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Turner Mountain

| February 8, 2007 11:00 PM

I've skied the hills of western Pennsylvania and western New York, Angel Fire's 10,600-foot summit in northeastern New Mexico, and zipped passed the world-famous Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Last Sunday, I skied Libby's Turner Mountain Ski Area.

It was by far the best.

I'm no great skier, no young chick and I'm not in the best shape, although I try. I like to say that I when I ski, I can make it downhill without falling, but don't dare go near the black diamonds.

So when Red Dog Saloon bartender Cassie Howell and I made a plan to ski Turner last Sunday, I was excited, but quite apprehensive. I heard the stories of folks who skied it once and said "never again."

I also heard stories from people who said "if you can ski, you can ski Turner."

With a summit of 5,952 feet and vertical drop of 2,110 feet, Turner looks intimidating from down below. Seventy percent of its runs are for expert skiers, 20 percent for intermediate and 10 percent for beginner.

For our first run, Cassie and I got off the chair lift at the halfway point and hit a beginner trail. Since I haven't skied much in the last 10 years, I took it easy.

Got to the bottom in one piece and was excited, thrilled and ready to take the lift again. I discovered that even for a mediocre skier like me, Turner is doable.

The conditions at Turner were awesome. There's no lines and a real friendliness to the place.

I like too that it's an all-volunteer effort by a non-profit. Kootenai Winter Sports makes use of volunteers like Terry Peterson and Bill Frazy at the chair lift, Gary Altman for months of maintenance, Jon Jeresek, who does a little of everything, and Lonnie Hansen, who does construction and maintenance.

Around since 1961, Turner in 2001 replaced its T-bar with a chair lift. A lodge was built in 2005 and the road to the resort was improved last year.

It's been a good season, according to Bruce Zwang, president of Kootenai Winter Sports. The snow is 55-inches deep at the top of the mountain with 35 inches in the parking area.

As Turner prepares to offer its Customer Appreciation Day, people need to think about giving it a shot.

Anyone under 18 can ski free and adults can ski at half price from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19. Adult tickets are $13.

The free tickets are available at 40 sponsors, including The Western News. Turner's Web site, www.skiturner.com, includes a list of sponsors.

So if you haven't skied Turner, or haven't been there in a while, go. And have fun! - Gwen Albers