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Schweitzer, Silver ski resorts closing Sunday

WINTERSPORTS — They fought the good fight, but this strange winter is winning.  Schweitzer Mountain and Silver Mountain ski resort swill close for the season after the end of operations on Sunday, officials announced today.

The resorts normally are open at least through spring break.

That brings the lift-skiing season in our area to a close.

Lookout Pass has announced it's closed for the season.

Mount Spokane has been closed for weeks.

See story about Schweitzer.

Silver Mountain posted this info at 4:15 p.m.:

Operating Sunday 3/29 9am-3pm. Saturday weather is looking pretty nasty but Sunday looks like a fantastic sunny day to enjoy some skiing, boarding and chilling on the patio with a Hawaiian Luau themed BBQ and patio party! Lift tickets will be just $29 and current pass holders from any other ski area can get a ticket for just $19. Additionally, current Silver Mountain Pass Holders can bring a buddy for just $19. Sunday afternoon Ski & Splash is back as well- just $29 for an afternoon lift ticket and then hit the waterpark for some surfing or floating the lazy river!

This is our last planned day of operations for the season.

Lowest snowpack on record in Cascades

RIVERS — Looking at Mount Spokane from town yesterday, I realized I've skinned up and skied to the top of the mountain and down in the past with more snow to work with on Memorial Day weekend. 

The snowpack situation is grim throughout the region, spelling potentially big consequences for river running and fishing not to mention irrigation and other needs for water this summer.

Warm temperatures in February contributed to further snowpack decline in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, according to data from the third 2015 forecast by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Snowpack in Nevada, Utah and Idaho also fell further behind normal.

“Nearly a third of our SNOTEL sites in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada are reporting the lowest snowpack ever measured,” NRCS Hydrologist Cara McCarthy said. “For the first time, some sites were snow-free on March 1. These areas can expect reduced summer streamflow.” 

Recent storms helped relieve dry conditions in the Southwest. However, drought conditions persist in California, Nevada and Utah, as well as in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Areas in Washington and Oregon also remain in drought.

Here's more from USDA:

In Western states where snowmelt accounts for the majority of seasonal water supply, information about snowpack serves as an indicator of future water availability. Streamflow in the West consists largely of accumulated mountain snow that melts and flows into streams as temperatures warm in spring and summer. NRCS' National Water and Climate Center scientists analyze the snowpack, air temperature, soil moisture and other measurements taken from remote sites to develop the water supply forecasts.

The Cascades of Oregon and Washington have received near normal levels of precipitation this water year, but it’s mostly fallen as rain instead of snow. Rainfall captured by reservoirs in those states will help mitigate dry spring and summer months.

NRCS monitors conditions year-round and will continue to issue monthly forecasts until June. The water supply forecast is part of several USDA efforts to improve public awareness and mitigate the impacts of climate change, including drought and other extreme weather events. Through the creation of the National Drought Resilience Partnership, launched as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, federal agencies are working closely with states, tribes and local governments to develop a coordinated response to drought.

Since 1939, USDA has conducted snow surveys and issued regular water supply forecasts. Other resources on drought include the U.S. Drought Monitor. For information on USDA’s drought efforts, visit USDA Disaster and Drought Information. And to learn more about how NRCS is helping private landowners deal with drought, visit the NRCS’ drought resources.

View information by state.

Woman, 61, killed while skiing at Lookout Pass

WINTERSPORTS — Sad news from one of our region's ski and snowboard resorts: A woman, 61, died Sunday apparently after hitting a tree just off a main run at Lookout Pass.


$7 lift tickets at Silver Mountain on Sunday

WINTERSPORTS — Silver Mountain is advertising going to seven-day operations in 2015-2016 by offering $7 lift tickets on Sunday March 8.

Sure the resort could use more snow, "but what is there is skiing good," said Neal Scholey, marketing director. "And of course a beer on the patio in the sunshine is always a good option!"

Schweitzer still a go despite low snow; Winter Carnival begins

WINTERSPORTS — Schweitzer Mountain spokesmen say the ski resort is committed to staying open daily through April 5 despite a meager snow pack that's forced Mt. Spokane ski area to temporarily close.

That's good news for locals who are kicking off the annual Sandpoint Winter Carnival today through Feb. 21. Schweitzer is the venue for on-mountain events.

"As we all are well aware, this winter hasn’t been up to normal standards for the Pacific Northwest — or anywhere in the West it seems," says Sean Mirus, Schweitzer spokesman. He posted a media release to answer rumors that the resort may be closing.

"Schweitzer is committed to staying open and running as much of our operation as weather allows," he said. While some portions of the mountain have been closed for safety reasons, "during the most recent rain events, the rain-snow line was around the top of the Basin Express and the conditions up high were surprisingly good," he added.

"As conditions improve, we will reopen as much terrain as possible.  Temperatures look to be decreasing after this weekend, and if that happens, we plan to restart snow making operations.  Conditions on the mountain may not be ideal, but the majority of the feedback from folks that are making the effort to get out on the mountain is positive.  The snow is soft and spring like, making it easy to turn."

Tom Chasse, Schweitzer CEO, said in an email that the company is “committed to daily operations thru Sunday, April 5th even if we’ve got limited open terrain.”

Mirus said it's been 10 years since Schweitzer put up with a winter like this.  "In that 2004-2005 season, the mountain saw well over 100 inches of snow in March so we remain positive that the season will end on a good note."

Mt. Spokane closes downhill ski runs for lack of snow

WINTERSPORTS — Warm weather, rain and a lack of snow have forced Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park to suspend operations this week while crews on snowcats try to move enough existing snow to reopen runs by the weekend.

Read the story here.

Be the 12th player on the slopes - for $12

WINTERSPORTS — Acknowledging that there might be some serious competition for visitors this weekend, Stevens Pass Ski Area as well as Silver Mountain are deflating ticket prices on Super Bowl Sunday.

Silver Mountain is offering all-day tickets for $12.

Stevens Pass is offering $12 lift tickets good for 4 hours — just enough time to hit the slopes before funneling into the lodges for Super Bowl festivities or make way back home for the big game.

The resort is offering only 1,200 of the $12 ticket vouchers, which are available online.

Skiers set visitation records at Lookout Pass

WINTERSPORTS — Lookout Pass ski area has had some record-breaking skier visit days in January, according to owner Phil Edholm.

The resort off I-90 at the Idaho-Montana state line posted these numbers:

  • Saturday, Jan. 17, single day attendance record of 2, 243 skier visits.
  • Saturday, Jan. 10, single day Free Ski School lesson program record with 403 kids in attendance.

Ultimate heli-skiing holiday is rich experience

WINTERSPORTS — Most doctors and lawyers can save their time and skip this notice, which is aimed at the truly rich people who love jet-set traveling, heli-skiing, gear, first-class food, accommodations and pampering.

Canadian Mountain Holidays, the world’s largest heli-ski operator, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in many ways, including an offer for the "ultimate heli-ski experience."

The word "ultimate" has been overused for  years, but in this case it might be appropriate.  The one-week package will set back the lucky group of up to 10 a smart CDN $549,500. Taxes are extra, but if you can afford the asking price you don't need to worry.

  • Actually, the cost isn't THAT high when you consider it flushes out to only about $60K apiece for full group of 10.

CMH Heli-Skiing first took a handful of skiers by helicopter to carve a few turns in the British Columbia backcountry 50 years ago, it was among the most decadent things to happen to skiing since the invention of the sport. The company introduced the innovation is offering  the most extravagant private powder party ever.

A private jet will be provided to whisk the group to CMH Valemount, one of the most exclusive ski lodges in the world.  The executive chef will be flown in from the world-famous Nobu restaurant to whip up exquisite culinary creations courtesy.

Leave the old rags and rock boards at home. The package includes a full line of limited edition CMH ski gear - including jackets, pants, gloves, goggles and skis or snowboards – waiting for all of you courtesy of the CMH’s industry-leading partners.

Here's the deal maker: the company promises to fly this exclusive group in a Bell 212 helicopter to a legendary area drenched in a winter’s worth of base and powder in the virgin terrain of CMH McBride. CHM says no one has skied or snowboarded there for years. 

If you have the dough, CHM Heli-Skiing says it plans to deliver the most exciting alpine adventure of all time.

“It seems fitting to celebrate our jubilee year by dreaming up the most amazing Heli-Ski experience we could ever imagine,” says Joe Flannery, president of CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures.

Here's what the "ultimate experiece" trip includes:

  • Seven days and nights of private Heli-Skiing at CMH Valemount for up to 10 people with exclusive access to the CMH McBride tenure, April 11 – 18, 2015.
  • Private jet transportation provided by Chapman Freeborn from New York City to Valemount.*
  • All dinners catered by a private chef from Nobu restaurant.
  • Evening wine pairings from the world’s finest vintages.
  • Dedicated personal concierge on hand throughout.
  • Limited edition CMH-branded Arc’teryx ski jacket and pants, Smith googles and Hestra gloves.
  • Limited edition Atomic skis or Burton snowboards and transportation bags.
  • Private videographer to capture and record the entire trip.
  • A surprise 50th Anniversary welcome gift.

Again, all of this for a mere $549,500 (Canadian) + taxes.

There's no mention of whether the Weather Gods have given their blessings to this deal.

But please, if you jump at this once-in-a-lifetime skiing vacation because of this blog post, don't embarrass me by being cheap with tips for the guides.

Resorts gear up for Learn to Ski Month

WINTERSPORTS — Novice skiers and snowboarders can find bargains on ski instruction during January, which is "Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month."

Participating resorts in 34 states are offering discounts and incentives to motivate children and adults to take lessons from instructors certified by the Professional Ski Instructors Association or American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is offering a $99 three-day package (regularly $119) that includes instruction, rentals and lift tickets.
  • Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area is beginning its 75th annual "Famous Free Ski School" on Jan. 10.  Nearly 500 children age 6-17 have already registered for the 10-week program.   Kids can show up for as many of the sessions as they desire. No lift ticket is required during the lesson sessions, but equipment rental is extra and lift tickets are required after the lesson session.

Snowshoers didn’t miss First Night fireworks

WINTERSPORTS — Snowshoers walked into 2015 by making first tracks in Mount Spokane State Park.

Holly Weiler led a group of six Spokane Mountaineers on Wednesday to celebrate New Years Eve on the summit, where they watched Spokane fireworks.  The group romped in the darkness with snowshoe hares, returning to the parking area around 1:30 a.m.

It was a short night for Weiler, who returned to Mount Spokane at 10 a.m. Thursday to co-lead a group of 25 for the state park's First Day snowshoe trek.

A couple of hikers went to the summit while most of the group made tracks to the CCC cabin over a five-mile loop back to the parking area.

Cris Currie of the Friends of Mount Spokane State Park, who co-led the First Day snowshoe trek, says skiers and snowhoers should find excellent snow conditions in the park this weekend.

After touring the Trails 110-140 loop on Wednesday, he said skiing/snowshoeing was great. "Plenty of snow on the trail, but off trail still needs another foot or so. The loop is all tracked with no significant dead fall."

The upper creek crossing is still a pain, he said, but a fix for that could be addressed this year.



Finally, Mt. Spokane to open; all area ski resorts operating

WINTERSPORTS — Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park has announced it will open for the first time this season on Wednesday — Christmas Eve. Although the base is thin — just 7 inches at the lodge — more snow is in the forecast.

That means all of Inland Northwest ski resorts will be open through the holidays.

Snowshoe hut looks lonesome on brown ground

WINTERSPORTS —  Brown-earth-weary skiers, boarders and snowshoers aren't giving up hope in Idaho.

"The snowshoe hut is ready for the season," reports Geoff Harvey of the Panhandle Nordic Club after rigging up the warming structure on the Fourth of July pass winter trail system and installing the wood-burning stove.  "All we need now is snow."

The club's 24th annual "Best Hand Fun Ski and Snowshoe" event is set for Jan. 3 at the pass in conjunction with Idaho's Free Ski Day, when the state Park N Ski vehicle sticker requirement is waived.

Check in at Fourth of July Pass starting at 10 a.m. Then take off at your own pace at 11:30 a.m.  Prizes and refreshments provided.

The event is a fundraiser for the club, which maintains the winter trails at the pass.

"The event is a go no matter what the conditions are," said Jim McMillen, club president.  "We expect snow but if there isn't any, we'll go for a hike."

Photo: Area winter resorts still begging for snow

WINTERSPORTS — "It was 57 degrees at 9 p.m. Tuesday" at the Mt. Spokane Ski Area chairlift — and barely any snow in sight at the base, reports local outdoorsman Ken Vanden Heuvel. (See photo above from the Mt. Spokane web cam).

2014 will rank among the slowest starts to the ski and snowboard seasons at area winter resorts.

Stay tuned to the ski reports.

Check out Web cam links for ski areas and highways around the region at Spokesman.com/outdoors.

Level 1 avalanche courses offered for winter backcountry travelers

WINTERSPORTS — Two Level 1 Avalanche Awareness classes — a basic requirement for safe backcountry travel on skis, snowshoes — whatever — are being offered in the Sandpoint area and in Spokane by Selkirk Powder Co as well as by Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education.

Selkirk Powder, which operates backcountry snowcat ski tours adjacent to Schweitzer Mountain, has staffers with advanced training and teaching certifications.

Each course consists of two four-hour classroom sessions followed by a field practical day in the backcountry with Selkirk Powder.

"No prior experience is necessary, and the courses are open to anyone who desires to enhance their understanding of natural snow conditions and hazards in the backcountry, and how to safely move about in such terrain," said Ken Barrett, company president.

Classes are limited to 14 participants.

Cost: $299.

Sign-up at reservations@selkirkpowder.com.

Class 1: Dec. 9-10 at Sagle Center in Sagle.

  • Jan. 25, Field Practical at Selkirk Powder.

Class 2: Jan. 14-15 at Mountain Gear, Spokane.

  • Feb. 25, Field Practical at Selkirk Powder.

See an EXPANDED LIST of regional avalanche courses and programs for backcountry skiers as well as snowmobilers at Panhandle Backcountry.

Gonzaga ranked in top 10 colleges — for skiers!

WINTERSPORTS — In addition to the weekly diet of national ratings for basketball teams, Gonzaga University this week has made a list of top 10 colleges for students and their quest for "higher shreducation."

Holy sitz-mark!

The list has been posted by Freeskier Magazine in a story that evaluates colleges based on 16 factors, including distance to winter resorts, number of resorts within 100 miles, average annual snowfall of closest resort, transportation offerings, number of ski movies on campus and number of courses related to snow.

Some emphasis also is afforded to normal education advantages in the criteria, including percent of students winning grant aid, professor-student ratio and graduation rate.

Accounting for the tight ranking with Montana State University in Bozeman was the the Zags' ability to score in the relatively exclusive category titled "Is Weed Legal?"

Says the magazine:

Gonzaga University, home to the Bulldogs, is a private Roman Catholic university located in Spokane, Washington, on the southern edge of the rugged Selkirk Mountains. While Spokane only receives an average of 11 inches of annual snowfall, Mount Spokane, a mere 26 mile distance away, receives 300-plus, and resorts like Schweitzer, Lookout Pass, Silver Mountain and 49 Degrees North are all within driving distance.

The survey appears to be a snub at Eastern Washington University, where the money students save on tuition would allow them to buy season passes at all the nearby resorts, including Schweitzer.

But Western Washington University proudly represents Washington state schools on the list, boosted by the prolific snowfall at nearby Mount Baker.

The No. 1 school for skiers received this glowing review:

The University of Utah is the undisputed king of ski colleges. Located in Salt Lake City, almost every ski area in the state is located within 100-miles, each of which offer up Utah’s abundant, bone-dry snow. The closest resort—Snowbird—is a quick 16-mile drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon, so if you schedule your classes right, you can be nipple deep all morning and still make it back in time for Biology 101.

Here's the full list:

  1. University of Utah
  2. Sierra Nevada College
  3.  University of Colorado at Boulder
  4. Westminster College
  5. University of Alaska Anchorage
  6. Montana State University
  7. Gonzaga University
  8. University of Nevada Reno
  9. Western Washington University
  10. University of Denver

Days of My Youth ski flick at GU

WINTERSPORTS — A ski movie that examines skiing as a way of life, offering a glimpse into the journey of self-discovery that every skier takes — is coming to Spokane Thursday, Nov. 13.

Days of My Youth will be screened at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Gonzaga University's Wolff Auditorium, 502 E
Boone Ave.  This is the same flick that screened at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center during the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap.

The film travels the globe to captures moments that define the cutting-edge of what is possible on skis. From nearly impossible descents in Alaska to massive terrain features with U.S. Olympian Bobby Brown.

Days of My Youth showcases top action from the last two years rolled into one film.

Tickets, $10, are available online.

Spokane's screening is a part of a worldwide tour traveling to more than 80 theaters across the U.S., Canada and Europe.

“This is the first time in over 20 years of making ski films that we've had the luxury of taking 2 full winters to capture the action and really focus on our creative direction," says executive producer Murray Wais.

The film works with a small cast of top skiers, including Richard Permin, Mark Abma, James Heim, Michelle Parker, Cody Townsend, Markus Eder, Bobby Brown, Sam Anthamatten, and others with a special appearance by freeskiing pioneer Bobbie Burns.

Women rule slopes in flick at GU

WINTERSPORTS — A film celebrating an all-female cast of skiers will screen at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6, at Gonzaga University, Wolff Auditorium. (See trailer below)

Pretty Faces is a film celebrating women who thrive in the snow. Pro big mountain skier and SheJumps co-founder Lynsey Dyer conceived the film to give women and girls, young and old, a source of inspiration through a unique look at what is possible when boundaries are broken, dreams captured and friendships cultivated.

“I wanted to give young girls something positive to look up to…I wanted to give them their Blizzard of Ahhs, Ski Movie or High Life, but done in a way that also shows the elegance, grace, community and style that is unique to women in the mountains,” Dyer says.

By $10 tickets online:  https://commerce.cashnet.com/guoutdoors
Or visit Gonzaga Outdoors office in the basement of Crosby Student Center.

Unicorn Picnic | Pretty Faces Teaser from Unicorn Picnic Productions on Vimeo.

Resorts offer ski passes to fifth graders

WINTERSPORTS – Once again, fifth-grade students are being treated like royalty at most 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, Lookout Pass along with Bluewood, Loup Loup and Mission Ridge.

Some resorts also offer free or discounted ski rentals and lessons.

Parents and siblings accompanying the fifth graders can get discounts.

Applications are available in most fifth-grade classrooms in the region.

See details and download applications here.

Pre-season ski swaps great for gearing up

WINTERSPORTS – Used equipment and new but year-old products will be coming out of closets and warehouses for great deals at annual ski- and winter-gear swaps in the next two week.

The following fundraisers help finance area ski patrols and racing groups:

Harbinger of winter: Ski films booked at The Bing

WINTERSPORTS — Ski season isn't quite here but ski movie season is.

Here's what's scheduled at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane in the next month:

  • Saturday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. — Inspired Ski Movie Tour, featuring guest speakers Henrik Harlaut, 2X X-Games gold medalist, and pro skier Phil Casabon.   Advance tickets $12 or $15 as the door.
  • Oct. 11, 7 p.m. — Sports Creel Ski Movie Party, featuring Less, Oil and Water, Burn and Ten and Two.  Professional skiers L.J. Strenio and Mike Hornbeck, who appear in some of the movies, will attend the show . College ski passes to Lookout Pass to be sold for $99.  Advance tickets $5.
  • Nov. 1, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. — Warren Miller's No Turning Back, the 65th ski film from the father of the genre, pays homage to 65 years of mountain culture and winter adventure filmmaking. Advance tickets $$20.

Video: Hayden skier wins berth in World Heli Challenge

WINTERSPORTS — A Hayden man's extreme skiing video has won an online competition for viewer votes this week, launching him and two freeriding buddies from the training grounds of Schweitzer Mountain Resort to the slopes of New Zealand's Mount Cook for the World Heli Challenge in September.

Essex Prescott and members of Team Vacation — Dylan Siggers and Leo Zukerman — received the most online votes in the World Heli Challenge Call Up competition, according to a just-posted media release.

The extreme skiers and filmmakers used a good dose of humor along with helicopters to drop in powder hounds pounding steep radical slopes. 

Team Vacation has qualified to compete with one other team in the World Heli Challenge — a nine-day, freeride competition including heli-accessed freeriding for up to two days, during which each team will edit a 5-minute video that will be promoted and seen around the world.

Each team will be assigned a professional action photographer to document their extreme skiing challenge and create a portfolio for the Canon Shootout, sponsored by Canon, Inc.

If Team Vacation wins the World Heli Challenge, they will receive more than $8,000 along with camera gear and other prizes.

Afghanistan skiing slide show at Magic Lantern

WINTERSPORTS — In case you missed it first time around when we first wrote about a skier's week in Afghanistan, a FREE slide program "Ski Boots on the Ground: Bamiyan Province of Afghanistan" will be shown Thursday, 7:15 p.m., at the Magic Lantern Theatre, 25 W. Main Ave. in Spokane.

Nick Pontarolo, a Cheney resident and graduate of the Spokane Mountaineers Mountain School, will speak and share a slideshow from his recent seven-day ski and sightseeing adventure in an amazingly unlikely destination. 

Snowboarder lawsuit could put chill on liability releases at ski resorts

WINTERSPORTS — The Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments in Astoria last week in a lawsuit filed by a snowboarder paralyzed from the waist down after a jump at a popular Bend resort. The snowboarder says the waiver he signed does not release the resort from liability for his injuries.

According to the Associated Press coverage of the hearing last Wednesday, the arguments centered on the difference between the assumed risk that skiers and snowboarders take on dangerous jumps and the responsibility of a snow park operator to make sure its jumps and moguls are safe.

Myles Bagley was 18 when he was injured at the Mt. Bachelor ski resort in 2006 on a jump. Bagley’s attorneys argued his injuries could have been avoided if the jump were designed differently.

Mt. Bachelor’s attorney says a mandatory waiver signed with a lift pass sale exempts the resort.

Bagley’s case could have broad ramifications for release agreements that must be signed in order to take part in an activity. Some state legislatures have made specific rules for amusement parks, which include ski lifts, but the issue of broader recreational activity has not yet been defined.

Bagley sought $21.5 million in Deschutes County Circuit Court in 2008. A judge threw out the lawsuit, and the court of appeals affirmed.


Hydrologist: Ski now, paddle whitewater later

WINTERSPORTS — Hold on to your spray skirts, kayakers.  The ski-snowshoe-snowboard season is not yet over.

This week's weather foray into 70-degree temperatures isn't enough to trigger the big spring runoff events whitewater enthusiasts relish.

"It's still getting below freezing at night in the upper Selkirks, and that means the snowpack is holding on," said Kevin Davis, Idaho Panhandle National Forests hydrologist who also heads the  Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center out of Sandpoint.

Sunny days and freezing night temperatures add up to prime corn-snow skiing conditions in the high country for backcountry enthusiasts, he said. But kayakers and rafters waiting for the rush of water down their favorite streams must be patient even though its sandal weather.

Harris was on Lightning Creek near Hope, Idaho, on Wednesday, pointing out the creek was low and clear and the high mountains were still white with snow despite the shirt-sleeve weather locals were enjoying around Lake Pend Oreille.

"Basically it takes 70-degree temperatures up in the mountains — that's about the trigger point that sets off the spring runoff," he said. "So far, it hasn't been getting that warm up high."

Stevens Pass Ski Area reports record season

WINTERSPORTS — More than 406,000 guests visited Stevens Pass ski area last winter making 2013-14 its largest season since visits have been electronically tracked.  While much of the West Coast saw below average snowfall, Stevens Pass surpassed its 450-inch average with a seasonal total of 463 inches.

The Nov. 16, 2013, opening was the resort's third earliest.  During the last three winters, the Washington resort operated more than 150 days, besting its 134 day average set during the previous 28 years. 

Memorable storms this season included an 11-day snow cycle that dropped 125 inches Feb. 10-21, 2014. That brought the ski area to a total of 160 inches for the month of February

In December Stevens Pass also unveiled its new Doppelmayr high-speed detachable Jupiter Quad in the Mill Valley area capping off over $4 million in seasonal improvements. The resort also expanded to four terrain parks making it the largest park program in the state with more than 70 features.

‘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!

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: