Crystal remains a very strange place. With the addition of the Northway chair this season, the lift served terrain is now indisputably the best in the Pacific Northwest. Extensive, steep, and this season, with a 100+ inch base in mid April, remarkably great riding. We had mid-winter conditions, and from Sunday morning it snowed like crazy. By the afternoon we were skiing untracked pow in the trees. It was hard to drive home.
But the base ‘village’ remains a complete quality contrast to the skiing. A collection of old, slightly tattered, and ‘expensive to stay in’ condos, clustered around one respectable restaurant and a small-ish bar. The latter, the Snorting Elk, is however the saving grace and a true attraction that offsets suffering the sub-standard, poor value accommodation.
The equation at the Elk each weekend is similar. There’s decent bar grub, an interesting selection of local microbrews, and a band that plays, usually the same set, on Friday and Saturday night. And the bands are usually pretty entertaining.
It’s a cosy place, with a big, social fireplace area, and when the band plays, it’s loud. You can sit around and shout at each other, or get out on the dance floor and join the crazy action with an eclectic collection of people, who simply have in common the love of sliding down snowy slopes. By 10pm, it seems everyone chooses the latter!
So Saturday night was a very fine Snorting Elk evening (pics here). This is evidenced by the re-emergence of the Scarpa Girls (see below), who were missing their final ‘4 Core’ member, Teresa. It appears T has given up serious skiing in favor of green groomers, rope tows, teaching kids, and a man. Sad, but maybe true :). Only time will tell.
Sunday for me at least started a little slowly. But before lunch the Powder Bowl was skiing sweetly, and the afternoon served up a wonderful exploration of terrain off Northway, in the ever-deepening new snow. There’s some incredible terrain off this chair. Next year, we’ll be back. For the spectacular terrain, snow and the Elk. And we’ll keep hoping for some improvements at the base. Probably forlornly.
Day 50 – 8,200m Day 51 – 6,500m
Season totals: 51 days, 29 powder days, 401,500m vertical