Sorry about the above, it posted before I was ready. Anyway, I'm gonna try to go about this without giving away too much of my local knowledge. It's a lot of fun to ski Schweitzer looking for the stashes (and it's not hard), not finding their locations from locals. haha. You might wanna take a look at the trailmap as I'm going through this.
1. How is the park? Size of it? Lift type?
There's two parks (resort's words, not mine): the Stomping Grounds and the Terrain Garden. I've been a season passholder for ten years and I really only got interested in park last year. I'll be spending a lot more time in there next year.
The Terrain Garden is pretty modest (usually just 2-3 rails/boxes, a tiny jump or two and some rollers. That's located on the bunny hill (Enchanted Forest on the trail map) off of the Musical Chairs double.
The Stomping Grounds is a decent sized, but by no means Mammoth Mountain-caliber park (hey, pun). It's lighted for night skiing until 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, they've got music pounding and stuff. That's off of the Basin Quad. If you search around NS, you'll find a lot of shit about Schweitzer's park crew being slackers, etc. Very little of it is true. The park has been ranked best park in the Northwest in the past.
2. What does the jumpline look like? When does it start up? Sizes?
Can't help you much there. Usually the jumpline starts to take shape in early January, but it really depends on the year. Just take a look at this pic - the park in it's prime in 2008. I believe it had some more features last year. It changes from year to year, and they'll rebuild a couple times a year.
3. What are the rails like? When do they start?
Last year they had some rails up shortly after opening day in the Terrain Garden and in December in the terrain park (Stomping Grounds). They've got a wide variety of rails and boxes and they change it up frequently to keep everyone interested.
4. How is the powder? Quality? How often?
Every year is different. For example, this year we're going into an El Nino, which usually means slightly warmer temps and slightly drier air. No guarantees, though, every El Nino is also different, and last year wasn't bad for Schweitzer standards, it all just seemed to come when I was out of town -- haha. Schweitzer gets 300 inches/year, and it's a lot drier than the Cascades' powder because of the rainshadow effect. We can get consistent dumpings of 6"+ about every other day (or every two) at times, with stronger storms thrown in for good measure (again, not always, but it happens -- I'm trying not to jinx next winter). Maybe I'm exaggerating (dry spells do happen -- as this winter from Jan. 6 - mid February, aside for a few modest (6" or less) snowfalls), but these years do happen. And now I'm reminiscing. Schweitzer's not bad. Not Snowbird, but not bad at all. And as the saying goes up here in North Idaho, if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes.
In terms of how long it all gets skied out, it depends. On weekday storms you can often get faceshots into the next day (or two). On the weekends the Spokane crew comes up, but it still doesn't get skied out that fast -- frequently you can get untracked lines right up until 3pm. Liftlines aren't an issue at all.
5. What are the runs like? How is the tree skiing? Steepness?
The backside (Outback Bowl) runs are pretty long, you can get in the full 2400 vertical feet on runs like Kaniksu, Snow Ghost, Have Fun, etc. (and those runs are great because you can dip into the trees for some untracked lines). South Bowl (Chutes is the name, locals just call it South Bowl) has a bunch of short lines, but they can hold powder for a while and have numerous cliff drops and other sick stuff. North Bowl (Chutes) has a bunch of longer steeps, with several cliff bands (including Big Bertha -- see Powder Mag for that), drops, and other stuff. Off of Stella there are a bunch of great cruisers (with more glades that you can dip into on the sides) and one of the gems of the mountain, Phineas' Forest. Little Blue (Idyl-Our t-bar) was added in 2005 and accesses some of the best stuff the mountain has to offer.
Tree skiing is top notch. Every single treed portion of the mountain is skiable. That's not an exaggeration -- they've done a great job of thinning out the trees. My personal favorites are off of Little Blue, Australia and innumerable unnamed stashes that I can call my own. You're not gonna get their locations out of me. Schweitzer got #3 in the US for Trees in 07-08 by Skiing Magazine readers.
6. Anything else?
Ski it like a local. Please. It's worth it; though it's not perfect, it's really good and it's quite rewarding if you go about it like a local. For example, Chair 4 (on the trailmap as Sunnyside) is an ancient double and seldom used by the Spokane crew. It accesses some of the best treeskiing on the mountain (Chair 4 Trees, Tree Farm -- which is on the trailmap as Shenanigans, etc.) and you can get faceshots off of it well after a storm. The Lakeview Triple is a great chair to lap runs on the Face and the Chutes in the morning. After that, everyone heads over to Chair 6 (Snow Ghost) to lap the North Bowl. This is where the typical powder day gets hairy. Do you submit to the lines (and it can get really long) at the base of Chair Six or do you go over to Stella? Take the chair. It's worth it; the best lines are there, and the 13 minute ride deters the nonexperts. I'll be honest with you; the lines in Outback Bowl are getting ridiculous. While nowhere near the liftlines at Breck, they're pretty insane. This is where a few of the locals have rediscovered runs off of Chair 4. I emphasize "some" because most of the locals are, in fact, over at Chair Six.
Wow, that was fun. I hope that wasn't too much information and I hope I didn't exaggerate too much. Anyway, Schweitzer's a great mountain, and I hope you have fun up here next year. Thanks for giving me something to do to keep my mind on the snow.
If you have any more questions, you're welcome to PM me.
america, fuck yeah.
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(on May 14): Schweitzer closed with 140 inches of snow at the summit. They got 5 new inches May 13th for a summit depth of 134". Remind me why they closed again?