Crystal Mountain, WA

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44 thoughts on “Crystal Mountain, WA

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  2. pasogjoi November 2, 2017 / 11:52 pm

    I’m really glad Crystal didn’t go the cheap route by installing a yan detachable in 1988. The Poma detachable may have bankrupted the original company, but it surely prevented an accident like the Quicksilver one, considering how steep the lift line of REX is.


    • Raj Thorp March 4, 2020 / 7:58 am

      Yes, but Quicksilver was only one incident before all Yan detachables got retrofitted. If it was installed, it most likely would not have had issues, and then a better company like Doppelmayr would have refurbished the grips


  3. Aidan June 7, 2020 / 9:07 pm

    Why was the Bullion Basin lift removed without a replacement? It doesn’t sound like Crystal to abandon a good amount of terrain for a smaller expansion.


    • pbropetech June 8, 2020 / 1:29 pm

      It was removed in ’82 or ’83, if I recall. The decision was driven by a combination of low skier numbers and poor snow coverage on the bottom of that pod. Others have noted the poor financial condition of CMI before the sale to Boyne, which is why it was never replaced. Of course, skier numbers rebounded and then skyrocketed, and although I haven’t skied there in a few years, I don’t recall seeing bare patches there much before the rest of the area if at all. When I worked there in the 90s we used to hike the pod from the Gold Hills road. Solid intermediate skiing- would be fun to lap off of a lift.


      • Utah Powder Skier September 29, 2020 / 5:33 pm

        So Crystal Mountain had 2 lifts from Mt. Pilchuck and they didn’t install any of them at Bullion Basin after the triple was relocated? I would think that with a Riblet on a mountain with more Riblets there would have make one of the lifts from Mt. Pilchuck a great fit. It wouldn’t have been too hard to re-install one of those lifts there because If I’m correct, the footings from the old Bullion Basin are still there.


        • pbropetech October 1, 2020 / 8:13 am

          Not sure why that didn’t happen. By the time I started there everyone from that era was either retired or had moved on. As far as the footers go, Riblets were direct-embedded towers in those days so modifications would have had to happen to use them.If CMI wasn’t keen on spending the money to install one they probably wouldn’t have wanted to add to those costs.


  4. Vintage Chairlifts August 15, 2020 / 7:01 pm

    A couple of CM’s old lifts are still spinning at other areas. Iceberg Ridge is now at Antelope Butte, WY and the Midway Shuttle is now at Loup Loup, WA. Probably others I’m forgetting…


    • reaperskier August 15, 2020 / 10:03 pm

      Rendezvous was relocated to Big Sky as Cascade.


    • pbropetech October 1, 2020 / 8:15 am

      Chair 5 went somewhere as well. I know when we replaced 9 with Forest Queen, the removal crew was very careful pulling out both lifts and the foreman told me where 5 was headed. I vaguely recall that it was Antelope as well, but I could be mistaken.


  5. Vintage Chairlifts September 11, 2020 / 9:01 pm

    Old photo of the Iceberg Ridge lift:

    Crystal Mountain Ski Resort April 1963


    • Joe Blake February 27, 2021 / 8:35 pm

      Chair 2. Iceberg Ridge was just a dumb marketing name. Better by quite some many degrees than Forest Queen, but still. That is an awesome pic, though, irregardless. Wait. Apple thinks “irregardless” is a word. WUT


  6. Cascade Concrete February 22, 2022 / 11:51 am

    Before my time, but my parents both claim C-5 (Campbell Basin) briefly had a bubble on it when it was first installed. Can anyone corroborate that, or are they crazy? Can’t find any mention of it online.


    • pbropetech March 7, 2022 / 8:17 pm

      No. My first recollections of chair 5 were when it was already ten years old, but there were no bubbles then. By the time I worked on it (in its truncated version) I can definitely tell you it had no way to attach bubbles. Unless it had some test carriers and they were removed like the original Flyer at Copper. It did have footrests, which were both unusual in that era and necessary on a 7000′ lift.


      • Cascade Concrete March 7, 2022 / 8:25 pm

        That’s what I figured, the whole story didn’t pass the smell test for me. My dad claims it was only one season, either the ‘74-‘75 or the ‘75-‘76 season.


        • pbropetech March 8, 2022 / 4:19 pm

          Like I said, they might have had some test carriers. Those seasons were right before I was born so I definitely wouldn’t have seen them.


    • pbropetech March 7, 2022 / 8:24 pm

      First glance, probably not. The terrain in that area is alternately too flat to ski, or too steep for beginners. It’s the runout for a fair amount of lines in the South Back, and as I recall there were some places where you had to strap out and walk as a snowboarder. The upper part of your line lies on the lower part of the ridge between A-basin and Silver Basin and both sides are steep. Parts of it may work, I’d have to put it into Google Earth 3D to jog my memory.


      • Myles Svec March 7, 2022 / 8:32 pm

        This lift line probably works a bit better after looking at the topography some more.


        • pbropetech March 21, 2022 / 7:46 am

          That one might work. As I recall that area would produce some steeper greens, similar to lower Queen’s run or upper Tinkerbell.


        • Joe Blake December 26, 2022 / 7:05 pm

          Not sure any of the not-developed midsections of Crystal would yield good beginner pods. Lots of alternating flat and steep in most of the trees. TLC Trees is right in the middle of yer second lift line, and there’s some legit drops and steep ramps. All the alternating flats/steeps ski real nice on storm days when Upper Mountain is down for wind, not at all a coincidence. I assume the absolute worst from Alterra, but here’s hoping they just leave well enough alone in this regard. Get to reopening East Peak/Old Chair 7 and that sorta deal; wraparound rather than infill. Beginner pods are for Colorado, anyway.


  7. wjmerriman March 10, 2022 / 11:57 am

    Were Miner’s Basin and Iceberg Ridge connected at one point (with a midstation?). The trail maps from the 80’s make it look like this is the case


    • pbropetech March 21, 2022 / 7:41 am

      No, but the top of 1 and the bottom of 2 were immediately adjacent. One had to get off 1 to skier’s right, then skate or herringbone to get under tower 2 of 2 and around to the maze. It was an awkward setup. The redesign of ’88 when 10 and 11 were installed was light-years better.

      Crystal did some questionable lift locating when they installed their first generation of lifts- the bottom of 1 was across the creek to the west of the lodge (requiring a walk); 4, 5, and the T-bar were uphill of the lodge (requiring a walk or riding the rope tows); original 6 (7 between ’80 and ’82) wasn’t even in the base area but in upper C-lot, downhill from the lodge about half a mile and unconnected to the rest of the ski area save by a service road. I never rode it (I was 6 when it was relocated) but I’d have to imagine that the Crystal Inn served as a sort of day lodge for just that lift and its trail pod. When I started working there the Inn was already a sit-down restaurant.


    • Cascade Concrete April 22, 2022 / 11:21 pm

      That’s the original Green Valley lift!


      • pbropetech April 23, 2022 / 10:05 am

        I miss old chair 3. I have yet to actually ride its replacement, actually, as it went in after I had moved away.

        I might have been skiing there the day this photo was taken. It would have been my junior year, so I was a parking lot attendant on the weekends. Crystal wasn’t crowded on weekdays then so I suspect this photo is from a Saturday or Sunday.


  8. Anthony January 15, 2023 / 11:37 pm

    I went up to Crystal today for the first time in a while, and I have a couple observations as there’s been a lot of talk about expansion and investment over the past couple years. I’m not optimistic, honestly, for Alterra doing “the right things” here, or at least, I don’t trust them as much as I would have trusted the Kircher family.

    Anyway, here are a couple scattered thoughts, including some things that might be comparatively small investments:

    – I forgot how massive B-Lot really is. It feels as large as Deer Valley’s Snow Park lot, which means that the shuttles are absolutely worthwhile. But I would probably go further than just the shuttle and add additional choices. For example, could the lot be paved to improve the experience and reduce the bumps associated with constant freeze-thaw cycles? Is there a way to add additional direct ski access at the end of the day? Could there be an Alta-style transfer tow to tow you up to the base area steps?

    – RFID access appears to have been taken out. What’s up with that?

    – I rode Chinook twice and in those rides it stopped 7-8 times. A loading carpet and new gates would not go amiss here.

    – Getting to the Campbell Basin/Chair 6 area remains a bit of a pain. The idea for a second gondola there is a really good one.

    – After Alterra completes Mountain Commons and the new Summit House, they should consider adding another (smaller) food and beverage location at the bottom of the Green Valley Express. Campbell Basin and the base area were *swamped* even though it was overall a pretty light weekend.

    Also, Northway *does* need some work. It’s a truly massive area, and it could do more to draw pressure away from other parts of the resort. There are also elements of it that feel like an anachronism, and not in a good way. I think about places like Alta, which is beloved as a “skier’s mountain,” but also has a modern lift fleet, grooming, and some decent amenities…in addition to the truly *legendary* terrain. Crystal needs to learn from Alta and similar resorts that have invested in the experience in a way that actually improves the experience of the legendary terrain.

    – Grooming the runouts would go a *loooooonnnngggg* way to making this area more usable when there isn’t fresh snow. The skiing can be great on the runs themselves, but the runouts will be choppy hell on the legs, which makes me think twice about skiing back there or taking another run back there. Just groom them.

    – Consider upgrading Northway to a HSQ. I was a big believer in the double-chair, low-capacity vision for this area, but consider me a convert––I think the underutilized potential of Northway is immense. If it’s a HSQ, it could have a lower-than-standard capacity. Alternatively just moving to a fixed quad would help along with the grooming fix mentioned above.

    – Kelly’s Gap Express can’t come soon enough––and there might be some sense to another fixed grip lift, beyond the existing one, in Northway. Again, it’s a massive area. I couldn’t help but think I’d spend most of the day back there with perhaps an additional lift and (yes) groomed runouts.


    • Aaron W January 19, 2023 / 9:26 pm

      They groomed the runouts last year made for amazing northway laps. Sad to see they have just given up this year


    • skitheeast January 20, 2023 / 7:20 am

      It was a pretty light weekend? Each day of MLK weekend is one of the busiest days of the year. (Not to say Crystal couldn’t use more F&B space)


      • Anthony February 1, 2023 / 8:32 pm

        lol, liftline-wise, and it’s not like they got close to being parked out. 🤷‍♂️


        • Anthony February 1, 2023 / 8:41 pm

          Also, it was swamped at 2:30, not like at noon.


    • pbropetech February 1, 2023 / 9:09 pm

      It’s interesting, to say the least, to read this. I spent my formative years both as a skier and a ski area employee here. I felt, for a long time, that I knew the area inside and out. It’s clear that the area has changed immensely in the last twenty years. The North Back (what is now the trail pod served by the Northway lift) was a large, but empty, area. On a powder day it would be tracked out in a few hours, despite the fact that one had to ride a shuttle bus back to the base area after skiing half the runs. Otherwise it would have been empty. Looks like now it’s busy regardless of the conditions? I’m sure that’s largely due to the fact that it’s lift-served now; I was wondering how that would play out.
      As for access to Campbell Basin, since 1988 it has been ride Midway (now Chinook Express) to Chair 9, other than the weekend days when they still had chair 5; removing that has proven to be a mistake from what I’ve heard. That pod has always been popular and limiting it to one lift was an odd decision even back when I still worked there. The proposed Chair 5 gondola is probably a good idea there.
      I’m not entirely sure what you mean by ‘groom the runouts’?


      • Anthony February 1, 2023 / 9:14 pm

        I don’t pay much attention to trail names but lower Otto Bahn and lower Northway are essentially runouts and at least when I’ve been up this season, they haven’t been groomed. Grooming those daily would go a long way toward encouraging people to stay back in Northway or go back there on days that aren’t powder days.

        In my experience Northway’s pretty empty unless it’s firing. No good reason for that, imo––the skiing can still be soft even if it’s not a foot of fresh.


  9. Aaron W January 19, 2023 / 9:03 pm

    A gondola or possibly Detach 6 starting at the base with an angle station at gold hills going up to the top of pick handle point would open up a massive amount of intermediate and single black terrain with only one lift. would there be restrictions of this alignment with the forest service. I know the proposed silver king lift was denied a permit but this might be an alternative which could alleviate pressure off 9, Rex, and green valley. The angle station could provide a loading allowing upper mountain laps


    • Aaron W January 19, 2023 / 9:18 pm

      Maybe a chondola like American eagle? Would that be a first to have a chondola with an angle station?


      • Chris January 20, 2023 / 12:20 am

        Chondola with chairs running through the mid station are really complicated and expensive, as you need separate pathways for the chairs and gondolas. I doubt anyone will build one. The lift connection the Lech and Warth-Schröcken resorts has a lift with a angled mid station where only the gondolas run through, while the chairs only loop on the upper section, though.


  10. Enumclaw kid January 20, 2023 / 1:53 pm

    “would there be restrictions of this alignment with the forest service.”

    Yes. USFS rejected a proposed “East Peak” lift in the last MDP update due to impacts on the Pacific Crest Trail, which it would have crossed, and the Norse Peak Wilderness, which at that point had not yet burned. The wilderness boundary is at the top of that ridgeline to the east of the base area.

    The lower Bullion Basin lift was approved, to add lower intermediate terrain. There was also a B lot lift in one version of the plan but I don’t recall if it was approved.

    The Kelly’s Gap lift out of B Lot was approved. I don’t think the Kelly’s Gap lift should be aligned as it is on the MDP though because 1) it would cut through Right Angle Trees, an excellent glade, and 2) to get to Green Valley chair, intermediates would have to ski a fairly steep slope immediately. It would, however, allow access directly to Northway via Otto Bahn or Spook Hill for advanced skiers.


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