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Reports indicate continued growth in backcountry skiing

WINTERSPORTS — As lift-assisted skiing resorts struggle, more skiers and splitboarders may be taking off on their own.

USFS predicts backcountry skiing to increase 106% over next 3 decades
The National Ski Area Association reports that skier visits to resorts are down about 10 percent since the 2010-11 ski season, but Snow Industries Association reports that backcountry gear sales for equipment used by skiers and snowboarders to access summits under their own power, are up 10 percent over that same period. That suggests that more folks are choosing to make the climb under their own power and ski the backcountry.
—Durango Herald

Schweitzer, Silver ski resorts closing Sunday

WINTERSPORTS — They fought the good fight, but this strange winter is winning.  Schweitzer Mountain and Silver Mountain ski resort swill close for the season after the end of operations on Sunday, officials announced today.

The resorts normally are open at least through spring break.

That brings the lift-skiing season in our area to a close.

Lookout Pass has announced it's closed for the season.

Mount Spokane has been closed for weeks.

See story about Schweitzer.

Silver Mountain posted this info at 4:15 p.m.:

Operating Sunday 3/29 9am-3pm. Saturday weather is looking pretty nasty but Sunday looks like a fantastic sunny day to enjoy some skiing, boarding and chilling on the patio with a Hawaiian Luau themed BBQ and patio party! Lift tickets will be just $29 and current pass holders from any other ski area can get a ticket for just $19. Additionally, current Silver Mountain Pass Holders can bring a buddy for just $19. Sunday afternoon Ski & Splash is back as well- just $29 for an afternoon lift ticket and then hit the waterpark for some surfing or floating the lazy river!

This is our last planned day of operations for the season.

Last call for skiers: Schweitzer, Silver plan to close


WINTERSPORTS — They fought the good fight, but this strange winter is winning.  Schweitzer Mountain and Silver Mountain ski resorts will close for the season after the end of operations on Sunday, officials announced today.

See story about Schweitzer.

Silver Mountain posted this info at 4:15 p.m.:

Operating Sunday 3/29 9am-3pm. Saturday weather is looking pretty nasty but Sunday looks like a fantastic sunny day to enjoy some skiing, boarding and chilling on the patio with a Hawaiian Luau themed BBQ and patio party! Lift tickets will be just $29 and current pass holders from any other ski area can get a ticket for just $19. Additionally, current Silver Mountain Pass Holders can bring a buddy for just $19. Sunday afternoon Ski & Splash is back as well- just $29 for an afternoon lift ticket and then hit the waterpark for some surfing or floating the lazy river!

This is our last planned day of operations for the season.

Canada ski resort could impact U.S. grizzlies

WILDLIFE — Opponents to a major ski resort being planned for the Purcell Mountains near Invermere, British Columbia, are emphasizing that their wilderness and wildlife aren't the only resources threatened.

Jumbo Glacier Resort also threatens grizzly bears in the United States, researchers say.

See the latest on the topic in an Energywire story.

Lowest snowpack on record in Cascades

RIVERS — Looking at Mount Spokane from town yesterday, I realized I've skinned up and skied to the top of the mountain and down in the past with more snow to work with on Memorial Day weekend. 

The snowpack situation is grim throughout the region, spelling potentially big consequences for river running and fishing not to mention irrigation and other needs for water this summer.

Warm temperatures in February contributed to further snowpack decline in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, according to data from the third 2015 forecast by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Snowpack in Nevada, Utah and Idaho also fell further behind normal.

“Nearly a third of our SNOTEL sites in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada are reporting the lowest snowpack ever measured,” NRCS Hydrologist Cara McCarthy said. “For the first time, some sites were snow-free on March 1. These areas can expect reduced summer streamflow.” 

Recent storms helped relieve dry conditions in the Southwest. However, drought conditions persist in California, Nevada and Utah, as well as in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Areas in Washington and Oregon also remain in drought.

Here's more from USDA:

In Western states where snowmelt accounts for the majority of seasonal water supply, information about snowpack serves as an indicator of future water availability. Streamflow in the West consists largely of accumulated mountain snow that melts and flows into streams as temperatures warm in spring and summer. NRCS' National Water and Climate Center scientists analyze the snowpack, air temperature, soil moisture and other measurements taken from remote sites to develop the water supply forecasts.

The Cascades of Oregon and Washington have received near normal levels of precipitation this water year, but it’s mostly fallen as rain instead of snow. Rainfall captured by reservoirs in those states will help mitigate dry spring and summer months.

NRCS monitors conditions year-round and will continue to issue monthly forecasts until June. The water supply forecast is part of several USDA efforts to improve public awareness and mitigate the impacts of climate change, including drought and other extreme weather events. Through the creation of the National Drought Resilience Partnership, launched as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, federal agencies are working closely with states, tribes and local governments to develop a coordinated response to drought.

Since 1939, USDA has conducted snow surveys and issued regular water supply forecasts. Other resources on drought include the U.S. Drought Monitor. For information on USDA’s drought efforts, visit USDA Disaster and Drought Information. And to learn more about how NRCS is helping private landowners deal with drought, visit the NRCS’ drought resources.

View information by state.

$7 lift tickets at Silver Mountain on Sunday

WINTERSPORTS — Silver Mountain is advertising going to seven-day operations in 2015-2016 by offering $7 lift tickets on Sunday March 8.

Sure the resort could use more snow, "but what is there is skiing good," said Neal Scholey, marketing director. "And of course a beer on the patio in the sunshine is always a good option!"

49 Degrees North ski passes honored by other resorts

WINTERSPORTS — Season pass holders at 49 Degrees North aren't being left out in the warm-er than normal weather that's forced the northeastern Washington resort to shut down lifts until more snow falls.

While waiting for winter to return to the mountain, several other resorts are honoring 49 Degrees 2014-15 season passes.

You can enjoy 3 FREE DAYS of skiing at Bluewood and Mission Ridge and 5 FREE DAYS at White Pass.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort, which has fired up snow-making equipment, is offering 49 Degrees pass holders 1 FREE DAY TICKET through March 6.  Check in at the Guest Services counter.

  • Be sure to check on current conditions before heading to any of the resorts in the Northwest.

Schweitzer still a go despite low snow; Winter Carnival begins

WINTERSPORTS — Schweitzer Mountain spokesmen say the ski resort is committed to staying open daily through April 5 despite a meager snow pack that's forced Mt. Spokane ski area to temporarily close.

That's good news for locals who are kicking off the annual Sandpoint Winter Carnival today through Feb. 21. Schweitzer is the venue for on-mountain events.

"As we all are well aware, this winter hasn’t been up to normal standards for the Pacific Northwest — or anywhere in the West it seems," says Sean Mirus, Schweitzer spokesman. He posted a media release to answer rumors that the resort may be closing.

"Schweitzer is committed to staying open and running as much of our operation as weather allows," he said. While some portions of the mountain have been closed for safety reasons, "during the most recent rain events, the rain-snow line was around the top of the Basin Express and the conditions up high were surprisingly good," he added.

"As conditions improve, we will reopen as much terrain as possible.  Temperatures look to be decreasing after this weekend, and if that happens, we plan to restart snow making operations.  Conditions on the mountain may not be ideal, but the majority of the feedback from folks that are making the effort to get out on the mountain is positive.  The snow is soft and spring like, making it easy to turn."

Tom Chasse, Schweitzer CEO, said in an email that the company is “committed to daily operations thru Sunday, April 5th even if we’ve got limited open terrain.”

Mirus said it's been 10 years since Schweitzer put up with a winter like this.  "In that 2004-2005 season, the mountain saw well over 100 inches of snow in March so we remain positive that the season will end on a good note."

Mt. Spokane closes downhill ski runs for lack of snow

WINTERSPORTS — Warm weather, rain and a lack of snow have forced Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park to suspend operations this week while crews on snowcats try to move enough existing snow to reopen runs by the weekend.

Read the story here.

Be the 12th player on the slopes - for $12

WINTERSPORTS — Acknowledging that there might be some serious competition for visitors this weekend, Stevens Pass Ski Area as well as Silver Mountain are deflating ticket prices on Super Bowl Sunday.

Silver Mountain is offering all-day tickets for $12.

Stevens Pass is offering $12 lift tickets good for 4 hours — just enough time to hit the slopes before funneling into the lodges for Super Bowl festivities or make way back home for the big game.

The resort is offering only 1,200 of the $12 ticket vouchers, which are available online.

Skiers set visitation records at Lookout Pass

WINTERSPORTS — Lookout Pass ski area has had some record-breaking skier visit days in January, according to owner Phil Edholm.

The resort off I-90 at the Idaho-Montana state line posted these numbers:

  • Saturday, Jan. 17, single day attendance record of 2, 243 skier visits.
  • Saturday, Jan. 10, single day Free Ski School lesson program record with 403 kids in attendance.

Ski areas serve up special special events

WINTERSPORTS — Inland Northwest ski and snowboard resorts are promoting a delicious slate of events and offers this week:

49 Degrees North: This weekend is an introduction to and celebration of all the winter activities available at 49° North during WinterSportsFest.  In conjunction with the nationwide Winter Trails event, 49° North makes available free trail fees, rentals, and mini XC lessons at the Nordic Center for everyone (not just newbies!) on Jan. 10-11.  And try out some new gear from Wintersport and Alpine Haus on Friday, Jan. 10 during their demo day.

Mt Spokane: Mt Spokane is open 6 days a week, Wednesday-Sunday with night turns on Wednesday-Saturday.  Sign up for their 6 week lesson program for all ages or their montly Ladies Days

Lookout Pass: Lookout Pass is open six days a week Wednesday-Sunday in January and February.  This  Saturday, Jan. 11 enjoy the Rail Jam Competition held by USASA for the Inland NW Series.

Silver Mt: This Friday, Jan. 9 is Jackass Day! Help Silver Mt celebrate their 47th birthday with retro priced $12 lift tickets and birthday cake at Moguls at 2 p.m.  Then join them on Saturday, Jan. 10 for the USASA Skier/Boarder Cross.

Resorts gear up for Learn to Ski Month

WINTERSPORTS — Novice skiers and snowboarders can find bargains on ski instruction during January, which is "Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month."

Participating resorts in 34 states are offering discounts and incentives to motivate children and adults to take lessons from instructors certified by the Professional Ski Instructors Association or American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is offering a $99 three-day package (regularly $119) that includes instruction, rentals and lift tickets.
  • Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area is beginning its 75th annual "Famous Free Ski School" on Jan. 10.  Nearly 500 children age 6-17 have already registered for the 10-week program.   Kids can show up for as many of the sessions as they desire. No lift ticket is required during the lesson sessions, but equipment rental is extra and lift tickets are required after the lesson session.

Snowshoers didn’t miss First Night fireworks

WINTERSPORTS — Snowshoers walked into 2015 by making first tracks in Mount Spokane State Park.

Holly Weiler led a group of six Spokane Mountaineers on Wednesday to celebrate New Years Eve on the summit, where they watched Spokane fireworks.  The group romped in the darkness with snowshoe hares, returning to the parking area around 1:30 a.m.

It was a short night for Weiler, who returned to Mount Spokane at 10 a.m. Thursday to co-lead a group of 25 for the state park's First Day snowshoe trek.

A couple of hikers went to the summit while most of the group made tracks to the CCC cabin over a five-mile loop back to the parking area.

Cris Currie of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park, who co-led the First Day snowshoe trek, says skiers and snowhoers should find excellent snow conditions in the park this weekend.

After touring the Trails 110-140 loop on Wednesday, he said skiing/snowshoeing was great. "Plenty of snow on the trail, but off trail still needs another foot or so. The loop is all tracked with no significant dead fall."

The upper creek crossing is still a pain, he said, but a fix for that could be addressed this year.



Finally, Mt. Spokane to open; all area ski resorts operating

WINTERSPORTS — Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park has announced it will open for the first time this season on Wednesday — Christmas Eve. Although the base is thin — just 7 inches at the lodge — more snow is in the forecast.

That means all of Inland Northwest ski resorts will be open through the holidays.

Snowshoe hut looks lonesome on brown ground

WINTERSPORTS —  Brown-earth-weary skiers, boarders and snowshoers aren't giving up hope in Idaho.

"The snowshoe hut is ready for the season," reports Geoff Harvey of the Panhandle Nordic Club after rigging up the warming structure on the Fourth of July pass winter trail system and installing the wood-burning stove.  "All we need now is snow."

The club's 24th annual "Best Hand Fun Ski and Snowshoe" event is set for Jan. 3 at the pass in conjunction with Idaho's Free Ski Day, when the state Park N Ski vehicle sticker requirement is waived.

Check in at Fourth of July Pass starting at 10 a.m. Then take off at your own pace at 11:30 a.m.  Prizes and refreshments provided.

The event is a fundraiser for the club, which maintains the winter trails at the pass.

"The event is a go no matter what the conditions are," said Jim McMillen, club president.  "We expect snow but if there isn't any, we'll go for a hike."

Photo: Area winter resorts still begging for snow

WINTERSPORTS — "It was 57 degrees at 9 p.m. Tuesday" at the Mt. Spokane Ski Area chairlift — and barely any snow in sight at the base, reports local outdoorsman Ken Vanden Heuvel. (See photo above from the Mt. Spokane web cam).

2014 will rank among the slowest starts to the ski and snowboard seasons at area winter resorts.

Stay tuned to the ski reports.

Check out Web cam links for ski areas and highways around the region at Spokesman.com/outdoors.

Four area ski resorts opening this weekend

UPDATED 2:35 p.m. on 1-27-14 — 49 Degrees postpones opening because of warm weather.

WINTERSPORTS — Four ski resorts in the Inland Northwest have announced they plan to be running lifts this weekend. Skiing will be on limited terrain until more snow falls; ticket prices are reduced.

49° North Mountain Resort near Chewelah had planned to open to skiers and snowboarders on Friday, but announced Thursday that warm weather is forcing the opening to be postponed.  Check the resort's snow report for possible opening on Saturday.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort near Sandpoint opened last weekend and will resume operations Friday.

Lookout Pass ski area off Interstate 90 on the Idaho-Montana border will open Friday.  "We received 7” of new snow overnight, 15” since Saturday," Phil Edholm, Lookout's president, said today. "Our base is currently 14” to 22” and it’s still snowing.

Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg will open Saturday.

Mount Spokane State Park cross-country skiing trails had only about six inches of snow today, reported Jerry Johnson, Park Ranger. With warm temperatures and rain in the forecast he said, "It's likely to be fairly grim up here until the colder temperatures move in on the weekend."

Gonzaga ranked in top 10 colleges — for skiers!

WINTERSPORTS — In addition to the weekly diet of national ratings for basketball teams, Gonzaga University this week has made a list of top 10 colleges for students and their quest for "higher shreducation."

Holy sitz-mark!

The list has been posted by Freeskier Magazine in a story that evaluates colleges based on 16 factors, including distance to winter resorts, number of resorts within 100 miles, average annual snowfall of closest resort, transportation offerings, number of ski movies on campus and number of courses related to snow.

Some emphasis also is afforded to normal education advantages in the criteria, including percent of students winning grant aid, professor-student ratio and graduation rate.

Accounting for the tight ranking with Montana State University in Bozeman was the the Zags' ability to score in the relatively exclusive category titled "Is Weed Legal?"

Says the magazine:

Gonzaga University, home to the Bulldogs, is a private Roman Catholic university located in Spokane, Washington, on the southern edge of the rugged Selkirk Mountains. While Spokane only receives an average of 11 inches of annual snowfall, Mount Spokane, a mere 26 mile distance away, receives 300-plus, and resorts like Schweitzer, Lookout Pass, Silver Mountain and 49 Degrees North are all within driving distance.

The survey appears to be a snub at Eastern Washington University, where the money students save on tuition would allow them to buy season passes at all the nearby resorts, including Schweitzer.

But Western Washington University proudly represents Washington state schools on the list, boosted by the prolific snowfall at nearby Mount Baker.

The No. 1 school for skiers received this glowing review:

The University of Utah is the undisputed king of ski colleges. Located in Salt Lake City, almost every ski area in the state is located within 100-miles, each of which offer up Utah’s abundant, bone-dry snow. The closest resort—Snowbird—is a quick 16-mile drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon, so if you schedule your classes right, you can be nipple deep all morning and still make it back in time for Biology 101.

Here's the full list:

  1. University of Utah
  2. Sierra Nevada College
  3.  University of Colorado at Boulder
  4. Westminster College
  5. University of Alaska Anchorage
  6. Montana State University
  7. Gonzaga University
  8. University of Nevada Reno
  9. Western Washington University
  10. University of Denver

Schweitzer sets limited opening for skiers on Saturday

WINTERSPORTS — Schweitzer Mountain Resort will open for the season at 9 a.m. on Saturday officials say. A lift will operate through Sunday with 150 acres available for skiing out of the resort's 2,900 acres of terrain.

Skiers will be limited to Midway, with the Basin Express chair lift scheduled to operate from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during opening weekend.

“Even though we’re only opening with limited operations, we’re very excited to get the season started in the Inland Northwest,” says President/CEO Tom Chasse.  “The fact that we have anything to offer is a direct result of pre-season brush cutting, our snowmaking capability and our dedication to the skiers/boarders of the region.”

Schweitzer will close mid-week and then re-open on Friday, Nov. 28, for the weekend. 

With new snow in the forecast over the weekend, the resort hopes to expand the terrain and add the Musical Chairs lift for Thanksgiving weekend.

Lift tickets this weekend will cost $40 for everyone except for children 6 and under who will ski free. 

Schweitzer’s Sunday-Friday passholders may also ski this Saturday and next, at no charge.

Sunday Solution tickets will be available on Sunday, half day ticket are $25 if purchased in advance online, or $35 at the ticket window.

Schweitzer has received only 5 inches of natural snow so far this season in the village but colder than usual temperatures in the last week provided optimal snow making conditions, officials said.

Skiing and snowboarding is recommended on groomed trails as early season conditions exist with variable snowpack.

On mountain parking will be free this weekend and the shuttle from the “Red Barn” parking lot will be running on the midweek schedule. 

Info: (208) 263-9562.

  • 49 Degrees North officials say they're still waiting for more snow before making an announcement.

Days of My Youth ski flick at GU

WINTERSPORTS — A ski movie that examines skiing as a way of life, offering a glimpse into the journey of self-discovery that every skier takes — is coming to Spokane Thursday, Nov. 13.

Days of My Youth will be screened at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Gonzaga University's Wolff Auditorium, 502 E
Boone Ave.  This is the same flick that screened at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center during the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap.

The film travels the globe to captures moments that define the cutting-edge of what is possible on skis. From nearly impossible descents in Alaska to massive terrain features with U.S. Olympian Bobby Brown.

Days of My Youth showcases top action from the last two years rolled into one film.

Tickets, $10, are available online.

Spokane's screening is a part of a worldwide tour traveling to more than 80 theaters across the U.S., Canada and Europe.

“This is the first time in over 20 years of making ski films that we've had the luxury of taking 2 full winters to capture the action and really focus on our creative direction," says executive producer Murray Wais.

The film works with a small cast of top skiers, including Richard Permin, Mark Abma, James Heim, Michelle Parker, Cody Townsend, Markus Eder, Bobby Brown, Sam Anthamatten, and others with a special appearance by freeskiing pioneer Bobbie Burns.

Resorts offer ski passes to fifth graders

WINTERSPORTS – Once again, fifth-grade students are being treated like royalty at most Inland Northwest ski resorts, with free skiing and other discounts.

The Fifth Grade Ski or Ride Free Passport, costs $20, entitles students to three free lift tickets at each of the participating mountains, including 49 Degrees North, Mt. Spokane, Silver Mountain, Lookout Pass along with Bluewood, Loup Loup and Mission Ridge.

Some resorts also offer free or discounted ski rentals and lessons.

Parents and siblings accompanying the fifth graders can get discounts.

Applications are available in most fifth-grade classrooms in the region.

See details and download applications here.

Jury’s still out on B.C.’s controversial Jumbo Pass ski area

PUBLIC LANDS — The controversial Jumbo Glacier resort in the Purcell Mountains near Invermere, British Columbia, is in a holding pattern after its environmental certificate expired on the weekend, but resort officials say they’re still on track to open the day lodge and a lift by next winter, the Calgary Herald reports.

The $1-billion ski resort’s environmental certificate — which has been in place for 10 years — expired last week.

No additional construction will take place at the site until First Nations and other stakeholders are consulted and until B.C. Minister of Environment Mary Polack rules on whether the resort has “substantially started” the project.

Resort plans call for  construction of 5,500 condos and up to 23 ski lifts.

The upscale resort has divided the community between those who want a boon to local business and others who fear destruction of the pristine wilderness and grizzly bear habitat.

Harbinger of winter: Ski films booked at The Bing

WINTERSPORTS — Ski season isn't quite here but ski movie season is.

Here's what's scheduled at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane in the next month:

  • Saturday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. — Inspired Ski Movie Tour, featuring guest speakers Henrik Harlaut, 2X X-Games gold medalist, and pro skier Phil Casabon.   Advance tickets $12 or $15 as the door.
  • Oct. 11, 7 p.m. — Sports Creel Ski Movie Party, featuring Less, Oil and Water, Burn and Ten and Two.  Professional skiers L.J. Strenio and Mike Hornbeck, who appear in some of the movies, will attend the show . College ski passes to Lookout Pass to be sold for $99.  Advance tickets $5.
  • Nov. 1, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. — Warren Miller's No Turning Back, the 65th ski film from the father of the genre, pays homage to 65 years of mountain culture and winter adventure filmmaking. Advance tickets $$20.

Whitefish mountain bike route a ‘model’ flow trail

CYCLING — A year after its completion, Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Kashmir Trail has been named a model “Flow Trail” by the International Mountain Biking Association.  The route is among 30 miles of downhill and cross-country trails at the Whitefish Bike Park.

Once a year, IMBA recognizes outstanding mountain bike trails and locations with the IMBA Model Trail awards which encompass Epics, Ride Centers, Flow Trails and Community Bike Parks.

Kashmir is one of four Flow Trails recognized this year. Others included trails in Karnten, Austria, Sun Valley, Idaho and the Czech Republic.

The winners were announced last week and will be recognized at the 2014 IMBA World Summit Aug. 20-21 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Events and Recreation Manager, Josh Knight will attend and accept the award.

“It’s an honor to see Kashmir be recognized by IMBA," said Josh Knight, the resort’s events and recreation manager. "As one of the first resorts in the west to provide lift-served mountain biking starting with the Summit Trail in 1996, it speaks volumes about the direction of the sport and the industry and what riders want.

“Kashmir has received many compliments over the past year from both experienced and intermediate riders progressing to the next level. Everyone involved in building the trail from our trail crew to Terraflow Trails was very proud of its creation. This award will help Whitefish continue to build on its reputation as a bicycling destination.” 

An IMBA media release said, “These are the trails worth traveling to; the best places to introduce someone to the sport we all love and are the facilities builders and advocates should look to for inspiration.”

Riders will have the opportunity to compete on Kashmir in two events set for September:

  • The Double Dip Downhill, Sept. 6-7 and will feature a course on Kashmir for Saturday’s race day.
  • Ender Enduro, Sept. 13, Whitefish Bike Park’s second enduro race of the season.

The Whitefish Bike Park lift-served downhill and cross-country trails are open daily mid-June to Labor Day and Friday-Sunday in September.

Kashmir Trail info:

  • Level - Black Diamond
  • Length - 2.54 Miles
  • Elevation Loss – 1,684 Vertical Feet
  • Description - The area's backbone flow trail running along the west ridge of the mountain toward the lower pod of downhill trails. It intersects with the Summit Trail six times so you can start small and work your way up to more advanced sections of trail.


Montana ski area opening technical mountain bike trails

BICYCLING — The trend continues with alpine ski areas developing facilities for mountain bikers to enjoy during the summer season:

Montana ski area goes big on mountain bike features
Discovery Ski Area in Montana will open its opens new technical skills park for experienced mountain bike riders on Sunday, with a variety of wall rides, bridges, jumps and logs along the way down 1,050 vertical feet.

In the Spokane area: 

  • Mount Spokane downhill trails are being planned and construction is underway.  Last weekend, Evergreen East organized The Warm Up Mt. Spokane benefit event, raising nearly $1000, attracted 30 volunteers who put in 170 hours of hard labor on trail construction, and brought together 26 riders for a total of 13 laps on a Mount Spokane course. A new Mountain Biking brochure and map details the existing riding opportunities at Mount Spokane.
  • A downhill and technical biking park has been created at Beacon Hill

Snowboarder lawsuit could put chill on liability releases at ski resorts

WINTERSPORTS — The Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments in Astoria last week in a lawsuit filed by a snowboarder paralyzed from the waist down after a jump at a popular Bend resort. The snowboarder says the waiver he signed does not release the resort from liability for his injuries.

According to the Associated Press coverage of the hearing last Wednesday, the arguments centered on the difference between the assumed risk that skiers and snowboarders take on dangerous jumps and the responsibility of a snow park operator to make sure its jumps and moguls are safe.

Myles Bagley was 18 when he was injured at the Mt. Bachelor ski resort in 2006 on a jump. Bagley’s attorneys argued his injuries could have been avoided if the jump were designed differently.

Mt. Bachelor’s attorney says a mandatory waiver signed with a lift pass sale exempts the resort.

Bagley’s case could have broad ramifications for release agreements that must be signed in order to take part in an activity. Some state legislatures have made specific rules for amusement parks, which include ski lifts, but the issue of broader recreational activity has not yet been defined.

Bagley sought $21.5 million in Deschutes County Circuit Court in 2008. A judge threw out the lawsuit, and the court of appeals affirmed.


Stevens Pass Ski Area reports record season

WINTERSPORTS — More than 406,000 guests visited Stevens Pass ski area last winter making 2013-14 its largest season since visits have been electronically tracked.  While much of the West Coast saw below average snowfall, Stevens Pass surpassed its 450-inch average with a seasonal total of 463 inches.

The Nov. 16, 2013, opening was the resort's third earliest.  During the last three winters, the Washington resort operated more than 150 days, besting its 134 day average set during the previous 28 years. 

Memorable storms this season included an 11-day snow cycle that dropped 125 inches Feb. 10-21, 2014. That brought the ski area to a total of 160 inches for the month of February

In December Stevens Pass also unveiled its new Doppelmayr high-speed detachable Jupiter Quad in the Mill Valley area capping off over $4 million in seasonal improvements. The resort also expanded to four terrain parks making it the largest park program in the state with more than 70 features.

‘That’s a wrap!’ at most ski areas

WINTERSPORTS — Bob Legasa caught a photo of this happy crowd of skiers getting in their last licks on the sunny slopes of Schweitzer Mountain Resort Sunday.  Most of the region's ski areas shut down their lifts for the season on Sunday afternoon.

The notable exception in this area is Silver Mountain, which still has skiing to offer from top to bottom. Siler has announced plans to open the lifts for "Silver Saturdays" only — April 19 and April 26, the weekend of the legendary Leadman — a triathlon done Kellogg style.