Tag Archives: Weather

I Might Be Getting a Little Bored Waiting For Snow


While the ski season is right around the corner, it’s still no where in sight. It’s mid-October, the weather forecast is hinting at an Atmospheric River event next week and the mountains are still brown. So what’s a girl to do? Certainly there are some fun ski porn premieres to attend. And the Snow Angels event fired up the season stoke. There’s even another ski patrol fundraiser aimed specifically at Crystal Mountain’sĀ avalanche dogs coming next month if you missed it.

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These events are fun, but they aren’t the same as skiing.

So, instead it might be time to bring back one of the best online viral videos of a few years ago. Why? Because you never really can get enough of Jian Sword Dancing. It’s not skiing, but maybe it’s the next best thing. You’re welcome.

The Four W’s: When Winter Packs a Punch


Winter finally arrived last week and so did the four w’s: wild, windy, wet and wacky. Really, it’s the three w’s but we like to throw the wacky in there because you just never know. This is Crystal and things can get pretty crazy sometimes. On Saturday the Crystal telemetry recorded a spike to 111 mph at the top of Rainier Express. That’s a Category 3 hurricane.

By Sunday morning we’d picked up 24 inches of snow in 24 hours according to the human observation at the Green Valley weather station. From 5am to 8am Sunday morning it snowed 10″. That’s more than 3″ an hour. This fluffy “bonus snow” caused quite a bit of chaos in the parking lot as the plowing crews had to re-plow at the exact time that everyone was arriving. It made for a long drive and an even longer time parking.

It also made for some excellent skiing.

Speaking of wind, check out this video taken recently at Bridger Bowl. The winds were in the 70s this day. Just imagine what Rex looked like on Saturday with those spikes in the Category 3 range. Makes me shiver.

Hopefully most of you were able to partake in the Sunday morning goods. It doesn’t get like that very often in the PNW and when it happens on a weekend, the untracked snow goes fast. We opened Northway for the first time this season at 1:30 on Sunday, and those that stuck around got some good skiing there too.

We are implementing a new program at the Northway gates on big days. Skiers and riders with beacons and partners get to come to the front of the line and go through the gates first. Even though we use explosives to mitigate the avalanche hazard, Northway and Southback are still avalanche prone areas. They simply do not see the same skier compaction as our “in area” terrain. Thus, we recommend skiing with a partner and carrying a beacon and shovel. We are also tweeting our openings, and giving our followers an early heads up. So follow us at @crystalmtpatrol and help us spread the message by retweeting.

The forecast is now calling for a return to high pressure. This should give the snowpack a chance to settle out. While doing avalanche control in Southback this morning, we saw evidence of some big natural avalanches in the backcountry. So giving the layers a chance to bond and the snowpack an opportunity to find some equilibrium is a good thing. Let’s just hope this return to spring doesn’t last too long. I’m kind of partial to winter.

The Return of Winter


Winter might just be returning to the PNW. Things are starting to look up. The graph below shows the predicted snowfall (in inches) between now and Thursday evening. The white oval to the southeast of Tacoma is Mt. Rainier. Crystal Mountain lies to the east and slight north, somewhere in the 11″ to 32″ line. That seems a bit too-good-to-be-true, but a foot of new would make a huge difference. My fingers are officially crossed.

Cascades Snow

84 Hour Snowfall Forecast


Good day of Skiing Ahead


It’s finally snowing in the base area. After another 6″ in Green Valley overnight, today will be a good day. But any day in the mountains is great. See you in the slopes.


Last Weekend to Ski at Crystal (Plus a Bonus)


Skiing isn’t over until the fat mountain sings

There’s one last weekend to ski at Crystal before we switch over to full summer operations. Green Valley and the Gondola will be open Saturday and Sunday for one last hurrah of the 2012 spring skiing season. It has been an interesting few months, with the weather conditions running the gamut from winter to summer and back again.

Currently the forecast for Sunday (the better of the two days) is calling for partly sunny skies with a chance of showers in the Cascades. Not bad, considering that it’s currently foggy and misting from the Sound to the Cascades. The weather here giveth and it taketh away. But at least our forests are not exploding in firestorm.

Oh, and the bonus? Sunday is July 1st, which means that for all you turns-all-year folks, you can check off that skiing-in-July box the very first day of the month. So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

Why We Have Seasons


Soon the snow will melt

I suppose the purpose of Spring is to make the loss of Winter seem okay. Daffodils are sprouting and cherry trees are blossoming like snowfall caught in their branches.

Winter is almost over, and it is bittersweet.

I enjoy spring skiing–when the snow changes to isothermal pellets frozen harder each night and softer each warm day–but so far we haven’t had much. Instead the snow has kept on, relentlessly prolonging winter. In the past 30 days, we’ve had 13 feet of snow at Crystal. The windows in my house are now completely buried under 10 feet of snow. I tried to dig them out the other day, just to get a sliver of light into my bedroom, but it was futile. The drip line of the roof has created an impenetrable line of frozen snow that bent my shovel.

I love these days

It’s too bad that the days are getting warmer and longer. My favorite chutes are filled in now. All the roughest parts of the mountain are smooth; the snow has covered over all the grooves and crevices and erased the cliffs. But soon the sun–if we do see it this weekend as predicted–will shrink the snow away from the rocks. Soon Winter will lose its grip and Summer will prevail.

I had my hair cut yesterday in anticipation of soon being seen without a hat on.

John balances on the slackline

This is supposed to happen, of course. Life changes. We grow older. Relationships end. New ones begin. Snow melts. Flowers sprout. For most city dwellers, the arrival of Spring must be grand. But for a skier, it’s bittersweet.

Sure, I love sun. I long to feel its rays warm the part in my hair and soften my cold bones. I look forward to walking barefoot in warm grass and dipping my legs in cool water. I can’t wait to trade my ski boots for flipflops.

I just wish the snow could stick around too. I want it all–warm days in the valleys and cold smoke in the mountains. I want to play one day on my slackline and paddle across a smooth lake on my board, then ski powder the next. I want to gather the best moments of my life and live them all at once. Life is too short to space out our joy this way.

Leah battles the wind on Niagras

But then I notice a patch of daffodils and can’t help but look forward to the smell of dirt and leaves warmed by the sun. I’m curious about the wildflowers this season. Will they arrive earlier this summer? Will they be glorious? Will the lake warm up by June? Will the Spring snow stay on the volcanoes long enough to be climbed and skied in stable weather?

We’ve had such a good winter, I hate to see it go. But then again it has been a tough winter. Every snowfall has come with wind. The upper mountain was closed far too often. Many parts of the country had dismal snowfall. Perhaps I should welcome the change.

Not before I ski a few more days however. Crystal will remain open on weekends as long as the snow lasts, so it isn’t over. Soon my windows will let in light again as the snow retreats.

That’s the way it should be I suppose.

Weather Incoming


I like the look of the next 5 days

Looks like a return to wintery conditions this week with what the forecasters at NOAA are calling a troughy week that “IS A VERY GOOD PATTERN FOR SKIERS WHO PREFER THE LACK OF CROWDS IN MARCH BUT LIKE DEEP SNOW.”

Truer words were never spoken. Might be a good week for some midweek skiing. Just saying.


Weekly High-Five Report: Crystal Skiers


It can get windy around here

Northwest skiers are pretty hardcore. The past several days have brought challenging weather conditions to Western Washington and still the skiers came up to brave the elements. Seems we just can’t get enough. On Sunday, before Rex and the Gondola temporarily went on wind hold, I stood at the top of Green Valley in 70mph winds and watched the skiers glide by in droves. Northway had just opened and epic powder awaited. But first they had to ski through a hurricane to get there.

Sunday was one of those days that skiers dream of. The morning started early with First Tracks Breakfast, where I hooked up with Ingrid, Tiana and Kerry–other ski professionals that also had the day off. We lapped Green Valley and Memorial Forest until Northway opened, then dropped into Paradise and enjoyed the deep, untracked snow.

Girls just wanna ski pow

At one point I looked around at the hoards of skiers all wearing high-tech clothing, helmets and goggles, moving through hurricane force winds to get at the powder. Later Ingrid, who skis all over the world, declared Crystal skiers as the most hardcore she’s ever come across. Other skiers, she claims, are spoiled. Here, we’re just really into it. I have to agree. These people are dedicated.

And I understand why. We have it pretty good here. The weather can be brutal, but when it’s on, there’s no place like Crystal.

So here’s to all those folks plying the windy vortex this weekend, their smiles turned to stony ice, their whoops swallowed by the wind. Bravo guys. Because when Ingrid Backstrom says you rock, then well, you pretty much do.