More About Lower Northway and The Shuttle

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. 

5 thoughts on “More About Lower Northway and The Shuttle

  1. lesley

    im not sure a shuttle now would be different from the shuttle when it was in operation-don’t forget to include intermediate skiers along w/intermediate snowboarders who ruin the line. cheers, from a lifelong skier turned rider


  2. spedmon

    all right i have been reading your blogs an ive had about enough you have cross the line those thirty year crystal skiers have more working knolage of mountains in their little fingers than you will every have in your whole body


  3. Guy

    “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.”
    “Improvements” indeed. There are many times that “progress” is the exact antithesis of what it was intended to be. I worked at Crystal mountain for two years, and I loved riding the Northway bowl and Northback. The installation of a chair in Northback has been the worst “improvement” at a ski resort I have seen to date. At the same time, all of my friends who still work at Crystal have told me what Northway has become in the days after the lift was installed, and I can tell you, it assuredly been ruined.
    John Kircher has attempted to follow an example set by premier “world class” resorts, such as Vail and many others. This example however, to me, is a detrement to the true reality of what skiing used to be all about. It was about getting up into the mountains, getting AWAY from the people, not waiting in a lift line with tens to hundreds of other people, competing for who gets the first line.
    There are many people who ski who are so lazy that they are not willing to hike 100 feet to get a fresh line, or traverse for 10 minutes for that section of untracked powder. This was the effort that was required to get to northback. It was a hike of no more than 10 minutes to get to an area of fresh pow. You cannot do this anymore. This is due to one of the “improvements” that has been made to the resort.
    If this is where “progress” is taking the ski industry, I want no part of it. I just am thankful that they werent able to put a chair in southback, if that were the case, I dont know what I would do.
    The Disgruntled Skiier.


  4. Nski

    Regarding the loss of Lower Northway, I disagree with the Patrol’s assumption that because of “auger face” no one had fun, and won’t be missed. All the way down, the rolling, weaving trail of lower northway was a blast. Sure your legs were burning the last face but so were your cheeks from smiling. And as Disgrunted Skier says regarding the whole northback, for a few feet of hiking we used to be able to get away from the masses. On those record crowd days, taking a several mile long run all the way to the shuttle was a great secret. Now that is lost.


  5. coryt5000

    Disgruntled Skiier, Your point is accurate for the weekends. Ski Northway on a Wednesday with a foot of new and you might change your tune.
    How many runs could you get in Northback before the lift maybe 3 without wasting the whole day riding the shuttle. Now on an uncrowded day you got as many as you want til your legs give out.


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