Blog Crystal

Ski Patrol Crystal Mountain Washington

Never Old

Posted in Conditions, Personal, Weather



I have made this comment in the past and it never seems to grow old. Some people come to ski, some come for a good meal at the summit house and others come to just enjoy this view.  Conditions in the Valley have been amazing and those that have ventured up have NOT been disappointed.  Today was spring like conditions under foot on and off the grooming, sunglasses and sun cream with limited amount of clothing.  Yesterday was a foot of new snow which I have one word for which describes the morning (epic!).  Looking ahead for the weekend I am off, although I will be up skiing if that says anything?

The Art and Style of Carrying Bamboo

Posted in Skier/Snowboarder Stories

Any ski patroller worth his or her salt knows that carrying a bundle of bamboo must be done with style and grace. At least when said patroller is visible from the chairlift. Out on the Northway line, where (hopefully) no one can see you, well. That’s another story entirely.

Thanks Bill Steel for this latest cartoon that sums it up entirely.

holding boo_Bill Steel

14th Annual Dirt Bag Ball: Super Hero Invasion

Posted in Events and Activities

We could use a few super heroes around here. I’m specifically thinking of Thor, who can summon the elements of a storm and travel through time. (If I were Thor, I’d take my Soul 7s back to 1970, conjure up a big storm and rip Southback all day long. Who’s with me?)

It’s time for the Annual Dirt Bag Ball and the theme this year is SUPER HEROES. The event is March 28th. Doors open at 8:30. Check out this post if you think you’ve got what it takes to be crowned at this year’s Ball.

Get your entry tickets and be sure to get a couple of raffle tickets as well. Tickets available at RIGHT ANGLE SPORT SHOP, WAPITI WOOLIES and in the patrol room at the Summit House. In addition, you can email Lisa at lisamponcelet(at) to purchase tickets. Good luck!!

14th Annual DBB

The Life and Times of Wiley Patroller

Posted in Avalanche Hazard, Personal, Skier/Snowboarder Stories

We admit it. We’ve been neglecting the blog. Due to some technical glitches and then a platform upgrade, we’ve been unable to post anything recently. That’s all about to change. For the next few weeks, I will be posting original Bill Steel cartoons**. If you’ve ever read the Auger Poster in the Snorting Elk, then you’re familiar with Bill’s work. Bill also spent time in the Korea Combat Artists Program, where he was a soldier and artist. He also served in Vietnam.

A Greenwater local, Bill has performed nearly every job at Crystal Mountain. From ski patroller to Planning Director, Bill has been with Crystal since the beginning. He’s also our local historian. His cartoons depict the daily life of Wiley A. Valanche, a fictionalized, and often hapless, ski patroller. Mostly created in the mid-70s, Bill’s cartoons depict a golden era of patrolling, when the snowpack was heavy, the avalanche control was constant and the crew was as tight-knit as a Wapiti Woolies sweater.

Enjoy. Bill_Steel_cartoon_cornice

**Use or reproduction by permission only

It’s a Beautiful New Year at Crystal Mountain

Posted in Conditions, Photo of the Day

We are all feeling pretty darn grateful for our luck. The snow has stayed dry and chalky, the skies are blue and the views are spectacular. Just a little over a week ago, we received our first real storm. We lucked out because we didn’t get nearly the rain that other resorts did, and we ended up with nearly two feet of snow. Thanks to low humidity and high pressure, the snow has stayed dry and nice. Nearly everything is open–Bear Pits still needs more snow to cover all those rocks and shrubs. The top of Chair 6 is starting to look pretty bare though. We are supposed to pick up some snow tonight. Fingers crossed the next big storm is all snow and no rain.

We’ve been lucky so far. I’m betting our luck continues.

Everything is groovy at Crystal!

Crystal Opens Wall to Wall (Almost)

Posted in Conditions, Weather

It has been quite a while since Crystal Mountain was open “wall to wall.” Last season our entire ski area terrain only opened for about a month from early February to March 10th. (In case you’re new here, March 10th was that fateful day when an avalanche–that my team mates and I set off during avalanche control–destroyed Chair 6.)

Sunny groomer day on Friday with the new Chair 6 in the background

Yesterday, only a week after the snow started to accumulate on our slopes, we opened pretty much wall to wall. From Southback to Northway, great snow now covers our slopes. Saturday was a pow storm day and Sunday was a legitimate face-shot type of day. The hard coral reef-like chunder from the quick little rain we got on Christmas Eve is completely buried now. At least I didn’t feel it anyway. I’m sure there are still a few hard bits under all this snow, but you’d have to look hard to find them.

Evelyn getting after it on Saturday

Cars are buried in the parking lot. The RV lot is full, and the crowds have returned. Yesterday was our busiest day of the season so far, but the lines weren’t even that bad. When the snow is this good, people tend to spread out. As one guy on the lift yesterday said, “everyone is doing their thing.”

The new Chair 6 opened to excited skiers and riders on Christmas Eve. The first chair honors went to Dan Howell and Kyle Miller. Way to go guys!

Dan Howell and Kyle Miller waiting for first chair honors on the new Chair 6

There’s still a few pockets of terrain closed. Kelly’s Gap will open today. Niagra’s will remain closed due to low snow. Brand X and Penny Dawgs will most likely open soon pending more assessment. The chutes at the bottom are still pretty bare of snow, so we’ll see.

Kevin doing avalanche control on Boxcar

Southback is especially good and deep. The new ride on Chair 6 is fast and comfortable. The top is still a bit tight–we hope to widen the off-load area next summer. A few rocks are poking out at the top, so be careful getting off the ridge.

Hiking the Throne on Friday

Otherwise, its been a great holiday season so far and we are all feeling blessed by this great snow.

So it Begins: Crystal to Open Tomorrow

Posted in Conditions, Photo of the Day, Weather

Today Patrol worked on preparing equipment and boundary rope lines for opening tomorrow, Monday.

Kim working on the boundary line.


Toboggans lined up at the summit


Crystal will have limited operations with the Gondola and Green Valley lifts running. We received a foot of snow this weekend, just enough to open Green Valley, which has the best coverage. My advice is to bring your rock skis and remember that the season is still young. The coverage is low and you will most likely find a few unmarked hazards. Enjoy the views and the smiling faces around you. Plus, remember that you’re the lucky ones–lapping up the snow instead of working in town. We look forward to seeing you on the slopes soon.