Special “Low Snow” HAPPY NEW YEAR Safety Alert

A few of our customers have been caught by surprise by the difference between THIS ski season, and THE LAST FEW ski seasons.   The skiing and boarding are still real fun, but with a thin snowpack, you gotta pay attention to your SPACE & SPEED a little different than you did last March.  Here are a few tips:

“SLOW” versus “IN CONTROL”:   EVERY SINGLE PERSON who crashes into somebody else assures us they were “in control” at the time.  So that means they crashed into the other person on-purpose—essentially assaulting them, right?  Wrong.   They were out-skiing their ability to stop once they fell and were sliding on their clothes.  Solution?  Go slower near people & obstacles!

When it’s COLD & CLEAR you can see a long ways and it’s tempting to go fast.  But you gotta remember that when there are little rocks & twigs, even the BEST of skiers can get tripped-up if not paying attention!  And translucent icy patches look a lot like soft-snow thin patches, and all of a sudden your expert-level buddy face-plants right in front of you (or maybe YOU face-plant right in front of THEM) and you shred each others’ new North Face with your ski or board edges!   Solution:  Increase the SPACE between you and obstacles when you’re going fast!

Don’t be afraid to download the Gondola.  We’ve had a few days of temperature inversion and the bottom parts of the more-advanced runs have been icier than usual, and Forest Queen & Rainier Express skiers & boarders are rightfully gripped when it’s time to go home!  Solution:  Feel free to up-load REX and download the Gondola to avoid icy and thin-snow conditions—and less-than-usual grooming—toward the Base!

KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED!  We haven’t had enough snow to round-out all the little humps and bumps that occur in the natural environment.  So keep your eyes focused on what’s ahead of you, and anticipate people in front of you making sudden moves to avoid hazards.  Trust that little voice in your head that tells you to “STOP!” when you’re not sure what’s ahead of you.

Get out of your car carefully…there may be ice in the parking lots.  Walk up to the base area carefully…be aware of vehicles in-motion if you choose to walk in roadways.  Stop off to the side of ski trails and narrow areas, if you need to take a breather or to make plans with your friends.

And most of all–don’t stay away just because there’s not a ton of snow.  Those of us who HAVE TO  be here every day have been having a blast…but we’re used to the unpredictability of travel in the Back Country, so we’re used to practicing our “cautious skiing” skills.  YOU CAN TOO!

Spring has arrived!

Finally Crystal Mountain is enjoying a real spring. The past two seasons have offered snowy March storms. This year March was more spring-like than ever. April showers, however (in the form of snow) may be in store for the weekend. But for now, we are relaxing Euro-style and soaking up some much needed vitamin D. Come join us before the weather changes on Thursday.

What Does it Take to be Dirtbag Royalty?


The Dirtbag Ball is just around the corner, and we will soon be crowing a new King and Queen. Many have asked, just exactly what does it take to be Dirtbag Royalty? Well, here’s our loose criteria.

Skiing – this is one of the most important qualities of dirtbag royalty

  • You should ski a lot of days each season
  • You have to put in a lot of seasons at Crystal – it takes time

Job – below is a list of jobs that are fitting for dirtbag royalty:

  • None
  • A job we can’t talk about
  • Working a night shift at a low paying job (i.e. pizza delivery, night janitor, etc)
  • Doing something that allows for a lot of midweek skiing
Sid Kurtz, 2012 DBB King

Housing – below is a list of housing circumstances that are fitting for dirtbag royalty:

  • None – couch surfing, etc.
  • Car – your mailing address is your license plate
  • Shack – small, dilapidated/old and lacks certain necessities like water or heat
  • Camper – you should actually live in your camper as opposed to just staying there while you ski and then going home to your mansion in Madison Park
  • Tent/Snow Cave
  • Tight quarters – you live in 3-bedroom house, but you have 13 roommates and the door to your “room” is actually a curtain

Waking up

  • Getting in the gondola line before 9:00am consistently is good
  • Staying up late at the Elk and still getting on the gondola line before 9:00am is even better

Appearances (looking like a Dirtbag)

  • Showering – should never conflict with getting first chair
  • Haircuts – should be done by friends with clippers or trauma shears
  • Laundry – doing your laundry in Enumclaw more than once a month is probably too much
  • Not Spending Money (aka being cheap)
    • Gear
  • You should buy cheap skis at thrift stores ii.     Skiing on old gear like rear-entry boots and 207cm straight skis is good iii.     Your retro skiwear party outfit should be your everyday clothing iv.     Mismatched boots or skis are good
  • Food and drink (“are you going to finish that?”)
  • You drink the beer in the bottom of the pitcher that someone left on the table .
  • You eat the leftover food off of people’s plates at the elk
Jesse and Corey, giving it all they got

Being an Ambassador

  • Patrol should be able to come to you with info to pass along to other regulars/locals

Stepping it up

  • You may have been at Crystal for a long time and have a lot of dirtbag qualities, but you should step it up for a season in order to get elected

Avi Dog Shot Glasses

FUN FACT   It can help build your confidence for skiing steeper terrain, to see what it looks like with no snow on it.  Seriously!  What’s concave.  What’s convex.  Where the rocks are jagged so edge gingerly early-season, and where the ground is smooth so you can confidently check your speed.

So get up to Crystal before the Summer ends to scout your favorite line for this coming winter.  Then while you’re at it, reward a leg strengthening hike to Mountain Top with refreshments from the Summit House, and stop by the base Mountain Shop to pick up your Avalanache Rescue Dog Shot Glasses!



Created by local glass (among other media) artist Karen Buhler, the glasses are individually hand blown (so no two are alike!) to reflect each of our dogs.  If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see some subtle differences between glasses sitting on each dog’s Canine Hero Trading Card.  (There are more dogs than are shown here, this is just the best picture I could get with my phone.)


The photo below shows how keenly Karen captured the bushy puppy hair and white forehead stripe of our newest, cutest, candidate, Darwin Nathane-Haft.





How cool is it to have a shot glass made in your own image!  The dogs probably don’t even recognize the honor.   (I wonder what dogs’ favorite drink is…Tom & Jerry?   Salty Dog?  Pink Squirrel?)


You can catch more of Karen’s wall-hanging and free-standing figurative sculpure at her website:  Karen Buhler Glass.  Or you can check out her work in-person at  Vetri International Glass  near Pike Place Market.  And after checking out her cool glass work you can take a short 1/2 mile downhill stroll to drop by the Sodo brewpub for Elysian Brewery, co-founded by Karen’s dirtbag-skier husband Dave, and creator of MY FAVORITE PARTY BEER:  The Immortal IPA!

Patrollers love Dave ‘cuz he always seems to stick it out with us on the really crappy-weather days…not that we have that many of them at Crystal Mountain!  And now we love Karen, too, ‘cuz she makes Avi Dog Shot Glasses!  Thanks you two!

Incident Information and Patient Privacy

We’ve had an unusual number of rather high-profile unfortunate indicents recently.  We get lots of questions about the incident and the outcome for the patient from witnesses, concerned passers-by, friends and family, etc.  It’s nice to live and work in a community of regular customers that have such concern for each others’ well-being.  But I thought it would be good here to explain, generally, the context within which we gather and disperse information.


The United States has patient privacy laws that prevent us from giving out information except as is necessary for patient care.  (The actual laws are quite complex.  For more complete information read HIPAA and PSQIA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and the Patient Safety and Qualilty Improvement Act of  2005.  See ya’ in a couple months.)


Generally, we try to give friendly but fairly vague answers that sound like we’re telling you something when really we’re not.  We don’t do this because we’re jerks, we do this because it’s what the ethics of our profession require.  

I’ve had this catch patients’ friends and family members by surprise.  “Why can’t you tell me about my sister-in-law or my life-long buddy”?   But if you’ve followed the Gay Marriage debate at all lately you’ll know this is a real concern for more than a few people.  Unless you’re married to, the parent of, or the child of a patient, you might not have access to visit them or find out about their condition while under medical care.   

And EVEN IF you’re married to, the child of, or the parent of a patient,  you might not get information about them released to you.    It depends on what’s necessary and what they want kept confidential.  (Teenage birth control stuff comes to mind as an example.)

For our part, we generally will supply information to patients at the address or phone number they provide to us at the time of their injury.  Want confirmation that your daughter’s injured foot really prevents her from driving to your house for Easter?  You’ll have to ask her!  Want details of your ex-wife’s dislocated shoulder that prevents her from working sent to your divorce attorney?  Sorry, we can’t help you.


You may see us out taking pictures or measurements at particular accident sites.  We gather additional information about certain types of accidents.  Generally, this information is provided through channels that require professional accountability such as to employers, insurance claim adjustors, attorneys, etc., but not to your general yah-hoo passer-by hoping to catch a glimpse of gore and mayhem, and not to your buddy who knows a guy who knows a guy.  

Protecting our customers’ privacy is important to us.  Still, like your mother always said, when you’re out in public you should always wear your good underwear just in case!