| Projects | Archive | 2014-04-30

Crystal Mountain: 2 New Chairlifts & More for 14/15

We’re building two new chairlifts and will be working on several other ski area improvement projects this summer, projected at $4 million!

New Chairlift: High Campbell/Chair 6
The bottom terminal and lower two towers of the High Campbell chair were destroyed by an avalanche on March 10, 2014. The aging lift was going to be replaced in the next couple of years, but the destructive avalanche solidified plans for it to be replaced this summer. The new lift will be a fixed grip double manufactured by SkyTrac, the only American ski lift manufacturer. The new chairs will be at least two times heavier than the old ones, and will be able to run more in windy weather. Both terminals will be in the same place as the old High Campbell chair. The old concrete footings for the towers will also be used, which will reduce cost and materials. The capacity will be the same as the old one, which means it won’t get tracked out any faster. It will also include a full diesel auxiliary backup. In addition, we’ll be doing some rock blasting at the top to widen the unload area. It will officially be renamed ‘Chair 6’ which was the original name when the chair was installed in 1980.

Good old High Campbell. Photo: Andrew Longstreth

New Chair 6 Statistics
900 people per hour
500 feet per minute
915 vertical feet
2,353’ slope length
13 towers
85 chairs at 7.2 second intervals

Chair 6 Extras
We’re also going to install three Gazex exploders at the top of Powder Bowl. These exploders, ubiquitous in the Alps and relatively new to North America, use propane and oxygen to deliver a 360 degree blast. The mixing shed that houses the tanks will be at the summit of the Queen and the three exploders will be spread out on the left side of Powder Bowl. This will allow patrol to complete control work much earlier and quicker.

Gazex Exploder

Another improvement slated for the top of the new Chair 6 is–snowmaking! We won’t be installing the snowmaking this summer due to some necessary environmental work and Forest Service planning, but we hope to get it going for 2015-16.

New Chairlift: Quicksilver
We will be replacing the double fixed-grip chairlift with a fixed-grip CTEC quad. This will increase the current capacity from 1,070 people per hour (pph) to 1,800 pph. It’s also going to be relocated along a designated route in the trees between Boondoggle and the existing Quicksilver trail. This will open up the run providing great unobstructed intermediate terrain. Some regrading work will also be done to improve the slope. The top terminal will be located about 250 feet lower, eliminating the steeper face up top which is too challenging for beginner intermediates. This project is part of an ongoing effort to improve the beginner to intermediate experience, and will be a much better option for beginners looking to move up the mountain. It will also include a SunKid loading conveyer with a child lift. We plan to make Quicksilver a part of our regular daily operations starting next season.

Quicksilver Statistics
1,800 people per hour
450 feet per minute
717 vertical feet
3,435’ slope length 16 towers
151 chairs at 8 second intervals

PistenBully 600 Electric Diesel Snowcat
We’re adding a new grooming machine to our fleet, and it’s not your ordinary snowcat. It’s an electric diesel which is the most efficient and eco-friendly machine of its kind. This engine technology consumes up to 20% less fuel and emits less CO2. Crystal will be home to two of these machines next winter, the first ski area in North America to have them. One we will own, and the other will be used as a demo machine. This is just one more step towards becoming the leader in the Northwest in grooming!

Diesel Backup Generator
We will be installing a generator that will power all of the base area facilities in the event of a major power outage. If the existing Puget Sound Energy generator fails, as was the case a couple times this past winter, this new generator will serve as a backup. Basically it’s a backup to the backup. We don’t ever want to be stuck in the dark again, and we know you don’t either.

Up Next:
We plan to build two additional lifts in the next couple of years; Kelly’s Gap Express and Bullion Basin. The Kelly’s Gap chair which starts in B lot, will enhance the way the terrain is skied currently. Less people will have to funnel through the base area to get on the mountain. It will also solve the upper mountain wind issue on days when Rainier Express can’t operate due to strong winds, providing an alternative to the Green Valley and Northway chairs. The Bullion Basin lift will open new intermediate terrain on the east side of the valley, spreading people out even more. The lift will begin in C lot. It will also provide access to some of the best ski-touring terrain in the area. The goal is to build both of these lifts within the next 3 years, with one as early as next summer.

We also plan to expand the skier services lodge. The retail shops will be combined on the first floor (where rentals is now), with a new locker room. The Snow Sports School and Kids Club will be located on the second floor, along with a new slopeside restaurant and bar. Additionally we plan to build a new hotel with meeting space where the Chapel building is currently located. The hotel will include an initial 45 rooms spread out over three floors. The plan calls for up to 150 rooms total. The additional rooms will be built as single-family cabins scattered along the hillside. We plan to break ground on this in the next couple of years.

Looking Back

After 7 years of planning and environmental studies, which cost $2.5 million, the Master Development Plan was approved in 2004. The Campbell Basin Lodge (2004), Northway chairlift (2007), Mt. Rainier Gondola (2010) and the Waste Water Treatment Plant (2013) were the first major projects included in the plan to come to life. “We’re committed to investing in the area and making improvements that will enhance our guest experience,” said John Kircher, General Manager. Since John Kircher/Boyne Resorts purchased Crystal Mountain in 1997, over $40 million dollars have been invested in the area. The first two projects included upgrading Forest Queen Express (1997) and Chinook Express (1998) to high-speed detachable six-passenger lifts. Followed by replacing Green Valley (2000) with a high-speed detachable four-passenger lift.

We’ve got a long and exciting road ahead of us, and we look forward to enjoying the improvements with each and every one of you! Stay tuned for project updates over the summer.

Add Photos

Picture Gallery / Construction Diary:

Google Adsense