It seems that the Pacific Northwest is home to all the expansion approvals this summer. Just a few weeks ago, we announced the doubling of Lookout Pass Ski Area, located next to Historic Wallace, Idaho. And now… Mt Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park has just announced that they’ve received approval to expand after nearly two decades of discussions and planning.
Mt Spokane Expansion – Two decades in the making
Even though skier visits have remained flat across the United States and Canada as a whole, Mt Spokane is a different story. This resort has been bursting at the seams! For example, back in 1997 they recorded 22,250 skier visits for the entire winter but by 2013, it has nearly quadrupled to over 90,000. With so many people on the runs, this approval couldn’t have come at a better time.
So, what does the new terrain look like?
We know the next question you’re gonna ask… “What do the new slopes entail?” Located on the backside of the mountain, the new northwest facing terrain will have:
- One new chairlift featuring a rise of 1,600 vertical feet and a horizontal length of 4,500 feet
- Seven new runs covering 279 acres
What type of terrain should you expect? Well, looking at a current trail map, the first thing you’ll notice is a TON of expert runs but not too much for beginners or intermediates. This new area will provide just that! More intermediate ski runs to keep them competitive with other ski areas in the region.
Serviced by the Cadillac of Riblets
Another interesting factoid is the chairlift servicing the new area will be coming “home” to Spokane. The manufacturer of the lift is Riblet Tramway, a former company based in town and known for its quality workmanship. In fact, the corporation used Mt Spokane as a testing ground for many of their lifts. The “new” lift originally started its life in the Northern Rockies’ Bridger Bowl Ski area back in the 60’s. It was known as the Alpine chair and over the years, Bridger Bowl made multiple upgrades including a newer 200 horsepower DC drive motor, new electrical & control systems, and a new CTED hydraulic tensioner. Just like Cadillacs, these lifts were built to last, and we can’t wait to see this one reborn at Mt Spokane.
Expansion isn’t as easy as it sounds
Let’s be honest… any type of change is painful. Backcountry skiers and environmental groups say they like the “backside” area of the mountain just the way it is. The area of expansion contains some of the largest old-growth forest in the region and they argue:
- Logging will affect the wildlife habitat
- Reduce the amount of backcountry terrain available
Over the years, the resort has tweaked its proposal by eliminating lifts, removing facilities, taking away trails and reducing wetland impacts to what has now become the approved plan. Like any great compromise, each group got something from the deal, even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted.