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The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

Re-imagine Crystal: Seattle’s Largest Ski Mountain Goes Downhill

Photo Courtesy Crystal Mountain

There is nothing I love more than a good ski day. What I do not love, however, is the rising ticket prices and headaches required to get to the mountain. 

Washington state’s largest ski resort, Crystal Mountain, released plans for a $100 million rebuild on Thursday, March 3, that will add various structures on and around the mountain. The announcement video aimed to share what the owner, Alterra, found joyously profitable; but many local skiers and riders see this as our small, local mountain turning into a tourist resort with less focus on the slopes. 

The plans Crystal has laid out are an attempt to ease headaches. However, I worry Alterra’s plans do not solve the problems the skiers and boarders voice— instead Alterra focuses on profit. 

If you have been up to Crystal recently, you may share my frustration. Parking reservations open each Tuesday, and if you fail to acquire a spot at either noon or 7 p.m. you will be riding the shuttle from the Enumclaw Expo Center for almost 40 winding miles with nearly 60 others. 

The troubles do not end with parking. The lines waiting for you will give you flashbacks to the toilet paper queues of March 2020. Getting a ticket to get to the mountain proves to be quite costly, as a day pass costs anywhere from $100-200 or pass holders, such as Ikon passes, sold for $1,079 for the 2021-2022 season. 

These costs, as well as the need for equipment turn many away from the sport. However, with Crystal Mountain’s new plan, we can expect the cost for a ski day to increase exponentially, meaning only a select wealthy group will be able to enjoy the mountain. 

In the “A Vision for More Space on the Horizon: Reimagine Crystal” launch, many proposed changes could impact Seattle area skiers and riders. Although I do not find a remodel of the base lodge necessary, Crystal plans for construction of a beautiful new 25,000 square foot lodge. The Mountain Commons lodge will open for the 2023-2024 Season.

“This summer we’ll also be adding several hundred more parking spaces and constructing an aerial adventure course to let our guests engage with the mountain in new and exciting ways,” Crystal Mountain launch statement said.

Additional parking is a massive improvement to the facility, and will hopefully help skiers and boarders avoid the nightmare of the Enumclaw shuttle. However, there are no plans to build more runs or lifts, which is what the people truly want. 

Furthermore, given plans to build a 100-room hotel at the base with a meeting and conference space, along with commercial space for dining and retail, there will be more people than ever on the already limited slopes. 

Although these are significant efforts to draw more people to the mountain (and therefore more money) I fear the changes to the pass system may have adverse effects on the number of mountain users.

“For the 22/23 season, access to Crystal Mountain will be limited to seven days on the Ikon Pass,” Crystal announced, reversing its policy of unlimited days, which has been in place for years. 

Unfortunately, to ski unlimited days at our local mountain, you will now need to buy a separate pass instead of or on top of your $1079 Ikon pass. 

“​​The Crystal Premier Pass or the Crystal Legend Pass will offer unlimited lift access with no blackouts or restrictions,” Crystal mountain launch statement said. 

However, while the price for this has yet to be determined, we can assume it will be steeper than slopes off Chair 6. 

I would guess that very few people are excited for the next few years of construction on the mountain— and even less for the longer lift lines and pricier lunch options. However, I hope and am open to being proven wrong. The beauty and simplicity of our local little mountain should be valued more than corporate greed. 

Here’s to Campbell Basin Lodge chili and protecting the spirit of our Crystal Mountain. 

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About the Contributor
Honor Warburg
Honor Warburg, Managing Editor
Honor Warburg, junior at MIHS is in her third year of Journalism. Honor has been a staff writer and a member of the Social Media team. This year, she is the Managing Editor and looks forward to another year of journ! Outside of school Honor is a coxswain at Pocock Rowing Center and enjoys spending time outside.   

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  • K

    Katie FriedmanApr 20, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    Such a clever title for an article on a topic that I feel would fly a bit under the radar if not recognized and broadcasted as it is here!