One of the special things for me about LOOKOUT PASS is the vibe. That down-home, Mom-and-Pop ski hill feel — I love it. Each winter I spend several days skiing Lookout Pass with a hardcore group of skiers who call themselves the Red Dog Squad. This tight-knit group of friends love to ski. Josh, Tom, Kelli, Todd, Gez and Matt get after it. Ripping around the mountain with this highly skilled group of ski technicians definitely elevates my ski game. Whether we're ripping runs on Red Dog, Lucky Friday or skiing the trees to the Cat Track, I'm always having an awesome time at Lookout Pass.
I do have one funny, memorable time that really sticks out in mind. Back in the early '90s, after a huge winter, Lookout Pass re-opened for a day of skiing on a Saturday in June. All my yard work was done and there was still plenty of snow on the mountain, so me and my ski buddy Brandon Moon — aka the MoonDog — went up to Lookout for this beautiful, sunny day of skiing.
We were riding the chair in the morning, and I made an off-the-cuff remark to the MoonDog: "So, are we going to streak today?"
MoonDog replied: "Why wouldn't we?"
We both laughed and went on to have a fun day skiing slushy bumps. It was about noon, and the snow was getting soft and sticky, so we were calling it quits. We made it down to the car, and MoonDog said, "Well, I thought we were streaking."
Not being one to back out of a promise or a dare, I responded a little reluctantly, "Well, yes we are."
We both looked at one another and said, "What the hell!"
We readied ourselves for this feat as best we could by stripping down to shorts and a T-shirt. We marched our way back across the parking lot and loaded back up the chairlift, shaking our heads and laughing the whole way. We unloaded and headed over to the trees next to the Montana Face, where we clicked out of our skis and slipped out of our shorts and T-shirts. We threw everything in the backpack and then came screaming out of the trees and dropped into the slushy, sticky moguls directly under the chairlift.
If you're gonna streak, you better do it on the Hollywood Line.
MoonDog and I both ripped up the bumps catching some airs here and there. The people riding on the chairlift went wild with their screams and laughter. Halfway down, I was laughing so hard and the snow was so sticky that when I went to do a Daffy off a bump, I barely got my ski back under me to land.
We both skied by the lodge as fast as the sticky snow would allow, and proceeded to ski across the dirt in the parking lot to our escape rig. We made it about halfway through the parking lot before we ran out of speed.
Oh, that poor lady who had to witness us bending over to pick up our skis.
— BOB LEGASA
"LIFE IS BETTER LIVED ON THE BORDER"
Having trouble deciding whether Montana or Idaho has the better ski conditions? Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area saves you from being forced to make those hard choices. According to Director of Marketing Matt Sawyer, Lookout is one of four ski areas in the United States that straddles two state borders and one of only two that operates in two different time zones.
"If you want to drive your smartphone or smartwatch crazy, just come over," he jokes. "You'll find yourself in Montana one moment, and then after another turn you're in Idaho. As we like to say, life is better lived on the border."
That unique distinction imbues Lookout with the advantages of both geographies. The 540-acre resort sees the most snow in Idaho, with an average of 400 inches of natural snowfall per year. It receives snow earlier in the season than most resorts, too, making it a top destination for folks who can't wait for the start of winter. And yet it's one of the most accessible ski spots, with its primary parking area just 200 yards from I-90's Exit 0.
"Of course, quality snow is a key ingredient," says Sawyer. "But skilled and experienced groomers are what really make the mountain shine, and we have impeccable grooming. A lot of people love the idea of skiing deep powder, and they do have that opportunity here, but they can also fall back on the groomers where they can just have a fun time."
Even as Lookout pushes farther upward through its massive Eagle Peak expansion, which will see the resort nearly double in size to 1,023 skiable acres and reach a height of 1,650 vertical feet, Sawyer says that its prices have remained "family friendly" and represent some of the best values in the region.
"In this age of mega resorts, we still offer free parking, affordable lift tickets, incredible deals on season passes, and even our food is reasonably priced," he says.
LEARN AT LOOKOUTOver more than 80 seasons, Lookout's free ski school has introduced tens of thousands of kids to the sport at no upfront cost. Spots for that fill quickly, though, so be sure to check the Lookout Pass website for when the signup window opens for the 2021-22 season.
First-timers can also take advantage of Lookout's three-day learners' program for skiers as well as snowboarders. The fee will include lift tickets, lessons and rentals over any three days during the season. The beginner hill is outfitted with a dedicated chairlift and groomed daily to make the experience more relaxed.
Lookout is still determining its COVID-19 protocols for the current season, but the resort will be taking its cues from state and local bodies like the Shoshone County Board of Health. COVID guidelines for guests will be posted on the website prior to the season and updated throughout.
"Our key objective is to make it safe and fun for both the employees and the guests," says Sawyer, not least because Lookout wants guests to see its recent modernization efforts and facility upgrades firsthand.
"We now have a quad lift on the front of the mountain. We have a triple chair on the beginner hill, and we're putting a new triple chair over on the backside. It's a different look and feel to the mountain than it was years ago. We want to encourage people to come out, ski around, have some fun."
— E.J. IANNELLI