News Roundup: Flying High

30 thoughts on “News Roundup: Flying High

  1. Ryan March 4, 2022 / 3:57 pm

    WOOHOO!! Look at Peter get featured in the news! Way to go!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SKIID March 4, 2022 / 3:59 pm

    Seems odd that the add for the Mogul Monster says it des NOT include the drive.

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    • vons3 March 4, 2022 / 4:21 pm

      I wonder if they mean the drive for the motor or the whole drive terminal.

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      • Midwest Wulf March 4, 2022 / 6:39 pm

        Mogul Monster’s VFD and LV controls were previously upgraded. Those systems will be removed and installed into Cascade’s Manitou lift.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Alex March 4, 2022 / 6:24 pm

    Peter – you know Crystal so well, what would you do lift wise if you had your wish?

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    • Peter Landsman March 5, 2022 / 9:49 am

      1. Replace Rex with a new detachable quad.
      2. Replace Quicksilver with a detachable quad starting in the base area and ending higher.
      3. Move Quicksilver to replace Discovery.
      4. Build Kelly’s Gap Express and cut new trails to create more of a pod there.
      5. Build Bullion Basin pod with detachable quad and snowmaking.
      6. Do the Gondola shuffle – current gondola base to Campbell Basin and new higher capacity gondola to the summit.
      7. Try again for East Peak. The region needs more ski terrain.

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      • skitheeast March 5, 2022 / 5:14 pm

        Question I have always had about the Campbell Basin Gondola: Would it require the removal of Chinook Express? I know Chinook uses a slightly different alignment than the original Campbell Basin chair, but it is pretty similar and they are almost on top of one another towards the top of Chinook.

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        • Peter Landsman March 5, 2022 / 5:22 pm

          It would not need to cross Chinook. Just Rex around tower 3.

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        • pbropetech March 6, 2022 / 4:36 pm

          If one were to use the original chair 5 alignment while bringing the bottom terminal lower (I never understood why they didn’t put it right at the bottom of the hill in the first place, I hated hiking up to it), it would pass over towers 1 and 2 of the current chair 10. The top of 11 would still be a factor to consider. The bottom of the new lift would be quite near the bottom of 8 but as I recall, not on top of it. It will be interesting to see how this plan pays out.

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      • David March 7, 2022 / 1:03 pm

        I had a lot of fun playing with the crystal map this last year, adding in a ton of hypothetical new lifts. These obviously assume no restrictions of budget, federal approval, or community objection. I’ve got some other ideas of how to extend it further even: Norse Peak, Cement Basin, etc. Let me know what you think!

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        • Joe Blake March 10, 2022 / 2:48 pm

          Wilderness boundary nixes Cement Basin. I know you said no federal considerations, but that’s kinda the ski equivalent if a giant cliff into an ocean. Crystal is, like Baker, penned in between an NP and a Wilderness.

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        • David March 16, 2022 / 2:03 pm

          Yeah you’re right. Even though it’s very common backcountry, having a lift accessed gate would be a no go.

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  4. Rossington March 4, 2022 / 7:34 pm

    Congrats on riding every chairlift in the US Peter! What an achievement!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LH March 4, 2022 / 8:32 pm

      So incredible Peter… any plans to ride all the Canadian lifts? We have plenty of lifts that would like to carry you up our hills and mountains up here. :-)

      Like

  5. Somebody March 4, 2022 / 8:53 pm

    At least one of the lifts at Attitash is always broken…

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  6. Riblet Fanways March 4, 2022 / 10:13 pm

    I actually like Crystal’s plans and hope to see greatness when they announce lift and terrain improvements, but I absolutely despise the Ikon Pass being made 7 days. Now I have to spend 2 grand to get a season pass? I refuse to call 7 days a “season pass.”

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    • skitheeast March 5, 2022 / 12:48 pm

      I agree. Skiing has to be at least somewhat affordable in one way or another. Prior to the Epic Pass (and Ikon Pass), season passes were expensive, but day tickets were reasonable, so people could ski affordably by paying for each day. With the new season pass model, day tickets are very expensive, but season passes are extremely affordable, so skiing 10 days or less in a season makes the price per day pretty reasonable. Crystal is going back to the old model by raising season pass prices through the roof, which is fine if they also reduce day ticket prices, but I really doubt they will and skiing will simply be more exclusive, wealthy, and unaffordable for the masses. They do not even have to look very far for evidence of this, as this is what sister resort Deer Valley does, and there is a reason most people cannot afford to ski there and go to neighboring resorts in Utah.

      I understand why they are doing this move. With Stevens Pass having a number of problems this year, they would be overwhelmed by new Ikon Passholders in the Seattle area next year. However, there really are better ways to solve this. Increasing prices for the already successful parking program coupled with more incentives to park and ride in Enumclaw (or perhaps even elsewhere in the Seattle area) would allow more skiers to access the mountain with fewer cars on the road.

      As a side note, not even including a full Ikon Pass with the Legend Pass is a really bad look for Alterra. Having an Ikon add-on option for non-Alterra Ikon partners makes sense due to their accounting structure, but doing the same for Crystal is nuts. The same could be said for Deer Valley, but again their whole thing is that they are expensive, premium, and exclusive.

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      • Anthony March 6, 2022 / 5:08 pm

        Agreed re: including an Ikon Pass with the Legend Pass.

        I think part of what you’re seeing at Crystal also has to do with the massive economic changes that have been underway in the Seattle area for the past ~10 years. Where else in the world are so many people who are paid tech wages so close to such good skiing? You’d probably see the same set of problems at Palisades Tahoe if it were only two hours from Silicon Valley.

        Regarding Crystal, I agree that there are other solutions to their problems.

        – They should really go all-in on free offsite parking. It seems that they’re already planning on doing this. I’d also suggest creating more of an “arrival” experience at the offsite lots––including things like lift ticket pickup to eliminate a stop in the base area.

        – People hate reservation systems, but they work. I’d prefer a reservation model for full Ikon Passholders instead of moving them to 7 days. At least that would give people more opportunity to ski midweek when it’s much less crowded anyway. Yes, getting reservations on the weekend would be a bit of a crapshoot, but what’s the difference between that and a parking reservation?

        – The Legend Pass is probably $300-$500 too expensive to be palatable. I’m not convinced it would not have been enough to just make the Legend Pass the same price as the Ikon Pass and essentially make people choose Legend for deep access to Crystal or Ikon for broad access to lots of resorts.

        – The “Mountain Commons” concept is definitely needed. More lodge and base capacity will help with the arrival experience and take better advantage of the limited space in the base area. While the hotel will get a bad rap, it’s a decent idea to reduce traffic on Crystal Mountain Boulevard.

        – Replacing the Mt. Rainier Gondola with a higher-capacity 10-pax gondola would better distribute crowds in the morning.

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        • skitheeast March 6, 2022 / 10:05 pm

          Palisades Tahoe does have similar problems. 89 gets backed up all the way to Truckee on weekends, and the point where it crosses under the railroad just south of 80 and narrows from two lanes each direction to one can create a mess. The issue is that there are more ski resorts around Lake Tahoe alone than within a couple hours drive of Seattle. Plus, most Tahoe resorts have fairly large bed counts at the base (the casinos alone have 2200+ rooms at Heavenly) and none of the Seattle ones do. USFS policy switched from building new resorts to expanding existing ones in the 80s, but new ones are desperately needed in Washington and existing ones need expanded terrain and facilities.

          Regarding price options: Ikon is basically marketing the Base Plus pass as a separate, true third option this year. However, it remains a Base Pass with like six extra destinations and nothing else. In my opinion, a smart move would have been to boost some other resorts to unlimited, remove blackouts from a couple others, or just do something else to make it more compelling for more people. Then, they could jack up the price of a full Ikon to like $1250 and put Crystal on there full-time (a much more reasonable price for full access).

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  7. Alan Wrobleski March 5, 2022 / 9:38 am

    Holy crap Peter, I thought you were like 60 years old but you’re younger than me. You’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. Congratulations on carving your own path.

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  8. Paul Mathews March 5, 2022 / 2:42 pm

    Hi Peter,

    Appreciated your comment on Whistler Blackcomb lift systems. Very efficient and you cannot get stuck until you reach the valley. I believe the most skier visits per major lift in the world at 85,000 (2,2 m visits and 26 lifts. Proud to say Ecosign master plans since 1978.

    Cheers,

    Paul Mathews
    Chairman and CEO
    Ecosign Ltd.

    Like

  9. skitheeast March 5, 2022 / 5:31 pm

    The hotel at Crystal is a good start, but they really need to dramatically increase bed capacity at the resort. I know some people grumble when their parking lots are moved further from the slopes, but the reality is that 1 acre of condos/apartments/hotels can hold a lot more people than 1 acre of surface parking, so more people can be on the slopes (given that parking is their limiting factor). Plus, it would enable fewer people to drive up 410 in the mornings and back after skiing and instead have them drive up the night before and back the morning after. I know there are issues with them being located in a National Forest, but this is not a problem unique to Crystal and it can be dealt with.

    As a side note: Has Crystal ever explored using Ranger Creek State Airport for overflow parking? It is closed to aviation all winter, sits 2000 feet lower and therefore receives much less snow, is only 20 minutes away, and has a nice paved runway that can easily be used by cars for parking.

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  10. Joe G March 5, 2022 / 6:23 pm

    Peter, congrats on your accomplishment! I really appreciate your commitment…I use the results of your labor of love nearly daily, as do many others in the ropeway industry.

    Now to finish Canada!

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  11. Miki Dora March 5, 2022 / 10:40 pm

    I agree with a couple of these commenters re visiting Canadian resorts now that you’ve wrapped up the states. Skiing in BC is what American skiing used to look like. Reasonable prices, locally owned and operated (or at least not run by VR), uncrowded, more relaxed vibe and better scenery than what you’ll find in the western US.

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  12. pbropetech March 6, 2022 / 4:56 pm

    I posted my thoughts on this on Crystal’s Facebook page and they won’t read anything here, but suffice it to say I’m not on board with much of what they want to do up there. Not that it matters as I haven’t skied there, nor worked there, in twenty-five years. I see many of their plans completely changing the character of the area. I like Peter’s ideas, especially reinstalling old chair 7 (Bullion Basin) and trying again for East Peak, as those will add more terrain and upgrade the skiing experience. A massive hotel and replacing the Summit House? Not so much. Crystal will face an uphill battle convincing people to stay on campus rather than drive up every day, since they’ve been a day ski area for the past sixty years (I understand there is the Village Inn and the Snorting Elk, but in all reality folks who stay there are a tiny minority of Crystal skiers). I also understand that they’re facing far more skiers than when I would park F-lot three or four times a year, but I honestly don’t think they can transform themselves into a destination resort as they have practically no space left on the valley floor. That, and 410 isn’t exactly designed for high traffic. There will be an uproar if they raze Employee Housing to find more parking or lodging space, and I seriously doubt the clubs will ever sell to Alterra so that they can then build more lodging there. Call me old-fashioned or stuck in the past, but that’s what I see after spending my childhood and early adulthood there.

    Sorry for the rant. The reality is the PNW needs more ski areas.

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    • Joe Blake March 6, 2022 / 5:52 pm

      I keep hearing there isn’t much left in Employee Housing anyway. JK and crew let all the trailers and dorms fall apart. Last chat with the parentals, Pa said it’s pretty much down to the old Patrol dorm. (Scott’s house, but Scott is headin to White Bird in like 6 weeks for a permanent vacation.) I agree that they need new acreage first, better shitters second, hotels and fancy bull$#!@ lodges never, and better mass transit third. (Whoever suggested Ranger Creek, my bet is Uncle Rusty is eying that for his high-tone clients with personal aircraft. Kidding, but only a little.) Hopefully the folks who fought JK the first time around in 97 are still spoiling for a fight. My buddy at the helm of the Forest Circus trails for the Enumclaw side of the RD says the Muckleshoots love stirring the pot. They did it in the 90s and early 000s; here’s hoping they do it again. Sadly, if all of my two current sources are to be believed, Crystal is over and has been for a long time. It felt over when The Lady and I left in ‘011, and neither source has given any evidence of improvement. One sold her club room cos she couldn’t even hide there anymore. Basically, I get that Vail is worse than Rusty and his minions, but only by degrees, or our shop joke of 15%. Rusty is culture death for anyone who actually skis. It sucks. So much of my life is there, unaccessible, lost. Long live the Non-Profits and the Indies.

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  13. Munier Salem March 6, 2022 / 5:02 pm

    Agree with all the Canada comments …

    … but … last I checked, Mexico is in North America too :)

    Any plans to get down there?

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  14. skitheeast March 6, 2022 / 10:29 pm

    Ikon has too few tiers, so Crystal gets kind of screwed because the normal pass is too low. They have three problems: they are now treating the base plus like its own thing but it is not compelling enough to warrant any buyers, they are left with some resorts being less than a season pass on the full pass (Deer Valley and Crystal), and they have others that need local passes below an Ikon Base because the price is too high (June, Big Bear, Snowshoe, Blue). They cannot really lower any prices with partners because they would basically lose money with exchanges.

    To solve this problem, I propose the following tiers:

    Ikon Base Minus ($500): Unlimited w/no blackouts at June, Big Bear, Snowshoe, and Blue. Unlimited w/blackouts at Tremblant and Winter Park. 5-7 blackout days at each of the rest of Alterra’s properties (including DV & Crystal, but maybe they also have no weekends). No partner access.

    Ikon Base ($750): As is except: DV 5 blackout days added back and June loses blackout days.

    Ikon Base Plus ($1000): As is except: all Alterra destinations minus DV & Crystal are unlimited without blackouts, Crystal is unlimited with Blackouts, DV and about half of partner resorts lose blackouts and/or boost to 7 days.

    Ikon ($1250): As is except: Crystal unlimited.

    Unless they add a second blackout tier that includes all Saturdays in Dec-Mar, this basic structure is the best win-win I can think of for Alterra to maximize their revenue and keep people spread out among different tiers.

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  15. Hans March 11, 2022 / 2:47 pm

    I feel like Alterra is moving to position Crystal as a premium product, equivalent to the Jackson Hole or Aspen Snowmass of the PNW, with the goal of attracting destination visitors from across the country after all this investment is complete.

    Biggest problem I see with that is that it is not built like a destination resort. The only lift with a solid portfolio of blue groomed terrain for Texans and New Yorkers to ski after flying across the country is forest queen – which is already overloaded with folks. Each of the other upper mountain lifts really only have one groomed blue run, and no one laps the chairs on the lower side of the mountain anyway.

    The resort will need to expand significantly into more intermediate terrain before it becomes worthwhile for people to pick over Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. And even once that does happen, there’s the issue of a base area with no lodging and nothing to do after the sun goes down, with the nearest town being 40 miles away. $100 million is not going to change the character of Crystal sufficiently for it to become that type of resort.

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    • pbropetech March 11, 2022 / 4:18 pm

      Those are my thoughts as well, but you stated them better than I did. I might add that my ex-hometown, while being the closest thing to the mountain, consists of a bedroom community for Seattle/Bellevue/Renton and their associated industries, plus a smattering of dairy farmers and loggers. Not exactly a ski town. If you decide to stay there while skiing Crystal for a week, you’re basically doing the same thing as staying on-mountain, minus that cachet that comes with actually *being* on the hill after hours, plus dealing with 410 traffic (which sounds much worse than when I drove that highway).

      Like

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