The 2016-2017 ski season has arrived! Crystal Mountain officially opened last Friday, November 25th, and has already received two large snowstorms that dumped several feet of snow. Continue reading to see what’s open and what’s new on the mountain.
As usual, Crystal opened the Mt. Rainier Gondola and Green Valley Express lifts first, allowing access to the higher-elevation Green Valley before the lower mountain was sufficiently filled out. Soon after, the Rainier Express, Chinook Express, and Discovery lifts were opened, creating more options for beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders. However, as of today, November 29th, the advanced and expert terrain in places like Northway, Southback, and Chair 6 is still closed due to early season conditions. That being said, there are still plenty of lines open to shred. Check out our article about dealing with low coverage to learn more about skiing early season conditions.
Because of the large amount of snow Crystal has received in the past five days, more lifts are scheduled to open soon. Forest Queen is scheduled to open tomorrow, November 30th, and the Chair 6 (!) and Quicksilver lifts are opening Saturday, December 3rd.
Over the past summer, Crystal invested around $1.5 million dollars in improvements to the resort. While these improvements don’t include any major run upgrades or new lifts, they should serve to improve the quality of life and user-friendliness of the resort. Here are some of the biggest new improvements:
Expanded and Upgraded Rental Shop. The all new rental shop has been redesigned to streamline the rental process. The shop has also upgraded its rent-able skis and snowboards to all-new Rossignols. These upgrades mean that the rental process on the whole should be both easier and faster this year.
New Boot Fitting Shop and Mountain Market Removal. I know what you’re thinking — Why’d Crystal do away with the Mountain Market? Where will I get my candy after skiing? Don’t fret: candy (and alcohol) are available at the Cascade Grill, which is just upstairs from the old market. The market has made way for the boot fitting shop that used to be located in the ski rental area. While this change may be frustrating for some, it will serve to spread out renters and allow more skier capacity in the rental shop.
Heated Walkway and New Stairs. The main walkway between the base area lifts and lot A was upgraded this past summer, improving the quality of life in the base area quite a bit. In past years, this area often accumulated snow, slush, and ice that made walking in this area hazardous at times and caused many unwanted slips and falls. With the new heated walkway, there won’t be any of these problems again. Additionally, the old concrete stairs leading up from the lower plaza to the day lodge were upgraded this year to metal grate stairs. Like with the heated walkway, these stairs should improve the quality of life at the base significantly by minimizing slips and spills.
Additional Snowmaking Machines. New snowmaking guns were added to the lower mountain in the Discovery Meadow and Quicksilver areas. These new snow guns have already had a large impact on early season skiing conditions. They have been instrumental in providing coverage on Discovery Meadow, and allowed the Discovery lift to be opened for beginner skiing so early in the season.
New Brush Cutting. During this past summer, workers trimmed trees on gladed runs all over the mountain. These runs include: Niagaras, Berry Patch, Exterminator, and Memorial Forest. This new brush cutting will significantly improve glade-skiing.
Go to https://crystalmountainresort.com/news/new-for-2016-2017/ for more on the new additions to the resort.
The Bad Bits
Lift Lines. On opening day, those who made the trip out to Crystal were rewarded with a 2-hour-long line at the base of the Mt. Rainier Gondola. While this was of course an anomaly caused by the combination of opening-day crowds and the gondola being the only lift up to Green Valley from the base that was open, it still can’t have been enjoyable for those who were stuck in it, even with the early-season hype. Having experienced similar situations at Revelstoke, where there’s only one lift up from the base and there’s often a thirty-minute line on powder days, this is not good for skier morale or traffic in general. If possible, the resort probably should have opened Chinook and Rainier Expresses as an alternative to break up the lines, even if they didn’t open the actual runs off the chairs.
I still haven’t gone up there yet.
The Guide is Entering its Second Year
This December, we’re celebrating the one year anniversary of The Guide. Grady, Xander, and I started the initial build up to this site in late 2014, and we’re very happy with how it’s done so far. This past season, The Guide had over 2,600 views, and we hope that many more people are exposed to our site during this new season. As far as content goes, we plan to post much more this season, with articles coming out at least every one to two weeks — including the remainder of our “guide” reference posts, which’ll deal with places like Snorting Elk, Northway, and of course the fabled South Backcountry.
Thanks so much for reading. Happy skiing!
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