Slope duel

Mt. Spokane and Schwietzer are two of the biggest ski resorts in the area frequented by students.

Schweitzer Mountain:

Located in the Idaho Panhandle is the best kept secret among ski resorts. It is the biggest ski resort in the state of Idaho and is unlike any mountain in the Northwest. When you ski Schweitzer Mountain Resort, you are guaranteed smiles, good snow and memories that will last you a lifetime. 

I have been a season pass holder at Schweitzer since I was 5 years old and could click into skis. As a Spokane native, Schweitzer was and still is, our go-to spot for many reasons.

Skiable acres

Schweitzer has consistently found new ways to reinvent the mountain and the already wide variety of terrain they offer skiers and riders. Over the past couple of summers, the mountain has added two new chairs on the backside to give mountain goers more access to runs. As if the 2,900 skiable acres weren’t enough, the mountain gladed to provide new runs and give fan  favorites a new look. If you haven’t been up this season yet, Cathay’s Yard Sale looks a bit different this year, check it out. 

Technical ability

With an elevation of 6,400 feet the technical ability that the mountain has to offer is wide. You will find enough black diamond runs to ski the whole day or green square runs, whatever your ability is. If you are a more advanced skier or rider, make sure you make your way to the backside and check out the new runs off the Cedar Park Express quad where you can find powder face shots days after a huge snowfall. If you are more of a beginner skier or rider, the runs off the Basin Express quad offer a fun variety that can challenge you, but make you feel like you shredded that run. 

Community

The best part of the mountain is the community. Whether they ski or ride, everyone at Schweitzer can agree on one thing, they love to be in the mountains. From the lifty’s telling jokes in line, scanning your pass twice or hyping you up to the kind and fun environment of the other riders in the lodge, the community of people just love life. The chances are you know someone up there too.

Weather

Schweitzer is known for being foggy, but that doesn’t matter because there is always great snow. From powder to groomers, you can always count on the resort to have a good solid base. They also offer a snow guarantee, which means if you are not happy with the conditions on the hill after two hours of skiing, you can get a refund. On the other hand, you just can’t beat the view of Lake Pend Oreille on a sunny day. It almost feels like a dream.

If you have not made your way to North Idaho yet to see the biggest ski resort in the state, I urge you to. There is no mountain in the area that can beat Schweitzer. Take it from me. I have seen quite a few peaks from my ski racing days and I always come home to Schweitzer.

 Mt. Spokane:

Although the debate over the merits of Mt. Spokane vs. Schweitzer is undisputed in the minds of some serious ski-heads on Gonzaga’s campus, the decision is less clear-cut for a beginner.

According to Schweitzer’s website, only 10% of its 2,900 acres are suited for a beginning level skier or snowboarder.

Mt. Spokane is the ideal place to take your friends who haven’t had the privilege to shred buttery corduroy, until now. Mt. Spokane (only 50 minutes from campus compared to 105 minutes to Schweitzer) boasts 1,700 acres of skiable terrain with 52 designated runs.

Although it is often viewed as Schweitzer’s little brother, Mt. Spokane has the best of both world’s with features for beginners and experts alike.

Aptly named Ego Flats is the bunny hill of Mt. Spokane. Aspiring cheddar shredders can hone their turns on this gradual plane before graduating to the three chairs that provide access to the whole mountain and two terrain parks. Even for the expert skier Mt. Spokane has an ample amount of pinned booters and gnarly lines.

Economically, Mt. Spokane is also a solid choice compared to Schweitzer. Instead of sifting through friend groups and adjacent acquaintances trying to dig up a coveted season pass, Mt. Spokane offers night skiing for a mere $27. With the college student discount, midweek and non-holiday day passes are $47 while weekend and holiday day passes are $60. At Schweitzer, a midweek pass is right around $80 for a college student. Through the GU Ski & Snowboard club, season passes are $350 at Schweitzer, a $50 discount after factoring in membership fees.

Regarding the epic vistas presented at the summit of each resort, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better view. Choosing between the two landscapes would involve a good deal of nit-picking as to which peaks are more visually stunning or which lakes are glassier and more stoic than the rest.

Admittedly, Schweitzer offers a much greater variety of terrain and groomed runs than Mt. Spokane. Widely regarded as the best ski resort in Idaho, Schweitzer is the real deal with bodacious tree skiing and Stella — the only six-person, high-speed chairlift in the entire state.

Nonetheless, skiing is an inherently laid-back pursuit and should be treated as such. Good luck finding ski bums at either resort debating the merits of the mountain they stand on. They’re just happy to be there.

Hannah Hislop is a news editor. Follow her on Twitter: @hannahvhislop.

Tommy Conmy is a staff writer.

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