Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Can low night temps help salvage the ski season?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 2:51 PM

After the recent warm spell, some ski resorts have resorted to closing their lifts until the next snowfall. Schweitzer Resort, on the other hand, is refusing to succumb to the current pseudo-spring, and is now blasting their slopes with manufactured snow. Manufactured snow is more durable than natural snow and should keep conditions ideal for winter sports for the duration of the season.
Snowmaking at Schweitzer.
  • Snowmaking at Schweitzer.
For pass holders to parks that have closed up shop while they wait for a spring storm—Snoqualmie, Mt. Spokane, and 49 Degrees North—Schweitzer is also offering one free lift ticket, valid until March 1st. 

With two lifts in operation, Silver Mountain remains optimistic, offering discounted day passes—now $43—and a $10 discount for pass holders of other parks. Lookout Pass still has 3 lifts in operation and is patiently awaiting more precipitation.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Slushy Slopes: Mt Spokane closed, 49 and Schweitzer on limited operations

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 4:21 PM

click image 109163.jpg

Bad news, snow sport devotees. The recent insanely warm temperatures and rain has left nearby ski trails bare and is making heading to the slopes a bit more difficult.

Out of concern for the safety of their guests, Mt. Spokane will be closed this week due to unsuitable weather but plan to be up and running as soon as they get some more snow...which could be awhile. 

Fortunately, if you can't manage to stay away from the slopes for that long, 49 North Mountain Resort and Schweitzer Mountain will still be running, but with limited operations. Schweitzer plans to have just 45 out of their 92 runs available as well as 4 out of their 9 lifts. Luckily, they will be offering reduced lift ticket prices and hope to add more lifts and runs to operation later this week.

49 North is trying to cater to pass holders as well by reducing day pass prices from $54 to &39, but will be closed Wednesday, Thursday, as well as for Night Skiing Saturday. Be sure and check out which chairs are open which days here.

Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho, is open with 46 trails according to its snow report, and Lookout Pass has 90 percent of its trails open
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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Schweitzer's volunteer cleanup machine

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:26 PM


Everyone has their own personal reason for skiing or snowboarding — exercise, fresh air, excitement, adventure. In addition to all of those, one Spokane man has another reason: Collecting trash. 

If you have spent any time at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, you have seen him. His name is Larry West. He frequently skis under the chairlifts, the Hollywood line, with that one focus in mind.

I had the opportunity to ski one morning with him and got a firsthand glimpse of what he does every day he is on skis, which coincidentally, is every day of the ski season, logging as many days per year as Schweitzer is open. The mountain's awarded him for this feat with a free season pass.

On the chairlift recently, I jokingly said, as if I was on a two-way radio, “Larry West, do you copy? There is a piece of trash located between the 5th and 6th tower on the Great Escape Quad.”

Larry responded, “I do get text messages from people alerting me of the location of trash.”

As the day progressed, and as we rode more lifts, he would talk about his different finds under the chair. Gloves, cash, candy wrappers. Later that morning, he noted a glove under the chairlift. As we got off the lift, he asked the snowboarder in front of us if it was his glove. The snowboarder said, “Yeah.” Larry offered to pick up a glove for him and the snowboarder responded, “No, it’s okay. I have an extra pair.” Larry made the mental note of the location of the glove, mumbling something about going back to pick it up anyway.

Later that morning, we rode the Great Escape Quad. As we made our way up the mountain, he pointed out the tracks under the lift and spoke about a recent successful gathering adventure. Chairlift rides, for some, are about scoping out their next run, or playful banter amongst friends and strangers. But for West, it is about checking out possible conquests for keeping the mountain free and clear of unwanted trash, or helping skiers and boarders reunite with their fallen gear.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Making peace with a slow season start, and vowing to stay true to your mountain

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 1:13 PM

  • Schweitzer Mountain Resort
I have had the conversation with many people about the "weird" start to the ski season.

My go-to response is, “You have to take the good with the bad.”

I moved to Sandpoint in 2002 and it was a couple of years later, the season of 2004-05, that Schweitzer Mountain Resort closed in early March, for the first time, and then reopened at the end of March after a late season storm cycle. Since then, all of the resorts in the Inland Northwest have had some great snow years – nine great consecutive seasons.

Although the season is far from over, I thought I would concoct up a vow to my ski resort and mountain town to let them know that I my heart is still with you – even in warm temps and low precip. I have left it generic so it is adaptable for your unique situation:

I, (insert ski bum’s name), take you, (insert your local ski hill or the mountain town you swore an oath to, two years ago, when the snow fall was off the charts and so many powder days that ‘best days’ were replaced with new ones on a regular basis), to be my ski hill and mountain town, secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, my one true love, and the best place to be on those epic powder days, whether bluebird or not.

On this serious lack-of-snow season, I affirm to you in the presence of Ullr and my fellow ski bums my sacred promise to stay by your side as your faithful ski bum and loyal powder skier in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the epic seasons and the bad.

I promise to love you, be the first in line on the epic powder day and to comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve your snowfall and sunny day goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as my knees will hold out.

(Raise 16-ounce PBR tallboy), Cheers!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Opening days come to area ski resorts ... finally!

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 3:43 PM


Opening Days have come for a couple area resorts and as December progresses, so will the rest.

Schweitzer bagged the first opening in the region with opening day falling on Saturday, Nov. 22. According to its director of marketing Sean Mirus, “We look forward to getting open as soon as possible, as with all skiers and snowboarders. But it was our off-season brush-cutting and our snowmaking capability that made it possible… Literally, without those two things, we wouldn’t have been able to open when we did.”

The cold weather in early November assisted Schweitzer with making snow but Mother Nature put her foot down last weekend with a short warm and wet weather system that passed through over the holiday weekend, delaying opening days for Lookout Pass, 49 Degrees North, Silver Mountain and Mt. Spokane.

Lookout Pass was able to open on Sunday, November 30. And Silver Mountain announced that it plans to open on Saturday, Dec. 6. The weather appears to be back on track and more typical for early December. Expect to see more mountains opening, as well as additional acreage at all area ski resorts over the course of the next several days.

Here are some shots of happy opening day skiers at Schweitzer: 




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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Celebrating 60 years of spreading the "stoke"

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 11:45 AM


The Sports Creel is celebrating a birthday that most specialty sporting good stores never see.

Harry Larned first opened the doors to this Spokane Valley staple on March 19, 1954. Throughout the years, the store has remained family-owned and operated – three generations of Larneds have worked there, in fact. Harry’s daughter, Lin, would eventually take over the operation and marry Herb Genteman. One of their two sons, Micah, would follow the family legacy, growing up and making the store a big part of his life. He would eventually meet his wife, TJ, in the store. Currently Herb, Lin, Micah and TJ are the core members of the Creel team.

The location has hardly changed and as Micah describes, “The original location was pretty close to our current location. We’ve always remained within a stones throw (near the intersection of Sprague and Pines).”

Over the past 60 years, the Sports Creel has adapted to the incoming big box stores, other specialty retailers opening and closing and the growth of the Valley. Through the 60 years, they have carried everything from high-end fly-fishing equipment, Chris Craft wooden boat kits and was at one point the largest Hobie cat dealer in North America. “We have sold everything,” Micah says.

But from day one, they have always sold snow skis. “We are now focused on selling stuff for the things we do (and love to do),” Micah adds. The Sports Creel has made its footprint in the Inland Northwest as one of the best special ski and water sports shops.

Throughout the years, the Sports Creel has remained competitive with stores that have the budgets and staff to be open day and night, seven days a week. Herb adds that the last 60 years have been “a survival of the specialty ski shops. Lots have come and gone.” But the Sports Creel has remained a fixture. Happy Birthday, thanks for helping spread ‘the stoke’ for the last 60 years, and cheers to 60 more!
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Friday, November 14, 2014

It's a wrap on Snowlander 2014

Posted By on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 10:44 AM

It’s been a week since we opened the doors for the third annual Snowlander Expo & PowderKeg Brew Festival. What a weekend!

The activities started off with a bang on Friday night with many eager participants waiting at the door prior to 4 pm for the show to begin. As the evening progressed, so did the number of excited skiers and boarders in attendance. The beer garden was the popular place to be up until last call on both evenings.

Brian Ellsworth from the Alpine Haus reports, “For us, [sales] were up this year. From the first to the second year, our numbers doubled, and this year we were up 20-30 percent. It is a good growth on sales and attendance. It was cool to see a line outside before the show doors opened, as it really never happened before.”

You can see a video of some of the Rail Jam festivities right here. And here are just a handful of images that summed up a weekend of winter celebration:

The Washington Trust Rail Jam judges.
  • The Washington Trust Rail Jam judges.
PowderKeg Brew Festival shenanigans.
  • PowderKeg Brew Festival shenanigans.
Washington Trust Rail Jam in full swing.
  • Washington Trust Rail Jam in full swing.

Bird's eye view of the PowderKeg Brew Festival.
  • Bird's eye view of the PowderKeg Brew Festival.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Snowlander Meets GoPro

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 11:45 AM

We were super thankful for Washington Trust Bank for hosting this year's Snowlander Rail Jam. And we strapped a GoPro onto some participants in case you weren't able to catch the action in person.

Roll the footage!

Thank you to Buffalo Jones for the use of "My Turn To Run".
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

The benefits of becoming a "mountain girl"

Posted By on Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 3:52 PM


It was 11 years ago when I made the shift from a "real" job to working in the mountains. I left a good, consistent paycheck, great health insurance and a desk job.

At this time 11 years ago, I was one month into my new life, adventuring the streets of Sydney, Australia, with my 10-year-old niece, who is now in her junior year at Gonzaga. She was showing me the best places to get good sushi, cheap. And I was taking her to midnight showings of haunted IMAX films.

Upon my return to the states, I started my mountain-girl lifestyle as Base Area Manager of the Selkirk Powder Company at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. My life was surreal. I drove more hours on a snowmobile than in a car. I used a chairlift to commute to work. I was new to powder skiing, yet had access to as much of it as I wanted. I lived in ski clothes. I purchased my first pair of Carhartt’s.

It wasn’t until one late afternoon that I realized the magnitude of the decision I had made. It was after dark in mid-December. I was descending by snowmobile from the mountaintop operations center for SPC. As per normal operating procedures, I made the call on my radio, “This is Jen with Selkirk Powder Company, descending from the Great Escape Quad, down the Great Divide to Down the Hatch to the cat-track to the village.” Once I heard the acknowledgement and the response on the other end to continue with my descent, I started up the snowmobile and started to make my way.

As I started down the Great Divide, I stopped immediately. The sheer beauty that surrounded me in every direction captivated me. While it was dark outside, the sun, as it was setting far to the west, was illuminating the sky. The moon was rising to the east, Lake Pend Oreille was covered by a low layer of clouds and was lit up by the brightness of the moon, sun and stars above.

I stopped to take in the moment.

I realized as I sat there, in that quiet moment, surrounded by natural beauty, how this was as real, if not more so, than any desk job.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Seasonal sipping on tap at this weekend's PowderKeg Brew Festival

Posted By on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 1:57 PM


A total of 22 regional and local craft breweries and cideries come together for the second annual PowderKeg Brew Fest this weekend, Nov. 7-8, a sampling event catering to the various tastes of Inland Northwesterners. Attendees can choose from one of three tasting packages ($15-$25), take a spin at the prize wheel and try out some seasonal beverages in celebration of the coming winter.

  • Dzhan Wiley

After we've set our boots by the fireplace, shed our frost-covered scarves and put our feet up after a good day on the slopes, it just feels right to indulge in a seasonal ale that can only be appreciated during this time of the year. Local Hopped Up Brewing Company features Destroy my Sweater at PowderKeg, an earthy beer brewed with caramel and mulch malts. Some other seasonal drinks include the Jubelale and Chasin' Freshies from Deschutes Brewery, Sleigh'r from Ninkasi Brewing, No Li's Winter Warmer, the Winterfest Seasonal Ale from Sockeye Brewing and Trickster's Brewing Co.'s Winter Ale. Mmmm. Get cozy. 


For fruit lovers, One Tree Hard Cider pours their Ginger Lemon Cider to wake you up and a Caramel Cinnamon Cider to bring you back to Grandma's apple pie. Finnriver Farm & Cidery goes tart and purple with their Black Currant Cider, made with organic and heirloom apples. 

You're into the hops? Try Alaskan Brewing Co.'s classic Freeride APA, MickDuff's Noho, or Bale Breaker's Topcutter IPA with hops from the nearby Yakima Valley. More of a porter person? Give a taste to the bronze medal winner from the 2011 North American Beer Awards, MickDuff's Knot Tree Porter. 

Here's a comprehensive peek at all the beer and cider on tap at this year's PowderKeg:

  • Alaskan Brewing Co. | Alaskan White and Freeride
  • Bale Breaker Brewing Co. | Topcutter IPA and Field 41 Pale Ale
  • Deschutes Brewing Co. | Jubelale and Chasin' Freshies
  • Elysian Brewing Co. | Bitfrost Winter Ale and Space Dust IPA
  • Finnriver Farm & Cidery | Forest Ginger Cider and Black Currant Cider
  • Hopped Up Brewing Co. | Destroy My Sweater and Quality Cream Ale
  • Icicle Brewing Co. | German Chocolate Cake Ale and Bootjack IPA
  • Iron Horse Brewing Co. | Mocha Death and High Five Hefe
  • Liberty Ciderworks | Turncoat and Stonewall ciders
  • MickDuff's | Knot Tree Porter and NOHO
  • Ninkasi Brewing Co. | Sleigh'r and Total Domination IPA
  • No-Li Brewhouse | Winter Warmer and Rise & Grind
  • One Tree Cider | Caramel Cinnamon Cider and Ginger Lemon Cider
  • Orlison Brewing Co. | Underground Coffee Stout and Two Finter Pour
  • Perry Street Brewing Co. | Barley Wine and India Red Ale
  • Ramblin' Road Craft Brewery | Smoked Molasses Saison and Pale Ale
  • River City Brewing Co. | Midnight Marmot Imperial Stout and Huckleberry Ale
  • Sockeye Brewing | Winterfest Seasonal Ale and Powerhouse Porter
  • Trickster's Brewing Co. | Soul Warmer Porter and Extra Pale Ale
  • Twilight Cider Works | Tradition and Inland Empire ciders
  • Waddell's | Waddell's Winter Warmer and Smoked Porter

If it turns out your friends don't want to be your designated driver. Don't worry — we're partnering with Lyft. Only one ticket purchase is necessary for access both days to these two festive events: PowderKeg and Snowlander Expo. Get yours at the Snowlander Expo site, at the door or through Tickets West.

PowderKeg Inlander Brew Festival • Fri, Nov. 7 from 4 pm-9 pm and Sat, Nov. 8 from 12 pm-8 pm • $15-$25 • Spokane Convention Center • 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. • 

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