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Crystal Mountain Resort, Washington Has Changed Policies To Combat Overcrowding


More and more mountains are starting to feel a bit squeezed when it comes to visitors, mostly when it comes to traffic and parking. While more than a couple of solutions are being used around the country to ease this tension, Crystal Mountain Resort in Enumclaw, Washington is going with a policy change focused on ticket sales.

In an open letter to the community and fans of the mountain that went out this past Monday, January 13th, President and COO Frank DeBerry outlined the issues as the mountain sees them, offered an apology to those that have been turned away in recent weeks due to congestion, and then gave an explanation of the solution the mountain is going to try, acknowledging that "Too much love for Crystal is a complicated problem with no easy fix."

Effective this coming weekend, January 18th, the mountain is going to limit the sale of day tickets, as well as limiting how and when those tickets will be sold. Though DeBerry calls this "A Tough But Necessary Decision," the plan is as follows;
  • 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.
There have been critics on social media that have stated their opinion that the Ikon Pass is the issue, that increased pass sales are causing the overcrowding. Indeed, it could be argued that this new ticket sales policy does favor pass holders. The letter, however, did address that concern.

"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."

Though all of the above may be true, the mountain is, at the very least, making an attempt to work on overcrowding issues. Like other mountains across the United States, the mountain is also putting mass transit options from Seattle, Tacoma, and Enumclaw, and carpooling solutions into practice, including adding an initiative to reward those arriving in a carpool with four or more people. There is also work being planned for the summer to expand the parking at the mountain.

Photo - Some of the mass transit options for reaching Crystal Mountain Resort. Credit: Crystal Mountain Resort/FB

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