Mountain Blog

The BIG Question
Brian Lawson - Friday, November 27, 2015

The BIG Question

Update: December 28, 2015

Three Sweet Words

When eloquently strung together there are three words that can evoke a more powerful emotion than any others. Sure, ‘I love you’ is nice but for skiers and snowboarders those words are ‘Winter Storm Warning.’

Winter Storm Goliath is moving through late-Monday (December 28) into early-Tuesday (December 29) bringing with it snowmaking temps that actually allowed the snowguns to switch on Sunday night (December 27) and remain so through Monday. Overnight temps look good for continued snowmaking throughout the week with the word ‘snow’ making an almost daily appearance in the forecast.  What does it all mean?

Here’s the plan: After fortifying our existing skiable terrain, the might and power of our snowmaking system (which can pile up one foot of snow over 2.3 acres in one hour) will be focused on Buck, the trail from the top of Buck down through Giggles, the spine from the Crystal Clipper to North Face, the North Face and the return trail from North Face. The temperature will determine the timeline for opening new trails so we’ll keep you posted (keep checking here and the snow report).  At the time of this post (insert time), the snowguns are still running and we’ll keep them running in order to open as much new terrain as quickly as possible.

It appears at long last that Mother Nature has made her New Year’s Resolution and she is resolved to ski and snowboard more trails! Our crews are hard at work helping her see that resolution through.  Let it Snow!


Update, Thursday, December 17

For Those About to Rock, We Salute You!

Crystal Mountain’s snowmaking crew is ready to rock and it would appear they’re about to do just that for the next few days. Temperatures are predicted to dip back down into the 20s tonight and, depending on which forecast you believe, stay there through Saturday. Under ideal conditions, our snowmaking system has the capacity to cover the entire mountain in a foot of snow in 45 hours. If the current forecast holds and especially if those temps trend downward, we’re optimistic we’ll be making turns this weekend and then every day that weather permits moving forward. Stay tuned for more details over the next 24-72 hours!

Update: Thursday, December 3, 2015

Something to ‘Cheer’ about: Open on Saturday!

The Groomers climbed Cheers to assess the snow on Wednesday night and the news is good. Crystal Mountain will open Cheers and the Cheers lift on Saturday, December 5 from 10am-4pm for skiing and snowboarding. It is the season of giving so bring three (3) non-perishable food items or a gently used winter coat to donate and your lift ticket is FREE (otherwise, lift tickets will be $15 at the window)! Donations will benefit to the Benzie Area Christian Neighbors Food Pantry.

Carpe Ski'em (Seize the Snow)! The current 10-day forecast does not appear to provide too many snowmaking opportunities. Given Saturday’s forecasted temps, we will assess conditions on Cheers at the end of the day and determine whether or not to reopen on Sunday. Stay tuned to the snow report for the very latest updates.  

Update: Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Don’t Stop Believin'!

On Wednesday morning Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” is blaring over the Crystal Clipper loudspeakers as the snow made on Cheers over this past weekend attempts to stand its ground in defiance of the weather. Tonight as the temperature drops near freezing the groomers will climb Cheers to assess the snow and the possibility of a weekend opening.

However, Mother Nature remains reluctant to let temps slip below 28 degrees for snowmaking this week while continuing to threaten with the type of precipitation that we dare not speak its name. Snowmaking crews remain poised to go to work and earnest in their efforts but we are still in a ‘wait-and-see’ mode so please stay tuned.


November 27 is a perfect example that just because it's cold enough to snow doesn't necessarily mean it's cold enough to make it. Rest assured that the moment temps dip 28 or below, we will flip the switch!

As I punch away at the keyboard, my skis sit just a few feet away, taunting, asking the question. It’s the same one from Facebook. The same question comes from the snowmakers, the shop techs, the instructors, from everyone. When?

That question is preceded by another laced with a fervor and frustration that could only be born from a passion for snow. Why!? Mother Nature, why have you forsaken us!? We tip our cap and reluctantly swallow the envy for our friends to the north who are benefiting from the same meteorological whims that with a slight change in temperature could mean piles of snow on Buck, Cheers and North Face. Nonetheless, our snowmakers ask why!? Why is it 24-degrees at the base of the Clipper and 33-degrees at the top of Main Street!? Why can't it drop just a few more degrees and stay put? With arms out-reached to the heavens we ask WHY!? (Okay, that might be a bit of an over-dramatization)

It’s not personal. Mother Nature doesn’t work that way. If she did we would hire her on retainer for early opens and frequent powder days. She always comes around eventually and when she does we’ll be ready with a snowmaking system that can put a foot of snow on the entire Mountain in 45 hours – under ideal conditions. Our crew is at the ready for the moment temps drop below a magic 28-degrees and won’t quit until we open the first trail and the other 57 to follow.

Which brings us back to the original question: When? Unfortunately, we won’t be able to open the trails this weekend but beginning Friday night (November 27) we’re seeing some windows for snowmaking through the weekend and hoping to see a slight downward trend in temperatures for next week. We’ll continue updating to this blog post with latest on our work and progress. We’ll try to get you on a lift as soon as possible. Stay tuned and in the meantime, do a snow dance, it couldn’t hurt.  

Come play in our Backyard this winter
Brian Lawson - Thursday, September 24, 2015


THE BACKYARD | Coming Winter 2015/16


As you may have already heard, Crystal Mountain will have a total of 58 skiable trails to offer this winter with introduction of The Backyard. Nestled in a draw directly behind the front-facing slopes - hence the name Backyard – will be the new downhill skiing and snowboarding complex open for the upcoming 2015/16 winter season.

Work is already underway on The Backyard’s eight new trails, triple chairlift and snowmaking infrastructure. Crews are putting the finishing touches on the downhill trails and will begin to install towers for the triple chairlift over the next couple of weeks. Crystal has installed nearly a mile of new snowmaking pipe in order to use portable snowmaking units to cover The Backyard in a deep base of snow. New tower-mounted fan guns from Snow Machines Inc. in Midland, Michigan are being installed on the North Face complex.

This new playground invites the beginner and intrigues the more experienced skier and rider. The two trails that flank each side of the Backyard will share space with Last Chance (The Ridge) and Tammy’s Turn (North Face) with variations in pitch and contour to help new skiers and boarders advance skills and build confidence while also offering an experience different than any other location on the mountain that will entice the intermediate and expert. Six (blue-intermediate) trails in the heart of this new area offer an exciting mix of glades and open terrain with rises, banks and rollers to explore. 

Come this winter and play in our Backyard!


The Backyard, Coming Winter 2015/16
Brian Lawson - Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Updated: September 2015

This spring Crystal Mountain will be replacing this shed with a chairlift terminal surrounded by eight new downhill trails. You’ve probably skied or boarded right past it countless times on your way to the North Face.


Based on some of the tracks we’ve found back there, some of you reading this blog have probably already tested this terrain. The Backyard is located straight back from the Crystal Clipper High-speed Quad nestled in a draw between The Ridge and North Face. The new complex will be serviced by a triple chairlift and include a mix of green (beginner) and predominantly blue (intermediate) trails.


The two outside runs will share terrain with Last Chance (The Ridge) and Tammy’s Turn (North Face) before breaking off into new territory. Here’s a look at how it sets up:



As the snow thaws, crews will begin work on the project with trails being shaped and lift towers and terminals installed over the course of the summer. These eight new trails will be ready for next winter (2015/16) bringing Crystal Mountain’s total to 58.


There is much work to be done over the next eight months - including names for the new trails - so stay tuned for updates!


How to Make a Quick(er) Buck
Keirsun Scott - Thursday, July 25, 2013

Following our last update, construction continues on our new Buck Quad chairlift, which will be operational for the 2013/14 winter season.

This week Team Elmer's was busy pouring the concrete for both our lower and upper lift terminals. Here's the team working at the top of the mountain.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction
Buck Construction

The majority of Buck slope's re-sculpting has been completed. Looking down the lift line, it's easy to see how much the slope has been widened. Buck is about to become my favorite northern Michigan black diamond run all over again.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction
Buck Construction

Team Elmer's used their Pump Truck to deliver concrete to the pre-built, lift terminal forms.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction
Buck Construction
Buck Construction

The concrete has now set up and the forms have been removed to reveal the foundations for the lift terminals.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction

The Buck Glades have been cut skier's right of the expanded slope. The new gladed run will drop skiers and riders onto Hoot Owl slope, which leads to the base of Buck slope.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction
Buck Construction

Next on our to-do list: pouring concrete for the foundations of our new snow guns that will be placed beneath each lift tower.

Buck Construction

More Bang for Your Buck
Keirsun Scott - Saturday, June 29, 2013

While we're busy enjoying another gorgeous northern Michigan summer to its fullest, we frequently find ourselves having to stop, stare, and point up at the stunning construction project happening on the south side of our frontside slopes.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction

For those unaware, we are replacing our old Buck chairlift, which was installed in 1978, with a new Skytrac Quad Lift. The new Buck Quad will be similar to the Loki Quad lift we installed in 2011, but without a loading conveyor. The new Buck Quad will be operational for the 2013/14 winter season. In addition to the new ski-under lift expanding our skiable terrain on Buck slope, we are creating a new glade area skier's right of the Buck lift line.

The demolition of the old Buck lift happened this spring, with the removal of the old lift towers and tower foundations, in addition to all of the snow guns along the lift line.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction

In June we began glading the south slope trees, skier's right of the lift line. While there is still work to be done, there are some fantastic lines forming in the forested area that has always been accessible from Teddy's Turn slope. But the thick trees and not so well-known access route kept the area under the radar of most skiers and riders. While an official slope rating is forthcoming, the new glade area will likely be intermediate to expert. The new glades are much steeper than our Glacier Valley Glade Area. In my opinion, the Buck glades are shaping up to be some of the best tree skiing on the mountain.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction

Also in June we began relocating the snow guns that stood in the Buck lift line to other parts of the mountain. Soon we will have at least six new snow guns on Buck slope. Alpers Excavating of Traverse City has been a crucial partner in the entire project and is currently in the process of re-grading the face of Buck slope.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction

Construction has already begun on the base lift terminal and new lift towers should begin to go up the first half of August.

Buck Construction
Buck Construction

Buck slope is a perennial and award-winning favorite of many Michigan and Midwest snow sliders. Having grown up on the slopes of northern Michigan, I know only a handful of named runs in the lower peninsula that get the blood pumping and my boards flirting with gravitational forces the way Buck does. That being said, we are taking care to ensure the legacy of Buck endures for our future generations of skiers and riders.

Here at Crystal Mountain, we are looking forward to sharing our expanded frontside terrain this winter. And I'll be right there with you, making new turns on a classic run.

Interested in purchasing a chair from our old Buck or Loki lifts? Please complete the form below.

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Buck Quad Chair
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