We opened Chair 6 and Southback this morning. Monday skiers got the goods today as the High Campbell and south area were untracked and beautiful. The snow had set up a bit over night and it was no longer quite so fluffy. A slab has formed over the crust and we will be watching it as the forecast calls for more snow this week. Yesterday, the fresh snow produced many loose snow sluffs. Today the snow has consolidated more thus causing the before mentioned slab. We would have loved to open Chair 6 yesterday and have it get skied hard while the snow was still unconsolidated. However, the wind prevented us from opening it. Skier compaction breaks up potential slabs and work hardens the snow. Crystal skiers certainly did that job in Northway yesterday!
Kyle had a question about Chair 6. It certainly is an icon here at Crystal. It is hard to believe that when it was first built many people were quite upset. Up until then the way to ski Powder Bowl or Southback was to hike from Powder Pass. With the chairlift, many of the diehard hikers were bummed that their private stash would be inundated with regular Joes. It kind of reminds me of some of the reactions to the Northway chair…
Anyway, nowadays High Campbell Chair is most likely the reason many people ski and ride at Crystal. The chair has served us well and indeed will be replaced soon. One of the issues with the chair in wind is that it is so lightweight. Today’s chairs are much heavier (even doubles) and don’t get knocked around so much. When Chair 6 gets replaced in the next few years it will most likely be another double. It could possible be a quad just for the extra weight in the chairs. However, the uphill capacity of the chair will not change. That means, Chair 6 will not get tracked out any faster than it is today. The chair placement will be in the same place. It will still be a fixed grip chair. The plan is for the top to have a bit more room and the way off heading South to have an easier traverse. I visualize it looking much like the Northway Chair — a galvanized double chairlift.
I can’t say exactly when Chair 6 will be replaced. Enviro study has to take place and ultimately approval from the Forest Service. For now the current Chair 6 is a safe durable option as long as it is run under the right conditions. Even a new chair will have to run with the wind in mind.
It looks like snow is in the forecast all week. It is currently snowing now and my unofficial report says we’ve have 2 inches in the past 2 hours. Officially we have had over 2 feet of snow since it started snowing Saturday night. Looks like we are in for another week of skiing powder.