by Megan B. McCarthy

49 DEGREES NORTH -- This year, 49 Degrees North has made some changes, from an amazing new run to pizza ovens in the lodge. John Eminger, owner since 1996, is excited about the new season. With the range of changes he has made in the last year, he has good reason.

Eminger has only owned 49 Degrees North for seven years, but the resort's history is an important part of the mountain's atmosphere. In the mid 1930s, the people of Chewelah started skiing on the mountain. By 1972, 49 Degrees North opened its doors to the public.

"You stand on the shoulders of those before you," Eminger says about the 65 years of ski tradition, "It's quite a nice little ski area."

With the same family feel, 49 Degrees North has added some new twists for everyone. The resort is easier to access, with a new $30 million, all-season road to the mountain. The enlarged parking lot has just been regraveled to avoid mud pits. Two new groomers, a new summit station and pizza in the lodge are all part of 49 Degrees North's plan to cater to customers this year.

The resort also has a new run that drops off the north face of Chewelah Peak. However, it is not just an addition to the mountain.

"We've cut probably the coolest new ski run in the state of Washington," Eminger says of the run that debuts this winter with a 1,000-foot vertical drop.

The resort also offers an easy access card called the Klondike Card. It allows skiers to avoid carrying wads of cash by putting any amount on the card and using it for lift tickets, rentals and food. Another gift idea is the Six-Pack Plan. It's a package of six lift tickets or six rentals with a discount.

In addition, 49 Degrees North has a new ride. The resort's Toyota Matrix is cruising the streets, and if you're seen with a 49 sticker on your car you could receive all kinds of snow and ski prizes.

Eminger and 49 Degrees North aren't done with changes. Research is already in process for a new lift and extended ski boundaries.

phone: (509) 880-9208

Web site:

Vertical drop: 1,851 ft.

Average snowfall: 301 inches

Lifts: four double, one surface

Hill information: 1,265 acres; 42 trails; 30% Beginner; 40%

Intermediate, 25% Advanced; 5% Expert

Hours: Open Friday, Saturday-Tuesday from

9 am to 4 pm. Night skiing on Dec. 29, Jan. 19, and Feb. 16.

Lift prices: Weekend/Holiday: Adult (18-64) $34; College

student/Masters $28; Youth (7-17) $27; 6 and under free; chair #3

is $25. Midweek: Adult $28, College student/Masters $26, Youth

$25; children 6 and younger free, chair #3 is $25.

Major events:

December 26-28 - FAST Holiday Camp

January 12 - Teledaze USTSA Telemark Rack and Demo-Mt. Gear

January 29 and March 5 - Girlz Day- Women's Clinic

February 2 - Slope Style Event

February 9 - St. Valentine Day Mountain Bike Massacre Race

February 16 - Sheimo Cup (citizen race)

March 9 - Biggest Air Contest

March 16 - Bavarian Downhill Race

BIG MOUNTAIN -- Big Mountain is still ranked as Montana's best ski resort by Ski magazine and has been for the last four years. With this kind of ranking, improvements may not be necessary, but the resort isn't sitting still. This summer Big Mountain began a 10-year growth plan.

"We are under a huge period of change," says Brian Schott, public relations manager.

The changes will become Glacier Village, a year-round village for shopping and eating. The village will be walker-friendly and house an impressive conference facility.

The new Morning Eagle Lodge is already in the making within the village plan and will be completed by November 2003. It replaces the Alpine Lodge, Resort Marketing and the Big Drift Coffee House.

For this season, the resort has been working on temporary relocation of these accommodations. However, it's all still available, and soon enough it will be new and improved, bigger and better.

As for growth, you can already enjoy many of the plans. The Outpost Lodge has 2,500 square feet of new meeting space. Below this space, a new brown bag/locker area is available.

If it's good food you're looking for after a day on the slopes, the new Buckin' Horse Steak House offers a variety of great appetizers and meals. Drinks are also more accessible with an expanded Moguls Village Pub. Aunt B's also has warm and cold snacks.

If lines at the chairs make the ski experience too cold, Big Mountain has added an express shuttle for all Chair 6 passengers. It will provide quick transportation between the Outpost Lodge and the upper village. This ride is in addition to the already existing shuttles to and from the parking lot from 8 am to 6 pm.

Of course, if skiing isn't really your thing, but you love the snow, Big Mountain has a lift-served sledding hill. It's labeled traditionally a tubing hill, but with the new tubes from K2, it's not your traditional slow-moving, straight-shooting sled hill. These K2 tubes have steering and breaking systems for the avid tubers.

If all of Big Mountain's new changes don't attract you, their snow already has and will continue to. But they've added to that, too. This summer, Big Mountain created a new snowmaking water reservoir. It will provide an additional 8 million gallons of water storage for snow-making.

Big Mountain has even added a new groomer to sculpt all the new snow they know they'll be seeing. The groomer is prepared for grooming the steeper terrain.

Phone: (800) 858-3930

Web site:

Vertical drop: 2,500 ft.

Average snowfall: 335 inches

Lifts: two high-speed quads, one chair/gondola, one quad, five

triples, one double, two T-bars

Hill information: 85 trails;

25% Beginner; 50% Intermediate;

25% Advanced.

hours: 9 am-4:30 pm daily

Lift prices: Adult (19-61) $47;

College Student (w/ID) and Senior

(62+) $39; Junior (7-18) $34; 6 and

under free; Foot passenger $9;

Lower lifts (all ages) $26; Nordic

(all ages) $5. Night skiing: Adult,

Junior and Senior $14, Frequent

skier $7, Tubing Adult (19+) $9 and

Tubing Junior (7-18) $6.

Major Events:

Dec. 14-15 - U.S. Telemark Open

Dec. 21-22 - Northern Division

Big Air Competition

Jan. 19 - Terrain Park Aerials

Feb. 28 - March 2- Northern

Division Freestyle Championship

March 14-16 - USSA Freestyle

National Qualifiers

March 15-16 - Nate Chute

Hawaiian Classic

LOOKOUT PASS -- Lookout Pass claims one of the largest snowfalls in the area at 400 inches. It is also usually the first mountain to open in the winter and the last to close in the spring.

Lookout Pass may also claim to be the oldest Idaho mountain in business, having been open since 1936. Some say they've been skiing in Sun Valley longer, but the debate rages on.

With these records, Lookout Pass has no trouble attracting skiers. Last season, it broke skier attendance records with 30,000 visitors. Everybody wanted a piece of their snow and they had plenty of ski days to pick from.

"We have absolutely the best snow quality in the region," Phil Edholm, president and general manager says. "People are discovering that."

Lookout Pass continues to offer its free ski school for kids. This program has been part of the resort for 50 years. The Web site has more information on the ski school, as well as an event calendar for the upcoming season.

The mountain features a "Rent for the Day" program: While Lookout may only be open Thursday through Sunday, you can rent the mountain any other day. And this doesn't mean they'll just keep the heat on in the lodge, either. The fee for the day is $3,000, and that includes 300 lift tickets. So the lifts stay running for the entire day and the mountain stays fully staffed to meet your group's needs. If you'd like to cater the event, Lookout Pass can handle it.

Lookout Pass has also added a few features. The mountain has three new snow cats, 100 new sets of K2 shaped skis and 50 new snowboards to rent. Lucky Friday Glades and Hoot Owl Run will also debut this winter.

With the outstanding snow, new runs, great groomers and new rental equipment, Lookout Pass plans on breaking its current attendance record.

Lookout Pass is also in the process of expanding. After Lookout put in three years of planning, the United States Forest Service just approved a huge expansion for the mountain. The construction will start next summer. It includes 10 additional runs and two new lifts. The lodge and rental shop will also be renovated and enlarged to meet the new demand.

Phone: (208) 744-1301

Web site:

Vertical drop: 850 ft.

Average snowfall: 400 inches

Lifts: one double, one rope tow

Hill info: 340 developed

acres; 18 runs; 25% Beginner; 50%

Intermediate; 25% Advanced

Hours: Open Thursdays through

Sundays and holidays 9 am to

4 pm. Will operate seven days a

week from Dec. 19-Jan. 5.

Lift prices: Weekend/Holiday:

Adult (19-61) $22; Senior (62+) $16;

College student (w/ID) $20; Junior

(7-18) $16; 6 and under free; rope

tow $6; single ride $3. Weekday/

Non-holiday: Adult $20, Senior $15,

College Student $18, Junior $15, 6

and under free, rope tow $6, single

ride $3, 2 for $20 Thursdays, and

Boomers' Fridays (40+) $12.

Major Events:

Jan. 19 - Big Air Competition

MOUNT SPOKANE -- With 11 weeks of night skiing, Mt. Spokane is the mountain for cutting some after-work turns. This year, Mt. Spokane has new improved lighting for those after-hour skiers -- and that's not the only change.

People have been cutting powder on Mt. Spokane since the 1930s. Because the mountain lies within the Mt. Spokane State Park, it is still the only mountain in the area boasting nonprofit status. This allows proceeds to return immediately to the skiers and to continued revamping of the resort.

The state has improved the road to the mountain and lined it with thousands of landscaping shrubs, making the drive up the hill easier and more scenic.

Once you make it to the mountain, you'll experience other new benefits.

If you're interested in renting, the rental shop has more than 250 brand-new O-Sin snowboards. The boards are state-of-the-art and will make a big difference for beginners and experts. The ski school continues to produce avid new skiers, and lockers will be available for annual rental. The extra-large lockers will hold numerous pairs of boots for the whole gang.

Wayne Sundeen, Ken Muench and the rest of the snow maintenance crew have a new mower and groomers specialized just for Mt. Spokane's slopes.

"We are really ready to prepare the slopes for a great ride," says Von Klohe, director of administration, about slope maintenance this season.

The mountain also has more tree skiing lined up for those interested. Lodge One has redesigned its food service to provide more dining options.

The Vista House at the summit of the mountain has also been restored. It is officially the Civilian Conservation Corps Historic building, dating back to 1934, and is now open to the skiers. It will be open weekends and holidays for skiers to thaw out between runs.

"We are going to be open with hot drinks, coffee and chili," Klohe says, "It's up at the top of the mountain, so views will be spectacular."

Mt. Spokane has also made its lifts more appealing. Chairs three and five have been galvanized a shiny silver, and the others have been painted a fancy green. Klohe says the chairs will look great against the snow-capped mountain.

"We catch a lot of sunshine up here," Klohe says, describing the chairs' role in the mountain picture.

Klohe says even the Web site has new additions. This winter, Numerica Credit Union has teamed up with Mt. Spokane to offer skiers who surf the Net a chance to check out the mountain snow before they make the drive. The mountain camera will allow a sneak peak at weather conditions. The Web site will also list upcoming events Mt. Spokane has planned for the season, including a variety of races.

Snow phone: (509) 443-1397

Web site:

Vertical drop: 2,000 ft.

Average snowfall: 300 inches

Lifts: five double chairs

Hill information: 1,250 ft.; 44

trails; 23% Beginner; 32%

Intermediate, 45% Advanced.

Hours: Open 9 am-4 pm. Closed

Mondays and Tuesdays except for

holidays. Night skiing until

9:30 pm, though closed on

Mondays, Tuesdays and Sundays.

Lift prices: Weekend/Holiday:

Adult (16-69) $31; Senior (70+) $15;

Youth (7-15) $27; 6 and under free;

chair #5, $10. Weekday/Non-

holiday: Adult $24, Senior $10,

Youth $20, 6 and under free, and

chair #5, $10.

Major Events:

March 2 - Charity Skiathon for

Deaconess Children Cancer Care

SCHWEITZER -- Schweitzer is known for its spectacular views. On a clear sunny day, stepping off any of their lifts may cause loss of breath. The mountain faces Lake Pend Oreille and miles of snow-covered forest.

When Harbor Resort Properties purchased the resort in 1998, the mountain began a 10-year renovation and expansion plan. For this season alone, changes are as big as the mountain bowls Schweitzer is known for.

In August, Schweitzer opened the White Pine Lodge, a 50-unit luxury guest hotel. The hotel offers the same stay-and-ski packages as Schweitzer's Selkirk Lodge. Guests at the White Pine Lodge receive underground parking, use of fitness facilities and the same stunning views of Lake Pend Oreille.

"We guarantee it will create the vacation memory of a lifetime," says Adora Maguire, Schweitzer's marketing and sales director.

The Selkirk Lodge has a new look as well. The resort has renovated the lodge's Chimney Rock Grill. The new menu and furnishings are part of a plan to offer upscale dining on the mountain. They've also taken on Michael Collins as head chef.

"They'll be pleased to see that Michael has added some flair to their seasonal favorites," Maguire says, "After a great day on the mountain, people can sit down and have a delicious meal, in a friendly, warm environment."

Schweitzer has also added two new groomers. After the summer crew cleared away a lot of brush, the groomers are ready to improve the runs and add new terrain for skiers.

"This new equipment will make Schweitzer an even better place to visit during the winter," Maguire says.

The mountain also has many ski events planned for this upcoming season. These include the Ullr Festival and the Freeride Institute. The Ullr Festival is a week-long event to honor the mythical Norse god of snow. It will have bonfires and a visit from the snow god. The Freeride Institute offers skills in riding the Schweitzer half-pipe. This ski and snowboard camp lasts three days. By the last day, guests will be able to launch air under the close watch of some of the country's top board and ski athletes.

Schweitzer will also host the country's largest charity on snow this winter. More than 20 ski and snowboard teams will compete against time to raise money for people living with multiple sclerosis. The event is called the Jimmie Heuga Snow Express for MS and is open to the public.

Snow Phone: (208) 263-9562

Web Site:

Vertical Drop: 2,400 ft.

Average snowfall: 300 inches

Lifts: one high-speed six-pack,

one high-speed quad, four

doubles and two handle tows

Hill Information: 2,500 acres;

59 trails plus open-bowl skiing;

20% Beginner; 40% Intermediate;

35% Advanced; 5% Expert

Hours: 9 am-3:50 pm. Night

Skiing starting Dec. 20 to March 15;

Fridays, Saturdays, and nightly

Dec. 25 to Dec. 31.

Lift Prices: Adult (18+) $42;

Seniors (65+) $37; Juniors

(7-17) $32; 6 and under free with

paying adult; Cross country fee

$10; Snowshoe trail fee $4.

Major Events:

Dec. 26-30 - Ullr Festival

Dec. 27-29 - Freeride Institute

Jan. 11-12 - SARS

Snowboarding Race

Feb. 8 - Jimmie Heuga Snow

Express for MS

Feb. 21-23 and March 1-2, 15-16 -

Harbor Stomp Games

SILVER MOUNTAIN -- Silver Mountain is taking care of its snow and its skiers this winter, and they are letting people both on and off the mountain know about it. Have you seen a brand-new 2003 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab around town? The Dodge may be as white as snow, but you can't miss its crazy graphics. Interested in owning it without putting a penny down for it? Or how about getting free lift tickets and attending a party of winners?

Silver Mountain and Dave Smith Motors will be giving away this Dodge in March. The only thing you have to do is sign up whenever you see the Dodge around town or on the mountain. Each month, 50 qualifiers will receive lift tickets and a pass to the party in March, when someone will go home with a new truck, crazy graphics and all.

Silver Mountain is also ready for some crazy snow. They'll have three new groomers for the upcoming season.

"They are building them as we speak," says Pat Nowak, director of marketing.

Once the groomers are done, one of them will concentrate on the terrain park. Part of it is called the Pipe Magician, and Nowak says it is the world's best carving tool for the half pipe.

To emphasize the importance of these new groomers, Silver Mountain has issued a Grooming Guarantee. This guarantee promises all skiers that after an hour and a half use, they may return their passes for a voucher to ski another day if they are unsatisfied with the groomed runs.

"We are very serious about grooming," Nowak says of the new machines, "Previous years, we have been kind of inconsistent because of older machines."

Silver's snowfall is so intense they have also decided against the on-mountain skating rink this year. Last season, they couldn't keep the snow off it long enough to cut any turns in the ice. Discouraging the snow from the mountain just didn't make any sense. Instead of attempting to sweep it all away, they'll be grooming it this year.

Silver Mountain has also figured in gifts to give at Christmas for their skiers. The Silver Nugget Club Card will be offered Nov. 14 through Dec. 24. It allows a person two free ski days, $10 off any other day of skiing and 10 percent off all rentals and ski school days.

"It's kind of designed as a stocking stuffer," Nowak says about the new Silver Nugget Club Card.

The mountain will also be open seven days a week. This fall, 50 percent more weekday passes were sold than expected. Nowak is looking forward to the upcoming winter.

"Weather patterns are starting to shape up," Nowak says, "We are starting to get excited."

Snow phone: (800) 204-6428

Web site:

Vertical drop: 2,200 ft.

Average snowfall: 300 inches

Lifts: One quad, two triples, two

doubles, one handle tow,

one gondola

Hill info: 1,500 acres; 53 trails;

20% Beginner; 40% Intermediate;

30% Advanced; 10% Expert

Hours: Open 8:15 am-4 pm. Night

skiing Friday and Saturday. From

Dec. 20-March 8, from 3 pm-9 pm.

Lift prices: Adult (18-61) $35;

College Student (w/ID) and Senior

(62+) $27; Junior (7-17) $25

Bloomsday 2020 @ Spokane

Through Sept. 27
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