You Should Have Been Here Yesterday

Forrest breaking trail on the Throne

As predicted yesterday was “The Day” to call in sick and go skiing. It was by far our deepest snowfall to date this season at Crystal, and it finished with several inches of very light powder. While it wasn’t all blower (the high southerly wind from the night before stripped the Frontside and Grubstake) it was pretty darn close.

After completing two avalanche control routes (Throne, which was deep and Brand X, which was deeper), I stood by to open gates at Northway. While familiar faces stomped their skis and listened quietly as I reminded them all to “keep their partners in sight”, I enjoyed the 10 minutes of banter. It is not very often that a ski patroller has the attention of such a large crowd.

It reminded me of two things that I love about Crystal:

  1. The locals: We have some of the most dedicated group of skiers here. Considering that the closest city with real employment is 1.5 hours away, it’s amazing to see people drive 3+ hours every day just to ski here. Perhaps since many of our locals once owned shares in the company we’re blessed with skiers and riders that take ownership in the place. I like that.
  2. The compartmentalization: With both Northway and Southback, we can stagger the opening of our inbounds terrain. This means you can ski powder all day long. If you don’t make first chair so you can rip the Frontside to the envy of all the latecomers you can still be first in line at one of the Northway gates and get first tracks. Some days you can even do the same out South. If you’re lucky you can find yourself at the top of an untracked run on a pristine powder day, not once but twice or even three times. And that my friends is the closest thing to heaven you will ever find. Trust me on this.

Just one tiny little reminder. When you are standing at a gate and a patroller opens it so you can ski that beautiful pristine line while she coils the rope, please don’t stampede her or run over her skis or push her down. Remember, on powder days your true nature comes out. It’s easy to be Mr. Nice Guy on a groomer day.

As an example, here’s a hearty shout out to Joel Hammond. As I rushed to open Gate 10 at Northway yesterday, he told me to wait so he could give me a hug first. Now that’s a gentlemen. High-five Joel. I hope your run in “O” Meadows lived up to its name.

4 thoughts on “You Should Have Been Here Yesterday

  1. Matty

    While there are obviously a ton of accomplished and loyal “local” skiers at Crystal, there are also a bunch of us loyal and adept snowboarders, too. Those of us in Seattle also drive 3+ hours (round-trip) to snowboard at your resort. We ride Northway and the South Back. We have avi training and equipment and know how to use it. We read your blog. We’re loyal and responsible patrons who are enjoying and financially supporting the largest (and some say the best) resort in Washington. One of only two U.S. stops for the North Face Masters free-riding snowboard competition is at Crystal. 

    Why is it only the skiers that get mentioned in your posts?


    1. Matty,

      I’ve always said “skiers” as a stand in for anyone who slides on snow. For a while there I tried the politically correct “skiers and riders” or “sliders and riders” but it just feels wierd. Nowadays the more PC term would have to be “skiers, snowboarders, snow-bikers, skate-skiers and snow-bladers”. Forgive me. Just know that when I say “skiers” I’m talking about everyone. Most of my snowboarding friends agree that “skiers” includes them too. I had thought the old divisions were a thing of the past.


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