SPOKANE, Wash. - Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is getting closer to kicking off a major expansion project.
For Brad McQuarrie, Mt. Spokane is home. For the past 13 years, the general manager has had a project on the back of his mind: the opening of the north side of the mountain for additional runs.
"It'll add about 20 percent more skiing in the formal terrain," McQuarrie said. "The park is 14,000 acres, we're talking about 80 acres of additional trails."
The upside of northside slopes are simple; the mountain would shield the runs from the snow, and the grades are gradual, lending itself well to new skiers. After jumping through legal hoops for more than a decade, two years ago McQuarrie thought his dream would be realized... until he faced another setback.
"We received a letter from the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation that said the Spokane Tribe had listed a historic Indian trail that went to the summit in the area that we want to construct these lifts and runs," said McQuarrie.
On the tribe's recommendation, McQuarrie hired an archeology firm out of Portland, who after a summer of studying could not find evidence of such a trail.
"Since then, the tribe has submitted more evidence that says there's a trail out there, so we may have to continue with additional studies," said McQuarrie.
While McQuarrie still might be another full year away from realizing his dream of northern slopes, the general manager remains optimistic for the season ahead. Last year's windstorm produced the lumber used in his lodge's new mountain-facing walls, and his team has invested in brand new ski rental equipment. As for the weather, he trusts in the experts.
"We're looking for that snow pretty soon," said McQuarrie. "Kris Crocker said it was coming fast."
McQuarrie told us about a week ago there was three inches of snow on the slopes, but as of Thursday things were very dry. The group remains hopeful that opening weekend will come just after Thanksgiving.