A Brave Ski Mom Interview with Jill, a Brave Ski Mom of 4 from Idaho.
We live in Sandpoint, Idaho, so we would choose Schweitzer. It is only 9 miles from home.
Why is Schweitzer your favorite?
First of all, with the exception of some holiday weekends, Schweitzer is never crowded. It is a really big mountain, so even on busy weekends, you can get away from the crowds. Secondly, Schweitzer is a great place to ski with kids. No matter what level they are there is always something that will challenge them. From easy to hard terrain, there is something to keep everyone excited.
The tree skiing at Schweitzer is also great. There is wonderful powder skiing and great access to the backcountry.
What are the best amenities at Schweitzer for family skiing?
Schweitzer is a convenient mountain. It is convenient from Sandpoint, but also only 1.5 hours from Spokane, Washington and 1.5 hours from Couer D’Alene, Idaho. Schweitzer is very family-friendly and appeals to a wide-range of skiers.The terrain is naturally divided with the easier terrain at the bottom and the expert terrain at the top.
When it does get crowded, there is a high-speed six pack on the backside of the mountain at Stella, which gets people off of the front and spreads them out. This is great for families with kids because it is no fun to be skiing on crowded slopes with little ones. Also on the backside there is a great place to stop and have hot chocolate. The Outback Inn is an old 1960s-style lodge with skis hanging on the wall and a fire burning in front of the building.
There is also a T-bar that kids love on the backside. It provides access to the highest part of the mountain and takes you out as far as you can go. From the top of the high point, you can ski down to the lowest point of the mountain. This is the longest run on the mountain. It can take some time, but when you are doing it together as a family it can be really fun!
Also, I highly recommend the ski school. I have very high opinions of the instructors who specialize in teaching the youngest kids.
Finally, there is night skiing on Friday and Saturday nights and every night throughout Christmas week.
What needs to be improved to make Schweitzer even better for family skiing?
Well, the weather can be iffy. Also, the parking, especially on weekends, can be difficult. There is a $15-$20 charge for the upper lot. The lower lots are free, but can be inconvenient for families. There is a shuttle bus from Sandpoint that charges $3 per person each way, but this can be expensive for families.
Are there any “secrets” you are willing to share?
There are good terrain parks and if you like to ski powder, the powder along the sides of the terrain parks is usually untracked.
What advice would you give other families before they come to Schweitzer?
Before you can use the main terrain park, you have to pass an online tutorial and exam. Then you have to buy a terrain park pass. As a mom, this is a relief! My older sons have passed the exam and they can go in. For my younger daughters, they can’t go in yet and it makes it easy for me to say to them “When you are old enough you can go in.” The other two terrain parks are smaller and they are open to everyone and are not monitored.
Other advice? If it is a crowded day, go to the backside of the mountain. If it is a powder day head up high to the South Bowls or the backside. A great meeting place, if you get separated, is the clock tower in the village.
Check for lodging and ticket deals online. Schweitzer has a program called Sunday Solutions which offers a $25 lift ticket (purchased online) from 1:00 p.m. until they close, with the exception of holiday weekends.
Finally, there is a run that crosses from the terrain park to the base area. It gets crowded and the people coming out of the terrain park aren’t necessarily looking for families. Avoid this area if you can.
What are your favorite places to eat at Schweitzer?
We like the Outback Inn on the backside. Also, the restaurant in the main lodge has good burritos. They are huge and one is enough to feed at least two adults. After night skiing, we like to go to Thor’s Pizza. For a nice dinner, I recommend the Saint Bernard.
What are your favorite places to stay at Schweitzer?
When my entire family has been here to ski, we have enjoyed staying at the White Pine Lodge. The best way to find lodging is to go through Schweitzer. They offer packages that include ski passes.
What is your favorite memory of this resort?
There was a deep powder day last season when my two boys and I were on one of the first chairs up to the South Bowl Chutes. It was a beautiful blue bird day. Doesn’t get much better than that! The other memorable day was the last day of the season last year. We spent the night up at the mountain and all four kids, my husband and I stumbled out for the first chair. It wasn’t a powder day, but all six of us were out there together skiing the fresh groomed runs and no one else was around. It was quiet, sunny and nice snow. It was one of the first times my 4-year old girls wanted to ski the same runs as their brothers. What fun!
What is your favorite thing about family skiing?
It is so fun to be outside doing something that everyone enjoys, not matter what the age of the kids.
The Brave Ski Mom adds….
Thanks Jill! Schweitzer is another resort I am adding to my list of “places I must visit.”
For those of us coming from farther away, the best bet is to fly into Spokane, Washington. Or, you can take Amtrak directly to Sandpoint.
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