets from the day before is one of my favorite things to do,” Diamond Peak marketing manager Paul Raymore says. | diamondpeak.com