Down, down, down!
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Unique in the state, with about a half-mile of elevation drop. Newly expanded for this weekend's tourney to a full 18 holes, without sharing the lower course. Folks told me that will be a permanent expansion.
It's free. The gondola ride to the top (and 1st tee) is $22 for adults, but you can walk up for nothin'. I did that 2 weeks ago - took a hair over 1.5 hours.
Cons: Expect to lose disc(s), especially in the updraft we encountered today and two weeks earlier. (I lost 3 two weeks ago in a fairly strong wind, and found another, unmarked one. Today I lost 2, including the one I found before.) Difficult footing. Some of the patches of trees are very dense. If your knees or other joints are anything less than bombproof, bring whatever reinforcement you use for long, steep descents.
Other Thoughts: This ain't no city park. It's a mountain ski area, with steep runs that are mostly avalanche chutes with a few trails and steep gravel roads added. You'll be distracted by wild strawberries in early summer, then huckleberries later, but also ankle-twisting rocks hidden under the bushes.
Some of the shots are along the service road that winds past the ski lifts; others are long bombs down the steep meadows. I saw one today that curved way out to the right, over the treetops, left us in suspense, whether it would fall into the forested ravine right, or back into the the open, then faded left and kicked dust onto the basket pole, 800+ feet from the tee! Come to Crystal summit to (maybe) see shots like that, and almost certainly see others that go almost as far, but in entirely the wrong direction.
If you can't handle the risk and the marginal footing, this isn't your course.
Open in Summer only, of course. This year it will close after September 18.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Crystal Mountain - Summit Course
Crystal Mountain Summit Course is located at the top of the mountain at 6,872 feet and is accessed by the Chinook and Rainier Express chairlifts. With striking views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Range, the course is easily one of the more picturesque places in the entire northwest! The scenic chairlifts are only open weekends and are well worth the price. However, if the $20 is not in your budget or you are there on a weekday, then you can always hike the two hours to the summit.
This mammoth of a course is very similar to the back nine on the Base Course, with big air, distance, and plenty of danger, just much more scenic. Because the course is so high up, snow still remains on several of the holes. Many of the holes tuck up against the mountainside, doglegging to the left. Some of the holes are dead straight, with only a few which dogleg right. All of the holes are par 3 and use the same temporary Lightning DB-5 baskets as the lower course. Tee pads are all rugged dirt patches which were dug out of the side of the hill, and vary in size. Tee signs are metal stakes which stick out of the ground about 2 feet tall, with large black numbers placed on a white sign. Although difficult to spot at times, many can be found if you stick along the gravel road.
Elements on this course are extreme, with ice, wind, elevation, and the sun. It is imperative that players bring the proper supplies including suntan lotion, sun glasses, hat, long sleeve shirt, light pants, boots, snacks, and plenty of water! Prepare yourself for the hike, and plan on it taking at least 2-3 hours for the summit course alone. Add another 2-3 hours more if you are planning on playing the back nine and 4 hours if you are playing the entire lower 18.
This course is just as remarkable as the lower course, and is the perfect addition to Crystal Mountain. However, like the lower course, the tee signs and tee pads are in some serious need of improvements. The signs although temporary, need to be larger and brighter so they can be easily spotted from previous pin. More arrows directing players to the next tee would help as well. Some of the dirt tee pads are the proper size, but many are unlevel, small, and to be honest unsafe.
Baskets are well made, but are single chained and don't catch very well outside 30 feet. With strong winds and constant elevation changes, putts must be strong but chain outs are frequent. Watch out for roll aways too!
There are several ways now to play Crystal Mountain which makes this place even more of a destination area. Players can play the 27 which involves playing the Base Front 9, Summit 9, then the Base Back 9. Players could also do the Base Front 9 and Summit 9 then ride the express chair all the way down. Last, the Summit 9 and then the Base Back 9. However, hole 10 on the Summit Course differs from the Base Course hole 10, but both connect at the same basket so just be aware. Make sure you bring several overstable discs you don't mind losing, as it is likely that you will lose at least one.
NOTE: During the tournament this year they turned the course from 10 to 18 holes and it was incredible! Hopefully all 18 holes will be put back up again at the beginning of the season next year.
** New gondola up and running **
Disclaimer: If you are a novice or intermediate, or suffer from bad knees, this course most likely is not for you.
It will challenge players who have a good sense of throwing in wind and those who know how to use huge elevation changes to thier advantage. Mids such as a buzzz or roc are best on this course!
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The summit course is in and boy is it spectacular. You have two decisions on how to get up to the top with either paying the $20 for the chairlift or going hardcore and hiking all the way up for free. Once you get to the top take pictures! Mt. Rainier looks HUGE because you are so close and Mt. Adams in the distance also unbelievable in it's size and beauty. Many times during the round you will want to stop to take in the scenery and take a rest as well. Once you play the first nine you have the option of taking the lifts back down to the lodge or playing the back nine of the bottom course to get to the bottom with hole ten on this course and the bottom course being the same basket but from this course you throw downhill instead of uphill at it.
This time of year there is still some snow up there and this keeps you cool on hot, sunny days more than 5000 feet above sea level. Since the course plays all down the mountain you get all of the big fun downhill throws without the pain of trying to play and hike uphill with your disc golf bag on. This course takes extra time to play to give yourself enough time to take it slowly and have fun.
Cons: The cons are fairly obvious, if you don't like elevation both for a disc golf course or for walking on then this course is not for you. You can catch the wind wrong or slightly screw up your throw and watch a disc sail into the abyss never to return. Since you are throwing so far downhill it is tough to judge where your disc landed and walking up and down the mountain to look for it is tiring to say the least. Most of the tee pads are dug out of the side of the mountain and others aren't manicured at all and have you throwing off the side of a hill with no footing and no chance for a run up. The baskets are all temporary ones with single chains and spit out many putts.
Other Thoughts: I recommend bring your "B" and "C" stock discs to avoid losing your favorite ones. I would recommend being extras in case you lose some even though it's more weight to pack around. Bring food, water, sunscreen and sunglasses while you're up there as well. There is talk of another nine holes going in to connect with this course somewhere but the details aren't clear yet. Stop by the Snorting Elk Lodge for food and drinks.
The gondola is now up and tickets cost $20 person to get to the top.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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