The staid image of “Aprés ski” activities-a round of hot drinks around the fireplace at the ski lodge following a day on the slopes, often while still in skiing attire-is getting made over; at many of today’s ski resorts, visitors can have a good time without ever having to don a pair of ski boots or goggles. Following a trend pioneered by the major “destination” resorts such as Vail and Jackson Hole, many ski areas are adding off-ski activities to the calendar. The region’s Big Five resorts-Mt. Spokane, 49¡ North, Silver Mountain, Lookout Pass, and Schweitzer-have started to get in on the action, too; in fact, several of the resorts have recently created full-time Event Coordinator positions to manage the full slate of activities. Although the number and size of parties vary between area resorts, powder- and party hounds can cherry pick from each resort’s calendar and conceivably book a party for every weekend between now and the spring equinox. And if a savvy skier plans well, between all the bonfires and Mardi Gras parties and carnivals, there might even be time for a run or two.

Mt. Spokane

Mt. Spokane has tentatively scheduled two costume-themed events to close out the 2006-2007 ski season. On March 24, the resort will host Hawaiian Days in conjunction with a Slope Style event in the terrain park. For those long on style, just not on the slopes, there will still be a chance to taste fame the following weekend, March 31, in the Retro Days costume contest.

49¡ North

The resort tucked into the mountains just east of Chewelah, has plenty to celebrate this year with the opening of 400 acres of new terrain in the Sunrise Basin, including 15 new runs. The brush piles remaining from the expansion will fuel the resort’s bonfire November 18, which marketing director James Daugherty says will be “a sacrifice to the snow gods.”
And if skiing is a religion, filmmaker Warren Miller is a one of its pre-eminent apostles, his film screenings an annual ritual for devoted members of the flock. This year, 49¡ North will host its own Warren Miller movie showing, in conjunction with a ski swap, on November 11.
The resort will wind up its winter event season with an all-you-can-eat oyster feed on March 31. Daugherty says the resort will be bringing in “truckloads” of the saltwater shellfish for the event. Yes, oysters. At a ski resort. In Eastern Washington.

Silver Mountain

Although the Kellogg, Idaho resort has a full schedule of winter events, the highlight of the Silver Mountain season is the Mardi Gras Carnival and Party, March 3-4. Heather Erikson, Event Coordinator for Silver Mountain resort, says the carnival is the resort’s “tried-and-true biggest event of winter.” Expect all (okay, most) of what the name suggests, with live music, drink specials, a microbrew showcase, and plenty of wild costumes. However, Silver Mountain’s version of the festival is decidedly more family-friendly than the New Orleans incarnation, with plenty of kids’ activities, including snow basketball, face painting and a maze. The resort will also host Retro Day on March 29. In addition to a ski-boot dance-off, Erikson says there will be prizes for the best old-school costumes. For one day, at least, the aprs ski fashions of the ’80s (think neon parkas and sprayed-on-tight ski pants) will be cool again.
Although the packed event schedule for the latter half of the winter should guarantee plenty of traffic, cold weather or not, Silver Mountain resort has several signature events prior to the new year, including the annual Dance for Snow Party (November 18), featuring the inaugural Redneck Games-the competition is slated to include a tire-changing race, hubcap tossing, and keg rolling; the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony (November 25); and Jackass Day, Silver Mountain’s anniversary, featuring birthday cake-there will be 39 candles this year-and events in the tubing park.

Lookout Pass

Lookout Pass Ski Resort has scheduled three larger festival-type events for the 2006-7 ski season. The first is the Winter Carnival on January 21. This is a family-friendly event where mascots such as Daisy the Clown, Powder Pig and Captian Hot Chocolate.

“We try to get everyone involved. We will have outdoor volleyball, downhills races-parents against kids and we will be showing videos inside the lodge all day,” says Jim Schreiber, Marketing Director at Lookout.

The ski patrol will also be passing out hot chocolate vouchers the entire day.

New for Lookout this year, is their own Mardi Gras Festival on February 8 and February 25 is scheduled for the Lookout Beach Party and Big Kahauna Downhill race.

“Depending on the conditions, we ski in summer clothes, there is an overall party atmosphere with outdoor games and volleyball. The Big Kahauna Downhill is a race from the top of the mountain to the bottom,” says Schreiber.

Schweitzer

Aside from its annual holiday celebrations-including a Christmas tree lighting on December 2, a visit by Santa on December 24, and a New Year’s Eve celebration with live music by the Clumsy Lovers-Schweitzer Mountain Resort will celebrate two seasons with parties, with “Schweitzer Lights up the Night,” in conjunction with Sandpoint’s Winter Carnival, on January 13; and a Spring Carnival April 7-8. Whereas “Schweitzer Lights up the Night” will feature traditional a fireworks display, live music, a bonfire and parade, the Spring Carnival promises to be a more boisterous affair with live reggae music, games and outdoor snow bars featuring pina coladas and mai tais. Although this year’s theme has yet to be announced, last year saw the resort transformed into a Caribbean island hotspot. Even diehard snowbunnies have to celebrate the arrival of hot spring sun.

For more information, please visit the following websites: http://www.schweitzer.com, http://www.silvermt.com, http://www.ski49n.com, http://www.mtspokane.com and http://www.skilookout.com.