Special Moments With Bob: Schweitzer

Pro Tip: Make Snowballs Ahead

click to enlarge According to legend, Schweitzer was discovered by a mysterious hermit. - SCHWEITZER PHOTO
Schweitzer photo
According to legend, Schweitzer was discovered by a mysterious hermit.

Skiing at SCHWEITZER for 45 years, even raising my two daughters on this mountain, I don't know where to even start with my favorite memory. My head is filled with hundreds of them. So I think I'm going to fall back on one of the funnier memories I had up on the mountain, which took place back in the early '90s and revolved around a bet.

A couple of my friends had an ongoing wager that winter. Whoever lost the bet would have to — on closing day — ski down The Face, directly under the old Chair 1, to the lodge on Schweitzer's wearing only a woman's lacey thong. I can't remember what the bet was about, but I do remember who the loser was: my long-time ski buddy Erich Thompson.

It was a gray, cold spring closing day at Schweitzer, and about two dozen of Erich's best friends escorted him up the old double chair to the top of The Face in the South Bowl.

Erich was near the back of the dozen or so chairs that carried us all up the mountain. Most everyone had gathered at the top waiting for him to unload. When Erich's chair was almost to the unload ramp, he ripped off his robe and as soon as his skis touched the ramp he pushed off and started skating as fast as he could to get on the run before anyone could stop him.

Thank goodness many of the spectators had planned ahead and already made snowballs.

Between the snowballs and the five or six guys on Erich's tail, trying to knock him down in the snow, the chairlift erupted with hooting and hollering as they watched the entire spectacle. Myself and a few of the other people who were trying to keep up with Erich to spray him or knock him down were barely hanging with him. It's pretty crazy how fast a person can ski in a thong when survival mode kicks in.



Just a 45-minute drive from Coeur d'Alene, Schweitzer has a history that more or less begins with the mysterious hermit who identified the mountain basin as an ideal spot to take up residence. Little was known about him other than his nationality; hence the name Schweitzer, which means "Swiss man" in German. Skiers moved onto the slopes in the 1930s.

Today's Schweitzer looks very different to those early days. The new Humbird Hotel, which pays homage in both name and architecture to the logging industry that once shaped the region, is only the latest addition to the resort's mix of restaurants, bars and shops. Take in panoramic views of three states, Canada and Lake Pend Oreille at Sky House's full-service restaurant and bar. Pick up some name-brand outdoor gear at The Source. Or grab a slice and a beer at Powderhound Pizza.

"The coolest thing about Schweitzer is that, even though we've got this really solid infrastructure for the resort in terms of restaurants and hotels and all of the amenities that you might expect from a really amazing destination, there's still very much a comfortable, community feel here," says Dig Chrismer, the resort's marketing manager. "If you're a skier who really wants to have those amenities, we've got it. And yet you'll still get a really pure skiing experience when you're at Schweitzer."


Like many area resorts, Schweitzer offers a full complement of lessons and packages. The popular eight-week Funatics program allows skiers ages 7–14 to hang out and hone their skills with peers of similar abilities. For adults, Schweitzer offers individuals and groups the chance to work with a dedicated instructor and target specific areas of improvement. Whether you're a newbie or a pro, Chrismer says that lessons can be a valuable part of any ski or snowboard experience.

"The advice I would offer is to just book a lesson and come up and try it," she says "I've been skiing my entire life, but a couple years ago I went out and took a lesson. And I had bad habits that needed to be corrected. Even an expert skier can benefit from some of that instruction. The sport is constantly evolving, and lessons are a really great way to stay on top of that."

Schweitzer can also be the launchpad for an international ski tour. As the first location in Idaho to participate in the Ikon Pass partnership, the resort's new Voyager Pass combines a Schweitzer season pass with Ikon Base Pass access to multiple winter sport destinations. Even the standard Schweitzer season pass comes with reciprocal perks at places like Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, British Columbia, and Powder Mountain, Utah. Although, given Schweitzer's 2,900 skiable acres, 92 trails and all the aforementioned amenities, you could be excused for not wanting to stray very far.

"We can't wait to see everybody. And it's just so nice when everyone who's in love with the mountain as much as we are is back here skiing and snowboarding. It's such a touch of normalcy during these crazy times," Chrismer says, noting that Schweitzer will continue to be guided by the Panhandle Health District and CDC recommendations when implementing its COVID policy this season.

"We want to keep everyone healthy and safe. Fortunately, in skiing, what we find is that social distancing is natural distancing."


Cross Country Ski Lesson @ Mt. Spokane State Park

Sat., Dec. 11, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun., Dec. 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sat., Dec. 18, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun., Dec. 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Thu., Dec. 30, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Fri., Dec. 31, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
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