Summiting many mountains in the Pacific Northwest means a hellish slog, followed by a quick look around and a rapid descent to beat any nasty weather rolling in.
It doesn't have to be that way.
On Friday, Schweitzer Mountain Resort opens its highly anticipated Sky House, a new 9,000-square-foot lodge at the mountain's summit where skiers can enjoy a meal or just relax and take in the incredible views — no hiking required.
"If you've been up here and been in Lakeview Lodge, it can be jam-packed with people," says Dig Chrismer, the mountain's marketing manager. "Having the Sky House at the summit adds a whole other place to relax, have lunch, go to the bathroom, and that's critical. We desperately needed that."
The resort broke ground for the Sky House in July 2015, pausing the construction last winter and then pushing through to finish the challenging construction job just in time for the snow to fly this year.
The two-story structure houses a restaurant, The Nest, with a full-service bar, as well as the casual Red Hawk café, and there's combined seating for 180 indoors and outside. Local food purveyors will be featured, ranging from Sandpoint-based Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters to Pend d'Oreille Winery to MickDuff's Brewing Company, and the menu will range from old-skier standbys like soup to more refined fare like sausage sliders and roasted curry cauliflower.
The Sky House is also the resort's new home for the Ski Patrol dispatch office, and will be open year-round to accommodate summertime weddings and corporate getaways. No matter what time of year, the 360-degree views of the Selkirk Mountains, Lake Pend Oreille and the resort below are sure to attract both winter athletes and summer hikers.
"The summit of the mountain is such a special location, and this building is gorgeous. It fits so nicely, while in keeping with such a beautiful spot," Chrismer says. This makes it possible for us to enjoy it in all weather conditions, and be up there and take it all in." ♦