Skiing's always been a bit of a mystical sport. That aura fits nicely against the backdrop of Schweitzer Mountain, so named, local Sandpoint lore has it, for a Swiss hermit who once called it home. Today, the resort's 2,900 skiable acres attract more than those seeking forested tranquility. Shredders flock to the open bowls. Park rats stomp any and all of three terrain parks. Families revel in the something-for-everyone vibe, from the extensive Nordic trail system to twilight skiing. Yet there's a sense that history still lurks somewhere on the mountain, flitting between Schweitzer's snow ghosts.
What's new: Staff at Schweitzer had a busy off-season, logging and brush-cutting some 200 acres between the Outback Bowl's Stella lift and Phineas Forest. Marketing manager Dig Chrismer says the results are "amazing," reminiscent of the glading work done along the backside's newer lifts last season. Due to the pandemic, Chrismer characterizes this as "a locals' winter." Season pass holders will have guaranteed access, as will guests in on-mountain accommodations. But there will be no sales at the ticket window. Instead, day-pass sales will open online for the whole season Nov. 9, and once sales for a particular date hit capacity, that's it. Specific day-pass counts won't be set until season pass sales close on Oct. 31. "We're just trying to keep it as close to home as possible this year," Chrismer says. "I just think it's the prudent thing to do." Also, masks will be mandatory in all facilities and wherever social distancing isn't possible.
Making the most of it: Chrismer's pro-tip for the winter is to plan ahead. That could mean pulling the pin on a season pass, setting a few days in stone months in advance, or deciding here and now that this is your season to stick to cross-country or fat biking. Keep in mind, Chrismer adds, that the La Nina forecast makes for a potentially fantastic snow year. "We all had cabin fever from COVID in the spring and summer. Don't carry it over into the winter."