I want to add a little more insight into the Lower Northway question. There have been several questions ever since the new Northway Chair was concieved about the status of the Shuttle. I have a feeling that most people asking about Lower Northway and the Shuttle are really asking about the status of the Shuttle. I mean, did people really enjoy hacking out the last few turns at the end of their Northback run? The patrol always called the last face above the Shuttle turn-around Auger Face, because with everyone watching you and your legs feeling the burn it was one of the most likely places to earn the privilege of winning the Auger award.
Anyway, I think the reason that so many people still ask about the Shuttle is not that they want to ski Auger Face. It’s that they want to ski beyond our boundary into the Far North and return on the summer trail and get picked up by the Shuttle. We know this. The reason we no longer have the Shuttle is that we can’t consciously encourage people to ski the Far North area. Sure there are many of you who have been skiing at Crystal for 30 years or more and have skied that terrain without incident your entire life. Great. We aren’t saying you can’t do that anymore. That terrain is still there and you can still ski it. We even have gates along our boundary line that state you are leaving the ski area and rescue could be difficult and costly. We even tell people to set up their own shuttles. Plan ahead, leave a car in the turn-around on your way up, then go on out to your favorite stash and give ‘er.
We just can’t encourage the uninitiated to follow you. Having a shuttle would do that. Besides, do you really want all those powder hounds following you out to your favorite stash? That one skiable line through the cliff bands would end up being heal slid by an intermediate snowboarder or side slipped by a skier. Is this really what you want? Think about it.
Let me just say a little warning to those that have never ventured out there. The Ski Patrol calls that area The Valley of the Cliffs. Literally, there’s a tempting bowl that leads you right to a 100′ cliff band. Unless you know the way around it or through it or whatever people do ( and I know some who carry a rope with them to lower themselves through the cliffs), then you will get injured or lost. It is a true backcountry ski mountaineering sort of experience.
For those of you that want to have a true backcountry run, then complete the experience. Set up your own shuttle and keep thousands of your skiing cohorts from following you.
Addendum: I know there are many very experienced skiers and riders at Crystal with great judgement and knowledge of the terrain. Perhaps that knowledge even exceeds our own. Who knows? I just want to shed some light as to why it doesn’t make operational sense for us to continue using the shuttle. I think we all get locked into seeing Crystal the way it used to be and forget that about all of the improvements we have seen in the past decade.