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Huckleberry festivals mark ripening of Idaho state fruit

WILD EDIBLES — The huckleberry harvest season is underway at lower elevations and the pleasure is working its way up the region’s mountainsides as the berries ripen. People and communities have taken note:

The berries are ripening at higher elevations this week, but the peak rage of ripe berries occurs in August. With my family in tow, I have to add hours to the hiking time into a Cabinet or Bitterroot mountains backpacking destination. It's hard to walk past a booming patch of hucks.

High areas in the Selkirk Mountains, such as Roman Nose, provide good picking into September.

Looking for solitude? Head for a nordic ski trail in April

WINTERSPORTS — A glorious day was to be found on the Schweitzer Mountain Nordic Trails on Sunday.

What wasn't to be found?  Many people.

"Glorious day of spring skiing at Schweitzer," said Jette Thorslund Benedetto, who was skiing with Kurt Stellwagen. "We had the XC trails all to ourselves. Views were everywhere and the snow wasn't bad at all."


Schweitzer 24-hour skiers rack up $100,000 for cystinosis research

WINTERSPORTS — Rudis Kadzejs of Valleyford, Wash., with 210 solo runs, and another 109 skiers going solo or in teams last weekend, skied their hearts out in the 24 Hours of Schweitzer and raised more than $100,000 for cystinosis research.

The annual marathon downhill event and auction is one of the largest cystinosis fundraisers in the country, bringing the 24 Hours for Hank Foundation’s fundraising total to more than $725,000 in six years.

More than 110 skiers and snowboarders ages 5 to 73 from Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, Moscow, Tri-Cities and around the region, and as far away as Washington, D.C., Arkansas, Iowa, California, Oregon and Colorado took to the slopes for the round-the-clock relay. The ride a chair up and ski down, over and over.

Young skiers took center stage at the March 21-22 benefit, setting four new records at the sixth-annual event.  Leading the charge in the “Endurance” division was Team Gnar Gnar Norwhals of Sandpoint, who took first place in the four-person team category with 699 runs, besting their performance last year by 108 runs.  The team, whose members are all under age 15, is the youngest ever to earn the top award in the four-person team category.

Sandpoint's Catherine Brenner, who turned 14 the day of the finish, tied for second in the solo division with 208 runs. She is the youngest participant ever to place among the top three in the solo categor. 

Read on for more details and ALL the results:

Skiers, boarders gear up for 24-Hours of Schweitzer

WINTER SPORTS – Die-hard soloists and teams on skis and snowboards will be riding the lifts through the night on March 21-22 for the annual 24 Hours of Schweitzer.

The all-day, all-night fundraiser benefits cystinosis research.

Great Scott! First nordic event of season is Sunday

WINTER SPORTS — The first nordic event of the season will be held Sunday at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, but skinny skiers won't be the only participants

The Great Scott race has divisions for snowshoers and snowbikers as well as a nordic division.  Competitors can come solo or enter the team spring relay.

Register at the Hermit's Hollow Tubing Yurt 8:30-9:30 a.m.  Nordic race starts at 10 a.m. followed by snowbiking at 11:30.

Info: Schweitzer Activity Center, (208) 255-3081.

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:

10 reasons to stay on your skis, snowboards

WINTER SPORTS — Thar's white gold in them thar hills, and plenty of snowpack for getting in a few more runs on skis and snowboards before spring creeps up into the the mountains.

Inland Northwest ski resorts are taking different approaches ending or extending their ski seasons this week.

Meantime, Craig Hill of the Tacoma News Tribune offers a West Side perspective on 10 top reasons you don't want to put your skis away too early in April … and, yes, bikini's are on the list.  Click "continue reading."

Ski areas winding down; some extending season

WINTER SPORTS — Good spring skiing is in the forecast for skiers and snowboarders as Inland Northwest resorts post various schedules, events and season extensions.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort  announced today the extension of the ski season through April 14, noting the snowpack remains excellent. The annual Tropical Daze celebration is this weekend (April 6-7).

49 Degrees North has announced free lift tickets for skiers and snowboarders for the rest of the week before the resort shuts down for the season after Sunday (April 7).

Silver Mountain will be open Thursday-Sunday this week, with the end of the regular season festival and Splashdown Rail Jam this weekend. Thereafter, lifts will reopen for "Silver Saturdays" through April.

Lookout Pass  is open Thursday through Sunday this week. The annual Slush Cup is set for  Saturday (April 6). Next week the plan is to be open only on April 13 for the last day of the season.

Mt. Spokane is open for spring break, closing for the season on Sunday (April 7).

Stevens Pass  is open this week through Sunday, then reopening April 8-14 to close the season.

Sandpoint among National Geographic’s top ‘emerging’ ski towns

WINTER SPORTS — Although I thought Sandpoint had arrived long ago, the North Idaho town has just been  named one of the nation’s "top 10 emerging ski towns" in the March 2013 issue of  National Geographic’s Adventure magazine.

"These 10 North American ski towns may not have the name recognition of the world’s best-known destinations, but that’s just fine with them. These are the local’s favorites, the up-and-comers. They’re real towns, often cheaper and friendlier than the big dogs—at least for now. If you’re on the hunt for great skiing without the crowds and glitz, read on." said the article's author, Aaron Teasdale.

Sandpoint, and more specifically, the 2,900 acres of ski terrain at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, is described as being "Best For: Non-extreme skiers and boarders seeking the famed tree skiing of the Selkirks without the trip to Canada."

Other ski towns in the Top 10 include Red Lodge, Mont.; Ogden, Utah; Reno, Nev.; Revelstoke, B.C.; Nelson, B.C.; Driggs, Idaho; Mammoth, Calif.; Waitsfield, Vt.; and Durango, Colo.

The article asked locals in each town for suggestions on where to eat, sleep and spend time away from the ski hill, as well as the best ski run on the mountain.

Snowshoes and snow bikes featured at Schweitzer

WINTER SPORTS — The Snowshoe Stampede at Schweitzer Mountain will be pedaling a new option on Saturday (Feb. 2).

A snow bike division has been added to the event that welcomes all sorts of walkers, gabbers, goers — and now, fat bikers!

The event features a scenic course Schweitzer's nordic ski area trails with 3- and 5-mile options, plus a chance to win cool prizes.

Bikes must be purpose built with tires wider than 3.7 inches and pressure no greater than 10 psi.  Bike or ski helmets are required.  A few bikes are available for rent at the Source, (208) 255-3062.

Event fees are $10 entry and $10 trails pass (if you don’t already have a Nordic / Snowshoe season pass).  Register from noon to 1 p.m. at the Hermit’s Hollow tubing yurt.

Snowshoe races begin at 2 p.m.

Snow bike event starts at 3 p.m.  

Schweitzer benefit features $10 lift tickets Dec. 14

WINTER SPORTS — Schweitzer Mountain Resort will be offering $10 lift tickets on Friday (Dec. 14) with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Community Cancer Services and the Bonner Partners in Care Clinic. The event is Schweitzer’s first major event of the winter season.

Schweitzer plans to have about 2,000 acres of skiable terrain open and operate seven lifts next weekend as it plays host to the Community Day fundraiser. Lifts will run from 9am – 3:30pm.
“Community Day is a great opportunity to say “thank you” to our loyal skiers and support two organizations that provide much needed services in Bonner County”, said Schweitzer President and CEO Tom Chasse.
Tickets are available in advance at Schweitzer.com or in person at either organization. Early purchasers will be allowed to choose which organization they wish to support. During the day of the event, tickets will be available at the Schweitzer Guest Services, Activity Center and Snow Sports Center.
Info: Schweitzer’s Activity Center, (208) 255-3081.

Schweitzer offers free lift rides to snowy summit

SUMMER RESORTS — Free chairlift rides, barbecues, live music and other activities headline the Summer Celebration set for Saturday (June 30) to open the summer season at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

However, with snow still covering the top of the mountain, bicycles are not yet being allowed to go up the lifts to ride the trail system.

The Great Escape Quad will run 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. for free rides to the 6,400-foot summit for views of Idaho, Washington, Montana and Canada.

Schweitzer will be operating the new zip line, air jumper, climbing wall and sluice box.

Info: (208) 255-3081.

You didn’t put your skis away yet, did you?

OUTDOOR WEATHER — It's June 6, 2012, and the folks at Schwetizer Mountain Resort above Sandpoint are reporting … SNOW. 

Check out the mountain's video weather report about a twist that's keeping huckleberry blossoms in their buds.

Pucci retires from Schweitzer Ski Patrol after 45 years

WINTER SPORTS — "The end of an era is upon us," says the announcement from Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

As the resort shuts down for the 2011-2012 season, Ski Patrol Director John Pucci will be retiring after 45 years as a patroller  and 38 years as the director at Schweitzer.

Super heroes raise $150,000 for Hank (and others) at Schweitzer

SKIING — Nearly 130 skiers and snowboarders ages 5-74 spearheaded the effort to raise a record $150,000 in the 4th annual “24 Hours of Schweitzer” last weekend.

While an ill-timed storm and gusty winds pounded the resort and forced closure of part of the mountain during the event, the participants compiled a staggering 7.06 million vertical feet of downhilling to bring in money from pledges.

All the money and effort is devoted to boosting cystinosis research. The effort is inspired by the Sandpoint-based family and friends of Hank Sturgis.  See details here.

24 Hours champion and record holder Matt Gillis wore a Superman outfit as he successfully defended his title, completing 143 runs in the 24 hours, just barely beating Eric Jensen of Sandpoint — by 15 seconds!

  • We're checking out the rumors that Jensen is planning to wear a diaper next year to make up the difference.

But it will be tough to thoroughly dethrone Gillis, a master skier and aerial performer, who individually raised a whopping record $33,000.

Read on for details about the event and the other amazing players.

Are you game for 24 Hours at Schweitzer?

SKIING — Downhill skiing marathoners are conditioning their legs or gathering teams for the fourth annual “24 Hours of Schweitzer” March 30-31 at Schweitzer Mountain Resort — a fundraiser for a good cause.

Also known as "24 Hours for Hank," the event seeks participants to rack up the vertical for bragging rights and cystinosis research.

24 Hours of Schweitzer is a team relay beginning at 8:30 a.m. March 30, running continuously through 8:30 a.m. on March 31.

Participants will ski as many runs as possible in 24 hours for prizes, bragging rights — an a cure for cystinosis, a rare and fatal disease that affects only 500 people nationwide. This all-day and -night fundraiser honors Hank Sturgis of Sandpoint, a 5 year old who has been diagnosed with cystinosis.

Skiers, telemarkers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate as solo racers or as teams of three or four. Following the event is an awards party and auction that is open to the public.

Read on for details.

Sky-high skiers to fly at Schweitzer

Yokes Outrageous Air 2011 Schweitzer Show Highlight from Bob Legasa on Vimeo.

WINTER SPORTS — Crane your necks upward for some serious ski stunts Friday and Saturday….

What: Yoke's Outrageous Air Show aerial ski-jumping exhibition, plus fireworks, music
Who: Olympic freestyle gold medalist Jean Marc Rozon; four-time world champion Steve Omischl; Olympian and Canadian Ski Hall of Fame inductee Brad Suey and others
When: Friday-Saturday (Feb. 24-25) at 6:15 p.m.
Where: Schweitzer
Details: Hour-long shows include synchronized multiple twisting flips, fireworks and outdoor music

Cost: Free

Read on for ALL the details.

$10 lift tickets at Schweitzer benefit local cancer patients

WINTER SPORTSCommunity Cancer Services of Sandpoint and Schweitzer Mountain Resort will team to offer $10 lift tickets Friday as a fundraiser, with 100% of ticket proceeds to be donated to local cancer care, resort officials announced today.

Schweitzer plans to have all 2,900 acres of skiable terrain open and operate eight lifts — including everything but the Sunnyside Double. Lifts will run from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

“We really look forward to hosting A Day for Heather each year,” said Schweitzer President and CEO, Tom Chasse.

Tickets are available for purchase in Sandpoint at Sandpoint Sports, Panhandle State Bank, and Pend d'Oreille Winery as well as at Schweitzer.

Schweitzer’s Huckleberry Festival ripe for Sunday

OUTDOOR EVENTS — Time's ripe for Schweitzer’s 5th annual Huckleberry Festival.  With berries ready to pick at the 3,2000 foot level, the picking will gradually rise in elevation as the festivities kick off on Sunday (Aug. 7

From 8 a.m. -4 p.m. the resort above Sandpoint plans to tint tongues purple, starting with a huckleberry pancake breakfast, before shuttling visitors up to begin hiking and putting purple stains on their fingers while combing the alpine slopes for berries.

Read on for more details.

Schweitzer opening summer season with free lift rides — and snow

MOUNTAIN RESORTSSchweitzer Mountain Resort will open its summer season on Saturday with food, outdoor games and activities, food, live music and FREE chair lift rides.

Normally, hikers and mountain bikers would take advantage of this summer-opening special in conditions you might expect in the top photo.

But this year the resort's upper slopes are still covered with snow patches and the biking trails are snow-clogged or muddy, as you can see from the photo at left, snapped Tuesday by Sean Briggs, showing the resort's outdoor climbing wall, patchy snow on the slopes and a waterfall draining the mountain.

Read on for details about the weekend — and a look at what the resort's summer season slopes will look like when summer catches up with the late spring.

24 Hours of Schweitzer skiing fundraiser April 1-2

SKIING — The third annual “24 Hours of Schweitzer”  has begun at Schweitzer Mountain Resort to challenge skiers and raise money for a good cause.

The event has been moved further into spring for more daylight hours to rack up the vertical for bragging rights and cystinosis research.

The event will wrap up tomorrow for the weary skiers as well as for other supporters with a banquet and auction.

Read on for details.

Chill doesn’t ground Yoke’s Outrageous Air Show

FREESTYLE SKIING — Even though it was cold enough to freeze your eyelids shut, the freestyle skiers in the Yoke's Outrageous Air Show let it fly at Schweitzer Mountain Resort on Friday and Saturday.

Here Matt Gillis and Jordan Valenaar launch in one of the many spectacular aerial displays, complete with fireworks.

See more great photos by Werner Nennecker on his Facebook page.

Jennings: Who’s flying high at Schweitzer?

SKIING — Fireworks will pierce the cold mountain air tonight and Saturday around a stunning display of aerial skiing stunts during  the Yoke's Outrageous Air Show at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. 

S-R skiing columnist Bill Jennings has the down to earth story on the Olympian who makes aerials look easy.

Schweitzer joins list of ski resorts to open

SKIING — Schweitzer Mountain Resort has joined the almost complete list of ski resorts that will be open during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Schweitzer officials said the resort will open for the season Friday at 9 a.m. and operate Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the holiday weekend. 

Top-to-bottom skiing and riding is expected, including service on the Basin Express Quad, Great Escape Quad, Musical Carpet and Musical Chairs Double.

The Nordic trail network is also planned for opening day, with several trails expected to be groomed. The resort will be closed midweek following the holiday weekend, re-opening for the first weekend in December.

Schweitzer joins Lookout Pass, 49 Degrees North and Silver Mountain in announcing plans to be open for the weekend. 

Mount Spokane is still planning a Dec. 4 opening at this time, although a Friday opener is possible if more snow falls.

However, the Mount Spokane Nordic trails are open and being groomed.  Sno-Park permits are required.

Inundated with more than 41 inches of snow in the past seven days, Fernie Alpine Resort in British Columbia plans to open this weekend for skiing and snowboarding.  An estimated 44 runs will be open and four chairlifts.

Or three decent Spokane homes…

The New York Times regularly compares home values around the country with its “What  You Get For … “ series.

Today it plugs in $600,000 and include a visit to Schweitzer Mountain — where that money will get you a three-bedroom, three-bath, ski-in, ski-out condominium.

This unit was completely renovated and customized by its current owner, a woodworker and former professional skier from Norway. All interior wood was locally milled and hand-hewn.

Downtown Sandpoint, flanking Lake Pend Oreille, is about 25 minutes away. The town draws snow-sports enthusiasts in the winter, and boaters and fishermen to the lake in the summer. Amtrak trains run through Sandpoint on their way to Chicago and the Seattle area; and Spokane, Wash., has an international airport about two hours away.

Another Green Monday Quick Hits from the S-R

What to do with the downtown YMCA building? There is a quagmire of a situation brewing in Riverfront Park over what to do with the old YMCA building. County commissioners have to decide whether to use property taxes collected through the Conservation Futures program to buy the building and turn it into a natural area or to walk away and lose money on the deal. Read more HERE and count on DTE following this story closely. Local ski areas commit to sustainability - a no-brainer right? Schweitzer recently announced it was joining 49 Degrees North, Mt. Spokane and Lookout Pass by formally endorsing the National Ski Area Association’s (NSSA) Sustainable Slopes initiative, “a framework for improving the environmental performance of the ski industry.” By buying wind energy credits, improving fuel efficiency on grooming, and studying smart growth, local areas are looking at ways to protect the basis of their industry, the earth. Read more HERE.