An update from your Inland Northwest winter recreation family

click to enlarge SCHWEITZER PHOTO
Schweitzer photo

If Inland Northwest skiing and boarding hills are a family, they definitely take on the characteristics of siblings. Always competing for attention. Trying to stand out. Making alliances. Someone the natural-born leader. Someone the youngest (and, ahem, cutest and most congenial).

As a winter sports-loving resident, like any parent of five kids, you can't pick a favorite — because you have no favorite. You may spend a little more time or money on one, but that's for any number of reasons (convenience, familiarity, etc.). You want the best for each of them, and as a parent, you help and encourage them to discover "their own path."

click to enlarge SCHWEITZER PHOTO
Schweitzer photo

Every year you all gather 'round the Thanksgiving table and... announce who's opening first.

Nothing wrong with a bit of loving competition. You know, like a normal family.

As Thanksgiving turns toward year's end, that means writing the annual (and much maligned) family update letter...

To: All our adoring Inland Northwest fans

From: The Powderhounds

Re: Getting ready for snow

As yet another season of joy, slides, turns and crashes is upon us, we're reminded how truly blessed we are to have you in our lives — and to be so close to you. To have everyone we love so dearly so quick to access, all within 90 minutes of our base in Spokane — is wonderful. We're lucky to live here!

A little update on what the Powderhounds have in store for you to keep you entertained and exercised as fall turns to deep, white winter.

click to enlarge SCHWEITZER PHOTO
Schweitzer photo

Schweitzer continues growing, growing and growing. Hard to believe it was just 56 years ago that it officially opened, entertaining a small group of friends around Sandpoint to relatively little outside acclaim. But that's no more. Schweitzer's old friend Snow Ghost, which has lifted people's spirits (and their skis) for nearly 50 years is retiring, replaced by a quad and triple to give its friends more access in the Colburn Basin. We're so proud!

Meanwhile, Lookout Pass has always been our furthest east one, straddling the time zones and making it hard to remember what hour to make a pick up. But even though Lookout is a little further out there, they always make time to invite friends from Missoula, Spokane, even Moscow-Pullman over for a visit. Lookout seems real excited to show those friends what's in store, and is constructing a new quad chair to get them there. The new chair is replacing Lookout's longtime dual-seating Chair 1, and will eventually give access to a major future terrain expansion. Does it sound like we're gushing? (We're gushing!) Oh, we'd be remiss not to mention Lookout's favorite summer activity: inviting friends to bring bikes and go over to the nearby Route of the Hiawatha. The full moon rides this year were (inter)stellar!

Silver Mountain has always been our most playful, mischievous one. Always incorporating new toys like a waterpark or tubing hill. And now, playing with some heavy pieces of equipment — like the new groomer. That's no small figure, either. Something in the $300,000 to $400,000 range (at least that's what Silver's general manager friend Jeff Colburn tells us). It's also expanding glades for those who like hanging out in the trees, opening more territory. But ever the strategic one, Silver is planning "lots of internal stuff" according to Colburn, and preparing a five-year master plan. Always thinking ahead!

Speaking of thinking ahead, Silver did... now that it has a new alliance with 49 Degrees North, which has embedded itself in the Chewelah community and never looked back. The two rascals teamed up to allow both their long-time sets of loyal friends to expand into new territory. For just $80 extra on top of each other's pass, you can get full season pass access to both 49 and Silver. They're super pumped about it. We all are!

While we're on 49, it's been riding high on our earlier announcement (you probably saw it on Facebook, no doubt) that it had changed ownership, operating closely with but separately from the same fine folks who oversee Silver. But 49 doesn't plan to stop being the family-friendly, something-for-everyone place it's always been — with hopes for long-term chair and lodge expansion. Stay tuned!

click to enlarge SCHWEITZER PHOTO
Schweitzer photo

Last but certainly not least, Mt. Spokane is pretty exhausted from all the growing it's done lately, having hit a HUGE growth spurt this past year. It really opened up a lot of territory after adding a new chair and runs on its northwest side. Mt. Spokane's good friend Brenda McQuarrie, who oversees its marketing and guest services, has really seen the improvement. "Holy smokes, there's much less congestion," Brenda said about the mountain after the new terrain opened and alleviated demand on the cat track coming into the main lodge.

We are incredibly thankful to have you all in our lives. We're reminded every year how much of a blessing it is to have Schweitzer, Lookout, Silver, 49 and Mt. Spokane in our lives. They've enriched us all!

In closing, we'll note something Schweitzer's marketing friend Dig Chrismer once told us of Schweitzer, but we definitely think it applies to our entire flock as everyone ages, grows, matures and changes: "We're still the same people we've always been. This is our home, and we take that very seriously."

Agreed!

Happy snow-hunting in 2019-20 and beyond.

— The Powderhounds

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