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Four area ski resorts opening this weekend

UPDATED 2:35 p.m. on 1-27-14 — 49 Degrees postpones opening because of warm weather.

WINTERSPORTS — Four ski resorts in the Inland Northwest have announced they plan to be running lifts this weekend. Skiing will be on limited terrain until more snow falls; ticket prices are reduced.

49° North Mountain Resort near Chewelah had planned to open to skiers and snowboarders on Friday, but announced Thursday that warm weather is forcing the opening to be postponed.  Check the resort's snow report for possible opening on Saturday.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort near Sandpoint opened last weekend and will resume operations Friday.

Lookout Pass ski area off Interstate 90 on the Idaho-Montana border will open Friday.  “We received 7” of new snow overnight, 15” since Saturday,” Phil Edholm, Lookout's president, said today. “Our base is currently 14” to 22” and it’s still snowing.

Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg will open Saturday.

Mount Spokane State Park cross-country skiing trails had only about six inches of snow today, reported Jerry Johnson, Park Ranger. With warm temperatures and rain in the forecast he said, “It's likely to be fairly grim up here until the colder temperatures move in on the weekend.”

Route of the Hiawatha opens to bikes on Saturday

BICYCLING — The Route of The Hiawatha rail-trail near Lookout Pass is set to open for the 2014 summer season on Friday, May 24.

The 15-mile route for mountain biking or hiking follows a portion of the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad on a mostly downhill grade between the old town site of Taft, Mont., (off Interstate 90) and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho.

Top attractions include seven trestles towering up to 230 feet over the creeks and forest and 10 tunnels, including the 1.7-mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel  (Taft Tunnel) at the Montana-Idaho border.  

Pedal the route down and back on your own for a 30-miler or ride the downhill route and board a shuttle bus for a lift back to the start.

Trail passes ($6-$10), shuttle bus tickets ($6-$9) and mountain bike rentals ($20-$30) are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area 12 miles east of Wallace.

  • By the way, the bike rentals they provide are GREAT smooth-riding fat-tire bikes, complete with helmets and EXTRA-BRIGHT headlights.  You will be very glad you had the sense to have a VERY BRIGHT headlight for going through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel.  Trust me.

The trail will be open daily, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., through Sept. 28.

Wife carrying race a hit at Lookout Pass Winter Carnival

WINTER SPORTS — The 8th annual Wife Carrying Contest will be a feature attraction Sunday, Jan. 19, at the Lookout Pass Winter Carnival.

Info: 208 774-1301.

Question: What about the cases of couples in which the wife is tougher than the husband?  Can we switch roles?

A foot of new snow blankets Lookout Pass ski area; more to come

WINTER SPORTS — Great report just posted from Lookout Pass:

…With all the snow this week and more to come, it seems like Lookout Pass is the place to be. We received over 12 inches in the last 48 hours and the forecast is predicting snow everyday until Saturday night!

Time to get your skis and boards waxed at our ski shop and tear up the entire mountain. Get your lift tickets in advance here and get your lessons scheduled here.

The resort's Winter Carnival is set for Jan. 19.

Powder-breaking news from Lookout Pass

WINTER SPORTS — In the past few weeks, snow-goers have been worshipping every new inch of the precious-little snow that's been falling from the sky.

That's why the 4 inches of beautiful snow that fell last night on Lookout Pass stirs some excitement.

And look at those dark clouds in the photo Lookout Pass Ski Area posted this morning!

Dark, threatening clouds rarely look so good!

Skiers: Lookout Pass opens Thursday, Schweitzer and Mt. Spokane Saturday

UPDATED 11-20-13 at 2:30 p.m. with info on Silver Mountain.

WINTER SPORTS — Lookout Pass Ski Area plans to open for the winter season on Thursday, Nov. 21, and Schweitzer Mountain Resort and Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park have just announced they will open on Saturday, Nov. 23.

This will be the first time the Mount Spokane resort has opened before Thanksgiving in many years, operators say.

These resorts will join 49 Degrees North, which opened for one day on Sunday and will reopen on Friday.

Silver Mountain Resort is scheduled to open Nov. 29.

Resorts that are opening are on limited schedules with limited runs until more snow comes and allows full operations.

Read on for details from each resort:

Some ski resorts may open this weekend

WINTER SPORTS — Lookout Pass and 49 Degrees North ski areas have put skiers and boarders on alert that snow is piling up on their slopes and, depending on what the incoming storm deposits overnight, they may start their lifts this weekend for the first runs of the season.  

  • Lookout is ready to open as soon as Saturday.
  • 49 Degrees says it could open on Sunday

From 49 Degrees North minutes ago:

It’s snowing very hard at 49° North Mountain Resort, 1-hour north of Spokane; it started snowing lightly at about 10:30 AM and has continued to pick up in intensity through the day.  Prior to this storm we received 16” of new snow on the summit of Chewelah Peak and 9” at the base area. This has consolidated into a very dense base of snow on the upper ½ of the mountain. The National Weather Service is projecting that the winter storm currently impacting us will produce significant heavy snow accumulations at our elevation by tomorrow morning. If this storm produces snow accumulations as projected we plan on opening the resort for skiing and snowboarding on Sunday November 18th for limited operation.  Please check our website at www.ski49n.com dates and further information. 

Groomers packing new snow at Lookout Pass Ski Area

WINTER SPORTS — A harbinger of things to come, the groomers hit the slopes at Lookout Pass Ski Area early this morning to start packing and preparing the snow for the upcoming season. 

Buy-sell used winter gear at annual ‘ski swaps’

WINTER SPORTS – Snow’s falling in the high country, a sure sign that used gear will be coming out of closets for great deals at annual ski- and winter-gear swaps.

The following fundraisers help raise money for area ski patrols and racing groups:

49 Degrees North Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Northeast Washington Fairgrounds in Colville, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday. Register items for sale 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m.-9 a.m. Saturday.

Mount Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap (49th annual event) at Spokane County Fair and Expo Center in Spokane Valley, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 26 and 9 a.m.-noon on Oct. 27. Register items for sale from 3 p.m.-8 p.m. on Oct. 25.

Lookout Pass and Silver Mountain ski patrols’ Winter Swap, Kootenai County Fairgrounds on Government Way in Coeur d’Alene, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Nov. 2. Register items 3 p.m.-8 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Fitness Fanatics Nordic Ski Sale and Swap specializing in cross-country gear at store, 12425 E. Trent Ave. starting at 9 a.m. on Nov. 2. Register items to sell before 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Schweitzer Alpine Racing School Ski Swap at Bonner County Fairgrounds in Sandpoint, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Nov. 9. Bring items to sell noon-7 p.m. Nov. 8.

Lookout Pass Ski Patrol tops — again

WINTER SPORTS — The Lookout Pass Ski Patrol has been named the 2012-2013 “Outstanding Patrol of the Year” for the Inland Empire Region by from the National Ski Patrol – for the third consecutive season.

“These dedicated men and women provide an outstanding service for our skiing guests and we greatly appreciate their commitment and contribution to Lookout Pass,” said Phil Edholm, ski area president.

Other ski patrols in the National Ski Patrol's Inland Empire region include:

Mount Spokane, Silver Mountain, 49 Degrees North, Echo Valley, Loup Loup, Mission Ridge, Cottonwood Butte, Snowhaven, Bald Mountain and Ski Bluewood.

Lookout Pass attracts record number of skiers, snowboarders

WINTER SPORTS — With 10 operating days left in the season, Lookout Pass Ski and Rereation Area announced today that it's already set a record for skier/snowboarder visits.

Lookout CEO Phil Edholm says the resort logged a total of 64,450 visits as of Sunday, topping the record of 64,291 visits set last season.

Here's the schedule for the rest of the season at Lookout Pass:

  • March 28-April 1
  • April 4-7
  • Last day of operation, Saturday, April 13.

Hiawatha rail trail closing for season Sept. 30

BICYCLING — The Route of the Hiawatha mountain bike trail, with its popular tunnels and trestles near Lookout Pass, will close for the season at 5 p.m. on Sept. 30. 

Route of the Hiawatha opens Saturday

BICYCLING — The Route of the Hiawatha rail trail near Lookout Pass will be open for the season starting Saturday, says Phil Edholm at Lookout Pass Ski Area.

That's great news for folks planning bicycling outings over the Memorial Day weekend.  Heck, people were skinning up and skiing the slopes in the area last week.

The nationally acclaimed 15-mile rail-trail uses the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad grade between the old town site of Taft, Mont., and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho. 

The unpaved route features 10 tunnels and 7 trestles as high as 230 feet within the Loop Creek canyon at the crest of the scenic Bitterroot Mountains. The grade is a gentle 1.6 percent.

Trail passes, shuttle tickets, mountain bike rentals, souvenirs and picnic lunches are available at Lookout Pass Ski Area, just off I-90 at the Idaho/Montana border 12 miles east of Historic Wallace, Idaho. 

Call (208) 744-1301 or visit www.ridethehiawatha.com for trail information. Equipment reservations are recommended. 

The Hiawatha Trail is set to be open daily through Sept. 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Giant airbag provides soft landing at Lookout Pass Terrain Park

WINTER SPORTS - Skiers and riders can perform bold new tricks in the terrain park with greatly reduced risk at Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area, Feb. 24-26.

A large inflatable air bag will be in place Friday through Sunday below the biggest ramp at Lookout’s Exit 0 terrain park, located directly above the base lodge.

Read on for details from Lookout Pass spokesman Bill Jennings.

Area ski resorts relishing big dump of powder

WINTER SPORTS — Today's snow storm is doing its magic at area ski resorts.

“Powder Wednesday was epic at Lookout Pass today,” reports Bill Jennings from Lookout Pass Ski Area. “Early this morning we had 22 inches at the base and at least 30 inches at the summit. It’s been snowing all day.

“According to the National Weather Service, we are expecting another 2 feet of snow through Friday!

Mount Spokane reported 5 inches of new powder fell between the 9 a.m. opening and 1:40 p.m. — and it was still snowing.

49 Degrees North reported the storm has dumped about 6 inches today.

Silver Mountain says it's received 8 inches in the last 24 hours.

All the resorts should be getting much more.

Lookout Pass Free Ski School underway today

WINTER SPORTS — The Lookout Pass Free Ski School started its 72nd year this morning to a swarm of enthusiasm. More than 500 kids age 6-17 had been registered in the program last week.

The resort's professional instructors are being joined by Ski School volunteers to ensure that each kid gets started on the road to skiing and snowboarding with a quality lessons.

Classes just started at 10 a.m. and the resort's learning terrain is swarming with little ones.

Expect too see lots of little ones on the slopes on Saturday morning for the next several weeks.

And, of course, many of them will continue skiing or snowboarding when they're not-so-little ones.

She’s Not Heavy, She’s My Wife

Every time you carry your wife around, just remember - there's a competition for that. It started in Finland in a little town called Sonkajärvi where apparently they decided to start the sport called, “Wife Carrying.” According to the internet, there may be deep roots in history with men stealing woman from nearby villages, but don't worry — the current status of the sport is all in good fun. There's a little wife carrying action happening at Lookout Pass on Jan. 15. Men will test their strength and stamina by carrying around their wives in the snow/Nicole Hensley, KXLY Facebook. More here. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Hensley/KXLY Facebook)

Question: When did you last carry your wife? Or be carried by your husband?

Group working on Stevens Peak winter backcountry plan eyes Lookout Pass expansion

WINTER SPORTS — The Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition has posted an updated map showing a proposed Stevens Peak Backcountry Winter Non-Motorized Area. The proposal is geared to maintaining a sanctuary of peacefulness among the expansion plans for the Lookout Pass Ski Area as well as the expanding range of snowmobiles.

The group also is addressing some scrutiny to the location of a yurt proposed by North Idaho College.

The SPBC is working to preserve a winter non-motorized recreation area of about 6,500 acres in the Idaho Panhandle and Lolo national forests near Lookout Pass.

Panhandle Nordic Club to hear about Stevens Peak issues

NORDIC SKIING — The Panhandle Nordic Club will hear a program by John Latta of the Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition at its Dec. 6 meeting, 7 p.m., at the Forest Service Fernan Ranger Station just east of Coeur d'Alene.

The meeting also is the club's cookie exchange night.

Other news from the club:

Fourth of July Pass doesn't have enough snow for skiing, but Lookout Pass does.

The Best Hand Fun Ski will be on Free Ski Day, Jan. 7, at Fourth of July Pass.. Ten main prizes will be awarded built around outdoor recreation. Some of these prizes include trips or events hosted by Nordic Club members. Everyone will receive 5 cards, but they will be able to turn in two of their cards and purchase two more cards for $1 each.

Most ski areas open; 5th graders get special deal

WINTER SPORTS — Silver Mountain opend its lifts Monday while 49 Degrees North had customers floating on two feet of prime powder for it's opener on Saturday.

Lookout Pass will reopen on Thanksgiving and Mt. Spokane opens Friday, conditions permitting.

FREEBIE FOR 5th GRADERS

Don't waste this great early season by  you have a fifth grader in the family, take advantage of the 5th grade ski FREE passport that gives these prime learning-age kids free lift tickets at more than 20 Inland Northwest resorts. 

The passport also includes special deals on equipment rentals, lessons and other activities. Some ski areas even offer specials for parents or siblings.

Idaho web cams: Links for ski areas, highways

WINTER SPORTS — Technology has made it easier than ever to monitor snow conditions for the region's mountain passes and winter sports resorts. 

Click on the following links for web cam views of your favorite North Idaho ski area or the road to get there.

IDAHO Web Cams

Brundage

Fourth of July Pass

Lookout Pass

Palouse Divide (ID-6, Harvard Hill)

Priest Lake

Schweitzer Mountain

Silver Mountain

Area Ski Slopes Opening Early

Lines were 10 deep at the ticket window and every chair was full as Lookout Pass opened for skiing and snowboarding Friday morning, maintaining its tradition of being first among the Inland Northwest’s five resorts to launch the season. “I’m here to get my shred on,” said Tanner Puyleart, 22, a snowboarder who came up from Coeur d’Alene with three friends, all North Idaho College students. “This is one of the best first days I’ve seen in a long time and I’ve been snowboarding 16 years,” said his friend, Jeff Elder, 26. Saturday, two other Inland Northwest ski areas will join Lookout in opening part of their terrain – Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint and 49 Degrees North in Chewelah. Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park and Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg plan to open next Friday. That means all the resorts will be open to take in lucrative holiday-season revenue/Alison Boggs, SR. More here. (Kathy Plonka's SR photo: Skiers and snowboarders pack the lift during opening day at Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation on the Idaho/Montana border Friday)

Question: Do you play in the snow much?

49 Degrees North joins bandwagon; chairlifts to open Saturday

WINTER SPORTS — Officials from 49 Degrees North ski area have just announced that a big dump of snow in the past 48 hours will allow them to open chairlifts and start their season on Saturday.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort and Lookout Pass also will be open

Schweitzer will open Saturday; Lookout Pass opened today.

Here's the word received from 49 Degrees North, slightly revised from what the resort sent earlier today:

OPENING DAY IS SATURDAY! 16 inches of new snow in the past 48 hours with more on the way today.

The mountain will be open Saturday through Tuesday from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Chairs 1,2,3,5 will be running with access to hundreds of snow covered acres.

Lift tickets will be $40 for everyone 7 years and older on SATURDAY.

We will close Wednesday and reopen again Thursday for Thanksgiving Weekend. Due to early season conditions, we advise skiers and riders to stay on the groomed terrain.

Schweitzer opens lifts Saturday, day after Lookout Pass

WINTER SPORTSSchweitzer Mountain Resort announced today that it will open for the season on Saturday, the earliest opening for the resort since 1984.

About 20 inches of snow was reported at the resort this morning. That combined with the work of a snowmaking system will allow two chair lifts to open.

Reduced prices will be in effect this weekend and mountain parking will be free.

Schweitzer joins Lookout Pass ski area, which announced that it will open Friday.

Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park has announced on its website that it will open on Dec. 3.

Silver Mountain Resort and 49 Degrees North have not set dates for opening.

Lookout Pass plans to open lifts for skiing Friday

SKI RESORTS — The weekend storm dumped 21 inches of new snow on the Montana-Idaho border, giving Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area the jumpstart it needs to start operating its lifts and open for the season at reduced rates starting Friday (Nov. 18).

Lookout is the first of the area's ski resorts to announce an opening date.

The majority of the front side of the mountain will be open with top-to-bottom skiing off Chair 1 with a minimum of 10 runs, the resort announced this morning. The beginner rope-tow will also operate.

“Our groomers are busy packing down the weekend snowfall and conditions should continue to improve throughout the week,” said Phil Edholm, President and CEO of Lookout Pass. “We anticipate open powder, packed powder and freshly tilled corduroy on Friday.”

Reduced lift ticket rates will be in effect. Prices will be posted on skilookout.com prior to Friday’s opening. Additional lifts and terrain will open as soon as conditions allow.

Lookout Pass ski expansion eyed by backcountry skiers

SKIING — The Phase1 plans for the proposed expansion of Lookout Pass Ski Area is being watched by the Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition.   Here's the group's latest update, and a map.

In a related topic, the coalition posts this update on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests response to a request for a comprehensive winter plan.

Backcountry skiers monitoring Lookout Pass ski expansion plans

SKIING — Members of the Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition are scheduled to meet in Wallace today with snowmobiling representatives.  They plan to discuss ways to prevent conflicts between motorized and  non-motorized users of the winter backcountry around the mountain and winter powder haven near the Montana-Idaho border.

If they can come together on a plan, they'll present it to the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

The coalition also is monitoring proposals to expand Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area, another possible degradation to the area's backcountry experience.

The Spokesman-Review published this story in September regarding Lookout's $20 million expansion proposal.

The Shoshone News Press followed in November with  this report.

The Spokesman-Review's ski columnist Bill Jennings posted this story in November.

The Shoshone News Press reported last week that Jennings has been hired by Lookout Pass as its public relations director.   The article quotes Edholm as saying, “Planning for the first phase of a future expansion of the ski area to two additional peaks has been accepted by the U.S. Forest Service.”

The Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition disagrees: “This is a misleading statement because it implies that the Forest Service has approved the plan already,” says a post on the SPBC website. “Actually the NEPA process has not even begun.”

The group says it's working to keep the Stevens Peak backcountry including the area south of the St. Regis drainage undeveloped in order to preserve opportunities for backcountry skiing and snowboarding and for snowshoeing.

Route of the Hiawatha rail trail to open Saturday

BICYCLING – The Route of the Hiawatha near Lookout Pass will open Saturday for its 14th season, officials confirmed today.

 Lookout Pass Ski Area coordinates bus shuttles and bicycle rentals for the popular 15-mile rail trail that straddles the Montana-Idaho border.

The trail opened three weeks earlier last year when the mountains were not so loaded with snow.

The trail, which includes 10 tunnels and seven trestles as high as 230 feet, attracts visitors from around the world.

Crews have been working to clear snow from the trailhead at the east portal of the Taft Tunnel, which is the highest point of Route of the Hiawatha at 4,147 feet.

For details and bike rentals, call (208) 744-1301 or visit www.skilookout.com.

Read on for more details.

Route Of Hiawatha Opens Saturday

Pump up the bike tires and grab your helmet - one of the Inland Northwest's favorite trail rides, the Route of the Hiawatha, opens Saturday! The June 11th opening actually marks a delay in the trail's typical season. The route usually opens from May to September, but the cool spring and heavy snowfall delayed the opening. Crews from Lookout Pass, which operates the trail, have been clearing the snow from the trailhead's highest peak to get ready for this weekend. Route of the Hiawatha follows the old Milwaukee Railroad grade between the old town site of Taft, Montana and the North Fork of the St. Joe River near Avery, Idaho. USA Today recently named it one of the top rail-to-trail adventures in the country/Melissa Luck, KXLY. More here. (SR file photo: Christopher Anderson)

Question: Have you ridden the Route of the Hiawatha? Would you recommend it to other bicyclists?