Swap Season

Kick off the season with cheap gear and a good cause.

Ski season is back, which means it’s time for the 47th Annual Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap. One of the largest winter sports equipment and clothing events in the Inland Northwest, the Ski Swap also symbolizes the kick-off of the winter season.

“The morning of the swap is usually really cool, and everyone is standing in line waiting,” says ski patroller Jenel Emahiser. “You definitely get a sense that winter is here.”

The swap, which takes place Oct. 28-30 at the Spokane Fair & Expo Center, is an opportunity to sell gently used gear, buy some new gear at discount prices and support the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol. Approximately 30 percent of the items sold at the swap come from individuals, with 20 area retail stores filling in the rest. This year, organizers expect more than 6,000 people to attend and more than 22,000 items to be sold.

About half of the equipment available at the swap is for downhill skiing, including boots, poles, bindings, skis, gloves and clothing. The selection of cross-country and telemark equipment is expected to increase again this year, and the amount of snowboarding equipment continues to grow along with the sport’s popularity. Equipment and clothing is available for all sizes and ages, but children’s items are the fastest to go.

“Ski equipment can be pretty expensive,” Emahiser says. In particular, she says, “families use the swap to sell last year’s gear and upgrade or move into bigger equipment as kids are growing, without incurring the cost of all new gear.”

Gear registration takes place on Friday, Oct. 28, and costs 50 cents per item to sell and 20 percent of the sale. Admission to shop on Saturday and Sunday is $5. Children age 12 and under enter for free. Check skipatrolskiswap.com or call 535-0102 for details.

The money raised from the swap is the primary source of funding for the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol, the first aid and rescue service for guests of the Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park. The money is used to offset the cost of operation and the purchase of medical and first aid supplies, rescue equipment and training materials. The patrol was founded in 1938 and today consists of 130 volunteer patrollers, making it one of the largest all-volunteer ski patrols in the country.

“Nobody’s getting paid for this,” Emahiser says of working as a ski patroller. “You’re spending an unbelievable amount of time on the hill to make sure everyone’s safe. To support a group like that … that’s really important.”

Season passes will also be available at the swap. Since pass prices increase on Nov. 1, be sure to get yours at the swap to avoid extra fees and lines on the mountain.

There are ski swaps all over the Inland Northwest, starting this weekend with the 49 Degrees North ski patrol gear swap on Oct. 22 at the Northeast Washington Fairgrounds, Colville. Check 49skipatrol.org or call 935-6649.

That’s followed by the 13th annual Lookout Pass Ski Patrol and Silver Mountain Ski Patrol equipment, gear and clothing swap on Nov. 5 at the North Idaho Fairgrounds in Coeur d’Alene. Check winterswap.org or call 866-344-2675.

Nordic skiers can find gear at the annual nordic ski sale and swap on Nov. 5-6 at Fitness Fanatics, 12425 E. Trent Ave., in Spokane Valley. Check fitfanatics.com or call 922-6080.

The swap benefiting the Schweitzer Alpine Racing School is Nov. 12 at the Bonner County Fairgrounds in Sandpoint. Check sars.net or call 208-263-1081.

Finally, the WSU Ski and Gear Swap hits Dec. 2-3 at WSU in Pullman. Check skiswap.wsu.edu or call 509-335-8732.

Welcome to Snowlander

Every year at this time, it’s a guessing game as to when we might start skiing. We’re always hopeful of a Thanksgiving opening, but we know that many years December is the first month for sliding on snow.

Going into a season guessing keeps me on pins and needles. Every little shift in the weather has me thinking the big storm is rolling in. And last season was one of wonder. Early season, I was wondering if the snow was going to keep falling in such epic proportions. In January I was wondering if it was ever going to stop raining. In May, I was wondering if the snow would ever let up. Overall, a great year.

Now ski season is a reachable grasp away. Ski movie premieres are in full swing, garages are being cleaned out as old gear is dropped off at local swaps. Life is consumed with finding the perfect jacket, dreaming about buying new ski goggles (even though I already have way too many) and scraping off the old wax and getting the tuning bench all set up.

Here at The Inlander, we’ve been busy plotting a new chapter in the local ski scene — Snowlander, your resource for skiing and riding all over the Northwest. In addition to the monthly printed insert in The Inlander, starting with the one you are reading right now, we’ll be keeping you posted on all developments in the local scene every week online.

So check out our new web page, Snowlander.com, for an interactive resort map, stories, blog posts and enter-to-win contests. We’ll also be actively updating our page at Facebook.com/SnowlanderNW. That’s where you can post comments, read the latest news items and check out user snapshots and videos. Check ’em both out now and you can enter to win either a brand-new Rossignol snowboard or a pair of Rossignol skis.

Keep looking for snow, and hopefully by this time next month I’ll be writing this between powder turns!

Jen Forsyth Snowlander Editor jen@snowlander.com