Where: Spokane, Wash.
Phone: (509) 443-1397
Web Site: www.mtspokane.com
Vertical Drop: 2,000 feet
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 tickets: $15-$35
It's hard not to get a little misty when talking about Mount Spokane. Sure, you might find steeper runs, more glamorous digs and faster chairlifts at some other mountains (say, in British Columbia or Sun Valley). But who was there for you when you were just learning to ski? That's right, Mount Spokane. Who beckoned on that Senior Skip Day all those years ago? Yep, Mount Spokane. Who is it that sits on the northwestern horizon of town, getting steadily whiter and ever eager for this year's hordes of skiers? Yeah, baby, Mount Spokane.
Spokane's closest ski resort and namesake is gearing up for a predicted big snow season, and they've spent the better part of a year clearing brush and making other improvements.
"Probably the most significant improvement people are going to notice is that we're coming off of the biggest construction year we've had in quite some time," says Brad McQuarry, general manager for Mount Spokane. "Last December we submitted a Master Development Plan to the Washington State Parks department and while we haven't yet been approved for all of it, they did approve a few things, which we've implemented this year."
If you head up a month or two after opening day, you'll no doubt notice that the lodges are sporting spiffy new coats of paint and fresh carpeting. McQuarry says that there have been "all-around improvements", including tree and brush removal, improved fall lines on most of the runs, heating system updates inside the lodges and modifications to some of the lifts. The biggest improvement, however, takes place on the backside.
"We moved the terrain park from the front to the back of the mountain," says McQuarry. "We're getting a lot of buzz on this, starting from the Ski Swap. I knew it was a good deal but I didn't even realize how big this was going to be. The terrain park is now over a mile long, which is huge as far as freestyle goes." McQuarry also points out that Mount Spokane has just made a deal with a major jumper (who they're not at liberty to name just yet) who will help them build and design future elements of the terrain park. Intriguing? Yes!
Another big draw sure to pull you from town to mountain this winter is their new "state of the art" ski boots designed just for rental by Lange.
"This was a high end option as far as rental boots go. Most resorts want to get the least expensive boots possible for rental but we're really excited about these. What's special about the Lange boot is that it doesn't have a memory on the inside the way other boots do. So say you've got somebody who skis hard in these for an entire day, the boot isn't going to be all stretched out in places on the inside. They're much more user friendly."
Mount Spokane's tentative opening date is Dec. 3 but they'll open before then if conditions are favorable. "Two weeks ago, I would have told you we'd be open by now. We got 10 inches of snow, but it was gone about as fast as it was here. We'll open as soon as it's safe and everything's covered up."
One thing's for certain: no mountain is easier for Spokanites to get to than Mount Spokane, especially when they offer a shuttle bus every weekend through the end of February. Buses leave the parking lots of the Argonne (9329 E. Montgomery Ave.) and North Market (14202 N. Market St.) Yoke's grocery stores at 7:45 am and depart from the mountain at 4:30 pm. Mount Spokane staffers will be aboard each bus, and the fee is a mere $10 round trip (or $50 for six round trips). Grab some friends and reacquaint yourself with Spokane's own namesake mountain!
Publication date: 11/11/04