On March 10th, 2014 a very large avalanche triggered by explosives came crashing down at Crystal Mountain, WA and destroyed the legendary Chair 6. Chair 6 was ranked the #1 chairlift in the Northwest and provided access to some terrific terrain. Crystal Mountain vowed to replace Chair 6 with a better chair and now, Kim Kricher lets us know exactly what this new chair will be like.
New Chair 6 Details:
– Fixed grip double chair, just like the old one
– Chair will be twice as heavy as old chair and therefore able to operate in higher winds
– Unload area will be larger for an easier dismount than the old chair
– Snowmaking will be installed at top of the new Chair 6
– Gazex exploders will be placed in Powder Bowl to help control avalanches
As promised, Crystal Mountain will rebuild Chair 6 this summer. The chair, formerly known as High Campbell, wasdemolished in an avalanche earlier this year. I happened to see it firsthand since I was on the avalanche team that set off the slide. It was an historic wet slab avalanche that slid well down onto Queens Run, the green circle groomer below the slide path. The avalanche occurred at 4:40pm on March 10th after the ski area was closed. If you’ve been to Crystal in the last month, then you’ve seen the destruction not just on The Throne, but in Bear Pits, Employee Housing and Powder Bowl. (During the same time that these explosive-released avalanches occurred at Crystal, natural avalanches of similar size were happening around us in Crystal Lakes Basin as well as on Governor’s Ridge, both in Mt. Rainier National Park.)
The new Chair 6 will be a new double chair made by Skytrac, the only American ski lift manufacturer. Both terminals will be in the same place as the old High Campbell chair. The old concrete footings for the towers will also be used, which will reduce cost and materials. The capacity will be the same as the old one, which means it won’t get tracked any faster.
The chairs themselves will be more than double the weight of the old chairs, which means that the new Chair 6 will operate better in high winds. John Kircher, my husband and Crystal’s GM, expects to run the new chair in higher winds. He says that winds exceeding the chair’s ability to run would be too strong for skiers and riders anyways. In addition, the unload area will be bigger and will ease the double black diamond offload of the old days.
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