Tag Archives: powder skiing

Last Day for Lift-Served Skiing at Crystal


Tomorrow, Saturday July 16th, will be the last day for lift-served skiing at Crystal Mountain. It’s been a long, eventful season and thanks to La Nina we’ve broken all sorts of records this season. Here’s a recap:

  • 612″ of snow fell at Crystal Mountain this season (breaking the previous record by a good foot and change)

    The King in late April, 2011

  • We reached our maximum snowpack in April. I used to think that after April 1, even if we got big storms, the snow would already be headed towards its inexorable slide towards the rivers, melting a little every day. Not so this season.
  • 60+ days of Avalanche Control by the ski patrol

    Snow Safety Director Chet Mowbray getting up close and personal with Horseshoe Cliffs

  • New Gondola!

    My favorite ride

  • Longest season on record
  • My personal best for powder days


So, with all these big reasons to proclaim our fealty to La Nina, join me up at Crystal Mountain tomorrow to get a few more turns. We’ll be raising our glasses at 3pm at the Summit House to toast the season, the gondola and most of all, La Nina. That lady of winter can visit anytime; she’s always welcome in my backyard.

What are your favorite ski conditions?


photo by Kim Kircher

With spring skiing upon us (fingers crossed), I’d like to take this opportunity to ask all of you about your favorite ski conditions.

photo by Kim Kircher

Is it powder? Spring Corn? Moguls? Groomers? Anything you’re skiing at the moment? Take this poll and let us know.

photo by John Kircher

photo by Kim Kircher

photo by Andrew Longstreth

Avalanche Control–What a Day!


Yesterday I did two avalanche control routes with my good friend Anna. Due to the high winds and heavy snow of the previous day, the mountain was blown flat–rendered smooth and filled in. I love those kind of days when the mountain feels pristine and clean as if never touched by skis or boards.

But wind slabs are dangerous too.

Debris from the slides we started piled up high below Horseshoe cliffs. A shot placed in just the right spot can penetrate a weak spot and yank free an avalanche. Other teams got big results too. But then other shots did nothing.

In Southback, my first shot on the southeast side of the King pulled out an 8 incher that spread through the lower bench–not a bad result. But when the debris settled, Anna and I realized the pile of debris at the bottom was much too large. We later realized why.

When it barreled through the steeper section below the bench midway down, the weight of the avalanche broke lose a deeper layer–perhaps 2 feet lower, creating a much bigger, much deadlier avalanche.

The team on the north side of the King had a similar result above Elizabeth lake. Perhaps we have a buried surface hoar layer weakening our lower snowpack.

Looking out past ThreeWay in Southback, I also noticed signs of natural avalanches all the way from Joe’s Badass Shoulder, past Speed Control and Rooster Head towards Dogleg. From a distance, it’s hard to tell, but I saw what could have been a six-foot crown.

We finally opened Southback at 3pm, and in just 30 minutes of being open, our reliable skiers came to track it up and help stabilize the slope. Thanks to all those that kept the faith, didn’t leave early, waited at the gate off of Chair 6 and were rewarded with the deep promise of a pristine line all to themselves. I even saw Ross Gregg, Dirtbag King, enjoying some fresh turns.

All in all, an amazing day on the mountain!

Winter Storm Watch in the Cascades


(This post has been updated.  See below.)
The National Weather Service is predicting a big storm to hit the Cascades Tuesday night.  Forecasters are calling for 4-6 FEET of snow to fall in a 48 hour period.  It seems farfetched, but keep your eyes on the weather.  It could be epic.

Several years ago, 60 inches of snow fell in a 24 hour period.  We still refer to that storm as the 60 Incher.  It was back before fat skis; Green Valley looked like a still photograph with people pointed straight down the slope, frozen in place. 

Of course, with this amazing storm galloping towards us, John and I decided to take a vacation.  The holidays are over, the gondola is up and running and we’ve both been working non-stop since November.  A few days in the sun seemed like a good idea. 

But we might just miss the biggest storm of the season.  At least I won’t have to track it from afar since my computer was stolen out of my car yesterday while at a meeting in Southcenter Mall (bastards!). 

So if you go up into the mountains this week, be safe and remember not to inhale too much snow.  Tuck your chin into your collar, wipe your goggles and enjoy the euphoria.  I know what I said earlier about fat skis.  I take it back.  If it snows 6 feet, bring your Pontoons.  You’re going to need them.   

Oh yeah.  And don’t save any for us.

Update: As of Tuesday morning, the forecast center is now calling for a warm up later in the week.  It is still supposed to dump tomorrow, but by Thursday it will be warm and still wet. Tomorrow will certainly be the better day, for obvious reasons.  Also note that with a significant warm up on top of cold, dryer snow, the avalanche hazard will greatly increase. Check the NWAC forecast before heading out-of-bounds.  

Winter Forecast


Hola La Nina!  Big, deep snows coming our way.   Look out world, the center of the skiing universe might just be hovering over the pacific northwest this winter.  Yeehaw!  Check out this link.  http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/news/story/34891/winter-2011-heavier-snow-for-c.asp