Amid Growth, Schweitzer Eyes Expansion

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The Cedar Park Express, constructed last year by Leitner-Poma of America, is one of six new lifts built at Schweitzer since 2000.

With four major lift replacements completed over the last 15 years, North Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain Resort is looking beyond its boundary for the next phase of on-mountain development.  Completed just last summer, phase one of the resort’s 2018 master plan included two key lifts in the North Bowl replacing an outdated double.  The mountain also recently completed a gorgeous summit lodge called Sky House and two more chairlifts above its village.  Looking ahead, Schweitzer’s two longest lifts to date are planned for opposite ends of the resort.

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Privately-held Schweitzer will proceed carefully as growth makes sense.  The resort does not participate in a multi-resort pass product but skier visits have grown almost 35 percent over the last 15 years.  Current development focuses on the village, including a $35 million boutique hotel under construction.  “We have a pretty conservative approach,” notes President and CEO Tom Chasse. “Our business is growing but we want to make sure that we are financially sound and don’t get ahead of ourselves.  We also want to maintain a razor sharp focus on improving the overall customer experience with everything that we do.”

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Phase three will see the launch of a dedicated day use and ski school portal away from the overnight village.  “Growth has been huge the last few years and we need to find solutions for our parking issues and ease the burden on our existing village,” notes Mountain Operations Director Rob Batchelder.  “I’m very excited about solving those problems with this third phase of development in the Mid-Mountain area.  Physically, we need room to grow and Mid-Mountain does that for us.”  The $50 million project will include a day lodge, three dedicated beginner lifts and 6,400 foot detachable chairlift.  The latter will include a half mid-station with access to six new intermediate trails.  Riders staying on board will gain access to North Bowl without the need to transit the village or ride the busy Great Escape quad.

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Leitner-Poma & Skytrac to Build New Lifts in Outback Bowl at Schweitzer

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The beloved Snow Ghost double will be retired from Schweitzer Mountain Resort next spring after 47 winter seasons, the mountain confirmed today.  In its place, two new chairlifts will service Outback Bowl in improved alignments.  A Leitner-Poma high speed quad will climb through the Kaniksu Woods area with a Skytrac fixed-grip triple servicing the Lakeside Chutes vicinity above.  “Overall, we expect the two chair arrangement to complement our existing lift system and provide better access to some of the most popular terrain at Schweitzer,” says Tom Chasse, CEO of the north Idaho mountain.  Schweitzer completed a similar project on the front side in 2007, replacing 5,500 foot Chair 1 with the Basin Express and Lakeview lifts.

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Snow Ghost is a very long Riblet double with more than 30 towers.

The detachable quad chair will offer a capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour and rise 1,447 feet in just over five minutes.  The triple chair capacity will be 1,800 per hour with a vertical of 1,360 feet and an 8 minute ride time.  “We’ve seen over the years how a similar two lift system in the South Bowl has been beneficial when we have weather challenges,” said Chasse. “By having the two lifts serving different aspects of the North Bowl, our hope is to combat similar challenges on the backside of the mountain.”  As part of the project, Schweitzer will add gladed terrain and four new runs surrounding the new lifts, which have yet to be named.

News Roundup: Not Cheap

  • Above: lots more Ramcharger 8 parts arrive in Big Sky.
  • Schweitzer weighs alignment options and manufacturers for two new backside lifts scheduled for construction in 2019.
  • The only aerial tramway in Texas closes after nearly six decades.  “Replacement of the Wyler Aerial Tramway is estimated to cost millions of dollars.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department does not have the financial resources to execute a capital construction project of this size at this time.”
  • Disney gives an Orlando TV station a rare official peak into Skyliner construction.
  • Following last week’s mishap, the operator of the Zugspitze Cable Car orders a new 120 passenger cabin, hanger and carriage.
  • Beaver Creek’s big McCoy Park expansion should be official in November and is planned to open in late 2020.
  • The Lewis & Clark bubble high-speed quad at Big Sky will finally see some action in 2021 when a $400 million Montage hotel opens at its base.
  • Ascutney Outdoors is on track to install a T-Bar this fall, anchoring a scaled down version of what was once a five chairlift area.
  • LST builds a T-Bar atop a waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen for residents to ski on year round.
  • Vail looks to Asia for growth.
  • Michael Doppelmayr is profiled for his 60th birthday.  Some interesting facts: his company’s gross margin was 12.1 percent last year and his father Artur vehemently opposed Doppelmayr’s merger with Garaventa.
  • New York’s high court clears the way for Belleayre to expand into the former Highmount Ski Center.
  • Bretton Woods and Doppelmayr make great progress on New Hampshire’s first 8 passenger gondola.
  • The leaders of North and South Korea ride a pulse gondola during their three day summit.
  • The State of New Hampshire will hold a public meeting about transferring the Mt. Sunapee lease to Vail Resorts on September 26th.
  • As it tries to secure a $30 million loan to open this winter, the Hermitage Club lawsuits keep coming.
  • Two major lifts are getting closer to reality at Copper Mountain.

News Roundup: Ahead

  • Doppelmayr and CWA unveil world’s most luxurious gondola cabin with air conditioning, a fridge and more powered by carriage wheel generators.
  • The five chairlift Hermitage Club lays off 50 to 80 employees and cuts ski operations to weekends only, a result of significant financial challenges.
  • Children fall from lifts at West Mountain and Windham Mountain.
  • 2022 Winter Olympics host China is up to an impressive 236 ski areas with at least one chairlift.
  • Woodward Park City remains in limbo pending the outcome of three appeals.
  • Theme park projects such as the Doppelmayr-supplied Hogwarts Express and Disney Skyliner drive record revenue for PCL Construction of Edmonton.
  • There was a deropement followed by partial rope evac of the triple chair at Red Lodge Mountain over Presidents’ weekend.
  • Apres Vous at Jackson Hole was evacuated yesterday following a gearbox issue.
  • Sunday River reveals why it takes 3.5 hours to put cabins back on the Chondola after a windstorm.
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  • Stella, the only six-pack in Idaho, was named and themed by a former Disney imagineer.
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  • Speaking of the Ikon Pass, it now includes 400 lifts with new partners Revelstoke, Sugarbush, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay for $899.

Schweitzer Commits to Two New Lifts in 2019

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Outback Bowl at Schweitzer is currently serviced by three lifts, the longest of which will be replaced by two new ones in 2019.

Pacific Northwest favorite Schweitzer Mountain Resort will replace one long double with two new chairlifts in 2019, says CEO Tom Chasse.  The first lift will service the lower two thirds of the current Snow Ghost double, a 1971 Riblet with a 13-minute ride time.  The second one will replace Snow Ghost’s upper segment, servicing the Lakeside Chutes in a new alignment topping out near the new Sky House restaurant.  “We don’t have enough lift capacity right now,” Chasse told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.  “We think it’s going to be a draw and will bring in more people.”  The Bonner County Daily reported Schweitzer wanted to replace the nearly 2,000′ vertical lift a year ago but the $6-8 million project depended on financing becoming available.  Schweitzer completed a project very similar to this one in 2007, replacing the lower section of Chair 1 with a high-speed quad and the upper section with a realigned Doppelmayr CTEC triple.

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Snow Ghost is a sweet lift but its time will soon come.

Outback Bowl has a cool lift history.  The current Snow Ghost lift used to be called Chair 6 and went from the very bottom of the bowl to the Siberia Runout.  You can still see the old lift line in person and on the trail map.  In 1987, the entire machine was moved to start and end higher with a mid-station added, leaving the lower part of Outback serviced only by Chair 5.  That lift was replaced by a uniquely-themed six-pack called Stella in 2000.  Schweitzer skiers can enjoy another season and a half of Snow Ghost but 2019 can’t come soon enough!  No word yet on specific models or a manufacturer for the new lifts.

News Roundup: Replacements

  • Suit filed against Ski Liberty by family of boy who dangled from a chair for seven minutes after mis-loading.
  • Mi Teleférico’s four gondola lines transported 194,971 passengers last Wednesday, an impressive single day record.
  • Squaw|Alpine now wants an extension of permit for replacing Hot Wheels.
  • Doppelmayr remembers past CEO Artur Doppelmayr, who died May 12th.
  • Apparently the Utah Olympic Park is adding two new chairlifts this summer, although I am still trying to confirm.
  • Steamboat’s gondola rebuild is taking longer than expected and reopening has been pushed back two weeks to July 15th.
  • Vail Resorts will re-use chairs and towers from Keystone’s Montezuma Express in building the new Red Buffalo Express at Beaver Creek.
  • Saddleback Mountain Foundation needs $11.2 million to purchase Maine’s third largest ski area, including $3.2 million to replace the Rangeley lift with a fixed-grip quad.  So far, the group has only raised a fraction of that amount.
  • Sunday River’s new Spruce Peak triple will be a Doppelmayr Tristar, Boyne Resorts’ fourth.
  • Schweitzer works toward $6-8 million Snow Ghost replacement.
  • “It is not rocket science about lift geometry,” Aspen Council member says in frustration re: Lift 1A. “There is enough expertise in this community to know where a lift goes.”
  • Mont Ripley offers $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of arsonist(s) who damaged lift.
  • Longtime Whistler Blackcomb COO and Peak 2 Peak visionary Dave Brownlie is leaving to pursue new opportunities just seven months into Vail ownership.

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