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‘That’s a wrap!’ at most ski areas

WINTERSPORTS — Bob Legasa caught a photo of this happy crowd of skiers getting in their last licks on the sunny slopes of Schweitzer Mountain Resort Sunday.  Most of the region's ski areas shut down their lifts for the season on Sunday afternoon.

The notable exception in this area is Silver Mountain, which still has skiing to offer from top to bottom. Siler has announced plans to open the lifts for “Silver Saturdays” only — April 19 and April 26, the weekend of the legendary Leadman — a triathlon done Kellogg style.


49 Degrees boosts spring skiing with free tickets

WINTER SPORTS — Skiing is winding down with a flourish at regional resorts, with good snow going into the last weekend at 49 Degrees North, Silver Mountain and Mount Spokane.

But 49 Degrees is making the temptation hard to resist with FREE lift tickets all week.

Says today's snow report:

Thanks to our friends at Toyota, ALL LIFT TICKETS ARE FREE UNTIL APRIL 13TH!

Whitefish reconsidering uphill skiing policy after incident

WINTERSPORTS — The U.S. Forest Service and Whitefish Mountain Resort are considering changes to the resort’s policy of allowing skiers to travel uphill after two people entered an area with active avalanche control.

The Flathead Beacon reports the officials with the federal agency and the resort met Friday to discuss options.

  • Many resorts across the country are taking up the issue of uphill skiing, including Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.  See story here.

The resort is one of the few that allows people to ascend ski runs and ski down for free, an activity that’s becoming more popular.But ski patrollers say a male and female on Feb. 19 disregarded warnings from ski patrollers and descended a closed slope.

Ski patrollers say they had to extinguish explosives in the area that were about to be deployed.

Flathead National Forest officials say another meeting on the uphill ski policy is planned before next season.

Avalanche danger continues to be high in Cascades

WINTER SPORTS — Massive avalanches have been triggered at Crystal Mountain Resort near Mount Rainier as ski patrollers try to mitigate the huge unstable snowpack and make the area safe. The slides are damaging facilities at the mountain. 

See more photos and details here.

Stevens Pass gets 160 inches of snow in February

WINTER SPORTS — Stevens Pass has received 160 inches of snow this month as of today, making it the third snowiest February the resort has had in the last 50 years, resort owners say.

February of the 1998-99 season holds the record with 226 inches of snowfall for the month.

In an 11-day storm cycle from Feb. 10 to Feb. 21, more than 10 feet of snow fell, better than doubling the base depth from 61 inches to 129 inches at the time.

Stevens Pass’ base sits at 145 inches of snow at the top and 124 inches of snow in the base area. February storms have brought the 2013-14 season snowfall total to 342 inches. The resort averages 450 inches of snowfall annually.

February’s snowfall was a 76 percent increase from snowfall through the month of January. According to the USDA Stevens Pass had received 73 percent of its normal amount of precipitation as of Feb. 1; the resort now sits at around 90 percent of normal precipitation.

In the last five years March has also been a dependable month for snowfall, averaging 118 inches.

The new snow has created a massive amount of avalanche mitigation work for the Stevens Pass Pro Patrol. Explosives dropped from a helicopter have even been employed to trigger avalanches outside the ski area boundary that could potentially travel into the resort.  

According to the Northwest Avalanche Center, the backcountry avalanche danger is currently “considerable” in the Stevens Pass area of the Cascades, meaning dangerous avalanche conditions exist.

See video of massive avalanche that was triggered by explosives outside the ski area boundary on Feb. 26.

See February snow photos.


Schweitzer to extend ski season through April 13

WINTER SPORTS — Schweitzer Mountain Resort announced today that it will shut down its lifts on April 13, a week later than usual to offer a “bonus” week of skiing and snowboarding to its patrons.

Traditionally, the Sandpoint-area resort has closed at the end of the spring break for local schools.

“With help from recent snowfall, Schweitzer will operate for an additional week to accommodate spring breaks in Spokane school districts as well,” said Sean Briggs, resort spokesman. “The amount of terrain and lifts that will be open has not yet been determined.”

Read on for details about discount ticket offers and special events.

Epic snow conditions at area ski resorts

WINTER SPORTS — Storms that have rendered the region's mountains sketchy for winter travel because of avalanche danger are leaving the controlled slopes of area ski resorts with stellar snow conditions.  

For example, here's the report just issued by 49 Degrees North, which will re-open its slopes tomorrow with a lot of untracked landscape:

IT IS SNOWING at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour, it's flat out dumping!!! We have received over 35 inches of new snow in the last week and it has been snowing heavily since 12 pm.

Conditions are very nice with fresh dry powder covering the mountain!!! Remember we will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, but with this winter weather advisory, we are looking at between 8-12 inches of new snow for a POWDER FRIDAY!!! T

here are a ton of activities to take part in this upcoming weekend to include a Rail Jam and Demo Day on Saturday February 22nd!!! For more information call 509-935-6649 ex 610. You do not want to miss this EPIC Powder! 

Another powder skier suffocates in tree well

WINTER SPORTS — It happened last week at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana, and now another report from Wednesday of a Washington skier without a partner falling into a powder pit at the base of a tree and suffocating.

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, Wash. (AP) — The ski patrol at Washington’s Crystal Mountain Resort says a Seattle skier died when he apparently suffocated in a tree well.

The ski patrol says a skier told patrol members shortly before 2:30 p.m. Wednesday that her skiing partner was missing. KOMO-TV reports that the patrol says the man had last been seen about 90 minutes earlier.

Ski patrol members spotted some ski equipment near the base of a tree and located the 35-year-old man. They dug him out and began CPR but he died. He was not immediately identified.

Snow immersion suffocation can happen when a skier falls, usually headfirst, into deep loose snow at the base of a tree and becomes immobilized under the snow.

The resort’s ski patrol director, Paul Baugher, says it’s important to ski with a partner and keep each other in sight.

Crystal Mountain has gotten 19 inches of snow in the past 24 hours. 

Ladies get special treatment at two ski areas

WINTER SPORTS — Wednesdays and Fridays are “Ladies Days” at certain Inland Northwest ski resorts, with special deals and favors.

Check it out here.

Montana ski resorts smothered in powder

WINTER SPORTS — While much of the West suffers for lack of snow, Montana is flush with powder.

An AP news story today notes that the state has an above-normal snowpack already this year — good news for river runners planning their spring.

But for now, it's the industry adding a big exclamation mark to the mountain snow conditions with a media release, including the powder-hound photos above, all snapped in the past 10 days.

“Big Sky Country is enjoying some of the best ski conditions in the lower 48!,” Montana Tourism points out. 

“The rest of MT's 15 ski areas have enjoyed consistent storm cycles since October. With more pow on the way — we're in a meteorological heaven,” said Molly Ambrogi-Yanson, Tourism spokeswoman.

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.

Dump! Area ski resorts welcome the storm

WINTER SPORTS — After a long drought, Mt. Spokane and 49 Degrees North are reporting 6-7 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours!

More to come.


Silver Mountain revives good ol’ days of Jackass: tickets $12

WINTER SPORTS — In a half-century flashback to the prices charged by the former Jackass ski area, Silver Mountain Resort will offer $12 lift tickets on Friday, Jan. 10.

Silver Mountain's  “Jackass Day”, celebrates the resort's 45th anniversary with discounts and events on and off the mountain.

The retro lift ticket price of $12 recalls the era when Silver Mountain (then known as Jackass Ski Bowl), was first opened. People are encouraged to bring out their retro ski gear to wear while skiing and boarding.

Moguls, the on-mountain restaurant, will be hosting a party including cake and trivia. The cheap lift tickets bring record-breaking amounts of people from around the area.  It's a party!

Read on for details about other events.

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!

Really? Is everyone responsible in foreign exchange student’s skiing death?

WINTER SPORTS — Will this suit put a chill on what foreign exchange students are exposed to as guests in the United States?

German family sues Montana ski resort for teen's death
The family of a German exchange student, who died after skiing into a tree well at the Whitefish Mountain Resort in 2010, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Montana resort, the company that handled the exchange student's stay in the U.S., and the family that hosted him.
— Helena Independent Record

Area resorts offer cool deal for 5th graders

WINTER SPORTS — Once again, fifth-grade students are being treated like royalty at Inland Northwest ski resorts, with free skiing and other discounts.

The Fifth Grade Ski or Ride Free Passport, costs $20, entitles students to three free lift tickets at each of the participating mountains, including 49 Degrees North, Mt. Spokane Silver Mountain and Lookout Pass.

Resorts also offer free or discounted ski rentals and lessons.

Parents and siblings accompanying the fifth- graders sometimes can get discounts.

Get more details, download applications or apply online.

Sun Valley follows trend of restrictions on uphill skiing

WINTER SPORTS — First it was Colorado resorts, then Montana's Big Mountain out of Whitefish.  The Sun Valley report clearly defines the Forest Service and ski industry concern for backcountry skiers launching their trips from resort slopes.

Idaho resort puts limits on uphill skiers
Sun Valley Resort officials said the dramatic increase of folks trekking uphill on Old Baldy forced them to make a policy change that bans uphill skiers between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., the hours of operation for the Idaho resort
—Idaho Mountain Express 

Backcountry skiers in spotlight at resorts this season

WINTER SPORTS — Backcountry skiers who use alpine ski resorts that operate on public land are being scrutinized this season.

Here's a story from last month.

Here's the latest:

Uphill skiers at Montana resort warned to use designated routes
There are two routes uphill skiers at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana may use to access the powder under their own power, and a U.S. Forest Service official who works with the resort on its special permit warned skiers to stick to those routes to avoid additional regulations on the practice. —Flathead Beacon 

Big Sky bigger than ever as three ski resorts merge

WINTER SPORTS — The  expansion of Big Sky Resort in Montana is BIG news in every way.

The resort's owners purchased neighboring resorts, Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks in August, and debuted the transformed mega resort — now the largest in the country — during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“The acquisitions make Big Sky the big boy on the U.S. alpine skiing and snowboarding scene,” says Brett  French of the Billings Gazette. “The combination means more than 30 lifts, 4,350 vertical feet of drop and 5,750 total acres for riders to roam. In comparison, the other big dog — the tony Vail Mountain Resort in Colorado — has about 5,300 acres and 3,450 vertical feet.”

The new Big Sky is treating skiers to the longest vertical run in the lower 48 states.

Read on for details from the Gazette story:

Silver Mountain sets Friday opener for skiers

WINTER SPORTS — Silver Mountain Resort plans to open its lifts for skiers on Friday, Nov. 29, joining the rest of the region's ski resorts in opening limited terrain to take advantage of early season snow.

Following is the just-released announcement from Silver Mountain:

Silver Mountain Resort will be opening for skiing, boarding, tubing, snowshoeing and scenic rides Friday November 29th through Sunday December 1st. The first gondola will load at 8:15am, skiing and tubing will start at 9:00am and go until 4:00pm. This will be a great chance to get some first tracks for the season and burn off some of that Thanksgiving dinner. This will be a limited opening for skiing and boarding with select runs open along with chairs 1, 2 and the carpet lift. We will be offering reduced price lift tickets for skiers and boarders with adult tickets at $29.95 and youth tickets at $27.95. The best way to experience Silver is to stay at the base in their luxurious lodging and enjoy the 84 degree warm of Idaho's largest indoor waterpark.

There are plenty of activities to keep the family busy this weekend at Silver Mountain Resort. We will be having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Noah's Canteen, a premier of Warren Miller's “Ticket to Ride” on the 29th in Noah's loft and our Village Christmas Tree Lighting on the 30th, complete with warm drinks and caroling.

Currently there is a 10 inch base at the Mountain House and 22 inches at Kellogg Peak. NOAA is forecasting another storm system for Friday the 29th and we will be opening more terrain as conditions permit. For more information please visit our website.

Forest Service considers fee for ‘uphill’ skiers accessing slopes at resorts

WINTER SPORTS —  As more backcountry skiers use roads and parking areas plowed by ski resorts and then strap on skins and climb their way up groomed or controlled slopes to reach their backcountry destinations, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed a rule change that would allow ski areas that lease lands from the federal agency to charge a fee for the uphill skiers.

See the story here.

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:

Stevens Pass, 49 Degrees North ski areas open season

WINTER SPORTS — Stevens Pass Ski Resort announced today, Nov. 16, that it has opened its 2013-14 winter season with more than 1,000 skiers and riders coming to enjoy more than 22 inches of snow in the past 24 hours and a 30-inch base.

Hogsback and Daisy chairlifts and the rope tow operated for opening day. Stevens Pass plans to add the Brooks chairlift on Sunday and other lifts as the week progresses and conditions allow.
Here are more details about Stevens Pass:
Lift tickets will be just $20 for guests through Thursday.
2013-14 season pass holders from other mountain resort areas can also ski for free through Thursday by showing their pass in Guest Relations for a lift ticket.
Terrain park has 10 features in place in the Beacon Hill park, with more to come as the resort expands to four terrain parks.
With more than $4 million in improvement for the 2013-14 seasons, Stevens Pass expects to unveil its new Doppelmayr high-speed detachable Jupiter Quad in line with opening Mill Valley as the season progresses.

49 Degrees North Ski Area to open season on Sunday, Nov. 17

WINTER SPORTS — 49° North Ski Area is covered in snow!

Friday's storm dumped enough snow to allow the resort to open Sunday Nov. 17, with Chairs 1 and 3 operating from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

We plan on opening up to 14 runs throughout the day, conditions permitting. We plan on grooming up to 7 runs. Silver Ridge and the Central Basin area will be open, as well as Mahre’s Gold and Silver Dollar. The upper 2/3 of the mountain is covered in heavy powder over a layer of dense older snow, while the lower 1/3 of the mountain has thinner snow coverage. We will be offering a special early season ticket price of $20.  Limited services will be available. Early season conditions exist, please ski and ride with care. 

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. 

Spokane woman wins day of skiing with Olympian Tommy Moe

WINTER SPORTS — Sally Cramer of Spokane has won a private ski day with Olympic gold and silver medalist Tommy Moe on Jan. 8 at Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana.

Cramer's name was drawn from 18,500 entries in the Win Your Own Mountain contest offered by Glacier Country Tourism to raise awareness of the top-rate skiing and boarding conditions found in Western Montana. 

Cramer — and up to 10 guests — will have a full day of exclusive private skiing with world-renowned skier Moe on 1,800 acres of terrain at Lost Trail Powder in the Bitterroot Valley, as well as lift tickets, ski equipment rental, food and beverage and a cash card of up to $1,000 for expenses.

“I am so excited to be the winner,” Cramer said. “Things like this don’t happen to real people!”

“I can’t wait to hit some of the best powder in Montana with Sally and the rest of her family,” Moe said in a media release from Glacier Country. “Lost Trail is a fun local hill and it’s an added bonus that we get to have it all to ourselves.”

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.

Crystal Mountain gives skiers first taste of winter

WINTER SPORTS — The Crystal Mountain ski resort near Mount Rainier says it is open Tuesday for a limited number of visitors for what it calls “Roctober SkiFest.”

Crystal Mountain says it has 22-inches of snow in places and its gondola will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “for the lucky 75 who were glued to Facebook” Monday night.

No other lifts or services are available. 

Skiers will continue to see Jesus on Whitefish slopes

PUBLIC LANDS — God prevails in the courts.

Federal judge in Montana says ski-slope Jesus can stay
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen issued a ruling clearing the way for the Flathead National Forest to reissue a permit to the Knights of Columbus to maintain a statue of Jesus on Big Mountain. — Kalispell Daily InterLake;