Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rookie Mistake

Posted By on Sat, Dec 3, 2011 at 2:17 PM

I would like to think that I have an organized and regimented routine when it comes to getting ready and out the door for a day on the mountain.  I am always thrown for a slight loop early season or when I go to a mountain other than my local ski hill.  

In preparation for a recent trip to Lookout Pass, I set my alarm for an ungodly hour - somewhere around 5am, packed my bag the night before and set my skis, boots and poles in front of the door in hopes of not forgetting anything.  

It was a snowy morning, one of the first big snow storms of the year, so I knew traffic would be moving slower than normal.  I accounted for that in my drive time.   I was backing out of my driveway at the scheduled time of 6:15am in hopes for a 8:00am arrival to Lookout.  The drive was slow going but I was only minutes past my estimated arrival time into a quickly filling up parking lot.  I quickly booted up and was off to load the chairlift.  

It was opening day for the region so there were a lot of stoked locals.  We exchanged smiles, gushed about opening day of ski season and the return to what we all consider 'normal'.  We all found ourselves talking about how easy it was to get back into our winter routines; gloves, goggles, ski pants and base layers were all in the places we had stored them in the spring.

I skied a couple of runs with one group and then some more with another.  I pulled out my cell phone to check the time, 11:05am.  I was shocked at how two hours had passed.  I was socializing and must have lost track of the time.   My legs were surprisingly still fresh and I was bummed that my first day on the hill was ending as I had to get home to previously scheduled engagements.  I waived goodbye to winter friends and headed back to my car.  Quickly, I exchanged ski boots for my Sorels, helmet for a warm hat and loaded my equipment into the trunk.  I jumped into the driver seat, started the car and reached for the radio to get my tunes ready for the drive home.  

At this point you might be wondering why I entitled this 'Rookie Mistake' since up to this point my day had gone without a hitch in my giddy up.  Well, the rookie mistake came when I noticed the time.  It was actually 10:05am when I looked at my cell phone but the time automatically adjusted to Mountain Time as I was on the Idaho/Montana border.  My lesson learned was when skiing between time zones, trust the clocks at the lift shacks and hopefully I will never make that rookie mistake again.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

I Can't Believe It's November

Posted By on Fri, Nov 25, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Today, the 25th of November and the day after Thanksgiving brought many reasons to be thankful.  I shared a nice Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family last night and I woke up to a snow report with fresh accumulation.  

I am not going to sugar coat this, the last week's weather pattern brought many doubts as to how good the skiing might be this weekend.   The first ride up this morning was spent observing the daring few that chose to ski under the lift.  It didn't sound bad but I was still skeptical.  First run of the morning had me following some friends into one of my favorite tree runs at Schweitzer; Headwall.  I was little tentative as it was one of my first runs off-piste for the season.  I was linking turns although without full confidence.  The next couple of runs afforded confidence building.  About a half hour into my ski morning, I noticed a healthy line forming at the Great Escape Quad.  I did a quick equation in my head.  It went something like this:

Number of skiers on the hill divided by the amount of acreage opening by starting up the Great Escape Quad equals me continuing to ski on the Basin Express until I actually see people loaded on the chairs.

My group all simultaneously noticed when the Quad started hauling excited skiers and boarders up to fresh terrain.  Without conversation or questions, we all headed over to the other chairlift, loaded, discussed options for our descent and then executed the plan without hesitation.  The group reconvened about two thirds of the way down, giggling and all basically saying the same thing, "That did not suck."  In fact, it was epic for November.  The kind of epic that is usually reserved for days in February and March.  And it's November.

So in addition for being thankful that I am skiing in November, I am also thankful that the conditions are better than they have been in years and there are a lot of powder turns left out there for this holiday weekend.  

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Opening-day traditions

Posted By on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 at 1:23 PM

What does Opening Day mean to you? To me, Opening Day means going back to my comfortable happy place. While every day on the mountain brings new challenges, with varying snow conditions and weather, it is also filled with five-minute chairlift conversations with strangers, laughing with friends between powder turns, exciting events and an infinite number of new memories. 

The Opening Day tradition is one to be coveted. While it has been a long time since snow conditions warranted an epic Opening Day, Opening Day is about so much more than snow conditions.  

It is about reconnecting with friends, the mountains, the sport of skiing and snowboarding and the camaraderie that goes along with it all.  

In previous years, I have done both. Opening Day traditions and I have waited. I waited to get on snow for some unknown reason. I waited for an epic day, a sunny day or a day to ski with friends. But in the end, the tradition of Opening Day always wins, whether I am with a carload of friends making the road trip or adventuring by myself. Being at a mountain on their first day of operations is the best way to kick-start ski season and a winter full of ski days. The sooner you get your skis on, the better your winter will be.

Trust me.  

And if you are lucky enough for your Opening Day to be an epic snow day, all the better. But the only way you will find out is getting up there for opening day. 

Cheers to Opening Day! 

Opening this week:

Lookout Pass - Friday, Nov. 18th

Schweitzer Mountain Resort — Saturday, Nov. 19th

Checkout their websites for details on operating schedules and pricing. 

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Signs of winter!

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 3:08 PM


The signs of winter start earlier for skiers and boarders than for most. When we walk in to the hardware store in September, we notice the outside BBQ displays have been discreetly replaced with snowblowers. We awake on a crisp fall morning with a smile on our face as we have just had our first epic ski dream of the season. We feel our heart skip a beat when the "Do Not Pass Snowplow on Right" signs appear on area highways sometime in October. And we love the first visible snow line when it arrives in early November.

The true sign for everyone, whether you are a skier or not, is the first morning you wake up to a blanket of snow in Spokane. This happened on Saturday. For skiers and boarders, this increases our stoke level, but in the end we still have to wait. We wait for more snow to fall in the mountains. The undeniable sign that our winter is here is when local ski areas announce their opening dates. We all hope for sometime around Thanksgiving and occasionally we are lucky enough to have a pre-Thanksigiving opening. And thanks to Lookout Pass, it is happening for us this year.  

On Friday, Nov. 18th, at 9am, ski season in the Inland Northwest will commence.  And this shall be Day 1 in an effort to break an illusive 100 ski days in one season. Thank you, Lookout Pass, for the jump-start to ski season. See you Friday!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Opening-day checklist and countdown

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 10:14 AM


We could be skiing in two weeks or less. Scheduled opening days are a tough one, since it is all based on snowfall. There are a lot of 'what-ifs,' but if the current forecast is anywhere close to true, an opening day in two weeks is feasible.

The countdown continues. Opening day is the start of a season that consumes every moment of my day. So, to be better prepared for the next four months of my life, here is an excerpt from my winter preparation 'to-do' list:

* OK, the obvious: buy/locate my snow shovel. Get snow tires on — just because I have an SUV doesn't remove this one from the list. Locate my window ice scraper. 

* Pick up this week's Inlander. The second issue of Snowlander is located inside. 

* Secure my work schedule to allow for maximum ski time.  Ideally, the schedule would allow me to ski every day, conditions permitting.

 * Refresh memory on the names of my winter friends. Uncomfortable at first with the concept of seasonal friends, I have learned to embrace it. This is like the adult version of the first day back at school after a long summer break. 

* Find the storage box with my ski socks and gloves — and their matching partners.

*Last-ditch attempt to strengthen my ski legs. While nothing better prepares my legs than the actual act of skiing, a little pre-season running, lifting and elliptical time will make my first day a little less painful.

* Pick up my season pass. I have heard the horror stories of opening-day season-pass pick-up lines. I think I would rather be waiting for first chair than be waiting to pick up my season pass. I'm doing myself a favor and getting this one done ASAP.

* Get my stoke on. I know I didn't get enough of the movies this year. That is why I am purchasing them on iTunes. Some of the best from this season are All.I.Can, Travis Rice's The Art of Flight and TGR's One for the Road. I have also subscribed to a large selection of ski- and snowboard-related podcasts and getting lost in them on AppleTV.  My Queue on Netflix include the classics: Hot Dog, the Movie and Better Off Dead.

* Get my skiing playlist ready. My favorites from last season, "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele, "Mi Confesion" by Gotan Project, and "Moment 4 Life" by Nicki Minaj.   

* Attend a 'Pray for Snow' party. Silver Mountain will be celebrating the upcoming winter season with a party on November 18th, a showing of "Tailgate Alaska" and beer specials from Alaskan Brewing Co. Burn skis, drink beer around a bonfire — a great way to train for apres ski — and catch up with those winter friends.

What's on your getting ready for winter to-do list? 

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Introducing Snowlander!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 9:20 AM

We are sincerely stoked to introduce Snowlander, the best way to stay in the know for all things skiing, snowboarding and snow in the Inland Northwest.

Today, October 20th, brings the first insert found in your weekly Inlander. We will be publishing Snowlander once a month through February.

For those who need a little more face time with your winter love affair, we are launching a Facebook fan page and a website with links to my blog, ski reports, events, deals and much more. Like us on Facebook to receive our daily newsfeed and information on how to register to win for weekly prizes, including lift tickets, great swag from resorts all over the West, and a grand prize drawing of a Rossignol snowboard!

Please feel free to interact with our Facebook page, read our blog, add photos and videos, and give a shout out to other winter enthusiasts and let them know where you are finding the good stuff this winter.

Also, you can drop me a line at if you have a story that you think we should cover.

Until that time, think snow!

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