December 1, 2005 in City

Snow good news for rest of ski resorts

Christopher Rodkey Staff writer

With some peaks receiving double the amount of snow that’s fallen in the valleys, the last of the region’s ski resorts are opening Friday, and more snow is on the way.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Silver Mountain and Mt. Spokane all plan weekend openings, joining 49 Degrees North and Lookout Pass, which opened seasons in November.

“It’s looking pretty good,” said Stephen Lane, director of marketing at Silver Mountain. Snow continued to fall Wednesday afternoon, adding to the 17 inches on the ground.

Despite the recent dumping of snow, early season conditions still exist, with unmarked obstacles poking out, he said.

A series of strong Pacific storms dumped almost a foot of snow on most mountains during the last week. Another system was predicted to move into the area today, and forecasters said it could produce more heavy snowfall.

“The way the systems have been going through lately, it looks like we’re going to have a great weekend of skiing,” said Schweitzer spokesman Patrick Sande.

Crews at Schweitzer, north of Sandpoint, were grooming trails, setting up restaurants and tuning up chairlifts in preparation for Friday’s opening, he said.

After a dismal season last winter, the village at the base of the mountain already has more snow than at any time last year, Sande said.

“It’s such a blessing to open this early this December,” he said. “It’s a sign of good things to come, I hope.”

Snow falling Tuesday in Spokane might have played a role in the record number of people signing up for powder e-mail alerts from Mt. Spokane, said general manager Brad McQuarrie.

Some 778 people signed up on Tuesday at, almost doubling the subscriber list, he said.

“People are getting really excited about going skiing again this year,” McQuarrie said.

The mountain was almost ready to open in early November, when it received a dump of early-season snow. Then an inversion hit the Northwest for two weeks, and while fog covered the valleys, the snow melted under high-elevation sunny skies.

“It was frustrating, you know,” McQuarrie said. “We were so close and ready to go, then to stand down for two weeks was a bit of a challenge.”

Skiers won’t have complaints about the quality of the snow when the mountain opens, he said. A good base sits below nearly 12 inches of light, dry powder just waiting for fresh tracks, he said.

“That was a long wait between last season and this,” he said. “We’re pretty excited.”

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