In response to traffic, crowding, and parking issues, Crystal Mountain, Washington, will no longer sell walk-up full-day tickets on weekends and holidays. Instead, it will offer a limited number of tickets for online advance purchase. The resort will still honor Ikon passes and any other advance purchase product.
The amount of advance tickets available for weekends and holidays will depend on variables such as the “snow forecast, mountain conditions, traffic, road conditions, and any other factors that contribute to people making their decision to ski on that day,” resort president and COO Frank deBerry said in an open letter posted to Crystal’s website. These adjustments were made after three weekends of great snow conditions where parking lots topped out early and the resort struggled to manage traffic on the mountain road.
“We are especially regretful to those who attempted to ski or ride with us and were turned around or were severely delayed,” DeBerry said in the letter. “It is not what we want our guests or our community to feel. We’ve heard your frustration through a steady stream of emails, phone calls, and social media posts. Hearing from so many of our passionate customers has catalyzed us to stop, deconstruct the last several weekends of this overcrowding, and review everything we can in order to improve our mountain experience.”
Critics claim that the Ikon pass is to blame for the over-crowding. Crystal Mountain was sold to Alterra and joined the Ikon Pass in October of 2018. DeBerry admitted it was a factor, but defended the pass, saying, “As skiers and snowboarders, we all love a big storm. Yet as more and more of us have discovered the joy of a powder day—and as word travels faster through our networks and our community—we’ve become a much bigger bunch. Too much love for Crystal is a complicated problem, with no easy fix.”
On weekends and holidays, Crystal will continue to honor Ikon Pass holders, advanced ticket products such as 5-pack vouchers, and advance single days tickets already purchased.
Crystal is also addressing the issue with long-term plans to expand parking, with public transit coaches from Seattle, Tacoma, and Enumclaw, and a carpool initiative for vehicles with four or more people.
Read DeBerry’s open letter from January 14, 2020:
AN OPEN LETTER TO OUR COMMUNITY
At Crystal Mountain, we are skiers and snowboarders at heart. We love this mountain and appreciate the community that supports it and makes it what it is. We all first came here for the same reasons—for the storms and the snow, the views and the terrain, and for the power we feel by being surrounded by this environment. We all believe in the experience of this mountain.
We want to acknowledge that the last three weekends have not felt the same as before. Crystal Mountain Boulevard was a mess and we ran out of parking earlier and earlier each day. We are especially regretful to those who attempted to ski or ride with us and were turned around or were severely delayed. It is not what we want our guests or our community to feel. We’ve heard your frustration through a steady stream of emails, phone calls, and social media posts.
We wish to acknowledge all of you, all your opinions, and let you know we have read or listened to every single message. Every single one. Hearing from so many of our passionate customers has catalyzed us to stop, deconstruct the last several weekends of this overcrowding, and review everything we can in order to improve our mountain experience. One thing we will not do is sit still, not listen to our customers and carry on as if nothing has changed.
TOO MUCH LOVE
Our customers have overwhelmingly cited the Ikon Pass as the singular cause of this recent crowding phenomenon. While this of course has played a significant role, there’s a larger context.
As skiers and snowboarders, we all love a big storm. Yet as more and more of us have discovered the joy of a PNW powder day—and as word travels faster through our networks and our community—we’ve become a much bigger bunch. On the biggest weekends, our mountain roads are choked, our parking areas are now reaching capacity earlier and there are a lot more of us charged up to play in the powder. Our region too is bursting with a lot more folks who live here because of what our mountains offer. Crystal has not been immune and we’re all feeling the crush.
The season snow conditions started slowly and then literally burst into some of the best conditions in recent history. We experienced a perfect storm of pent up demand to ski and ride Crystal at its best. This was incredible for some but frustrating for many.
Part of the charm and allure of Crystal Mountain is its relative isolation and untrammeled feel. We are literally at the end of the road. No matter what initiative we put in place to help mitigate congestion on such days, Highway 410 is still two lanes, as is Crystal Mountain Boulevard.
Too much love for Crystal is a complicated problem with no easy fix.
We are working to expand parking this summer and we’ve started our own public transit program with luxury coach routes running from Seattle, Tacoma and Enumclaw. The Enumclaw buses have been free of charge on days where our parking lots are full.
We’ve added a carpooling initiative to reward those who can carpool with four or more people.
These customers are substantively contributing to a greater good, and we should all collectively thank them. We’ve added informational electronic signage in Enumclaw that’s kept current to the minute. We’ve dramatically increased our text messaging beginning at 5:30am, our social media messaging is detailed and has increased frequency, our daily ‘Mountain Report’ online is transparent and posted early. Many of these ideas have come directly from our customers.
But we are also asking for your help. We’d like you to change how you think about skiing—four-person carpooling instead of driving solo, riding our coach buses regularly and taking advantage of our midweek and afternoon-to-night skiing option.
All those things will help the greater good, but we also need to take more immediate action.
A TOUGH BUT NECESSARY DECISION
Effective Saturday, January 18th, we have taken a decision to preserve the aspect of what we all love about this mountain – a community resort, with an uncommercial and pristine environment and amazing skiing and riding. It was a tough call – we are skiers at heart and turning away those who love the mountain is not in our nature. But something needs to change for the community good.
We will discontinue selling walk-up full day tickets at the ticket booths on weekends and holidays in order to hold skier visits to what our roads and parking infrastructure is designed to handle.
We will monitor this closely and make adjustments as we continue to learn how this will impact our guests and the mountain.
On weekends and holidays, we will continue to honor all Ikon Pass holders, purchasers of any advanced ticket product such as 5-pack vouchers, advance single days tickets, and other such products.
We will offer a finite amount of advance tickets online for weekends and holidays. But we will limit the available quantities of these day tickets based on a consideration of variables such as the snow forecast, mountain conditions, traffic, road conditions, and any other factors that contribute to people making their decision to ski on that day.
Our belief is that this will have the effect of capping total numbers of skiers to a level that our roads and parking infrastructure can accommodate while still providing a premium experience.
In the short term, for this season we will continue to reinforce our efforts to give timely and transparent travel and parking information. We will continue investing large sums in providing bus service to Crystal. We will continue incenting our customers to carpool. And in the coming weeks, we will be announcing new and more rewarding incentives to our customers who visit on weekdays.
This initiative is a part of maintaining our untrammeled experience and the rustic nature of why we love Crystal. Like everyone, we need to begin to change our behavior to help sustain our ski experience now and for future generations. Our commitment is to provide our guests with a superior experience – we believe that these steps will move us towards that objective. As a community, we all love Crystal, but right now it’s a mountain that is feeling too much love and we are taking decisive action to preserve what it means to all of us.
With respect and gratitude.
President & COO