nland Northwest skiers & snowboarders got an early treat this year when Schweitzer Mountain Resort opened the weekend before Thanksgiving. It is considered to be a good year if they are able to open on Thanksgiving weekend, and that happens roughly 50% of the time. This season was looking kind of weak for early season snow, though it was cold enough that the conditions were good for making snow. Everyone had their fingers crossed, and mother nature delivered some mid November storms that made for excellent early season conditions.
Opening day at Schweitzer was November 19th, and even though the terrain was limited the conditions were great. There was even some fresh snow to get everyone excited! Schweitzer closed again during the week, with a promise to reopen the day after Thanksgiving. The big surprise came a few days before Thanksgiving – a two day storm event that dumped several feet of heavy, wet snow and provided excellent coverage on the entire mountain. A few days later temperatures cooled down, 8” of light snow fell, and the day after Thanksgiving looked like a mid-winter powder day. A lot of the front side was open, conditions were excellent, and everyone was smiling!
From what I have seen on other ski area websites, we have about the best conditions in the country right now. The Lake Tahoe region (Kirkwood, Squaw Valley and Heavenly Valley) has very little snow, Alta and Telluride are reporting less than a 30” base, and the central Colorado areas of Vail, Aspen, and Summit County are all hurting for snow. Even further north in Sun Valley and Big Sky, snow depths are thin and the ski resorts are barely open.
Closer to Sandpoint, Whitefish Mountain Resort had to cancel plans to open the first week in December due to lack of snow. 49 Degrees North is open and has almost as much snow as Schweitzer. North of the border, Fernie has a decent amount of snow, as do Red Mountain and Schweitzer’s Canadian sister resort of Whitewater. However, only Fernie is open this early in the season and the terrain is limited.
I have been seeing a lot of Canadian license plates in the parking lot at the ski resort, and also in town. The Canadians I have talked to are coming here from Calgary and other cities in Alberta, as well as from Southern British Columbia. It seems that word is getting out up there that Sandpoint in Northern Idaho is a wonderful place and that the skiing is pretty darn good. It probably doesn’t hurt that property is less expensive here, our taxes are lower, and the exchange rate is favorable too, eh. Whatever the reason, we welcome our visitors from Canada and are glad to be close to Southern B.C. so we can visit there as well.
If you’re looking for some great early season skiing, come to Sandpoint and check out Schweitzer Mountain Resort. The entire front side (see trail maps - Schweitzer Bowl) is open now, including some excellent tree skiing for which Schweitzer is famous. You’ll find out why Schweitzer was the Ski Magazine editors pick for the best kept secret, but you have to promise not to tell anybody! Hope to see you there, and while you’re in Sandpoint stop by and see our portfolio of beautiful Mountain Homes.
This post was written by an author at Hendricks Architecture who wishes to remain anonymous. We are mountain architects located in Sandpoint, Idaho.