ADDITIONAL GROOMING INFORMATION
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Spokane Nordic responsible for grooming?
No. Mt. Spokane State Parks provides the grooming for the Nordic and snowmobile trail systems. SNSA acts as a consultant and advocacy group on behalf of the skiing community. SNSA also supports the 'grooming advisory committee' (see other FAQ below).
Where and when trails are groomed?
State Parks rules require grooming to be done at night to avoid conflicts with skiers. Extreme weather conditions such as wind (falling trees), heavy snow and ice can be deciding factors when the groomer operator is evaluating safety for himself and the equipment. There is only one grooming machine operator and it is not feasible for him to wait until the snow stops in the morning to begin grooming. There are occasions where the small snowmobile groomer can be taken out to do limited grooming during the day, but this is done by volunteers.
What does the Spokane Nordic Grooming Advisory Committee do?
This operational committee functions under the umbrella of the Spokane Nordic board. The committee works with the Parks staff, Inland Empire Paper Company and Idaho Department of Lands to facilitate the planning, building and maintenance of our trail system. In addition, the committee has been instrumental in obtaining the largest grooming machine in the state park system, the SNSA snowmobile, and its grooming attachments. The Grooming Advisory Committee is not responsible for, nor is it in charge of, the grooming equipment, staff, or actual grooming performed at Mt Spokane Nordic Area.
Can the Mt. Spokane alpine resort groomers help?
The committee has discussed ideas with the resort. The alpine grooming machines are too wide to fit on the majority of the Nordic trails. In addition, no tracks can be set with their equipment.
Would it be possible for the snow report rangers to walk a few meters up Brian’s Hill or some similar single groomer pass trail and make some judgement about how conditions are?
This is not a possibility at this time. We are looking at ways to improve the information about trail conditions and SNSA maintains a webcam and Fitness Fanatics offers a weather station that you can view prior to making your trip.
Grooming Questions and Feedback
Grooming feedback and inquiries are handled directly by State Parks. You can use the form below, or email email@example.com.
Forecasting Ski Conditions 101
The following explains how to make your own forecast of what the ski conditions
will be like at the Mount Spokane Cross-Country Ski Park:
1. Look through the daily grooming map at the top of this page. This map shows you when each trail in our trail system was last groomed. The groomer starts out sometime in the middle of the night, and finishes up in the early morning hours, and it has a GPS device on it. So, you can see what time each trail was groomed, and what date it was last groomed. You might want to plan your ski route by choosing trails that were groomed in the last 24 hours. Note that there is no grooming for Tuesday and Wednesday skiing (on Monday and Tuesday nights).
2. Find out what the weather has been recently, by checking the Quartz Peak weather station web page (linked just below the daily grooming map). This is data from a weather station near the Quartz Peak lookout, approximately in the center of our ski area. On that page, you can see:
What the temperature has been recently, by looking down the temperature column in the table. If there has recently been a prolonged period above freezing, that will of course lead to softer snow, which can mean that tracks are soft for classic skiers. Also, if it got above freezing and then later below freezing, there may be icy conditions. Sunshine (not recorded on the gauge) combined with near or above freezing temperatures can lead to water dripping off trees, so shady trails can get patches of wet snow or ice. The best thing is weather that stays below freezing. However, keep in mind that the grooming machine we have is amazing, and recent grooming on a particular trail can make up for a lot of unfavorable weather.
Whether there has been rainfall. This is slightly indirect... but if there has been precipitation (which you can see by changes in the accumulated precipitation column), and it is above freezing, and the snow depth didn't increase, it could be due to rain. Obviously, rain does not improve the skiing conditions.
When snow last fell. One column in the table shows the snow depth. If you see that yesterday the snow depth was a certain amount, and today it is higher, then you know that snow fell in the last 24 hours. You can look down the column and pinpoint the hour or hours when snow was falling (the hour when the depth increased). Then compare that to the times that various trails were groomed, and you can get an idea of whether the grooming came before or after the snowfall -- if the grooming for a particular trail happened before snow started to fall, then you'll most likely find that there is snow on top of the grooming, which will fill in the set tracks and also tend to make the skate lane soft.
3. Look at the webcam image, which is on the Conditions page. That can give you some idea of the current weather: fog, sunshine, snow falling, etc.
4. (Optional) Check the downhill area report (link is in the Weather section on this page), which contains information on the current base/summit temperatures, 24/48 hour new snowfall, and webcams. This area is very close to our Nordic area... but keep in mind that their ski report is marketing information designed to get you up skiing, so it may be slanted or optimistic.
5. Check the National Weather Service forecast for the ski area (link is in the Weather section on this page). Check for sun and above-freezing temperature forecasts (not good for snow conditions), very cold temperatures (dress appropriately!), wind (high winds can be dangerous, due to falling trees and limbs), and snowfall (heavy snowfall will lead to snow on top of the most recent grooming). Note that the current conditions reported on the forecast page are unreliable, however! They are extrapolated from the Deer Park airport, and can sometimes be very far off the actual temperature. The Quartz Peak gauge and Mt. Spokane downhill area reports have actual, rather than extrapolated, temperature readings.
6. See if there are any pertinent announcements or reports at the bottom of the conditions page on this web site. For instance, there could be an event happening, a road closure, or reports of ski conditions in the past few days... However, again keep in mind that the grooming machine we have can really improve ski conditions, so a bad report one day doesn't necessarily mean the next day will also be bad. Conversely, weather can change quickly, so a good report one day doesn't necessarily mean the next day will be good.
7. Combine all of this information into an idea about how the conditions might be when you get to the mountain. Then dress appropriately, grab the appropriate skis and wax, and get up there and ski! With the right equipment and clothing, you can have a great time skiing in nearly any conditions, so consider bringing a few pairs of skis for different conditions, and clothing for both warmer and colder than you expect. Near the back corner of the lodge, there is a thermometer to see what the air temperature is when you get there, and there are waxing stands at the lodge if you guessed wrong and need to rewax.