Another View of the Big Slide

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Niagras slide taken by Paul Noges from the lodges

Here’s another view of the Niagras and Employee Housing Slide. This is an entirely new slide path. The area in the photo used to be heavy timber. In the upper portion of the photo, this was previously part of the new tree limbing. These trees were tagged with E for Employee Housing. Looks like some good new skiing all the way to my house once we get those trees out of there this summer. John is already revamping the summer cutting work. I have a feeling we will be hearing chainsaws buzzing all summer long in preparation for making these new areas skiable next year.

No matter how long I’ve been there, Crystal never stops surprising me.

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5 responses »

  1. Wow, thanks for sharing, haven’t made it to Crystal since March 26. Hey I was roomies with Paul Noges’ sister in college and spent some crazy weekends at the Biliken!

    Anyway, great blog, amazing adventures, great photos, etc. and keep on writing! Will look for your memoir!

    • Jill,
      Thanks for stopping by! I, too, have spent some time at the Biliken lodge. What a cozy fireplace they have. I checked out your blog, and I love it. Great photos of Southback! And I have to agree, Southback does rock. I like to think of it, especially the summit of the King, as my “happy place”.
      Best,
      Kim

  2. Amazing avalanche season! I’m curious how they decide which areas to convert to new ski paths and which areas to let regrow? Based on lots of factors like location, terrain, slope and…?

    • Lorraine,
      Avalanches of this size are rare at a ski area. The snow is usually beaten into submission one snowflake at a time (as we like to say around here) from all the skiers and riders work-hardening every day. The layers usually bond well. In this case, we have a rare persistent weak layer with tons of snow on top of it–a perfect recipe for huge slides.

      Keeping the slopes skiable takes serious maintenance around here. During the summer, ski trails are kept trim so that new trees don’t grow up. Once a tree gets to be six inches in diameter it takes an act of congress (or at least the blessing of the Forest Service, who, actually is fairly reasonable) to cut it down. Since trees grow so quickly around here, Crystal has far more trees today than it did when it opened. Back then, large avalanches and summer sheep herders actually kept the trees small. In the past few years, many once-skiable glades are now completely choked off with new growth. In the past few years we have been able to limb and trim some of these trees, thereby opening the terrain to skiing once again.

      So to answer your question: now that the trees are gone from these three areas, they will be skied. This summer a chainsaw crew will be busy to clear the piles of rubble, and next season these new runs will have skiers for the first time. Some of the runs may be allowed to regrow–however now that these slide paths have opened up, new avalanches will be able to run that much farther, so nature might take care of some of that regrowth. We will see how the runs ski. I currently have a several thousand vertical foot run coming to within fifty feet of my house, which is pretty sweet, actually.

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