The Battle Against Crowded Ski Hills
On a recent morning, a line of cars stretched from the Crystal Mountain Resort parking lots, down the Mount Rainier foothills, and all the way to the town of Auburn, 57 miles away. Welcome to a weekend powder day at Washington’s biggest ski area.
For two consecutive January weekends, the resort posted “lots full” on their site and message boards as early as 7:48 a.m. (first chair is at 9 a.m.), turning those away who didn’t see the notice after they’d waited in line for six hours. “By the third day, we went, ‘Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,’” says Crystal Mountain president and COO Frank DeBerry.
On January 13, the ski resort announced that they would no longer sell walk-up lift tickets on weekends. “You’re going to know before you get in the car whether or not you can get on the mountain,” DeBerry says. Purchased by Alterra Mountain Company in 2018, the resort will remain unlimited to Alterra’s Ikon Pass holders. Limited single-day advance tickets will be available (Crystal Mountain declined to share an exact number). The first weekend under the new policy sold out online in under 24 hours.