Have you picked up your new (black, not blue) trail map? It shows the GATES (!) for accessing the South backcountry, Northway, and the North boundary exits!
We’ve gotten nearly all of Crystal’s terrain open now. Niagra’s (gates 8 & 9) is still closed but O-Meadows (gate 10) is OPEN! Niagra’s is still just too rocky & funky. (I believe the word I heard used on the radio was "scary".) Bear Pits is (are?) open from Rainier Express and Forest Queen, but not from the High Campbell chair. Same thing–too many rocks, but we hope to have it open after a bit more snow falls.
Today was my day off and I spent much of it cruisin’ the powder. My favorite place to ski, Black Bear, that little creek-bed luge between Queens Run and CMAC is filling in nicely. It’s a favorite for little kids, so I try to ski through and compact the creek melt-holes when I can. The snow is deep enough now, that kids can go under the big log at the bottom, but adults have to go over it. Kids LOVE that! (Remember–it’s NOT a designated trail so hazards are not marked. For safety, stay on the groomed!)
Then I hooked up with (famed extreme skier) Ingrid Backstrom’s parents, Steve and Betsy for a run out South. (Silver Basin, South Backcountry. ) If you’ve ever skied with Betsy, you know I do mean RUN! Back when they were on the patrol I learned that Steve’s got quite the nose for the untracked powder! "Watch and learn, Grasshopper, watch and learn."
Then I did something very popular at Crystal that I’ve never taken time to do before: I skied to the Snorting Elk Cellar for a beer. Rolling Knolls to Midway, Cutover to Lower Ferk’s, big-ass traverse to the Maintenance Shop road and pulled in behind the Alpine Inn. Never done it! I kicked off my skis and I’m with my friends Tami and Dieago, livin’ the dream in ski boots–what could be better?
DEEP SNOW WARNING! All this great fresh pow means that NARSID (Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death) conditions are upon us. Keep your partner in sight and don’t get too close to tree wells. More information here.