With the prediction of another La Nina season, we’re hoping for a repeat of last year, with an early start and record snow. Or at least plenty of powder days and few major accidents. One can dream.
A few changes at Crystal could have a big effect on the skiing. Here’s my top 3:
- Snowmaking in Green Valley: With four new snowmaking guns and an 85,000 gallon water tank, we don’t have to wait for Mother Nature to start building a good base in Green Valley. With the gondola now providing the uphill (and, if necessary, the downhill) transportation, we could open early in Green Valley. Ski patrol training starts the first week of November. I personally have my fingers crossed that we’ll be open before then. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy training. But I prefer doing it on the hill.
- New Mountain Top Demo Center and Retail Shop: New this year will be a test center at the top of the gondola carrying Rossignol, Dynastar and Lange products. They will also do minor boot punches and other adjustments to keep you on the slopes. In addition, if you forgot your goggles or lost that handy tube of chapstick that you swore was in your pocket, you can grab the essentials in the shop, which will be located in the gondola building directly beneath the offload area. In the base area, Bootworks is expanding. Skis, boots and other hardgoods will now be offered. The space has been enlarged as well.
- Terrain: Upper Exterminator and Bull Run have enjoyed some extensive tree limbing, opening up some new lines. The stumps under the gondola have also been shaved down, to allow for better skiing earlier in the season. Last year we had to string a rope across the gondy line, keeping skiers and riders out because of the tall stumps. Hopefully we can avoid that inconvenient ropeline this season. Thanks to a few big avalanches last season, Bear Pits and Employee Housing will have some more skiing this year. We are still in the process of removing the trees (most of which will be burned under Forest Service supervision). We hope to complete that work before the season starts. Much of the lower mountain has also been mowed and cleared, which helps us with early season conditions.
In addition to these, the base area at Crystal has had a further facelift, with more rock work around the base of the gondola, a new event plaza between the Chapel and Bootworks and a new lawn and dirt work at the base of Discovery.
Looking ahead at the forecast, “the pattern” seems to be setting up. Who knows. We could be skiing sooner than we think. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.