Reviewed by Tim Neville
Dec 04, 2008
Thanks to two new chairlifts and 300 inches of annual snowfall, you now have a reason to visit north Idaho. Go before everyone else discovers Schweitzer’s 6,400-foot-high Selkirk spine and 1,200 acres of tamarack glades and curvy bowls. In 2006, crews thinned trees in the Sunnyside, North Blue, and Little Blue areas, creating slalom-style glades and easier runouts. Plus, frequent intermountain storms smash the Selkirks with snow lighter than the Cascades’ but heavier and more stable than the Rockies’.
Must Hit: Drop skier’s right off the top of Snow Ghost (Chair Six to locals) and hit Pucci’s Chute, where powder can pile up sometimes twice as deep as other runs. Link up with Have Fun to return to the base for 2,400 vertical feet of burn.
The Sneak: Phineas’ Forest skier’s right of the Stella six-pack, delivers a sleeper area packed with zippy tree skiing. Stay right and high for wide-open glades.
Quick Tip: Drop off the backside of Schweitzer for 1,200-foot runs that roll over to 50 degrees. A Selkirk Powder Company snowcat zips you back up ($325 per day; selkirkpowderco.com).
POWDER DAY: A quick ride up the Great Escape quad and an easy traverse looker’s right drop you at the Lakeside Chutes, a 500-foot, 35-degree face. Enter Banana Chute to catch the Blue Grass glades.
THREE DAYS LATER: Take the Idyle Our T-bar and head skier’s right into tamarack stands and hidden meadows. Miss the traverse to the Snow Ghost chair and it’s three lifts to get back, a cheap price for milking untracked lines days after a storm.
PARK AND PIPE: A 300-foot-long halfpipe with 14-foot walls off the new Basin Express lift sits in plain view of the village. Or jib away on boxes, S-rails, and a 20-foot-high A-frame in the Stomping Grounds park.
BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS: From the gates at the top of the Lakeview triple chair, drop north along a spine above Schweitzer Bowl to reach 30-degree runs through the protected Larch Park glades. Option two: Drop off the backside of Outback Bowl to find First Blood, a 1,500-foot gladed run that takes about 40 minutes to skin back up.
WEATHER: Though big dumps are common, Schweitzer tends to get smaller storms that wipe the tracks clean every few days. Temperatures average in the 20s during January and up to 36 degrees in March, the sunniest month, when the base can top 150 inches.
APRÈS: Regional bands jam on weekends at Tap’s Lounge in the village, but go easy on the Moose Drool, a malty brown ale brewed in Missoula. Drive into Sandpoint for pool, pints, and tunes at Eichardt’s, a classic European-style brauhaus. We recommend the breath-killing garlic fries ($4.50) and pints of Leavenworth IPA ($3.50).
FUEL: The Mojo Coyote Café in the village serves big and cheesy breakfast burritos ($7.42) and gooey cinnamon rolls ($2.95).
UP ALL NIGHT: Don’t miss Sandpoint’s Synergy nightclub, in a renovated brick building, where DJs and local bands like Illusion 33 whip crowds into a sweaty froth.
Digs: The White Pine Lodge has 50 slopeside condos with gas fireplaces and balconies starting at $249 (800-831-8810). Save your coins at the K2 Inn in Sandpoint, where $79 a night gets you HBO and flowery bedspreads (k2inn.com).