More avalanche control at Crystal Mtn. after chair lift wipeout

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, Wash. -- Serious avalanche control measures are taking place at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort in the wake of Monday's avalanche that took out a chair lift. No one was injured, and officials want to keep it that way.

It was a perfect day for skiing with the sun shining and Mt. Rainier out in its full glory. The stillness was shattered with the sounds of a ski patrol helicopter bouncing off the peaks. They're dropping explosive charges onto avalanche areas.

The same crew set off an avalanche Monday, but it was so big it took at the base and part of the High Campbell chairlift. Nobody was there at the time. It was after-hours. The slopes had been cleared of skiers.

"It was really an historically long running and larger volume of avalanche material," said Ski Patrol director Paul Baugher. "We'd call in an historic avalanche."

That lift will now have to be replaced this summer. It's something the resort had planned on doing anyway since the lift had been operating since 1980.

But the resort scoffs at the idea they did this intentionally.

"You know, if that were the case we would have waited until the season was over with," said Tiana Enger of Crystal Mountain. "We still have another month and a half of skiing and now unfortunately we're not going to be able to use that lift or that terrain, so that's a bummer."

The ski patrol warns if you cross the roped off areas or ski past a closed sign, that puts you in danger and they'll yank your ski pass.

It happened to Sean Merriman who claimed he didn't believe he was out of bounds and in danger. "As a skier I feel upset because I spend a lot of money at this mountain and I feel like they're treating me poorly."

Crystal is due for a full day of operations Wednesday.