SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park celebrated the opening of a new chair lift and seven new runs on the back side of the mountain Saturday.

Nearly 100 skiers gathered at the backside expansion to become the first to ride the new triple chairlift and make tracks on the new runs. The expansion added 279 new acres of scenic terrain, 79 acres of groomed trails and seven professionally designed runs.

The new 4,600-foot triple chairlift is the sixth and longest lift on the mountain.

“Running 500 feet per minute, the new lift whisks 1,200 people per hour to the top of the best skiing and riding on the mountain,” Brad McQuarrie, general manager of the park, said.

Plans for the backside expansion began 15 years ago, involving significant planning and community engagement. The expansion became necessary as guest visits have nearly doubled over the past ten years.

Additionally, a new Mountain Sports School Learning Center opened near the main lodge this season. The 3,500-square-foot center will house more than 100 ski school instructors and serve as a warming area for students.

“The whole expansion is going to be so beneficial to the mountain in so many different ways,” Payton Williams, a ski instructor who grew up skiing at Mt. Spokane. “The terrain is different than anything we have on the mountain now.”