This one’s a long time coming. The Washington State Supreme Court this afternoon upheld two lower courts’ decisions to allow Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park to add a sixth chairlift and seven new runs on the northwest side of the mountain, a project first proposed circa 2005. Ever since then, the nonprofit that operates the ski area has fought the Spokane Tribe, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Spokane Mountaineers, Conservation Northwest, Native Plant Society, Lands Council and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to move the project forward. At issue were 279 acres of old growth forest and alpine meadows popular with backcountry skiers that are now poised to become part of the ski area, one of only a handful nationwide located in a state park. The expansion will allow the nonprofit mountain to open more reliable northwest-facing terrain in lean snow years and meet growing demand for outdoor winter recreation in the Inland Northwest. “This is a very exciting day for every skier in our region,” Mt. Spokane general manager Brad McQuarrie celebrated in a press release. “We can now turn our vision into a reality so that more skiers can enjoy more of the mountain.”
When I visited Mt. Spokane this spring, logging equipment was staged near the summit awaiting the court’s decision. A double chair removed from Bridger Bowl in 2013 sat in the main parking lot undergoing modifications for its new home. The Riblet will be called Red Chair for obvious reasons and has upgraded CTEC components including its bottom tension terminal. “This chairlift has a long and storied history, including ties to the Spokane community from its inception, as Riblet Tramway Company was the original builder of this chairlift based in Spokane,” the mountain’s release noted. Mt. Spokane’s existing chairlifts will also get new names this fall to replace numbers one through five.
Construction begins tomorrow morning and the ropes are expected to drop for the 2018-19 season.