Axess Cards and Trail Map Status Signs–upcoming innovations at Crystal

This season Crystal Mountain will have a new ticketing system.  It’s called Axess, and it’s pretty simple.  Each time you ride a lift, you won’t have to pull out your lift ticket or season’s pass since the system will read it electronically.  When the machine reads the card or season’s pass in your pocket, the gate lets you through.  It’s going to be quick and painless.  Plus, you’ll be able to save money. 

Here’s how:  when you buy your first Axess card, it will cost 65$ at the ticket window.   You will want to save that card (it can be reloaded indefinitely), because the next time you use it, it will be cheaper and much easier.  The card can be reloaded at home, on the internet, for only 60$.  That’s right, last season’s ticket prices.  Plus, you won’t have to stand in the ticket line anymore.  Just go straight to the lifts.  I know, I sound like I should be in marketing here.  But I’m pretty excited about the Axess system.  I’ve skied at other resorts that use this kind of system, and I’ve always liked it.  Other resorts in Washington use this system, such as Stevens Pass and White Pass.   

The most exciting part in this blog post, from the ski patrolling point of view, is the new trail map/lift status signs (you know, the ones that have those little open/closed red/green flippy signs that you check each time you get off Rex and hope that southback has opened).  The new signs will show the status of all lifts and southback (open, closed, standby), and will be electronically controlled by the ski patrol dispatch.  Just think, no more flip signs that make you wonder if perhaps Northway really has opened and someone just forgot to flip the sign, begging the existential question, should I go back there and risk it, or take another lap down the frontside while there’s still a few lines to be had?  And let’s face it, even when we patrollers are super johnny-on-the-spot, flipping our little hearts out, there’s always been a little lag time between the radio announcement and the actual moment of flippage. 

Now you will know the instant it’s open.  No more equivocation.  There will also be two new sign locations in the base area, in addition to the sign locations that we currently use.  Therefore, before you even get on a lift, you will know, instantly, what’s open, what’s closed and most importantly, which lifts and terrain are currently on hold, but plan to open.  I suspect that we patrollers will still get the world’s most commonly asked question–"So Dude, when’s southback going to open?"–but these new signs will certainly help all of us.  If the signs read that southback is "closed", then that means it will not open at all that day.  If the sign reads "standby" that means the patrol is working on it, and if all goes well, it will open that day.  In the case of a chairlift, "standby" means that the lift is planning on operating.  It could be on wind-hold or simply not open yet, but we are hoping and planning on it running. 

Crystal has some big changes planned for this season.  Stay tuned for further ski patrol point of view on other upcoming stuff.

7 thoughts on “Axess Cards and Trail Map Status Signs–upcoming innovations at Crystal

  1. Scott_in_London

    Glad to hear this is coming. I live in Britain but took up in 2006 when I learned at Crystal. Electronic cards and piste indicators are all I’ve seen at any resort in the Alps, where labor is more expensive. How long have they been in use at other US resorts – are they a recent arrival?
    Kim answers: Alta, Solitude, Aspen, Park City, all have had the Axess-type cards for three or four years. Stevens Pass started using the system two years ago and White Pass is putting it in this year.


  2. Tracy on Tapps

    Are they putting the system on just the botton chairs or on all chairs? It would be great if as a pass holder we could track our yearly vertical.
    Kim responds: Good question, Tracy. That is a possible feature of this system, and one that can be added later. I will keep you posted.


  3. Wow, this sounds great, what’s the system that is in use for this?
    I’m really curious, maybe one day it will used to credit cards etc.
    Sounds like you’re making lots of improvements, I hope can visit next year.
    Kim responds:
    It’s called an RFID system (Radio Frequency Identification). It’s already used for all sorts of applications, like hospitals (patient ID), libraries and parking garages, among other things. It’s similar to bar-code technology. Hope to see you at Crystal this season. In addition to all the improvements, it also looks like mother nature might smile down upon us. The winter forecast is calling for colder and wetter than normal. Yippee!


  4. Peter

    Will these cards have the ability to be linked to a credit card for food and beverage purchases like at other resorts?
    Kim responds: Peter, that’s a nice idea. I’m not sure if that’s in the works yet, but I will pass it along. Seems to me it would be a great way to “give the kids a few bucks” without breaking the bank. That is, of course, if you can set up a charge limit.


  5. john

    I like the new cards- I have a question or two about them though- how will you control someone buying a Senior ticket at home- then giving it to a full-price ticket holder? Same thing with the kids? And what about handing your pass off to someone else to use for the afternoon?
    Kim responds: Good questions John. There will still be ticket checkers in the lines to make sure that people don’t try these stunts. Crystal is certainly not the first place that has tried these Axess Cards. Ticket fraud is still a big deal, and still handled seriously. It’s a gross misdemeanor under the criminal code RCW 19.48.110. About handing your day ticket off to someone else–the problem there is that the price of a new ticket is higher than to reload your old one. So the “giver” in this case loses out. And yes, that too, is a no-no.


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