The fresh dusting of snow on Eastern Washington’s and North Idaho’s mountain peaks can only mean one thing: Ski season is around the corner.
It’s not much, but the few inches local ski lodges have seen in early October are a promising sign of the season to come.
Though local ski resort operators say they don’t expect to open until November to early December, they are busy making preparations for opening day.
Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park
Mt. Spokane’s offerings include a new, bright-red chairlift, purchased from fellow nonprofit Bridger Bowl Ski Area in Montana.
“They had plans to remove it and we had plans for putting one in,” Mt. Spokane General Manager Brad McQuarrie said. “We paid them for it, but it was basically scrap value. It’s a great lift.”
The resort is still getting permits and completing installation for the chairlift, which won’t open until next ski season.
Opening this season, however, are improved resort facilities, including expanded restrooms, McQuarrie said. There will also be a new teaching area.
Season passes: Adult passes are $389. Youth and college passes are $289. Season passes are up to $100 off regular prices until Oct. 31.
Opening day: Tentatively scheduled for Dec. 7.
Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area
Lookout Pass hasn’t installed any new lifts or runs, but owner Phil Edholm said skiers can expect great snow this year.
“We absolutely have the best snow quality in the region,” Edholm said.
There’s already been a few inches on the mountains, and a few have stuck, he said. It’s typical for this time of year, he said, but a positive sign for a good season to come.
Lookout has expanded its food offerings in its restaurants, Edholm said.
“We’re always upgrading our food service and things like that,” Edholm said. “It’s going to be a great time once we get going.”
Season passes: Adult passes are $229. Teen passes are $169. Season passes are on sale until Oct. 31.
Opening day: Tentatively scheduled for Nov. 9.
Silver Mountain Resort
Silver Mountain is expanding its ski offerings with two new runs, said spokesman Willy Bartlett. One has already been cut, and the other is in progress, he said.
Though the runs haven’t been named or officially ranked, he expects one to be a black diamond (expert-level) and the other a blue square (intermediate).
The resort also offers several movie nights throughout the winter, including the premiere of American ski and snowboarding filmmaker Warren Miller’s new film. Bartlett said a couple of inches of snow have fallen this year, but have already melted.
“It’s gone now, which is great, because this is our last weekend of operations for the summer operations” at the resort, he said. But, he adds, he hopes the snow returns Monday.
Season passes: Adult season passes are $389. Youth passes are $249. Silver Mountain also offers four-pack passes at a discounted rate. Season passes are on sale until Oct. 31.
Opening day: Tentatively scheduled for Nov. 29.
Schweitzer spokesman Sean Briggs laughs as he admits the most exciting new thing at the resort this year is the availability of alcohol at the newly opening Schweitzer Market.
“I think a lot of people are excited about the liquor,” Briggs said.
But they’ve also added more than $1 million in improvements elsewhere at the resort. Schweitzer is reopening a sun deck outside Taps Lounge, facing the western side of the mountains. It’s been about six years since the deck last opened.
“People were so sad when that went away,” Briggs said.
Schweitzer is also adding a new run, racetrack and new progression terrain park.
Season pass prices: Adult season passes are $749. Youth passes are $249. Season passes are on sale until Oct. 31. For the first time this year, Schweitzer has partnered with 11 other ski resorts across the Western United States for the Powder Alliance. Season pass holders at Schweitzer also receive three free days at each of the other 11 resorts. For more information, visit powderalliance.com.
Opening day: Tentatively scheduled for late November or early December.
49 Degrees North
The Chewelah resort is in a moment of transition right now, said spokeswoman Sherry Brewer – major expansions to the lodge aren’t coming for another few years.
It’s too expensive right now to plan to build a new lodge, so the old one has been renovated with new carpet and new wiring instead.
“It would have just cost an arm and a leg to get a new lodge up there,” Brewer said.
Brewer said to expect the usual events from 49 Degrees North this year, including Hawaiian Day on March 15, plus a few more, including the youth Evergreen Cup on Jan. 24.
Season pass prices: Adult passes are $399. Youth passes are $299. Season passes are about half-price until Oct. 15.
Opening day: Tentatively scheduled for late November. Brewer added, “I’d like to open Nov. 1, but obviously that’s not ideal for everybody.”