Jumps and jump-building

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?"

Two reasons:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!) 

3 thoughts on “Jumps and jump-building

  1. Jon Smith

    With much respect for the Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol, there are two points (plus some) that seriously suggest that properly trained skiers should be able to build in-bound jumps:
    1.) Most states have passed multiple bills that clearly state that nobody can “sign away her or his rights”…meaning that corporations cannot be held accountable for negligent actions by consumers.
    2,) By forcing jumps into the less-safe backcountry regions the risk for danger and unwanted rescue by patrollers seems to be increased beyond practicality.


  2. Jesse

    I’ve been riding Crystal since 94 and although I don’t really consider myself an old timer I must say that Crystal always seems to be the most stringent reguarding jumps. I don’t really mind because I mostly jump off of natural features as that is the most fascinating and rewarding. I don’t know what the big deal is about all this. It seems to me that jumping, hotdogin, and generally rippin will always be popular and respected among varient populations. In bounds or out it seems like any jump worth hitting would only be hit by someone who knows what they are doing. Kids will always be building jumps, but most of them seem harmless. Of coarse I don’t want jumps build right in the middle of groomed runs or BC bowls. It just does’t seem like anyone who is seriouly going somewhere gnarly will A. mind if there are people sessioning a jump or B. not be careful enough to ride within there capabilities. There are always people who are in over there head, but I think that every good skier has been there and learnf from those experiences. Crystal is lucky that there are not the haszards and mandatory jumps that exsist at Alpental or Baker BC’s. I think people will always be drawn to jump because it looks cool and feels great, it is a symbol for skiinng/snowboarding everywhere. Furthermore i am confident that the Ski patrol will pay attention to what is most pressing on the hill given the situation, conditions, terrain and presence of mind. I remember blasting off conrices right beside Paul Boger. He was stoked! I have always wondered why the Avi Mound is roped off mid season and beyond. It seems the obvious place to let people fly, because the speed it takes to clear it automatically weeds out the experienced. And the location is not only close to the Ski patrol, but right in front of the Bull wheel windows and midway chair..talk about getting people excited about there hill!! Well, as I said, I am sure ski patrol will pay attention to issues that are most pressing,
    PS. must give a shout out to all the lovey ski patrol ladies seasoned and new!!


  3. Nick

    Hi, love the site. While skiing last Sunday, I noticed that it was really hard to find the entrance to K2 face (The run off the first face of downhill.) Would it be possible to move the gate 20 yards downhill or put a sign to the correct entrance? Thanks.


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