Outdoors

No snow? No problem. Crystal Mountain spends $4.8 million to give Mother Nature a boost

A snow gun blows out snow at Crystal Mountain Resort before the 2016-17 season. The resort added 29 guns before this season.
A snow gun blows out snow at Crystal Mountain Resort before the 2016-17 season. The resort added 29 guns before this season. lwong@thenewstribune.com

The arrival of ski season will get a helping hand from Crystal Mountain this fall.

The state’s largest ski area is adding 29 snow guns giving it the capability of blanketing 70 acres with snow. It’s an upgrade Crystal officials made a priority in recent years after some mediocre ski seasons. The ski resort spent $4.8 million on the first phase of their two-year snowmaking upgrade, according to the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association.

The snowmaking equipment gives ski areas a security blanket of sorts.

“We’ve seen it really help us in terms of extending the season, getting open early, staying open late,” Schweitzer Mountain Resort marketing manager Dig Chrismer told The News Tribune in 2015. “It’s a boost for Mother Nature when she’s tired. We’ve been able to stay open longer than other ski areas in our area who don’t have snowmaking.”

Crystal now has the largest snowmaking system in Washington, passing Mission Ridge and its 18 guns.

Crystal and other ski areas are hoping their snowmaking equipment doesn’t have to work too hard this season. Promising forecasts call for a colder than normal winter.

The upgrade is just part of what will be new in Washington this season according to the PNSAA. A closer look:

Crystal Mountain: New lights were added to the Quicksilver lift near the base area. The Mount Rainier Gondola will increase capacity by 21 percent with the addition of five new cabins. Campbell Basin Lodge has a new bar and pizza oven.

White Pass: The ski area will unveil a 380-foot surface lift — one of the longest in the state — to the learning center. A new operations and ski patrol building is under construction.

Bluewood: The ski area near Walla Walla expanded its rental shop and took steps to decrease generator noise in the lodge.

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