Andy wrote in with this comment:
Part of the mini-golf freeride trend involves building jumps in the backcountry. If Crystal is unwilling to cater to the younger generation by building a park, can we at least be able to build jumps in the BC? If Crystal is actually aiming to be a "serious riders’" mountain, management should acknowledge that a huge part of serious freeriding means means hitting BC booters. It’s not a playground if you can’t play on the swings.
This gives me a great opportunity to address something commonly confusing:
Yes, you can build jumps in the BC. But inside Crystal’s boundaries, the areas known as “Northway” (formerly “North Country” and “North Backcountry”) and “South Backcountry” (aka “South Country” and "Southback”) are formal names–they are not true backcountry, as Kim detailed in her January 7, 2009 post on this blog. They are parts of the managed ski area that are managed a bit differently than the rest. Southback might better be called “side country”. It’s within the ski area boundary and receives regular avalanche control by the ski patrol, but receives less avalanche-mitigating skier/boarder compaction so should usually be considered avalanche prone. The place names are for reference only and none of the terrain should be considered “designated trails”. It’s only for expert skiers & boarders who are looking for the fun of a little higher degree of risk and adventure.
Outside Crystal’s boundaries, the only “rules” (see exception footnotes 1 & 2, below) that prevent you from building jumps are the rules of common sense: Don’t build unwise jumps with unwise landings in unwise places and do unwise maneuvers off of them. The Ski Patrol doesn’t PROMOTE amateur jump-building in the backcountry because we don’t like the odds of kids getting hurt due to the inherent un-wise-ness of youth which lacks life experience by definition. (And like the signs and web pages say, “…you will be billed for rescue,” yada, yada, yada.)
"But why can’t I just build jumps everywhere?"
- People get hurt when they accidently ski/board into, or off of, jumps they don’t see. Maybe they’re lost in thick fog, scared and disoriented. We don’t want our guests to get hurt.
- People get hurt when they can’t manuever or land properly off of jumps which are improperly shaped or constructed. Maybe they "found" a jump and went off thinking it’s safe, not knowing it’s shape has been changed by the effects of sun and wind and rain. We don’t want our guests to get hurt.
The point is, the two things (typical ski area traffic and jumps built willy-nilly) don’t go together well. People get hurt. That’s why ski areas don’t allow jump building within their boundaries, except by professionals who build them to established specifications.
Outside ski area boundaries? Just make sure you tell someone reliable where you’re going and arrange for survival if you or one of your buddies gets hurt!
Footnote 1. OK, I lied…there are some other rules. But they’re not Crystal Mountain’s rules. In 1986 the portion of the Park adjacent to Crystal Mountain was designated a “Pristine Wilderness Management Zone” which carries with it certain criteria regarding how the area must be managed. These criteria include providing opportunities for solitude, infrequent encounters with other visitors, few campsites, no designated or marked trails, or other evidence of human activity. Park Law Enforcement Rangers patrol this area and don’t want Crystal Mountain’s commercial operation slopping over into the Park’s wilderness. Hootin’ & hollerin’, playing music, littering, and damaging tree branches are all “bad neighbor” behaviors that violate Park rules and can earn you a gen-u-ine U.S. Government citation and fine.
Footnote 2. This part applies only to Crystal Mountain, Washington. Different Ski Areas’ obligation to their respective governmental land management agencies (if not on private land) vary by location. Some areas are required to have “closed” boundaries. Other areas, including Crystal, are prevented from having “closed” boundaries except in rare circumstances such as our Permanently Closed Area at the Kemper’s avalanche path in Mount Rainier National Park. (Building jumps in Kempers will get you in a heap o’ trouble, if you’re still alive afterward!)