We’ve gotten questions and suggestions from skiers who would like to ski "Left Angle Trees" then make a hard left and ski the lower part of "Niagras", but don’t want to break the rules by ducking the ropeline that separates the two.
We’ve talked about this a lot and haven’t given up looking for solutions that will allow us to manage this area safely & appropriately, but for now, those with Snow Safety responsibility need skiers/boarders to respect that closure. (And remember, "ducking" ropelines will result in loss of lift & access privileges, too!)
Any gate, opening or policy change regarding that line will send people into the "Old Faithful" avalanche path (and possibly "Johnson’s Chute" avalanche path) mid-slope. That’s why it’s there. The problem with entering an avalanche path mid-slope is that you can be caught by avalanches that you trigger both above you and below you, BUT YOU CAN ALSO be caught by avalanches triggered by others you cannot see, far above you. This is similar to the reason for last year’s removal of the A-Basin "traverse-to" gate. It’s just bad snow sense, especially during extreme wind-loading, and when we need to use explosives there mid-day, among other things.
We also have to consider people’s likely behavior. Read Kim K.’s recent post about Southback for a patroller’s insight into how guests behave. We often get a chance to stand and watch or talk to those passing by, which gives us a perspective on the thought process of those we’re trying to help protect from injury. If you find yourself at odds with the Snow Safety staff’s decision, check out the Northwest Avalanche Institute which holds classes right here at Crystal Mountain and the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center education page for further information.
If you find yourself thinking "I’ve done this a million times before and nothing’s ever gone wrong", let me refer you to a sad fatality report from two years ago, where an experienced expert local skier got killed in an area he’d skied many times before without incident. It’ll make ya’ think.
Re-opening tomorrow!!! Gotta go!