Looking for fun at the slopes this winter? Then consider one of the three ski areas in North Idaho, which, along with world-class skiing and snowboarding experiences, each offer a variety of entertainment and special events.
Lookout Pass Recreation Area
Lookout Pass’ big story this year is that the oldest ski spot in Idaho is seeking Forest Service approval for its plan to quadruple its ski area, including adding 2,000 acres and 25 more named runs to its current 540 acres and 34 runs. Construction is at least four years away, but there’s plenty going on now at the 75-year-old area, just off Interstate 90 on the Idaho/Montana border.
There are programs for skiers and riders 55 and older: a Prime Timers Club for those who wish to ski with peers and a Monday senior workshop. For ladies, there’s a skill building program called Downhill Divas, which is Thursdays from 9:30 a.m-2:30 p.m. Additional information on Lookout’s programs and fees is available at www.skilookout.com, or (208) 744-1301, extension 16.
Other 2011 season activities and programs include:
* Media Team Races and Appreciation Day: Jan. 23. Enjoy watching favorite TV, newspaper and radio folks from Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Winners receive a traveling trophy.
* Bavarian Brews/Brats and Music Fest: Jan. 30. Sample microbrews and enjoy fresh brats.
* Mardi Gras Festival: Feb. 12-13. Enjoy costumes, beads, outlandish behavior, prizes.
* Toyota Ski Free Day: Feb. 18. Drivers of a Toyota get one lift ticket, good that day only.
* Battle on the Border: Feb. 20. The Idaho/Montana border, that is. It’s a slopestyle event in the area’s terrain park straddling the Idaho/Montana border.
* Ski NW Rockies/KREM Second Harvest Food Drive. Feb. 25. Visitors who donate four cans of food receive a free lift ticket that day.
* Season Pass Holder Spaghetti Fest: Feb. 26. Chow served 2 p.m.- 4 p.m.
* Scavenger Hunt, Crazy Costume Day. March 5. Lookout and Moose Drool Brewing Co., offer plenty of suds plus prizes all over the mountain.
* Military, Firefighter and Police Appreciation Day. March 26. Free skiing for those who serve, including the National Guard, Reserve and retirees. Valid ID card is required.
* Lookout Beach Party Luau. March 27. Pass holder appreciation day includes a downhill race for costumed skiers and riders.
* Annual Slush Cup. April 2. They’ll dig a hole and fill it with water, and then skiers and riders try and fly across the surface before splashdown.
* Projected Last Day of the Season. April 3. Depending on conditions, the season may be extended April 9 and 16.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
The resort, just north of Sandpoint, virtually guarantees you won’t be bored. There’s a plethora of activities for Alpine and Nordic skiers, riders, snowshoers, plus a bunch for those who don’t partake but want to sample the ambiance. For additional information, call (208) 255-3081 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interesting events include:
* Pottery in Motion: On Sundays plus Saturday Feb. 19, a local vendor offers pottery objects like figurines, coffee cups, vases and bowls for visitors to paint. After you apply your personal touch, she collects and fires them for delivery to the mountain the following Sunday or directly to you. The objects range in price from $5 to $50.
* Toyota Ski Free Day: Jan. 28. Toyota drivers receive one lift ticket, good for that day only at Schweitzer.
* College Daze: Feb. 5 and 6. Collegians who ski or ride receive discounts on lift tickets, drinks and other goodies.
* Moonlight Snowshoe Hike: Feb. 19. The event kicks off at dark, and $30 gets you snowshoe rental, trail fee and hot chocolate at the end of a 2.5 mile round-trip hike to Picnic Point.
* Outrageous Air Show: Feb. 25 and 26. A team of aerialists and freestyle skiers and riders sponsored by Yokes Markets demonstrate their chops.
* Schweitzer Extreme Cross Country Race: Feb. 26. Pick your trek: 5K, 10 K or 30 K. It costs $15 to enter as an individual, or $30 for your team of two or three.
* Base Camp for Beer Fanatics: March 5. Sponsored by the Deschutes Brewing Co., suds are poured at several locations in the village and on the mountain. Final event is a downhill race that begins with each entrant holding a full cup of beer. The winner is the skier or boarder who retains the most in the cup. A Johnny Cash tribute band furnishes entertainment.
* Heuga Center Vertical Express for MS: March 12. Fund-raiser supports Can Do Multiple Sclerosis, formerly the Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis. The event is named for Olympic skier Jimmy Heuga, who died of MS. Each three-person team solicits funds for an obstacle course race.
* 24 Hours of Schweitzer: April 1 and 2. Ski or boarding marathon and fund-raiser for research into cystinosis.
* Tropical Daze: Tropical-themed party closes out ski season with pond skimming and a “dummy derby,” a race featuring dummies who are flung downhill.
The resort’s base area, called The Village, is just off Interstate 90 in Kellogg. You’ll find the largest indoor water park in Idaho and the world’s longest gondola, a 3.1 mile, 19-minute ride from the village at 2,300 feet elevation to the Mountain Haus at 5,700 feet. Skiable terrain is 2,200 feet of vertical on 1,600 acres spread over Kellogg and Wardner Peaks. Five chairs and a moving “carpet” take you to the slopes. For additional information, contact John Williams at 800-204-6428 or visit www.silvermt.com.
Here’s a line-up of mountain activities:
* Toyota Ski Free Day: Feb. 4. Drivers of Toyotas get a free lift ticket that day only.
* North Idaho Special Olympics: Feb. 5. Alpine events will be on the mountain, and Nordic competitions will be at the Kellogg Middle School. Competitions open to skiers and boarders of all ages.
* Second Annual Face Plant Party: Feb. 19. Silver is asking visitors to send videos or photos of their spectacular wipeouts. Voters at Moguls Bar choose winners who receive home prizes from the Bayern Brewing Co.
* Retro Days: March 5. Haul out old straight skis and form-fitting Bogners. Prizes for best costumes and for skiers and riders who conquer the moguls in the fastest times.
* Mardi Gras: March 12. Beads and funny clothes are the order of the day plus prizes for best costumes and food and drink specials.
* St. Patrick’s Day Party: March 19. The party continues days after the real holiday at Moguls, with green beer, shamrocks and a pot of silver at the end of the rainbow.
* Spring Carnival: April 2. There’ll be a slush pond and a splash-down rail jam for skiers/riders to cool off in.
* Last Day of Weekday Mountain Operations (Maybe): April 9. Conditions permitting, the resort will run the gondola and chairs on three subsequent Saturdays.
* Easter Egg Hunt: April 24. Follow the bunny’s tracks in the village and Silver Rapids, the resort’s water park.
* Leadman Triathlon: April 30. Seventh running of the community competition invites competitors to begin their ski/board descent at Kellogg Peak then bike and run to the finish line in the village. Additional information at www.leadmantriathlon.com.