No snow means no go at Crystal

By Casey Steiner

The Courier-Herald

Ski junkies' hearts have been broken.

No early morning treks through uncut knee-deep powder on Brand-X remain for the addicted North backcountry "artist." No big-air opportunities await the avid thrill-seeking snow-teen and there are no "buffet" lessons for Junior and his classmates as they follow their ski instructor in a snake-like line learning the ever-important "pizza pie" maneuver.

For the first time in 30 years the slopes of Crystal Mountain are naked in January. No skiers, no snowboarders and no snow - nothing. Despite a prolonged fight for life, the ski season at Crystal Mountain, until further notice, is no more.

"This is the first time since 1975 we've had to close our doors this early," Tiana Enger, Crystal Mountain marketing manager, said. "But we're very hopeful to be back open as soon as possible."

Mother Nature has been unkind to ski enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest this winter. All but one of Washington's ski resorts were closed late last week as a result of an extremely low snow pack.

Crystal Mountain is bare of snow at its base and reports show a 22- to 23-inch snowpack at Green Valley, near the resort's summit. With any luck the mountain will receive an abundant snowfall and reopen later this month.

"Ideally, we'd like to reopen President's (Day) weekend," Enger said. "We obviously have no way of knowing when or if the snow is going to fall, but we're keeping our fingers crossed, doing our snow dances and praying to the snow gods."

According to Enger, no decision has been made on possible compensation for season ticket holders and those signed up for lessons. She said Crystal's ownership is mindful of the impact the short season might have on its customer fan base.

"We're of course concerned and are doing everything within our means to keep people happy and coming back to Crystal Mountain," Enger said.

Although each season ticket holder signs a waiver clearly stating the resort is not responsible for a shortened season, Enger said ownership is looking into different avenues of compensation, including discounts on a season's pass for next year, to keep customers happy. For anyone willing to make the trip, Crystal Mountain, while it's closed, is also offering free lift tickets to Brighton Resort in Utah.

Enger understands the frustration of season ticket holders, but is eternally optimistic of the next big snow.

"Sometimes you get more than your money's worth, sometimes you don't," Enger said. "No mountain anywhere, that I'm aware of, offers refunds. We'll have to wait and see what happens. We could very well get a big dump and have a great February and March ski season."

Casey Steiner can be reached at

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