Base Camp at Schweitzer to Debut with New High Speed Quad

The most significant infrastructure project in the history of Schweitzer Mountain Resort is underway and will see its first new chairlift next summer. Dubbed Base Camp, the all-new day skier portal will eventually feature a 1,400 parking spaces, a day lodge, access road, three new lifts and trail connections to Schweitzer’s existing terrain. As Idaho’s largest ski area, Schweitzer already offers nearly 3,000 acres of skiing. However, the Inland Northwest region is growing rapidly and guests today funnel through one base area. “To keep up with demand and continue providing an exceptional guest arrival experience, we prioritized looking for solutions that directly affected parking and mountain access,” explained Mountain Operations Director Rob Batchelder. “I’m very excited about this third phase of Master Plan development and believe Base Camp is a unique solution intended to get people on the mountain efficiently,” he continued.

Schweitzer placed a deposit with Leitner-Poma in the spring for a new detachable quad to replace the Musical Chairs double in 2023. The high speed lift will service beginner terrain and provide egress from the future base area to the current village. A skier bridge across Schweitzer Creek will be built simultaneously with the new, longer lift. “The installation of a high-speed detachable quad will be a major enhancement for all of our guests,” said Batchelder. “Not only will it be easier for beginner skiers and riders to load and unload, the new lift will increase capacity to 2,400 guests per hour, allowing guests to upload and download safer and more efficiently. It will also provide the opportunity to transport foot passengers without skis or snowboards to and from the village, even in summer,” he continued. While the new parking lot and lodge may not be ready for the 2023-24 season, the new lift and first new run will be.

Schweitzer’s 2018 Master Plan, which differs slightly from the latest Base Camp plan.

Down the road, a second new detachable will connect Base Camp to the Stella saddle, separating beginner and village-bound guests from other skiers. This nearly 7,000 foot long lift will also allow day skiers to access the backside of the mountain without the need to ride the popular Great Escape Quad. Plans call for additional snowmaking and lifts as buildout continues. “The vision for Base Camp is to become a dedicated area for our day-guests, perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers and riders, with ample parking and additional rental and SnowSports school facilities,” says Schweitzer’s master plan website. “Across the country, ski resorts have continuously faced challenges associated with growth and increased demand. The new Base Camp project is not only a big deal for our growing community, it’s a big deal for the industry, and as of the last independently owned resorts, Schweitzer’s future is very bright.”

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  • The Forest Service issues a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lutsen Mountains’ proposed expansion with public comments being solicited through October 25th. A new alternative would see the addition of five new chairlifts on Moose and Eagle Mountains rather than the initially planned seven.
  • The only lift in Oklahoma won’t open for the second year in a row and is in danger of removal.
  • Schweitzer adds 14 chairs to Stella.
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Schweitzer Joins Ikon, Plans Lift Improvements

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.

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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.

MasterPlanMap1 (1)

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.”

schweitzer-hotel-arrival-view-2019

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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