Greenwater local, Josh Wirta, grew up skiing at Crystal. Josh is a Freeride Skier and TGR Co-Lab Finalist. Josh was diagnosed with bone cancer in April 2014.
Two weeks ago I came across Josh out skiing with his dad, Mark. I rode the chair with him and heard him talk about the day and how much enjoyment he was having being back on the slopes for the second time this season. We unloaded the chair, and Josh never even paused as he skated over the edge. A few seconds later he was out of sight at the bottom of the bowl. He didn’t look to have missed a beat.
In my early years at Crystal on patrol, I would ride the Rainier Lift and watch Josh as a little boy ski the front side with his father Mark, over and over and over. The first chair in the morning to the last chair in the afternoon, Josh and Mark were there. It didn’t matter what the the conditions were. It could have been rain, sun, or if we were lucky, an epic powder day. As we all know time flies. Before you know it, 20 years have slid by.
Many skiers and snowboarders consider this to have been a poor ski season. And if you look at the numbers, it was. But then, when you see a guy like Josh having such a good time, it’s important to remember that any day in the mountains is better than none. In the eyes of a guy battling cancer who’s just living each day as it comes, those moments in the mountains (even on a so-called poor season) are all the more sweet. Sometimes, it takes someone like Josh who is out grabbing life and enjoying what he loves to realize life is good and to enjoy every moment.
The 2014/15 ski season ended Sunday. While it may have been a tough season, it finished on a high note. We had a great turnout at Crystal, and everyone left with big smiles, red faces and memories that will last a lifetime. Many skiers and riders dressed in costumes, sporting tuts, wigs and even a seersucker suit.
Fortunately, many skiers and riders were also wearing bikinis. When Crystal Management decided at 1:30 pm to hold the Bikini Downhill, tweets went out and contestants arrived. As always, you had to show skin to win.
Hugh Gren in the starting gate
One snowboarder scissored his jeans into cutoffs, stripped off his shirt and went head to head against another equally scantily clad skier.
Stacy Steel and Caleb Cole each took home a 2015/16 season pass. Congratulations you two! No road rash and fun times by all.
Stacy Steel showing off the guns
Thanks again to everyone who came out Sunday! Also, a big shout out to everyone who continued to ski and ride this season, truly demonstrating the love of the sport. Even though the snow was skinny this season, the fun and passion still reigned.
I love this impromptu costume
Picture was taken Sunday, April 12
How many days do you think Crystal has been open this year? Sunday was our 112th day open. Surprised? Another surprise is just how good the conditions have been. While it might have seemed more like spring (or even summer) in the base area, up in Green Valley it’s remained wintry and snowy. Keep in mind most east coast resorts have less acreage on their entire mountain than what we currently have open.
This past week had some of the best grooming and off piste conditions all season. Looking ahead to the coming week: another storm coming in today and tonight. Wednesday will remain cold and could be the last true wintry day of the season. Thursday ushers in warm temps and sun. Come play in our world before it’s gone!
Today was a happy day on the mountain. You know the conditions are going to be good when the winch cat driver who groomed the slopes the previous night is standing in the gondola line first thing in the morning. Today was that day. Conditions were buttery, and everyone was smiling. The skiing was great both on and off the groom. Our cat drivers truly are unsung heroes.
Here’s another cartoon from Bill Steel. This time Wiley A. Valanche brings the CM Bulance. Gotta love it.
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?
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.
Welcome to the weekly cartoon by Greenwater local artist Bill Steel. His cartoons depict the daily life of Wiley A. Valanche, a fictionalized, and often hapless, ski patroller. This week Wiley learns what happens when there’s more rock than snow on an AC morning. Enjoy!
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)gmail.com to purchase tickets. Good luck!!
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.
**Use or reproduction by permission only