Spokane businessman Bruce Barany didn’t let cold temperatures stop him from hitting the slopes this week.
It may have been 12 degrees early Wednesday in Spokane, but by the time Barany reached the first chairlift at Mt. Spokane, the mercury had reached 20.
“It was cold, but the snow conditions were great. You just bundle up well and take off,” said Barany, a co-owner of the General Store on Division Street.
Ski resort managers say not even this week’s cold snap dented a snow season that ranks with the best the region has enjoyed in the past decade.
Officials at all five major resorts say they’re enjoying deep snow bases, averaging close to 100 inches at upper altitudes.
And they all say the hills are easier to ski. That’s because the snowfalls haven’t been followed by significant rain.
“We haven’t had one of those boilerplate freezes,” said Charlie Karavitis, marketing manager at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park. “Those have always driven me crazy,” he said. Boilerplate is the skier’s term for hard, crusty snow caused when rain freezes after a snowfall.
Jared Williams, who works in the rental shop at 49 Degrees North, said business has been strong since mid-December. “With the exception of the cold days (Wednesday and Thursday) this week, we have done very well,” he said.
Cathi Jerome, marketing director for Silver Mountain Ski Resort, said the coldest days this week cut the number of ski visits by about 20 percent from normal business this time of year. Even so, Silver’s first 30 days of the ski season have been exceptional, she said: “This ranks as one of the best snow years in recent years.”
If the seasonal pattern holds, Mt. Spokane, Lookout Pass, 49 Degrees, Silver Mountain and Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort all expect to notch more ski visits than they have in the past three years.
The mountain operators don’t typically boast about strong seasons until later in the spring. They are cautious about overhyping their snow, knowing that fickle weather in February or March can ruin what had been great starts.