by Sheri Boggs
If you've ever wondered what's in a name, consider what would have happened if Mount Spokane had kept its original turn-of-the-century moniker of Mount Baldy. Sure, there would probably still be a ski area, but most people would be too embarrassed to use it. A name like "Mount Baldy" looks goofy when strung together in a sentence along with names like "Schweitzer," "Whitefish" and "Silver." Besides, "I'm gonna go night skiing on Mount Baldy" sounds like a smutty, too-much-information kind of remark.
Fortunately, Mount Spokane has been Mount Spokane for quite some time and as such, has earned the respect it so richly deserves. Situated inside the largest state park in Washington state, Mount Spokane is a nonprofit entity, which makes it one of the best bargains around for local skiers.
The biggest news at Mount Spokane is that the state has completed renovations and other work at the Vista House (pictured above). The 1933 stone structure, which stood vacant for decades, not only symbolizes Mount Spokane, it's a refuge for hungry, tired and thirsty skiers. Its menu includes coffee, soup, chili, cocoa and, of course, "portable snacks."
"One of the neatest things up here is that one of our long-time patrollers has built a bunch of handmade furniture for the Vista House," says Von Klohe, director of administration up on Mount Bal, er, Mount Spokane. "It's rustic, log furniture out of natural materials and he's made everything from hat racks to benches and tables and chairs. Each piece is totally unique."
The Vista House isn't the only improvement on Mount Spokane, of course, and many of the runs have been enhanced for the highly popular "tree skiing."
"We've been doing a lot of brush-cutting. What we're doing is basically like glading, making more room between the trees," says Klohe. "We're really ready for the snow at this point."
In addition to various trail improvements and basic maintenance, Mount Spokane is offering several great enticements in terms of deals and ease of transportation. Their new Midweek Season Pass is only $99 for three days (Wednesdays-Fridays), including day and night skiing on non-holidays. For folks who work weekends, or whose "weekends" fall in the middle of the week, you can't find a better deal, especially considering a regular season pass is $399.
And say your Geo Metro has neither the will nor the weight to make it safely up the mountain roads? Mount Spokane's got you covered.
"You talk to people who remember skiing here in the '60s and '70s and they always talk about 'the bus,'" says Klohe. "We're partnering with Yoke's Fresh Market to bring that back." With rides departing at 7:45 am (weekends and holidays) from the Yoke's on Argonne (9329 E. Montgomery Ave., just south of Trent Ave.) and at 14202 N. Market St., with return trips leaving for town at 4:30 pm, there are a lot worse ways you could get up that mountain.
Where: Spokane, Wash.
Phone: (509) 443-1397
Web site: www.mtspokane.com
Vertical Drop: 2,000 ft.
Average Snowfall: 300 inches
Lifts: five double chairs
Hill Info: 1,250 ft.; 44 trails; 23% beginner; 32% intermediate; 45% advanced
Hours: 9 am-4 pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays except holidays. Night skiing until 9:30 pm on Wednesdays-Saturdays.
Lift Prices: Weekend/Holiday: Adult (16-69) $31; Senior (70+) $15; Youth (7-15) $27; 6 and under free; chair #5, $10. Weekday/Non-holiday; Adult: $26; Senior: $10; Youth: $20; 6 and under free; chair #5, $10.
Major Events: Check Web site
Publication date: 11/13/03