What’s the deal with the 1/2-Pipe?

As you see, Kim & I are trying to answer questions we’re getting, as posts, so everyone who’s interested can see the answers.  This one’s to Peter, James, et. al. about Crystal’s (lack of) half-pipe.   Answer #1 is about Crystal, and answer #2 is about national trends you might find interesting.

#1)     Did you notice that the half-pipe  that used to be in the ground on Quicksilver was in kind of a screwy place?  It didn’t get enough snow (wrong elevation, wrong aspect) to consistently be useable.  It wasn’t as easily accessed chairlift-wise as customers usually expect for pipes, and it made the Quicksilver trail unaesthetically narrow.   I don’t know how much those things figured into the bosses’ decision to fill it in, but those are the guest complaints I’ve been harangued about on the chairlift.  In the future, if Crystal builds a half-pipe, it’ll probably be in a different location and made from snow.

#2     Let me mention some national trends:

Across North America, half-pipes are gradually fading from favor because they don’t make great business sense.  "How can that be–they’re always so crowded," you ask?  

Generally, half-pipes require lot’s of staff-time to cut, shape, maintain, rope-off and supervise, compared to the business they generate.  20 -30 jibbers hanging around a pipe makes it seem pretty popular, doesn’t it?  But if you compare that to the–I dunno–probably around 1000 passengers-per-hour of the average chairlift, you see that they’re not always such an efficient use of acreage. 

People assume "liability" figures into it, which is kind of right and kind of wrong.  Yeah, of course business dislike lawsuits.  But more importantly, the nice people that run most ski resorts hate seeing other people suffer!   Some injured guests get out of the hospital and they’re right back up doing what they were doing before–they (and probably their families) embrace adventure and risk, and view their recuperation time as "healing" rather than "suffering".

But others are (from families) adverse to adventure and risk.  Yeah, it sucks when they try to blame others for the decisions thay made.  But it sucks worse to know another human is so miserable about something the rest of us find so dang FUN!

As time goes on you’ll see more and more resorts having signage, rules & supervision aimed at keeping people OUT of half-pipes and larger terrain parks unless they (and their parents if they’re minors) really understand the risks they’re taking and embrace the responsibility and consequences of crashing.  Some big resorts that have enough resources already require that park & pipe users–and their parents–sit through a class and take a test before they’re allowed access! 




5 thoughts on “What’s the deal with the 1/2-Pipe?

  1. T-RIde

    Man the guys and I watched “SKI PATROL” and WOW the guy on their makes it sound like you are Hitlers right arm man or woman, why so many rules. Do the skiers outside of our little canyon suck that bad. I’m search & rescue and we don’t have nearly the same views, as you! I mean the local’s here teach respect and safety.It made us all buy a tickets to that gum drop after the Ice fest. I promise you that you will see me and my B.D. buddies will gap every Patrol shack, but the best part is we are not any gravity slaves man so no ticket to cut, nothing to sell. We WILL be arriving Jan 14th and staying till 21st. Thats a promise.


  2. Kyle C

    Agreed the old excuse for a half pipe had a lot of problems, but in addition to natural problems…no work was ever put into maintaining it.
    When you talk about industry trends I am curious who you look to as trend setters or who you include in your surveys? Knowing who you see as other examples of well run resorts would be really interesting. Any patrolers worked at other areas?
    Let’s talk about the chairlift you refered to (I think is actually 1,200/hour – but close enough). Can you honestly tell me that you think the Northway Chair has had a positive impact on the Mountain? From my perspective you’ve turned the once open glades and chutes into a rock filled mogul field where Forest Gumpers go looking for “Adventure.” Additionally the chair has destroyed the fall line as everyone now traverses the chair line as opposed to skiing down to the “natural” runout.
    I am not trying to be a downer…as I mentioned in another comment…today was off the chain. Lots of freshies, and the patrolers got North open early and South open by noon. GREAT JOB! I’ll try to post as many positive experiences as possible on the blog, but it seams most of the positives come from mother nature as oposed to mountain operations. Any exciting stuff for New Years?…how about that classic torchlight parade.


  3. brian

    crystal needs to progress the sport by making a park or allowing jumps to be made on the slopes. Almost every mountain has at least one park.


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