The first visitors to what is now Crystal Mountain came seeking their fortunes, not fresh snow. Traces of gold were found in them there hills (of the Cascades) in the late 1800s and prospectors flocked to the area, originally known as the Summit Mining District.
Shortly after World War I, mining activity in the area declined. The smaller claims were not profitable, and larger companies could not be persuaded to invest in the area once promoted as being “richer than the Klondike”.
It was not until 1949 that the recreational opportunities of the area were discovered. When attempts to put a chairlift at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park failed, a group of dedicated Puget Sound area skiers got together and began looking for another place to develop a ski area in the Pacific Northwest.
After investigating other locations in the region, the group decided on Crystal Mountain for its reliable snowfall and variety of terrain. A proposal was presented to the Forest Service in 1955 and three years later the Crystal Mountain Winter Sports Area was created. Funding for initial development was raised by a sale of stock to approximately 200 people. Crystal Mountain opened for business in the winter of 1962.
Crystal Mountain first received national attention in 1965 when the fledgling ski area hosted the National Alpine Championships. The event drew legendary skiers from Europe and North America including Jimmie Heuga, Billy Kidd and Jean Claude Killy.
Over the next few decades, Crystal Mountain grew quietly. In 1988 the area was the first in Washington to install a high-speed, detachable quad chairlift, Rainier Express.
In the years that followed, development stalled. After experiencing a couple poor snow years in a row, Crystal Mountain found itself deeply in debt and unable to finance new capital improvements.
But in March of 1997, Boyne USA purchased Crystal Mountain. This family-owned corporation had been interested in the area for more than a decade, and made a commitment to invest significantly. Under the terms of the sale, Boyne USA has already spent over $15 million on capital improvements.
Under the ownership of John Kircher, a Seattle-based Boyne family member, Crystal Mountain has added two new high-speed six-passenger chairlifts, one high-speed quad, and a 12,500 sq foot mid-mountain restaurant, expanded the rental shop, paved the parking lots, added five new grooming machines and upgraded many facilities.
Master Development Plan
The Master Development Plan called for the addition of six new chairlifts, a year round tram from base to summit, new lodging, an on-mountain restaurant, and additional service and maintenance facilities. The implementation of the approved plan began the summer of 2007 with the addition of the Northway chairlift. The most recent addition was the $6 million dollar Mt. Rainier Gondola which was installed during the summer of 2010. A new waster-water treatment plant was installed the summer of 2012 paving the way for a new hotel and additional base area infrastructure.
Mary Lea Griggs sent a proposal to the US Forest Service to develop a ski area at Corral Pass (south of present-day Crystal Mountain Ski Area)
Attention shifted from Corral Pass south to Silver Creek Basin
In April, the Board of Directors settled on “Silver-Six” at the head of Silver Creek as the site for what will become Crystal Mountain Ski Area
Opening day was December 8. Crystal Mountain Opened with Miners Basin, Iceberg Ridge, seven rope tows, a T-bar on the Gold Hills slope and the Day Lodge
Green Valley double chair came online in December
Silver Skis Chalet opened in February, the first condominium development in Washington State
Alpine Inn and Snorting Elk opened early December
Crystal Inn and restaurant opened mid-December
Summit House (a.k.a. “warming hut”) opened at top of Iceberg Ridge lift
Quicksilver double came online in December
National Collegiate Ski Championships event was held in March
National Alpine Championships and P-I Silver Skis International was held in April
Chapel was built in Summer
Crystal House was (today’s Quicksilver Lodge) built
Night skiing came to Crystal with “one of the longest lighted ski runs in the world” on Quicksilver
National Alpine Championship and 15th P-I Silver Skis Downhill event was held in March
Campbell Basin started operation in January
Tacoma Teachers Ski Club opened in February, the last of the ski clubs to be built. In addition to Tacoma Teachers Ski Club, the ski clubs in operation were; SkiBacs, Capitol, Edelweiss, Rokka, Forelaufer, Skiers, Inc., Billiken, Enumclaw, and Sitzmark.
Rainier World Cup hosted by Crystal in February
The Day Lodge was expanded to include bathrooms and the Brown Bag Room
Bullion Basin triple char was built
High Campbell Basin double chair began construction in the summer and began operating in early 1980
Bullion Basin triple chair was moved and replaced the T-bar (today’s Gold Hill’s chair)
Discovery fixed-grip triple chair replaced rope tows on beginners’ run, providing access to Quicksilver
Rendezvous fixed-grip triple chair was built
The Day Lodge was remodeled in the summer
25 Year anniversary
Rainier Express, the first high-speed quad in the state was installed
Campbell Basin double was installed
Midway Shuttle quad installed to link base area to Rainier Express
Boyne Purchased Crystal Mountain in March
Crystal Mountain Founders Club was born
John Kircher became the ski area’s general manager and started improvements immediately
Six-passenger, high-speed detachable lift, Forest Queen Express was built mid-mountain
Base area remodeled with heated pavers installed in ticket plaza
Addition of Chinook Express, a high speed six-passenger, high-speed detachable lift
Quicksilver was shortened
Record snow fall season with 592 inches
Green Valley high-speed quad was built, replacing the original double chair
Campbell Basin lodge was built
Forest Service approved Crystal’s Master Development Plan, a planning and review process initiated in 1995
Northway chairlift installed
Summit House interior remodeled
Mount Rainier Gondola installed
Sasquath Jib Park Installed
RFID Ticketing Installed
Mount Rainier Gondola makes inaugural run on January 1
RDL Test Center opens
Mountain Shop Expansion
Rental Shop & Snowsports School Remodel
New Winch Cat
Crystal looks back on 50 years of operation
Three new Piston Bully Snowcats
New Waste Water Treatment Plant