49 DEGREES NORTH
After adding a high-speed lift and opening five new runs last year, 49 Degrees North is focused on internal expansion. They're extending three of those new runs — Alpine Steel, Gunslinger, Tin Star — farther up so now patrons will be able to drop in from Silver Ridge, not just from Beaver Slide.
While it might not seem like a big deal at first blush, staff members are really excited about the offseason addition of a masticating attachment for its PistenBully winch cat, which they've affectionately nicknamed "Chop Chop." The machine's ability to chew up brush and stumps on steep paths means runs like Sluice Box and Last Chance should be smoother and ready to ride earlier (and the trickle-down effect means the manual clearing team can focus on other runs). That all translates to runs being open earlier than ever before, and the terrain being in great shape for the season. (SETH SOMMERFELD)
Long known for its cozy, hometown feel and prodigious snowfall totals, Lookout Pass has undergone a massive transformation entering this winter. An expansion onto the higher Eagle Peak, off the backside of the mountain and on the Montana side of the state line, will nearly double the footprint of Lookout's skiable area.
The 10-year-long process of expansion had a soft opening last season, but without a chairlift only experienced skiers were taken up Eagle Peak by snowcat. This year, the 500 acres and 14 new runs will be accessible to all thanks to a new quad lift.
As warmer winters threaten many ski areas around the world, Lookout Pass is one place that can reasonably expect to get more snow going forward. The Eagle Peak expansion adds 640 feet of elevation, and higher elevation means deeper snow. (WILL MAUPIN)
MT. SPOKANEAfter a massive upgrade to the Illuminator lift last year, upgrades on other lifts were spread around the mountain this offseason, focusing on maintaining open and operational lifts and providing smooth rides all winter long. An expanded grooming team should allow for smooth rides down the mountain as well.
Off the slopes, visitors can look forward to more options from overhauled kitchens in both Lodges One and Two. Having spent the past couple of seasons focusing on efficiency during the pandemic, with an emphasis on grab-and-go items, the kitchen at Mt. Spokane this year is once again catering to the tastes of individual skiers. New recipes on the menu include expanded vegetarian options, which can be washed down with a growing assortment of local brews.
Last season's wildly popular Club Shred, which freed up parents to hit the slopes on Friday nights while their kids were given a lesson, dinner and supervised activities, returns this year bigger than before. (WILL MAUPIN)
Skiers and snowboarders looking to kick off their boots and recover after a long day on the slopes can check out Calbium, Schweitzer's brand-new spa and treatment center. The 3,600-square-foot spa, which Schweitzer plans to open around the holidays, has five treatment rooms, changing rooms, and a relaxation and recovery room with views of the mountain.
The North Idaho resort is also upgrading Stella, a high-speed chairlift with access to the Outback Bowl. The resort says the lift will be able to carry an additional 600 skiers per hour and significantly improve wait times.
Sean Mirus, Schweitzer's marketing and special events director, says all forecasts point to a solid season with above-average snowfall. But even if the snow isn't as heavy as expected, there's no reason to worry: The resort is also adding four new snowmaking guns this year and expanding snowmaking to Hermit's Hollow, a 100-yard tubing hill. (NATE SANFORD)
Silver Mountain has 82 runs for snow sport fanatics, and the team up on the mountain is dedicated to ensuring that those runs are in tip-top shape. This year, another groomer has been added to the fleet of vehicles that maintain the slopes.
"We got great feedback at the end of last season about how well we maintain our terrain," says Gus Colburn, Silver Mountain's marketing coordinator. "Adding another vehicle makes sure that everyone on the mountain has the best experience possible."
Silver Mountain is also expanding its in-bounds terrain with a new run off Chair 2. Though the run is yet to be named, the area is naturally gladed and known to hold a tremendous amount of powder, perfect for navigating the mountain with ease. The Jackass Snack Shack, located at Midway Chair 4, is reopening this season for the first time in a couple of years, bringing back its popular snacks, beverages and restroom. (MADISON PEARSON) ♦