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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

November 24, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Snow close, but Crystal can’t quite open yet for skiing, boarding

A view of Crystal's slopes on Monday afternoon (taken from a webcam with, ahem, incorrect time stamp). Snow's looking good now, but the forecast is bad and Crystal can't yet set an opening date.

A view of Crystal slopes on Monday afternoon (taken from a webcam with, ahem, incorrect time). The snow’s looking pretty good now, but the forecast for this week is bad (rain and high winds) so Crystal can’t yet set an opening date.

Crystal Mountain, Washington’s biggest ski and snowboarding area,  can’t set an opening day yet because of  warmer temperatures, howling winds and rain forecast for this week.

The slopes got some nice snow on the weekend, but Tuesday and Wednesday weather, with winds expected to be 50 mph, have prevented ski managers from saying they can open over the Thanksgiving period. And Crystal doesn’t yet have good snow-making ability unlike some other Northwest and B.C. resorts which have been madly making artificial snow in recent low temperatures.

If you’re a hardy type,  who doesn’t mind hiking up the slopes with your gear, you can go play at Crystal – but bear in mind there’s no avalanche control and no ski patrol.

Here’s the word from John Kircher, the general manager of Crystal, on the prospects for opening for the season.

“This time of year is not a nice one for those of us in the ski business. That’s because it’s often made completely clear right around  the end of November just how dependent upon nature we really are. With an effective state of the art snow making system in the works, this time of year will become a lot more dependable for your future Thanksgiving planning. As a note on that idea, we would have been skiing at Crystal beginning LAST weekend and working on expanded openings for the coming week. Until that capability arrives, it’s a guessing game.

But let me tell you what we are guessing right now.

Myself, Kim and a group of staff/locals including Tiana Anderson, Marketing Director, were skinning up and touring all over the mountain this afternoon. There’s anywhere between 2.5 and 3 feet of snow in Green Valley. That’s the case pretty much everywhere on the mountain above the elevation of the bottom of Rainier Express chair (mid mountain). Those touring tomorrow will find the snow heavier than expected, a combo of wind affected and warm temps during much of the snowfall.

With the snow coverage we’d be good to open Tuesday if:
It was not going to blow in the 50+mph range on Tuesday and Wednesday and it was not going to rain heavily.  Unfortunately that’s the forecast.

Then it’s forecasted to stay warm through Saturday.  Opening into this sort of scenario is not a good idea.

So what do we do in the face of this information?  We get our snowcat fleet out there tonight and all day tomorrow to smack down all of the snow on the main trails and Green Valley. Doing this sets up the snow to be rained on and results in a hard base of snow which will allow skiing on a few inches of new snow on top.

When that next few inches comes and how much will be left after the rain remains to be watched from our Thanksgiving dinner tables. Do have a great one.

Stay tuned to the website conditions or, better yet, download the Crystal Mountain app on your mobile. The new Chair 6 camera will join the others this week and we will have the Green Valley telemetry up.”

Comments | More in Crystal Mountain | Topics: Crystal, opening date, ski season

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