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Crystal-Rose Lee

Guide at a Glance

  • Locations

    Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

  • Activities

    Adventure, Backcountry Skiing

  • Guiding Experience

    9 years

  • Languages


  • Awards

    World Freeskiing Champion

Guide Bio

Get to Know Ski Guide Crystal-Rose Lee: Freeskiing, -30°C & Underwear Parties

Tour guides are a unique bunch. They are confident, passionate and they get a thrill out of doing what they love day after day. Extremely Canadian guide Crystal-Rose Lee is no exception. She has been showing people around Whistler’s ski hills for over seven years and still loves her job as much as when she started. Crystal is a world-class athlete, literally, having topped the podium time and again on the World Freeskiing Tour, and she loves sharing her passion with anyone who wants to learn. She took some time out of her busy day to let us ask her about what makes her tick, why she loves her job and what guided touring is all about.

First of all, thanks for letting us drag you off the slopes for this interview. As an ultimate powder hound, how did you get into skiing to begin with?

I started skiing when I was 8 after trying the girly things like ballet and piano. Neither of my parents ski and my mum was worried that it wasn’t safe. But after a lot of persuasion she let me to go Cypress Mountain in Vancouver. After my first weekend on skis she bought me a season pass and I’ve had one ever since.

You’ve got some pretty impressive titles next to your name for big mountain and free skiing. How did you develop such an appetite for powder after that first outing on Cypress Mountain?

I was addicted to skiing when I was young, but there weren’t a lot of places kids could go. It was either racing or freestyle, so I chose racing. I like going fast, I really like hitting gates and I love that competitive feeling. My foray into big mountain was a bit different. A friend talked me into competing in a big mountain comp, though I wasn’t that keen on the idea at first. I qualified first and finished second overall for my first competition, so it got me hooked. After that, I did the World Tour and then won the World Free Ski Championships in Alaska in 2008. I’ve been skiing as long as I remember. I started racing when I was 9 and kept racing until I was 17. Then I moved to Whistler when I was 18 and this is my 12th season here.

Wow, ok so you’ve got skiing dialed. How did your love for powder progress into becoming a tour guide?

Guiding was a natural progression for me because I already worked for the ski school. Extremely Canadian asked me to try guiding because a couple of coaches had hung up their shoes and I was teaching the freeride club at the time. Guiding really works for me because I get to teach what I would ski rather than taking kids down blue and green runs. It’s the pay it forward too because if I went to another resort I would hire someone like myself to tour me around their mountain and show me where to go. Once I started out I just really got into it.

What does a typical day in the life of Crystal-Rose Lee look like?

No two days are the same for me, really. Usually I meet clients at the hill in the morning and find out what makes them tick. I find out what they are looking for, what they want to get out of their tour and what their ultimate goal is. Then I break it down into a full day for them so they can finish up feeling that they accomplished something, no matter how big or small it is. That’s an accomplishment in itself.

I did have a client who had me sign a poster of myself skiing. He had followed my progress on the World Ski Tour before booking a guided tour with me. I was very flattered and just kept telling him “You know I’m not famous.”

Have you got a certain approach to guiding or do you just run with it on the day?

I always think on my feet and never pre-plan a schedule for someone. I like to see how people feel and adjust the day based on fatigue levels and the goals of the group or individual. My specialty is intermediate to advanced off-piste skiing, but my approach is non-traditional compared to other ski instructors. I like to use terrain and situation to teach and to help people improve. I can make you better, but you have to be ready to be pushed outside of your comfort zone. I understand it’s not everyone’s style, but for success you need to make changes. Also, I like to show rather than tell. If you just talk about skiing, you won’t get it. You need to see it, do it, and talk your way through a groomed run.

What is the best part of your job?

Definitely exceeding people’s expectations and helping them to achieve something they didn’t think was possible. I’m here to surprise clients and help them build on their skills to achieve their goals. It’s all about taking them in the right direction to get to that place. A lot of people, particularly women, think that they can’t achieve their goals after they have kids. But they can. They definitely can, but it’s about building on skills and using a different vocabulary.

What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had on a tour?

There have been a couple of funny experiences, but probably the most bizarre was on a hiking trip with a group of men to the Flute Summit. It was really hot and one guy took off his jacket, and then his shirt, and stripped to his underwear. It was so hot that everyone else did the same and we had a long john party at the top of the mountain. We were just hanging out at the top of the mountain with our guard completely down. I had skied with the group before, and one of the guys suggested we should take a photo. We decided it wasn’t a good idea and we should just leave it for the memory bank.

Ever had any odd requests from clients?

I did have a client who had me sign a poster of myself skiing. He had followed my progress on the World Ski Tour before booking a guided tour with me. I was very flattered and just kept telling him “You know I’m not famous.”

Can you describe what a great day out on the mountain is for you?

The best tours are when you have a group of open minded people who are a little adventurous and ready to rip. I love it when people are willing and ready to try something different. It also helps when you get a group of funny people who are just out for a good time.

Ok, so you love what you do, but every job has something that sucks. What’s not that great about yours?

Really cold days that are -30 Celcius, or when you have to head out in a torrential downpour. Those days make it difficult because everyone else is warm, and you’re freezing. Or if you have a client who is not open minded or doesn’t talk to you all day.

As an experienced guide who has been doing this for over half a decade, what are the benefits of hiring someone like yourself?

For one, you get local knowledge of the terrain. We ski the mountain every day, so we know the everyday functions of the hill. We know which areas have got the most wind or blown in powder, and we know the last time it rained or snowed. You also get lift priority, so at busy times or on weekends you can boot through the line. That also means you get twice as much terrain as you would on your own.

We also set the tone for the day, so if you want to improve your skiing we push you out of your comfort zone so you can get to that next stage. We’re flexible and here for the needs of the group. We ski on our days off and are passionate about skiing, and we love sharing our passion with people who are keen to learn.

In your view, what makes a good tour guide?

A good tour guide is someone who is a good communicator and can think on their feet. They also need to be friendly, patient, empathize with their clients, and be knowledgeable and approachable. Having a sense of humor also helps and camaraderie is very important to having a successful day.

Have you got any tips for people who are interested in booking a ski guide but aren’t too sure what to look for?

Definitely! Communication is key! If you don’t feel comfortable or have to go the bathroom, tell your guide because they can’t read your mind. Or if you don’t want to go to a certain area or are going faster than you would like, speak up. Communication is vital to the success of your day with a guide. And most importantly, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. We’re here to help you have fun and achieve your goals, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.

Finally, anyone you’d like to shout out to?

I want to thank my sponsors for supporting me throughout the years including Columbia Sportswear, Smith Optics, Head Ski International, POW Gloves, Icebreaker, Discrete and of course Extremely Canadian. I also want to thank my family and my friends on and off the hill for always being there for me.


Crystal’s hard-charging style has taken her to the top of the podium time and time again on the Freeskiing World Tour. Originally hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, she didn’t waste anytime moving to Whistler in 2000 to make a career out of freeskiing. Her enthusiasm and technical understanding of skiing quickly landed her on Extremely Canadian’s radar and she is now a guide and coach for the company.

To learn more about Crystal-Rose Lee, read our interview with her called “Freeskiing, -30°C & Underwear Parties.”

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