Thursday, December 20, 2007

Getting the Gift of Snow!

I hope you’re all going to get a chance to reap nature’s bounty this holiday season by visiting one of Idaho’s 18 ski areas. Another epic storm hammered the Panhandle with snow this week and more storms are forecast for the entire state. Check out the photo Phil Edholm, President/CEO of Lookout, sent me this morning! It looks like the great Idaho winter that meteorologists have been talking about for months is finally building a full head of steam. Get all your work done and go get it! - Bill Jennings

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You won’t find another place quite like Silver Mountain

The most obvious feature setting Silver Mountain apart is the gondola—a 3-mile, 3,800 scenic ride taking you 3,800 feet from the Silver Valley floor to the Mountain Haus a mile high in the Bitteroot Mountains.

The most obvious feature setting Silver Mountain apart is the gondola—a 3-mile, 3,800 scenic ride taking you 3,800 feet from the Silver Valley floor to the Mountain Haus a mile high in the Bitteroot Mountains.

Thanks to the gondola, access to Silver Mountain couldn’t be easier. East or west, it’s a straight shot to Kellogg on 1-90. Just off the exit ramp you will find an emerging five-star alpine village with shops, restaurants and the Morning Star Lodge, the region's newest premier condominium resort.

But there’s more. Early next year, you’ll be able to ski in the morning and surf in the evening when the Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark opens in the village. Up and away on the mountain, a six-lane snow tubing park with a conveyor lift offers alternative thrills.

When you arrive in Kellogg. Simply pull off the freeway, park your car right across the street, check in and you’re ready to ski or ride. Board the gondola and 20 minutes later you’re clicking in and hitting the slopes. In this way Silver Mountain is virtually unique in North America—you ski down from the base lodge, instead of taking another lift.

Regardless of what kind of skier or rider you are, you won’t be disappointed. First of all, the snow is light, dry and arrives in generous dumps. Plus, a nearly 360-degree layout packs so much adventure into 1,600 acres you have to personally experience it to really understand.

It’s possible to explore most of Silver Mountain in a single visit—if you ski non-stop and don't care about the breathtaking views. But the incredible variety of terrain on Kellogg and Wardner peaks is best enjoyed over a weekend or more.

Gentle, expansive beginner runs branch out directly from the Mountain Haus. Jibbers flock to a terrain park that has doubled in size for this season under chair two. For cruising, hit the ridge lines off chair two and the boulevards under chair four. Around and in between, glades, chutes and bump fields proliferate.

Ultimately, Silver is an enthusiast’s mountain at its best on a powder day. For the good stuff, head directly to chair four and the Wardner Peak Traverse. Bear in mind that your visit here won’t be complete without a hike to Wardner’s summit. The view, the sweet powder turns and the sense of accomplishment are all well worth the effort.

Good quality fuel is available in the Mountain Haus cafeteria. Huge piles of nachos and excellent burgers are served in the bar upstairs. After a huge day on the mountain, watch the sunset turn the snow from silver to crimson as you the Gondola down to the base. Have a nice dinner in Noah’s Canteen and then soak in a rooftop hot tub at the Morning Star Lodge.

The upscale rooms are reasonably priced, have lots of amenities, and great service. Studio, one and two bedroom units and family suites with lofts are available (link underlined text to: http://www.silvermt.com/Plan_Your_Trip/default.aspx?page=Hot_Deals_And_Packages)

The alpine experience here will only get better as the resort continues to upgrade and expand. Easy access, great terrain and plenty of powder make Silver Mountain a must see for all adventure seekers.

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Eight Things Every Skier and Rider Must do at Silver Mountain.

1. Find and pet Ezekiel the Squirrel, our terrain park mascot.

2. Traverse to Wardner Peak and ski waste deep powder after a big powder dump.

3. Cruise Centennial, our longest run at 2.2 miles.

4. Relax in the rooftop hot tubs at Morning Star Lodge in the Village.

5. Try the huckleberry elk skewers in Noah's Canteen

6. Conquer high score with your favorite game in Noah's Arcade

7. Go Tubing!

8. Jib the groomer cab in the terrain park

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Brundage Mountain is bigger and better than ever with new lifts and terrain

This winter two new chairlifts are rolling at Brundage this season, opening the south side of the mountain for the first time ever. The new Lakeview Bowl encompasses 160 acres overlooking Payette Lake. This $3.5 million investment is the largest in the resort’s history.

This winter two new chairlifts are rolling at Brundage this season, opening the south side of the mountain for the first time ever. The new Lakeview Bowl encompasses 160 acres overlooking Payette Lake. This $3.5 million investment is the largest in the resort’s history.

Together, the new lifts more than double the resort’s uphill capacity to 6,700 people per hour. This should help maintain Brundage’s uncrowded character as it grows.

Brundage is also the first Burton Snowboard Learn to Ride Center in Idaho. Burton has designed special snowboards for new riders and rental shop associates here get special training on how to properly fit this revolutionary gear. Brundage Mountain Snowboard Instructors go through clinics to get the most out of this equipment using proven teaching techniques endorsed by the AASI.

The Lakeview Lift Triple Chair takes you to breathtaking views of Payette Lake. In typical Brundage style, only four runs in Lakeview Bowl will be groomed. Most of the acreage will be untouched powder fields and glades.

The second fixed-grip triple, the Bear Chair, provides easier access to under-utilized runs and ties together the Brundage Kid’s Center facility with more beginner terrain. For those of you who have children of different ages and abilities, the drive-up Day Care Center/Snowsports School offers a unique convenience.

Most of the groomers here are intermediate, but experts have endless options. Shoot over to the extreme skiers right side of the hill to Hidden Valley (follow the expert only signs) and go big. For real powder hounds, try the backcountry snow-cat program operating on 19,000 acres of Payette National Forest. Splurge on an overnight trip and enjoy an experience you won’t forget.

To truly embrace the mountain lifestyle, stay in a private cabin or chalet. Contact www.inidaho.com for a variety of packages that offer a third night of lodging and third day of skiing for free with the purchase of the first two days. Midweek, Brundage Mountain is offering a special deal with one night’s lodging and two days of lift tickets for two people for under $165. Full details available at www.brundage.com/lodging.aspx.

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Eight Things Every Skier or Rider Must do at Brundage:

1 Take in spectacular views of Payette Lake as you explore 160 acres of new terrain in the Lakeview Bowl.

2 Venture out into Hidden Valley to understand what people mean by “Nature’s Terrain Park”.

3 Ski with a Pro. Meet at the bottom of the Blue Bird quad on weekends from 9:30 -10:30 am to take some free runs with our top instructors. They’re full of tips to help you improve your technique or challenge new terrain

4 Pop into our mountain-top yurt for a warm greeting, warm drinks and snacks. In Spring, it moves outside and you’ll enjoy the view of the Salmon River Mountains from our Ice Bar.

5 Backcountry SnoCat Adventures on 19,000 acres of backcountry. It’s the biggest Cat operation in the lower 48 – Meow!

6 Make a donation to the Centennial Tree. Just follow the trail of lacy underwear after Winter Carnival…or ask any local where to find it.

7 Let out a loud “Yoo Hoo” as you drop off-trail on a powder day. Your call will likely be answered in kind.

8 Get nostalgic about your last visit by looking for yourself in the Photo of the Day or Video of the Week on www.brundage.com.

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HOLIDAY EVENTS

Happy New Year!
Ring in 2008 doing your favorite thing--skiing & riding--at your favorite place an Idaho mountain resort!

SCHWEITZER

An Elegant Evening in Chimney Rock Grill
Enjoy live acoustic music and choose from a special dinner menu for an elegant evening in Chimney Rock Grill. Appetizer and dessert functions will also be available. Reservations are required. Please call the Chimney Rock for details at 255-3071.

Happy New Year!
Ring in 2008 doing your favorite thing--skiing & riding--at your favorite place an Idaho mountain resort!

SCHWEITZER

An Elegant Evening in Chimney Rock Grill
Enjoy live acoustic music and choose from a special dinner menu for an elegant evening in Chimney Rock Grill. Appetizer and dessert functions will also be available. Reservations are required. Please call the Chimney Rock for details at 255-3071.

Teen’s Night out at the Tubing Hill
New Year’s Eve party for 12-18 year olds. Tubing, snowskate jam, music, pizza, light-your-own fireworks, and more! Tickets are $25 at the Activity Center (Please purchase in advance). Ticket price includes cover charge and snacks, & space is limited. Call the Activity Center for tickets. 208.255.3081

Tween’s Party in the Lakeview Lodge
Calling all 7-11 year olds, this New Year’s Eve party is just for you! Games, crafts, food, movies with popcorn and more! Tickets are $25 at the Activity Center (Please purchase in advance). Space is limited, so buy your tickets today! Call the Activity Center for tickets. 208.255.3081

And for the Wee Ones…
Kinderkamp will be open until 12:30am for children ages 4 months to 6 years. Reservations required. Enjoy food, games and movies! Please call 255-3038 for additional information and reservations. Sorry season passes do not apply.

SUN VALLEY

Galena Lodge Holiday Dinners
December 28, 2007 - December 31, 2007, 7PM
http://www.bcrd.org
Location: Galena Lodge, 24 miles N on Hwy 75
Phone: 726-4010
Five-course plated and served dinner during Holiday Season. Sit at large tables and meet new friends. Take the stress out of the holiday and escape to Galena. Reservations required.

Children’s New Years Eve
December 31, 2007, 6PM-1AM
http://www.sunvalley.com
Location: Sun Valley Playschool
Phone: 622-2288
Admission: $15 per hour per child
Children age 18 months to five years will enjoy games, crafts, movies and entertainment at the Sun Valley Playschool, including a visit to the Sun Valley Inn Continental Room. Snacks provided. Sleeping facilities available. Charge is $15 per hour per child. Dinner is optional for an additional $8. Advance Reservations required.

Kid’s New Years Eve Party
December 31, 2007, 7:30pm-1am
Location: Continental Room, Sun Valley Inn
Phone: 622-2135
Admission: $75 per child
Guests age 6-14 years are invited to join the fun in the Sun Valley Inn Continental Room. Arcade games, prizes and Fast Track auto racing are only a few of the fun activities to be provided. Food & beverages included. Adult supervised.

Limelight News Years Eve Party
December 31, 2007, 9PM
Location: Limelight Room, Sun Valley Inn
Phone: 622-2135
Admission: Tickets $65-$95
The Limelight Ballroom party includes hors d'oeurves, champagne toast, music, dancing. The High Street Band will be performing. Call 622-2135 for information and reservations.

Lodge Dining Room New Years Eve Dinner
December 31, 2007, 8PM
Location: Sun Valley Lodge
Phone: 622-2800
Admission: $425 per couple
Celebration in the Lodge Dining Room includes three-course dinner, champagne, dancing. Music by Sun Valley Trio. Call 622-2800 for reservations.

TAMARACK

New Year's Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks
Join the festivities and celebrate at Tamarack on the snowfront from dusk to midnight!

GRAND TARGHEE

Celebrate the Holidays with Torchlight Parades, New Year's Eve Fireworks & Teton Valley Shuttle Service
Grand Targhee’s Annual Torchlight Parades begin at approximately 5:30 p.m. on both Christmas day and New Year’s Eve. Participants (12 & older) are to meet by 4:45 p.m. at the Ski and Snowboard School for registration. There’s also a special Children’s “Glowstick Parade” on the beginner terrain on both occasions. Children 12 & younger can register before 4:15 p.m. at the Ski & Snowboard School and be prepared to load the Shoshone lift at 4:30 p.m. sharp (minimum age for children’s participation is 5). A special fireworks display will immediately follow the Torchlight Parade on New Year’s Eve with complimentary refreshments available on the plaza. Participating in the parades is free of charge.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

SEASON TAKING SHAPE!

An Epic storm hammered Idaho's Panhandle with snow earlier this week. The impact lessened in the south but everyone got a peice of the action! At this writing Sun Valley, Tamarack, Lookout Pass and Grand Targhee are open. Brundage, Schweitzer and Lost Trail opened today, Silver is opening Friday, Soldier Saturday and the balance are waiting to open after the next big storm. Game on!

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TAMARACK WANTS TO CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR WINTER ADVENTURE

Located in the heart of the scenic Payette River Mountains, Tamarack is the first newly permitted four-season resort in North America in more than two decades. It was established with the mission to redefine the upscale winter experience.

Few luxury resorts have the assets that Tamarack has to work with. Its east-facing aspects shelter the slopes from wind, allow maximum snow retention and give you spectacular views of Lake Cascade. The terrain is remarkably balanced with cruisers, steeps, glades and cornices. Vertical totals 2,800 feet with 41 runs served by seven lifts, including three high-speed quads.

Best of all there’s a limit of only 2,000 skiers a day on 1,110 acres.

Inside scoop:
Intermediate skiers, and experts looking for a thigh-burning warm-up should head to Bliss, a rolling run featured in SKI Magazine this fall as Rookie of the Year in its Best of the Blues roundup. SKI noted, ""The views of Lake Cascade and the surrounding mountains are sublime, and while Bliss is steep enough to make your thighs burn, it mellows out from time to time to give you a break"

Looking for untracked powder and prime tree skiing? Head to the Mystery Glades toward the southern boundary of the resort. Insiders recommend the glades off Enigma and in the Tamarack Grove on the northern resort boundary. Here the tamarack trees are tight, but they’ve dropped their needles for the winter and the sight lines are great.

This season Tamarack has made a big commitment to freeriders. If that’s your scene, don’t miss out on one of just six Olympic-sized SuperPipes in all of North America. The Hells Canyon Pipe should open in mid-January, featuring 22-foot high Olympic-caliber walls and a length of 450 feet.

Olympic and XGame Medalists will converge on Tamarack February 8-10 for the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix. Top snowboard athletes will compete in the SuperPipe and on a specially constructed Snowboard Cross course

Powder hounds in search of an epic day, should start with a guided tour in 5,000 acres of expert backcountry terrain and get face shots all morning. Then have yourself an epic lunch.

Food for thought:
How does a Peanut Butter & Bacon Burger with a fried pickle spear sound? If it gets your mouth watering, or your curiosity peaked - the place to be for Après Ski is Seven Devils Pub on the snowfront. Kicking back on the patio with a mug of your favorite microbrew and check out the action in the SuperPipe at the same time. The place rocks with live music every Saturday throughout the season.

Morels Restaurant in the Lodge has some of the best gourmet fare in the mountains, from Wild Game Bolognese to Ostrich appetizers to Kobe Beef Hot Pastrami Sandwiches and Gourmet Mac & Cheese.

Stay and Play:
Stay slopeside in two- and three-bedroom cottages, chalets and vacation homes at the base of Tamarack Mountain. Various packages are available all season long. For more information visit www.tamarackidaho.com/vacation_planning/lodging_packages.php . Rooms are also available in the nearby towns of McCall to the north and Cascade to the south.

The whole family will find slopes at Tamarack that are competitive and challenging. The staff is very friendly and the food is excellent. It will make you appreciate the world class experience that can be found at a smaller resort that doesn’t get overrun. Over the years, more runs will open and amenities will continue to grow. It’s not too far fetched to say this place could one day become one of the premier ski resorts in America.

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Eight Things Every Skier and Rider Should Do at Tamarack:

1. Take the Summit Express to the 7,700-foot summit and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Payette River Mountains (grab a snack or cocoa at the Packer's Station Yurt to enjoy with your view)

2. Ski Bliss or Serenity top to bottom - no stops (beware the lactic acid)

3. Have a go at the Hells Canyon SuperPipe

4. Ski through the Tamarack Grove - key is to look for the space, not the trees!

5. Enjoy après ski on the Seven Devils or Canoe Grill patios

6. After a powder dump, go for first tracks off the cornice on Adrenaline or Me First

7. Book a Backcountry Experience (5,054 acres of powder - super-accessible terrain)

8. Stay overnight in a ski-in/ski-out cottage or chalet - hot tub included!

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GRAND TARGHEE - DEEP POWDER AND BIG TIME TERRAIN

Your satisfaction is guaranteed at Grand Targhee. It’s a pretty safe bet for management, especially with the way the season is going so far.

During Thanksgiving week Grand Targhee opened 1,500 acres of skiable terrain, more than any other resort in the Rockies, including Utah and Colorado. Tickets were discounted because of the “limited” terrain, but their unconditional snow guarantee applied. If not happy within an hour, you could trade your ticket in for a pass to be used on another day. There were no takers.

It’s not hard to imagine why. More than 500 inches of snow a year falls on Grand Targhee. And you can bet it’s light, dry champagne so often dreamed about but never indulged enough by most of us, except the Targhee locals.

With such abundant powder, national ski magazines rate Targhee among the top resorts in the West for snow quality and quantity-- less than 5% water content, and you know what that means.

Inside scoop:
Deep powder and big time terrain are the main attractions here. For the best of both, book a SnowCat Adventure on Peaked Mountain—a huge powder reserve of 1,000 untracked acres accessible only by snowcat. Until December 21, you can get a screaming on a SnowCat Adventure Package with lodging.

Two peaks at Targhee total more than 3,000 acres of terrain. The snowcats get 1,000 of them all to themselves on Peaked Mountain, where you can rack up 20,000 feet of exclusive vertical in 10 to 12 epic runs. The huge powder reserve is better than ever this season, with ten new trails off the top, plus new glades through old growth Douglas Fir and White Bark Pine. The spectacular views of the Tetons from the southeast ridge-line will blow you away.

There’s powder everywhere at Targhee. On Fred’s Mountain, only 400 of 1.500 acres are groomed. Black diamonds take 70 percent of the terrain. But there’s something for everyone. There is a beginner's powder area and hundreds of acres of wide-open slopes for intermediates and other cruisers.

More Targhee Treats:
Three terrain parks include Middle Earth, a new ‘natural’ terrain park with a rolling landscape that changes with every snowfall. As snow accumulates, long gliding slopes become rolling moguls that flow into a ‘fish bowl’, then split into three different levels draining into the ‘Water Fall’ natural half pipe, and end at the Power Reserve Traverse.

Here are a few of the other treats at Targhee: You can ride a sleigh on a starlit evening to a roundtable dinner in a snow-buried yurt; your kids can enroll in the Powder Scouts program, which gives kids ages 6 to 12 a full day of instruction, food, and skiing; and a spa offers everything from massage to a mineral mud wrap, along with hot tubs, sauna, exercise room, and heated outdoor pool.

The intense adventure at Targhee requires a lot of fuel and you have a lot of dining choices. For a quick bite, grab a snack from Snorkel’s, scarf killer nachos from the Trap Bar & Grille, or load up in the full-service cafeteria. For fine dining, you can’t go wrong at the Targhee Steakhouse. At night, The Trap Bar and Grille jams with bluegrass, rock, reggae and blues.

Lodging options abound:
It’s easy to get to Grand Targhee from the Idaho Falls or Jackson Hole airports. Midweek lodging specials are available at three slopeside lodges. Townhomes and condominiums are available at Teton Creek and Aspen Pointe, less than11 miles from Targhee. Beautiful homes are available at Creekside Meadows near Driggs.

Make no mistake, Grand Targhee is paradise for powderhounds, But if you’re looking for a laid-back, friendly, uncrowded ski resort where you can relax with friends or family, this is your place.

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Eight Things Every Skier and Rider must do at Grand Targhee:

1. Snowcat skiing on peaked Mountain – ten new runs this year, over 1,000 acres

2. Ski or ride the North Boundary accessible off of the Blackfoot chair. It’s a huge powder reserve with untracked POW until at least 1:00 p.m.!

3. Ski or ride in Grand Targhee’s new “natural” Middle Earth Terrain Park

4. Snowboard in “Ladies Waist” a natural half pipe located on the face of the mountain under the Dreamcatcher quad chair. Fun for skiers too!

5. New this season – Cosmic Pizza – Montana’s best pizza is now served at most Grand Targhee food outlets (5 total restaurants)!

6. Nordic skiing in Rick’s Basin. It’s the most beautiful terrain and offers incredible views of Teton Valley – all 15k of it. Great for the novice but also offers challenging terrain for the tougher track skiers.

7. Hiking up to Mary’s for fresh tracks long after the lift served terrain is tracked out – the gates leading to Mary’s are open about 90% of the time. Only avalanche work closes these gates to paradise!

8. Skiing or riding in the “The Good” - “The Bad” and “The Ugly.” The fall line can’t be beat - for advanced intermediate and expert snow sliders.

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LOOKOUT PASS FIRST OUT THE GATE IN PANHANDLE

True to form, Lookout Pass was the first Panhandle hill to open on November 29. This little hill in the back pocket of the Bitterroots is a snow magnet.

An epic storm that is hammering the Panhandle as I write this dumped 51 inches in two days at Lookout.

To ski early in Idaho this season, Lookout is the place. It has great early season conditions, especially the wide-open cruisers on the front side, which has been meticulously tended in the off-season for 70 years.

Lookout Pass strives to be a family ski hill, and families never had it so good: cheap lift tickets, deep snow, free ski school, down home atmosphere--and with the brand new North Star lift this season, steep expert terrain. There’s truly something for everybody at Lookout.

The North Star lift adds five new runs with steep, sustained fall lines and 400 more feet of vertical to Lookout’s stats. But the numbers that really count are $30 lift tickets ($19 for juniors) and 400 annual inches of the lightest, driest powder you’ll ever ride. Ticket prices are even less on weekdays. And if you’re over 40, Boomer Fridays are 18 bucks!

To get in on the good stuff at Lookout, stay in the historic town of Wallace about 10 miles west on the interstate. Go to the Wallace Inn and say you heard about it in the Ski Idaho eNewsletter and get great ski and stay packages starting at $109. For more information on additional places to stay, go to skilookout.com/new/lodging.php.

It may not be the biggest, but size isn’t everything. At Lookout, its all about the snow.

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