Snowlander

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lot of beer at Schweitzer tomorrow

Posted By on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Plenty of new snow this week at Schweitzer Mountain. - SCHWEITZER MOUNTAIN RESORT
  • Schweitzer Mountain Resort
  • Plenty of new snow this week at Schweitzer Mountain.

While it's technically spring down here in the valleys, it's still very much winter up on Schweitzer Mountain. They've received about nine inches of snow in the last two days and it's supposed to snow more today and tonight.

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To celebrate "winter," Schweitzer is throwing a Winter Fest, replete with all sorts of bells and whistles up on the mountain, including live music from The Rub, a '90s dance party and, perhaps most intriguing, a mini beer festival. There will be 12 different beers on tap from breweries like Iron Horse, Ninkasi, Goose Island (it's in Chicago), Elysian, Widmer, Firestone Walker and, if you'd rather go European, they've got Stella.

$10 gets you a sampling package with a glass and four samples. Additional samples are $2 and full pints are $5. The beer tent opens at 11 am.

Yeah, sunshine might be nice, but fresh snow and cold beer isn't too bad.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Inland Northwest ski resorts open

The cold snap means snow on the mountains, and several local resorts are opening this weekend.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Skiers and snowboarders alike, rejoice! The season is upon us, and the powder is fresh. Here are the opening dates — most are this weekend, though many have already opened — for some of our favorite area ski resorts. 

MOUNT SPOKANE
Mount Spokane opens for the season on Saturday.
  • Mount Spokane opens for the season on Saturday.

Opening Day: Sat, Nov. 23 at 9 am
Cost: Adult: $24-$52, Youth: $24-$42. Opening Day: Adult: $30, Youth: $20
Snow: Lodge, 24 inches; Summit, 31 inches
What’s New: New restrooms, more seating in the main lodge, a new outdoor deck and a new chairlift servicing seven new runs.

49º NORTH
Opening Day: Opened on Sun, Nov. 17
Cost: Adult: $45-$57, Youth: $39-$48.
Snow: Lodge, 19 inches; Summit, 39 inches 
What’s New: New lighting, doors and wiring in lodge.

LOOKOUT PASS
Opening Day: Opened Thurs, Nov. 21
Cost: Adult: $31-$36, Youth: $22-$28.
Snow: Base, 10 inches; Summit, 26 inches
What’s New: A new terrain park, new beginners programs including cross-country skiing, new ski instructions, a downloadable trail map for smart phones and upgrades to ski shop and rental shop for smoother service.

SCHWEITZER MOUNTAIN
Opening Day: Sat, Nov. 23
Cost: Adult: $61-$71, Youth: $40-$50. Opening Day: $45; Musical Chairs: $25
Snow: Base, 20 inches; Total snowfall, 40 inches
What’s New: Bringing back the sun deck outside the Lakeview Lodge, new progressive terrain park and a new FIS downhill course.

SILVER MOUNTAIN
Opening Day: Fri, Nov. 29, conditions permitting
Cost: Adult: $43-$56, Youth: $32-$41. 
Snow: At Kellogg Peak, 23 inches; Mid-mountain, 12 inches
What’s New: A whole new run, and the Bootlegger run has been vastly improved, taking out obstacles like shrubs/bushes.

Check out the Inlander's latest edition of Snowlander for more updates about area resorts and more. 
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Monday, November 11, 2013

PHOTOS: Snowlander Expo

Posted By on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 10:53 AM

On Friday evening, people were lining up at the doors of the Spokane Convention Center for the first day of the Snowlander Expo and PowderKeg Brew Festival. Once the doors opened at 4 pm, there were people everywhere retrieving their season passes, claiming their free lift tickets, and checking out the gear that all of the vendors had set up. There was no dull moment due to the prizes, lager and festivities happening all around. About 3,000 people attended on Friday and Saturday.

People waiting to get inside of the Snowlander Expo - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • People waiting to get inside of the Snowlander Expo

The line inside the convention center before the doors opened for the Snowlander Expo. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • The line inside the convention center before the doors opened for the Snowlander Expo.

People receive their free ski passes from either 49 Degrees North or Red Mountain. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • People receive their free ski passes from either 49 Degrees North or Red Mountain.

The 49 Degrees North booth, busy with pass processing. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • The 49 Degrees North booth, busy with pass processing.

Snowboards and skis at the Tri-State Outfitters booth. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • Snowboards and skis at the Tri-State Outfitters booth.

Ski bindings at the Spokane Alpine Haus booth. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • Ski bindings at the Spokane Alpine Haus booth.

People get their photo taken on the Red Chair for a free beanie at the Mt. Spokane booth. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • People get their photo taken on the Red Chair for a free beanie at the Mt. Spokane booth.

Makenzie Oddino processes Mt. Spokane passes at The Snowlander Expo - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • Makenzie Oddino processes Mt. Spokane passes at The Snowlander Expo

The Powder Keg Brew Festival at the Snowlander Expo - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • The Powder Keg Brew Festival at the Snowlander Expo

The PowderKeg prize wheel. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • The PowderKeg prize wheel.

Jim Philp spins the PowderKeg prize wheel at the Snowlander Expo. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • Jim Philp spins the PowderKeg prize wheel at the Snowlander Expo.

Travis Blanchard, left, Kevin Stone, center, and Donna Walker, right, enjoy the PowderKeg Brew Festival. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • Travis Blanchard, left, Kevin Stone, center, and Donna Walker, right, enjoy the PowderKeg Brew Festival.

The Snowlander Expo from the sound room. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • The Snowlander Expo from the sound room.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Skijoring, Anyone?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 2:58 PM

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Now in it's 38th year, the SANPOINT WINTER CARNIVAL is back with its 10 days of frosty fun from Feb. 17-26. There's the Shop and Dine Around Sandpoint events, the Bio-Luminesce Fire Dancers, the rail jam competition, a performance by X Factor finalist LeRoy Bell and a K9 keg pull. You know, the usual.

Up the hill at Schweitzer, they're getting into the act, too, with special lodging deals and a full slate of events throughout the village and resort, culminating with the Outrageous Air Show (Feb. 24-25) and Torchlight Parade (Feb. 25). But all through the Carnival's run are events like guided snowshoe hikes, scavenger hunts, live music, campfires, night skiing and stuff for the little ones, too.

This carnival is not without its quirks. Ever heard of skijoring? The Scandinavian sport, making its second appearance at the carnival, combines skiing and horseback riding, with horses and their riders pulling skiers around a course of jumps and gates. Participants will compete on Saturday, Feb. 18, and Sunday, Feb. 19, combining their two-day times for a shot at the prize money. Also on Sunday is the skijoring style competition, in which skiers and snowboarders try to land tricks and jumps while, yes, being pulled by a horse. This year, there are also skijoring divisions for juniors and women. Both days of competition are from noon to 4 pm at the Bonner County Fairgrounds.

The Sandpoint Winter Carnival will be held from Feb. 17-26. For more information, visit sandpoint.org/wintercarnival or call (208) 255-1876. For information on Schweitzer activities, go to Schweitzer.com or call (208) 255-3081.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Ski Demo Hangover

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 11:19 AM

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For two days last week I was in a skier's dream.  A brand new, freshly tuned and waxed set of skis every run I took (except for that one pair which reminded me that I wasn't dreaming. If you were with me, you will know exactly which ones I am talking about).  I have had dreams that are similar in content although usually involve a foot of fresh snow.  The first day brought us brilliant sun and fast moving groomers.  The second day brought a fresh blanket of snow and less than ideal visibility but a good day to switch out the Red Sol-X lens for my favorite Smith lens, the Red Sensor Mirror.

This is the third consecutive year that I have attended the WWSRA Ski & Snowboard demos at Mission Ridge just outside of Wenatchee, Washington.  The conditions are typically not ideal for testing out the big boards, which seems to be all the rage with rocker, camber and sidecut flowing smoothly from all of the ski reps mouths.  Attendees range from shop employees, owners and representatives from area ski resorts.  Exhibitors are from all over showing off next years alpine and tele skis, snowboards, ski poles, boots, helmets, goggles, GoPro's, foot beds and even some clothing lines.  

For two days you are ripping down the mountain at mach speeds, laughing, talking shop, and being stoked about next season's gear (even though we are still enjoying the current one).  There are shot-skis filled with whiskey, brats cooking on BBQ's, kegs of IPA and what seems like an endless supply of canned beer.  Goggle tanned faces, smiles and friends surround the Salomon fire pit which makes returning to the hotel after the first day nearly impossible. The party does finally dissipate and makes it way to downtown for more of the same.

The morning comes too early after dinner, hot tubs and more apres-ski activities.  The morning brings more skiing, more socializing and then reality sets in.  It's time to go home and return to my skis.  Fortunately, I love my skis but in previous years after returning from the two-day demo party, I have had a hard time motivating myself back on my skis as they just didn't have the same response or the same feel as the new ones I had just been spending the last two days ripping around on.   This is when the real hangover kicks in.

There are great things on tap for the 2012-2012 line-up.  I am already looking forward to skiing the 2013-14 lineup and, more importantly, attending the demos next February.  

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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Illusive Snow Line

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 10:52 AM

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This was the situation for me last season.  On a one year hiatus from the Inland Northwest, my adventures for last season took me to Stevens Pass.  I was there for many reasons, none of which seem important to me today.  Early season snowfall in large proportions and busy bartending shifts made the daily commute from the small town of Leavenworth tolerable.  I made it through the busy holiday season grinning ear to ear.  Then came the hangover.  January brought weeks upon weeks of rain.  The totals that are imprinted in my brain are; 17" of rain for the month, 13" of which fell over Martin Luther King weekend and not one measurable inch of snow the entire month.  It was all worth it as I had the best ski day of my life the following month where 14" - bottomless of 6% moisture content snow fell overnight with no wind which made me a believer that SPKA (Stevens Pass Kicks Ass).

I do remember the day it all turned around.  I was making my daily 35 mile commute to the Pass after 31 days of seeing no snow line when all of a sudden, I drove around one of the last bends on Hwy 2 before reaching the Stevens Pass summit and there it was, the illusive snow line.  Over the course of the next month, with moisture in the forecast the snow line was never an issue.  We had our winter back.

This season, the snow line has been fluctuating in 1000 foot increments on a regular basis.  When I see that swing, it has the same effect on my heart.  Last week, while on a birthday trip to Whitefish Mountain Resort, we opted to stay on the lake at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.  I receive about 10 email ski reports, none of which were from Whitefish (I do now).  I religiously open the Schweitzer report first as it is my home mountain.  I was saddened to see that they had received 4 inches followed by rain.  With this information, I was a little skeptical about the conditions at Whitefish.  I immediately went from surfing email reports to surfing the web for the local conditions.  The snow reporter mentioned "the snow line" being at Ptarmigan Village (about half way up to the resort).  He also mentioned the 8" of fresh snow that had fallen overnight.  As we exited the lodge to load up the truck I glanced up at the mountain formerly known as Big Mountain and to locals as "the Big", I noticed and exhaled in a sigh of relief noting the snow line well below the village at Whitefish.  

I love the beauty of the snow line. 

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Memories of a Seattle Snowmageddon

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 2:11 PM

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My minds jumps back to a time I can hardly remember when I see this image.  Winter in Seattle.  It was the winter of 1996-97.  I had just graduated from college and was living on my own for the first time.  I bought a new car and was living in a studio apartment on Capital Hill.  I was meeting new people and got reintroduced to skiing.  And then it snowed in Seattle.  Trying to maneuver in a city outlined with hills, hills and more hills and populated with people driving SUV's and Audi's like they are going out of style.  The only problem; most of them aren't equipped with winter tires.  Skiing was put on the back burner as I explored other aspects of city living.

Over the course of the next couple of years, I would ski here and there but worked a crazy schedule and had a hard time making it a priority.  Until one day it dawned on me that if it is raining in Seattle and 40 degrees, there was a good chance it was snowing in the mountains.   This is when I got obsessed with skiing.  It was my escape from cold, dreary, wet city weather and let me dream of the white fluffy stuff falling in the mountains.  And then it snowed in Seattle.  When it snows in Seattle there is little you can do to escape the madness even if you are the best winter driver in the world.  It was a hard to comprehend - a bunch of new snow to enjoy but if it wasn't the city streets prohibiting you from being able to get to the mountains then it would most likely be the mountain passes that would prevent it.  These memories are in a distant past but I am reminded of that time every so often and usually when Seattle is in the midst of their own "snowmageddon".

As I am hearing reports of stuck travelers at Sea-Tac International airport and read Facebook posts of friends and family inter-lodged in their homes for days straight after a Seattle snowstorm, I sit back and remember my Seattle days and enjoy the falling snow outside my window as I feel the result from skiing powder four days in a row throughout my legs and think to myself how fortunate I am that I am able to avoid the city streets of Seattle and mountain passes of Western Washington to get to the ski hill. 

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Friday, December 30, 2011

What Should Have Been Day #20

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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For a couple weeks earlier this month it seemed as though we were in the ski movie version of "Ground Hog's Day".  An extended high pressure system didn't bring any new snow but it did bring many sunny days in a row.    That Monday morning started like most others, the only difference being I was dog sitting one of my god-dogs (my friends give me this designation more as a built-in dogsitter rather than actually having godmother type of responsibilities).  I got up, washed my face, brushed my teeth, made some coffee, loaded the car and headed for the mountain.  

I cherish my ski morning process. I enjoy sipping on hot coffee while listening to the music streaming from my XM radio.   I enjoy driving through a winter wonderland, getting out of the car and hearing excited skiers and boarders as they boot up and make their way to the chairlift.  

It was just as I entered the parking lot, 11 miles away from my house, that I had an overwhelming feeling that I had forgotten something.  Knowing my morning process, I instantly recalculated my steps and sure enough with a quick glance over my shoulder, I was able to confirm what I had forgotten.  My ski boots.  

I have been a pass holder for 12 seasons.  In all the drives, walks or bus rides, I have never forgotten my boots (I did, however, lose them - temporarily - for a couple of weeks).  When I worked for the Selkirk Powder Company I had forgotten my base layer pants a couple of times but those are easily replaceable. I have always been prepared and if minor items had been forgotten, borrow or buy was always a possibility.  You may think to yourself, "Why didn't she just rent some?"  After wearing custom orthotics for 6 years, the idea of renting boots doesn't even enter the mental register.  

Without hesitation, with my tail between my legs and the acknowledgment that day would've been day #20, I turned around and drove back to town knowing that sometimes these things just happen. 

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Ski Trip Memories

Posted By on Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 11:06 AM

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It's this time of year where I remember back to my only family Christmas ski vacation.  It was December 1989.  I was a freshman in high school.  My family had moved to the suburbs of Chicago two years prior from the foothills of Mt. Hood outside of Portland.  While living in Oregon, I had been introduced to skiing, hiking and the wilderness but in those first two years living in the midwest, I had quickly transformed into a 'flatlander'.  

For my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary, my Dad took us on a family ski vacation to Panorama Mountain Village in British Columbia.  Our journey began one early morning flying out of O'Hare International in Chicago, over to Seattle where we would be joined by my Aunt and cousins then on to Moses Lake to pick up my other Aunt and Grandparents.  There were 11 family members in total.  Our caravan would eventually land us at Panorama where we had a condo waiting upon our arrival.

As I am writing this over 20 years later, memories are starting to pop back up about that trip; the Panorama Springs hot pools, listening to the "Moonstruck' Soundtrack on repeat during the entirety of the trip, the day trip to Banff and the first and only time I attempted snowboarding - my cousin, Stephen, got one for Christmas so we all tried to descend outside the condo on a snow covered golf course, crashing and burning several times over the course of the 25 yards.

A ski vacation isn't a ski vacation unless there is skiing involved so one day was spent at Panorama.  There might have been additional days for my cousins and siblings but for me, I only remember one day.  As I recall, it started off casual.  I was a little intimidated by loading a 4-person chairlift.  I had never seen one of these before and wasn't too comfortable with the idea of having someone on both sides of me.  This became apparent when I went to unload the chair.  When my nerves got the best of me, I thought it was a good idea to take my Dad down with me.  So, there I was, my first experience skiing in the Canadian Rockies, and there my Dad and I are, laying on the ramp with ski gear intertwined.  My Dad was less than stoked.  Still, to this day, less than stoked. 

The day got better as I started to feel good and found my comfort zone.  As the day was nearing to an end and all the cousins, siblings, Dad and Aunt got back together, the suggestion of 'going to the top' came up and I was convinced that I was proficient enough to be able to descend down from the top.  Trusting this was the case, I clicked back into my skis and loaded the chair with my family.

A little back story on the day.  I had been skiing on the bunny hill under low cloud cover.  I had no concept of what an inversion was or what might be up there except for more clouds.  As the chairlift made it's way over the terrain I had been skiing and through the clouds, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of what was above the inversion.  A cloud layer that looked like a white sea that was complimented with some of the most amazing mountain peaks I had ever seen.  The chair went forever and finally I was informed it was time to unload.  So I did.  Unfortunately, the beauty of what surrounded me also intimidated me.  I couldn't see the bottom.  I had gone from skiing a 'green circle' all morning to having only one 'blue square' and several 'black diamond' options.  Needless to say, I was scared stiff.  The memory still holds pretty clear in my mind but there are certainly details that have been forgotten.  Mainly how many turns I attempted before I finally took my skis off and started walking down the mountain.   To this day, my Dad likes to remind me of that adventure.  Me, walking down the mountain, grasping my rental skis and poles.

Over 20 years later and this memory is vivid.  Every day there is an inversion, I think about it.  Every year when I see the arrival of families from all over the country unloading their cars on the start of their ski vacations, I think about it.  Every time I see an intimidated skier attempting to walk down a slope greater than their ability, I think about it.  But mostly, every time I think about it, I think about the time that was shared with family and the memories that were created and now remembered on my first, and only, family holiday ski vacation.   

Enjoy your holidays and may you create memories that will last a lifetime. 

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Lucky #13?

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 12:45 PM

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In ski seasons past, I have always wanted to ski 100 days.  The closest I have come is 93.  I usually come up with the idea about 20 days into my season.  I go back through a calendar and try to recount the days I skied, which days I didn't and then start tabulating on a regular basis.  This year was different.  I went into the season counting every time I clicked boots into bindings.

Last week, as I was nearing the 13th day, I was aware of some of the events that were occurring that day, mainly that it was my 13th day, the much anticipated North Bowl at Schweitzer was opening and it would be my first day skiing mainly off-piste runs with my boyfriend .  I will preface this with I am not a superstitious person.  I am aware of seeing a black crow, crossing the path of a black cat, full moons, Friday the 13th and just the number 13, in general.  But I don't change plans or direction based on any of these events.

Our voyage that morning went as planned.  We got a little later start than normal but were still skating to the quad as the eager first chair crew made their way to the top, all making their way to the backside.   We followed suite and wondered on our five minute ride to the top, "What shall we ski first?"  So many options.  The mountain had experienced several diverse weather patterns; epic snow, rain, sun, wind.  You name it, we had it.  

It was decided, the first run would be one of my favorites, "Misfortune".  Two turns off a nice sized cornice and the run lived up to it's name.  Battling turns to the bottom, we made my way back to Chair 6 and asked each other,  "is it too early to go to the bar?".  Our question was answered for us when we realized the bar didn't open until 11am and it was only 9:20am.  As we rode to the top, we looked around for what aspect might have better conditions and decided to stick it out for a couple more hours.  We glanced over towards a northeast facing run, Siberia, that contained only a couple of tracks and was sitting in the sunshine.  "Hmm, that looks nice" seemed to flow from our mouths simultaneously so we unloaded the lift and headed off in that direction.  

We dropped in and we were both amazed at how effortless the skiing was; soft, smooth and deep.  Our greed for powder took us back several more times to the same area.  We were joined by another couple and we were excited to share our secret find with them.  Two more runs and it was starting to get skied out and the numerous chairlift rides were starting to take a toll on my cold toes.  I was also on a deadline for the most recent issue of the Snowlander and had a couple of interviews scheduled so it was time for me to switch from "research and development", aka skiing, and put pen to paper, or more appropriately, fingers to keyboard.  I loaded the lift with the beau and headed to the top with the intent to head down the mountain and do some work.   Eleven towers into our ride, the chair stopped.  Chairlifts stop all the time so it didn't concern me.  Then it started.  Stopped.  Started.  And then stopped.  This is how it stayed for the next two hours while the ski patrol worked their way down and started evacuating each chair lift, using ropes and harnesses.

The two hours seemed to go by pretty fast but took forever at the same time.  I was happy to get down, warmed up and back to me being more in control of my environment.   I have always wanted to be evacuated from a chairlift, it was fun just like repelling.  The inconvenience was only the two hours waiting for the experience.  During that two hours, the beau and I discussed how this is one of those experiences that can 'make or break' a relationship.  We made it through and are able to laugh about it.  

But what I have decided for future seasons is to not include the day #13.  Like hotels not having a 13th floor, I will not have a 13th day.  I will go right from 12 to 14.  And if that means I only ski 99 days, so be it.  I guess I might be superstitious after all.

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