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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane area ski hills begin to open; Mt. Spokane plans Dec. 9 opening

The chairlifts have started spinning.

The winter storm system that’s passing through Spokane this weekend has brought enough snow to get most of the region’s ski hills open for the season, with three of them welcoming visitors this past weekend.

In Kellogg, Silver Mountain started running three of its lifts on Saturday. Outside of Chewelah, Washington, 49 Degrees North also opened Saturday.

Lookout Pass Ski Area, on the Montana-Idaho border, will open Sunday, said Matt Sawyer, the mountain’s director of marketing.

It’s a little later than usual, Sawyer said, as the mountain typically opens in November.

“We’re just happy to get open,” Sawyer said.

Two of the mountain’s lifts will be running. He wasn’t sure which trails would be open, and said they’ll have a better idea of that on Sunday.

“It will be early season conditions, naturally,” he said. “There could be thin areas and bare spots or obstacles present.”

Meanwhile, Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is still waiting.

The ski hill is targeting a Saturday opening, a week later than it originally planned.

Jim van Loben Sels, the ski area’s general manager, said they needed 15 to 20 inches to fall, and for it to stick around.

He’s watching the weather closely, and staff were taking steps Friday to dull the impact of high winds expected through the weekend.

“We’re putting snow fences out and trying to catch it and pack it down,” he said.

He’ll also be watching the thermometer next week. The National Weather Service is predicting high temperatures in the mid- to high 40s this week, with lows staying above 30. Rain is expected, too.

Several other resorts were able to open last month. Schweitzer, in Sandpoint, opened Nov. 25. On the west side of the Cascades, Crystal Mountain Resort opened Nov. 24.

Stevens Pass, on Highway 2 west of Leavenworth, Washington, was still closed as of Friday.