Idaho’s Schweitzer has signed on to become the 45th Ikon Pass mountain in North America. Ikon Pass holders will enjoy up to 7 days of access at Schweitzer and Ikon Base Pass holders will get 5 holiday-restricted days. Schweitzer’s top tier local passholders will receive an Ikon Base Pass valid at destinations worldwide. “This is a huge win for skiers and snowboarders and for our community,” the resort said in a statement. “We wanted to be able to offer our customers the benefit of a multi-resort pass and joining Ikon Pass allows us to do just that. The Ikon Pass includes premier mountains around the globe, and we are excited to be the newest Ikon Pass mountain destination.”
The partnership with Alterra replaces Schweitzer’s membership in the Powder Alliance reciprocal program, which brought the North Idaho mountain about 5,000 skiers per year over the last seven seasons. Schweitzer says it was the single most-redeemed destination in that alliance.
With Ikon and regional population trends, Schweitzer is planning for continued visitation growth of about 5 to 10 percent over the next couple of years and will make “continued investments to help the mountain to absorb that growth.” This summer, the resort will dedicate more than $250,000 to increase the capacity of the Stella Express by 15 percent (235 people per hour). This will be accomplished by adding 14 new six passenger chairs. The mountain will also debut a $500,000 RFID ticketing system in the fall, enabling direct-to-lift access. Following these projects and the debut of a new slopeside hotel, replacement of the Musical Chairs lift will become the mountain’s next major capital priority. The new high speed quad will span a creek near the current bottom terminal and connect to a parking lot for 1,500 cars.
The mountain’s master plan envisions at least four other new lifts in both Schweitzer and Outback bowls in the years to come.
Ikon get all the good places, and I’m stuck on Epic. :-(
It’s not like all you get with EPIC is Mt. Brighton and Jack Frost!😉
Honestly, Indy, Epic and Ikon are all quite evenly matched in the interior NW at this point.
Ikon: Revelstoke, Red, Schweitzer, SkiBig3
Epic: Kimberley, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Nakiska
Indy: Castle, 49n, Silver
I mind taking a trip on any of those rosters.
If you base your center on Spokane, WA (arbitrary I know), within a 7 hour drive are:
Ikon: Bachelor, Crystal, Snoqualmie, Red, Revelstoke, Schweitzer, SkiBig3, Big Sky
Epic: Stevens, Whistler, Kimberly, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Nakiska, (Sun Valley is 9 hours away)
I think overall Ikon is stronger in the region.
Now given you can ski more days on a cheaper base pass, Epic starts to look a lot more appealing
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As someone who lives in Spokane, I think that’s a perfectly acceptable base to go off of.
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I still think it’s weird Schweitzer joined the Ikon Pass, when the resort claims they left the Powder Alliance due to locals complaining it was bringing too many out-of-town skiers & snowboarders that were clogging lifts and cutting up the powder.
And I can attest to that. I went to Schweitzer once last season, when it was neither a Powder Alliance or Ikon resort, during a weekday powder day. Within a few hours, the entire snowpack at the ski resort was cut up, groomed or powder, and every run was a complete leg burner, blue, black or double black.
I’m sure that will only increase with the Ikon Pass. The Ikon Pass I’m very sure has a much larger base than the Powder Alliance. But it does make sense that Schweitzer was visited the most by Powder Alliance skiers and snowboarders… It was the largest in the Powder Alliance. The Powder Alliance tends to be more midsized and smaller ski resorts.
I don’t think I phrased my comment well. I meant that, regardless if a run was a groomed one or a powder one, it was all cut up into leg burner bumps within two hours, whether it was a blue, black or double black.
I mean, it’s all about benefit-cost. Tom is probably calculating that Ikon will bring in more overnight guests from the Seattle area. Remember that that’s really Schweitzer’s target growth market. Those are the people Schweitzer hopes to convert into long-time visitors and ultimately I’m sure second home-owners.
Whereas perhaps the Powder Alliance was bringing in guests from across the country who were staying with friends or family, redeeming a day here and there. Not as much of a “destination” visitor.
Agreed. It made sense for Schweitzer to leave the Powder Alliance when Stevens Pass left (and Schweitzer had already had years to sell themselves to Stevens Pass passholders, as well as Fusion Passholders in their #2 target market). Ikon gets them a lot of Seattle skiers, particularly the ones who are relatively unlikely to have previously visited Schweitzer. The Mt. Hood Meadows reciprocal is another good call for real estate–those are the Portland skiers most likely to invest in real estate at Schweitzer.
if you think locals were complaining about powder alliance just wait till this upcoming winter. Nice to see the eventual replacement of musical chairs though, having that ride time cut in half will be awesome for parking in the lower lot. That line can get crazy on peak holiday weekends
Now I have to get an Ikon Pass!
now if you get indy & ikon, you have amazing coverage up there.
btw, are you gonna write an article when the indy resorts and prices are announced?
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Don’t know how I feel about this tbh
The big winners here are:
1. Crystal skiers. A multi-day Red & Schweitzer road trip is a compelling option.
2. 49 Degrees North. New lift next year + their main competitor getting more crowded = opportunity to capture more of the Spokane market.
3. People who live in Bend. Mt Bachelor was overwhelmed with Ikon visitors this year. In mid-February, half the cars in the parking lot had WA plates. There were more Crystal stickers on helmets/skis than you see when you ski at Crystal itself. More nearby Ikon options next year (including Red if the border reopens) will spread things around more.
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This is not good news for me. We were supposed to visit this year on Powder Alliance for a Spokane area tour of several resorts but because of Covid that got delayed a year. We renewed our Sierra at Tahoe passes and now Schweitzer drops off. Aack!
I’m not opposed to paying for at-window tickets but it seems like all the Ikon resorts have really high at-window prices and it’s simply not worth it. The 20/21 price was $89 weekdays, and I bet it goes up to at LEAST $119 to make the Ikon 4-pak make sense at $399. I wouldn’t be surprised to see $139.
This whole “make day tickets super expensive and force everyone to buy a pass” trend is driving me nuts. We like to visit lots of resorts in a season and that is getting harder and harder to do.
I understand the frustration from your position, and I do agree that making skiers commit in April when mountains are free to come and go whenever is problematic. However, I disagree with your assessment that the current day and age makes it harder to visit lots of resorts in a season. What it does do is predetermine which mountains you are committed to for the season. For example, seeing as though you are a Sierra-at-Tahoe season pass holder, you could alternatively get an Epic Local Pass one year for about the same price and have access to a brand new list of dozens of resorts across the country. The only sacrifice would be that your home mountain would shift to either Kirkwood or Heavenly, and you would have access restricted to both of them for the ten peak days (but seeing as though you like to travel, you could spend those days at Breck or Crested Butte, which are not bad places to be).
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I also have an Epic Local pass actually, and have had the Vail passes since they bought Heavenly ages ago. My wife and I are pretty fanatic about travelling around and trying different areas, and Schweitzer was on our list of places to visit. We’ve been to all the resorts on our Vail passes many, many times.
Yes, between Epic and Powder Alliance we have a lot of choices but that doesn’t change the fact that if I want to try a resort not on either pass it’s getting really expensive and not worth it. Gone are the days where we would look at the map and say “let’s try this out next year”. The only way I would buy an Ikon pass is if they buy Sierra, but I hope that never happens. Squaw/Alpine is too difficult to get to from South Lake on a regular basis.
This is a deliberate strategy started by Robert Katz at Vail, and Alterra jumped on board with nearly the same strategy. It’s really eliminated the freedom we used to have to travel around to any resort.
Seems like with the new base and beginner area that they will be building below musical chairs, that it would be worth it to consider making spending the extra money and making the replacement lift for musical chairs a combination lift with gondola cabins to have better accessibility for non-skiers and summertime sightseers. Plus Schweitzer owns all the land below this down to the lower valley floor and creating an additional gondola connection like Silver Mountain’s that goes to more parking and transit connections, would make the mountain super accessible and ease the parking issue as well as elevate the summer experience to what it should be, with expanded mountain biking top to bottom with lift access. It would really bridge the gap between the Lake and Mountain in the summer months.
Actually, a chondola replacement for Musical Chairs wouldn’t be a bad idea at all, especially with the additional beginner terrain they’re proposing at Mid-Mountain.
Most of their parking is going to end up below Musical Chairs, which means that they’ll need a way to more easily ferry non-skiers up to the village. A chondola would let them get rid of the shuttles (or at least dramatically reduce their reliance on them) and provide a much better experience.