Folks in the northern Idaho and eastern Washington area seem mesmerized by Schweitzer. The quality of the snow, the facilities, and the sheer size of the mountain (2900 acres) make it the number one destination for skiers and snowboarders from all around the region. Recent improvements to the lift system have brought Schweitzer to the forefront of modern tech, providing efficient access to most of the mountain (with the notable exception of the over-burdened double serving the lower parking areas), with a new six-pack on the outback side, and a quad and triple combination replacing an aging double on the front. The snow today was day-old powder, but with plenty of groomers, and such dry powder, the chop was minimal.
I began my day with a quick ride up the Basin Express, where I shared the chair with a friendly local who gave some helpful advice on where to point my board, pointing out some groomed chutes on the left of the Lakeview Triple. I did a quick warm-up lap on the Basin chair, and then up to the top. There was just a wisp of cloud at the top, and the day was otherwise bluebird, with beautiful skies and only enough cloud to keep things comfortable. I traversed down to a single-diamond chute called "K-Mac's", where I found dry powder off to the sides, and a very nicely groomed central section. I split my time between the two, and then buzzed through the "Stomping Grounds" terrain park to hit a few small jumps on my way back down.
My next run from the top of Lakeview I cut through some trees below the ridge, and then crossed over to the other side for more trees on my way to the "Great Escape" quad. This lift provided access to some wonderful tree runs on the front side, but I left those until later in the day, intent on becoming familiar with the outback bowl. With no hesitation, other than to snap some photos, I dove into Whiplash, a double-black thigh-burner, and then made the run-out to the Snow Ghost chair.
From there, I caught the ridge and rode the T-bar to the far corner of the Outback, cutting through the trees all the way down along the school-themed side of the bowl, and to a lunch stop at the Outback Inn. After lunch, I rode Stella for a few laps, enjoying the blue cruisers and trees to both sides of the six-pack, before crossing back to the front side to do laps on the Great Escape quad, and then making my way back to the South Bowl chutes, dropping in at letter "F" and cutting across through the trees to untouched stashes below the ridge line.
I finished up the day with a few more tree runs off the Great Escape, and then made my way back to the lodge, where I grabbed a mocha and my powerbook to make some blogging happen for my devoted readers. I hope all who are reading the blog enjoy - and please be patient as I am working hard to get the photos up here very soon. Probably will have more time for that in the next two to three days, so keep your eyes peeled for updates. Sorry, but no video so far in Idaho - technical difficulties involving a frozen camera being the culprit. I'll keep working on it.
Also.... Happy New Year! Keep watching Ski Idaho, Ski Oregon and Ski Washington for 2008 - the trifecta is still in progress, and the revolution will not be televised - it will be broadcast via the web.