Blog Crystal

Ski Patrol Crystal Mountain Washington

Chairlift Graveyard

Posted in News

Crews are hard at work on the early stages of some of the changes coming to Crystal this summer.  Come up and see what’s going on.  It sounds like there’ll be some new snow on Saturday, and some sunshine on Sunday!


Chairlift Graveyard

What’s opening tomorrow?

Posted in Closures, Conditions, News


With 12 inches of new snow on the upper mountain over the past five days we came in today to do avalanche control work.

Lifts running will be the Gondola, Green Valley and Rainier Express.   Terrain open will be Snorting Elk, Green Valley and Middle Ferk’s and the rest of the frontside over to (and including) Lucky Shot.  The lift-served terrain is all “blue square” More Difficult terrain, and above.

Kelly’s Gap will remain closed, as is the rest of the lower area below the bottom of Rainier Express.

We hope you’ll come join us!

Look around

Posted in Photo of the Day


I know I have said this in the past but with only two days left of full operation I remind myself of the beauty this place holds. Today is no different as I look off in the distance at the cloud formations that are chaotic and breathtaking.

Next weekend Spring/Summer skiing begins weekends only.

Meet Your 2014 Dirtbag King and Queen

Posted in Skier/Snowboarder Stories

Nate Markquart and Tara Simpson rock the capes at the 13th Annual Dirtbag Ball


A couple of new royals have been crowned here at Crystal Mountain. Congratulations to Tara Simpson and Nate Markquart for becoming our  2014-2015 Dirtbag King and Queen. Some of you often ask, “what does it take to become royalty.” The short answer: it isn’t easy. Just take a look at all that Tara and Nate as examples.

Tara has skied at Crystal for 28 years, and most years she skis 120+ days every season. That’s more than some of us on the patrol! When the lifts close, she keeps skiing all year on the mountains and glaciers of the PNW. For five years in a row, she made turns all year (that’s skiing at least once every month of the year).

She lives full time in Greenwater with her husband Carl, who she regularly skis with at Crystal. She’s lost count of how many first chairs and first gondola cabins she’s been on. She has even worked her professional life into 40 hours on the weekends so that she can ski Monday through Thursday every week.

Tara says it best when she explains why, “My happiness and freedom is found in the mountains. It’s what fills me up.”

Nate Markquart has had a season’s pass at Crystal since 1998. He stays in his 1968 Airstream trailer with his wife Kate and their two labs. He’s also lived in the clubs, and in Steve Fratella’s trailer over the years, but finally purchased the trailer four seasons ago and they haven’t looked back.

Nate is known in B Lot as the host with the most. He and Kate regularly host dinners and after-ski parties at their cozy trailer complete with a wood stove. Nate is known all over the mountain as a generous and positive force.

While Nate has many favorite runs at Crystal, when the snow is light and powdery down to the road, he loves to ski Left Angle Trees. Even this season he had one great run in Left Angle that he claims made the entire season worthwhile.

Look for Nate and Tara next season in their Wapiti Woolies Dirtbag hats. Our members of the royal class often act as informal liaisons between patrol and the public. So feel free to reach out our King and Queen if you have any questions or concerns. They deserve your respect. These two are certainly the real deal. Welcome to the Dirtbag world you two.


Avalanche Skills Workshop

Posted in Avalanche Hazard, Events and Activities

Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol is offering a 2 hour introductory workshop on safe travel in avalanche terrain and deep snow safety. This course will cover basic concepts such as avalanches, weather forecasts, transceiver searches and strategic probing and shoveling. This class will be held outside. No gear is required for this workshop. The class has a minimum of 3 students and maximum of 8.

Date: April 13, 2014

Cost: Free

Registration: Call 360-663-3060 or stop by Ski Patrol

Our Curious Closures of Southback & Powder Bowl

Posted in Avalanche Hazard, Closures, Conditions, News

A few people have noticed that our closure of Powder Bowl–and of Southback from Queen’s Run–don’t really make sense in terms of our normal logic of opening and closing terrain.   Unusual circumstances call for unusual measures.  Allow me to explain…

First, for this to make sense you have to remember that in addition to being a beautiful expanse of nature, Crystal Mountain is also a business.  A business with a permit to operate in its own best interest by the Forest Service.  So while there may be sketchy backcountry gnar that I choose to teeter across on my day off to get to something good, that’s a lot different than a company such as ours offering its customers skiing in those same sketchy areas as part of their lift ticket purchase.  (That’s why lots of ski resorts have Permanently Closed Areas—You don’t necessarily die the moment you set foot in there, but the hazards are so extreme that closing the area to everyone is warranted!)  And we communicate the extent of responsibility our company is willing to assume by indicating which areas are “open” and which areas are “closed”, with signs.

Also for this to make sense, you need to know (if somehow you haven’t heard) that Chair 6 (High Campbell) got destroyed by an avalanche on March 10th.  So, we’re not doing avalanche control work in Southback anymore, and with the reduction in compaction created by less skier traffic, it’s even MORE “avalanche prone” than usual–similar to true backcountry. 

For the remainder of this season, Southback is CLOSED to lift-accessed skiing.  We’re treating it like the true backcountry, and ski-tourers are allowed to travel there under their own power from the Quicksilver trail.  (Not to be confused with the Quicksilver lift, which is closed for at least the rest of the season, and probably forever, if it gets replaced!)  But we’re PROHIBITING access from the Lake Elizabeth outrun onto Queen’s Run–and similar areas–to reduce “sucker tracks” that lure guests who might not be fully aware of the increased avalanche danger there, into short hikes into avalanche start & runout zones.

Powder Bowl is a little different.  We’ll evaluate the skiing, and open it when we think the skiing conditions and visibility will appeal to the average kind of customer who’s likely to hike up there, taking into account any avalanche danger Powder Bowl skiers might create for Lucky Shot skiers passing below.  There will probably be times that it will look pretty but the skiing sucks, and you won’t understand why it’s closed.  I hope you’ll trust that we’ll open it anytime it doesn’t seem unwise.  We put a lot of thought and discussion into these kinds of decisions, and prefer to have terrain open whenever operational concerns allow.

Current conditions

Posted in Conditions, Photo of the Day

Groomers have been doing a great job this week which makes for a great start to the day. Northway is open daily with north facing aspects continuing to stay dry and chalky, while other aspects soften throughout the morning. Powder bowl ONLY is open to hiking–when conditions allow–for skiing/riding.


The Eulogy

Posted in Skier/Snowboarder Stories


On March 10, 2014, we lost a dear friend a bit before its time. High Campbell was always there for us skiers and riders on a pow day. That fixed grip double taught many to be a better rider, with its Hollywood lines, Powder Bowl, and the gate out South. It taught us patience. It taught us to be open minded and reach out to new people. And gave a new meaning to the word: Single! High Campbell held onto its identity even in the days of high speed and six packs. It was iconic, with its green coat of paint and center bar.  Chair 6, as some friends referred to it, was more than just a chair, it was a part of the family. Tragically, it was taken from us too soon. High Campbell, you may be replaced, but you will never be forgotten. Thanks for always being our friend on a powder day!

“When is 6 going to open?”

Avalanche Skills Workshop

Posted in Avalanche Hazard, Conditions, Events and Activities, Weather

Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol will be hosting a FREE 2 hr workshop on safe travel in avalanche terrain and deep snow safety. The workshop will cover basic concepts such as avalanches, weather forecasts, transceivers searches, and strategic probing and shoveling. All skill levels are welcome! No gear is required for this workshop and it will be held outside. The class has a minimum of 3 students and maximum of 8. If you are interested stop by ski patrol in the base area or call 360-663-3060.

Date: March 22, 2014

Cost: Free

Registration: Call 360-663-3060