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La Grande Observer 12/22/14

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Spout's night skiing 'big city amenity'

VARIED TERRAIN: Spout Springs owner John Murray believes that Spout Springs, with its varied terrain, is an ideal place for alpine skiers of all levels to hone their skills. Map/skispoutsprings.com
VARIED TERRAIN: Spout Springs owner John Murray believes that Spout Springs, with its varied terrain, is an ideal place for alpine skiers of all levels to hone their skills. Map/skispoutsprings.com
Night skiing at Spout Springs will soon go dark.

Evening skiing at Spout Springs for this winter ends Feb. 21.

The lights though are not going out on Spout Springs Ski Area’s season — far from it. The ski area has a solid snow pack and will continue operating through March.

Owner John Murray said the ski area might remain open longer but doubts it will.

“We will keep it open as long as people want to come,’’ Murray said.

Northeast Oregon skiers traditionally hang up their gear in late March. Murray cannot understand why people stop so early because good skiing opportunities remain through the spring.

“I could have skied here last year until June,’’ Murray said.

Spout Springs offers night skiing on Saturdays, when the ski area operates from from 9 a.m. to 9 pm. Spout Springs is the only ski site in Eastern Oregon that offers night skiing. The Spokane area is one of the nearest places where there is evening skiing.

“It is a big city amenity,’’ Murray said.

Spout’s owner finds that people enjoy skiing under lights for a variety of reasons.

“It is a different feeling. There is a lot excitement and exhilaration,’’ Murray said.

Spout Springs has been drawing a solid number of cross county and alpine skiers and snowboarders this winter. The number of groups from schools and other organizations is down, though, Murray said.

Nordic skiers use a 40-kilometer network of trails, 10-to-12 kilometers of which are groomed; alpine skiers enjoy a system featuring 16 runs and two double-chair lifts. The snow boarders use a terrain park featuring four rails and six jumps.

The snowboarding and ski areas are monitored by members of the Spout Springs Ski Patrol. The patrol has been recognized several times in recent years for outstanding service by the National Ski Patrol.

Indoor facilities now operating at Spout include a rental shop, a ski school center, Spout Springs’ Mountain Inn and a clinic where first aid is provided.

New features at Spout this winter include improved cell phone service made possible by a new antennae and connections for improved Internet service.

Murray, who bought Spout Springs in 1999 with his wife Nancy, believes skiers in this region do no realize how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to glide through the light, dry, powdery snow Northeast Oregon is known for.

“We are very fortunate. We have some of the best snow, period, anywhere,’’ Murray said.

Spout Springs, 15 miles west of Elgin on Highway 204, is well situated to receive large amounts of snow most winters because of a decision its original owners made in the 1920s, Murray said. They moved the Spout Springs ski area about four miles east to a point that they had determined received substantially more snow.

“They did their homework,’’ Murray said.

Today Murray believes that Spout Springs is an ideal place for alpine skiers of all skill levels to hone their skills. A major reason is its varied terrain.

“If you can ski here you can ski anywhere.’’

For additional information on Spout’s schedule and conditions, go to its website, www. skispoutsprings.com, or call 541-566-0320.



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