|Location||Bonner County, Idaho
11 miles - (18 km)
80 miles - (130 km)
|Vertical||2440 ft - (744 m)|
|Top elevation||6400 ft - (1951 m)|
|Base elevation||3960 ft - (1207 m)
lowest chair - Stella
4700 ft - (1432 m)
|Skiable area||2,900 acres (12 km2)|
- 20% beginner
- 40% intermediate
- 35% advanced
- 5% expert
|Longest run||Little Blue Ridge
1.7 miles (2.7 km)
|Lift system||7 chairlifts
- 1 high-speed six-pack
- 2 high-speed quads
- 1 triple
- 3 doubles
3 surface tows
|Lift capacity||12,502 / hour|
|Snowfall||300 inches (760 cm)|
|Snowmaking||200 acres (0.81 km2)|
|Night skiing||2 chairlifts|
Schweitzer Mountain Resort is the largest ski resort in [Idaho] or [Washington]. "Schweitzer" is in the northern Idaho, 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Sandpoint in Bonner County. Located in the Selkirk Mountains, it overlooks Lake Pend Oreille to the southeast with views of the Bitterroot and Cabinet mountain ranges. The ski area is approximately 45 miles (72 km) south of the Canadian border.
Schweitzer Mountain has a summit elevation of 6400 feet (1951 m) above sea level with a vertical drop of 2440 feet (744 m). The average annual snowfall is over 300 inches (762 cm). There are 92 named runs and open bowls on Schweitzer's skiable area of 2,900 acres (12 km2). The longest continuous groomed run is Little Blue Ridge Run, at 1.7 miles (2.7 km). Schweitzer's uphill lift capacity is 12,502 people per hour.
Seven chairlifts (a high-speed six-pack, two high-speed quads, 1 fixed-grip triple, and 3 doubles) and 3 surface tows serve terrain rated at 20% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced, and 5% expert. The slopes on the front side (Schweitzer Basin) face east and south, those on the back side (Colburn Basin) face mostly northeast.
- 1 History
- 2 Present Development
- 3 Statistics
- 4 Looking Back on Schweitzer: The History of Schweitzer Mountain Resort
- 5 In the Press
- 6 External links
The peak known as "Schweitzer Mountain" was named after an old Swiss hermit who lived at the bottom of the basin (Schweizer is German for "Swiss"). He had been in the Swiss military, and, as part of a crime investigation, his house was searched. It yielded the bodies of numerous local cats that had gone missing. According to local legend, the man enjoyed cat stew; as a result, Mr. Schweitzer was soon hauled off to the asylum and forgotten. His name remains.
Skiing at Schweitzer began as early as 1933, but it was not until December 4, 1963 that it proudly opened as Schweitzer Basin, with a day lodge at 4700 feet (1432 m) and a mile long (1.6 km) double chairlift, which provided 1700 feet (518 m) of vertical drop. During the 1960s Schweitzer made a profit in only one year. Initially planned as a weekend-only ski area, it was operated seven days a week at the insistence of Sam Wormington, the area's first general manager. Three chairlifts were added in 1967, replacing T-bars and rope tows, and the back area of Colburn Basin was developed in 1971 with two more lifts. The road to the resort was paved in 1973 and Chairlift #7 was added in the summer of 1974 to add capacity to the front side and eliminate the uphill trek to Chair #1. Summer chairlift rides were begun in 1986, and in 1988 the ski area was renamed Schweitzer Mountain Resort, and it began offering hiking trains and mountain bike rentals.
The Brown Years
When owner (and co-founder) Jim Brown died in April 1989, his daughter, Bobbie Huguenin, took over the family business. Under her leadership, Schweitzer focused on becoming a destination resort; many additions and improvements were accomplished, including the replacement of the original lodge with the new 3-story Headquarters Day Lodge. A detachable quad chairlift was installed in 1991 and lights were installed for night skiing. Huguenin also saw the construction of the 82-room Green Gables Lodge. Ultimately, the Brown family ran out of operating cash and was unable to market the resort as a destination alternative. In November 1996, the resort was put into receivership, filing for bankruptcy the following year.
Harbor Takes the Helm
On December 31, 1998, Harbor Properties purchased Schweitzer Mountain Resort from U.S. Bank for the sum of $18 million. The Seattle-based company, operators of Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge (sold in 2003) ski areas in Washington, made immediate improvements by providing equipment for slope management. The Green Gables lodge was extensively remodeled, individual units were offered for sale, and the complex re-opened as the Selkirk Lodge. A six-passenger chairlift (Stella) was installed in the summer of 2000, serving the Northwest Territory in Colburn Basin. The high-speed Stella six-pack replaced chairlift #5, a fixed grip double. With the addition of Stella, the resort totaled 2,500 acres (10 km2).
In July 2005, the mountain's ownership status changed again when Harbor Resorts' ownership was dissolved, leaving the resort with a sole owner—McCaw Investment Group, or MIG, of Seattle. This allowed for the addition of the Idyl-Our T-Bar, the Hermit's Hollow Tubing Center, and a SunKid Magic Carpet in time for the 2005-06 season. The Idyle-Our T-Bar/Little Blue expansion added 400 acres (1.6 km²), five new named trails, and increased backcountry and sidecountry opportunities.
In February 2007, Schweitzer announced an ambitious expansion program. Included was a $6 million lift expansion, primarily the replacement of the original lift at the resort, Chair One, with two lifts: a high-speed detachable quad, the Basin Express, on the lower portion, and a fixed-grip triple lift, the Lakeview Triple, on the upper portion. The Basin Express uses the old Chair Seven liftline, to the right of Chair One's. (Former Chairs Two, Three, & Seven were removed in the 1990 to make way for construction on the Great Escape Quad; they roughly paralleled Chair One, but did not reach the summit.) The chairs were installed in the summer of 2007. Also included in the program was a Lakeview Lodge remodel, increased snowmaking and new grooming capacity, new chairs on the Great Escape Quad, and $2 million for infrastructure and planning for future expansions.
Also in 2007, Schweitzer Mountain Land & Timber Company, the real estate arm of Schweitzer Mountain Resort, released 35 new ski-in/ski-out lots, approved for 1-4 units per lot, for sale in the Trapper's Creek-1 subdivision. By winter of 2007-08, heated roads, skier underpasses and utilities were installed. Late in 2008 it was decided that all real estate offerings by Schweitzer be put on hold until further notice, due to the ongoing financial crisis and "the fact that much of life around here revolves around skiing." Schweitzer Mountain Real Estate (dba Schweitzer Land & Timber Company) was merged with New Schweitzer, LLC, giving President and CEO Tom Chasse more power regarding the overall "experience" of the resort and how the real estate fits in with the skiing. Once development begins again, the next real estate release after Trapper's Creek will likely be the first homesites in the GreyHawk neighborhood, a single-family development pad below Musical Chairs with two to 4-acre (16,000 m2) lots.
In addition to the Trapper's Creek and GreyHawk neighborhoods, Schweitzer was also looking in 2008 for outside developers to build up to five new condominium buildings in Schweitzer village with up to 50 units each, similar to the White Pine Lodge. The parcels were put on the market with Schweitzer Land & Timber Company, only to be removed a few months later.
In late 2009, the resort began construction on Mountainside at Schweitzer—a re-envisioned Trapper's Creek. Three fractional ownership LEED-certified homes and one LEED-certified full ownership home were completed in the spring of 2009. Special attention has been paid to the environment, with local building materials, geothermal heating, and an architectural style that evokes northern Idaho. It is unclear whether all new homes in Mountainside at Schweitzer will be LEED-certified. Thirty lots remain to be developed.
Schweitzer's village currently contains two condominium-hotels: The Selkirk Lodge and The White Pine Lodge. The Selkirk Lodge features traditional hotel-style rooms, some with Kitchenettes, and others with bunk beds, called "Family Suites." The White Pine Lodge features one-, two-, and four-bedroom units with full kitchens and lofts. Hundreds of private residences and condominiums are also available throughout the lower and upper village. One day lodge, the Lakeview Lodge, houses ticket sales, the Season Pass Office, Guest Services, Taps (a full-service bar), the Lakeview Cafe (a cafeteria), Cabinet Mountain Coffee (a coffee shop), ski patrol and daycare services.
While capital expenditure projects at Schweitzer during winter 2009-2011 were largely subdued infrastructure and customer service improvements (including a new website and mobile presence, a renewed commitment to customer service, and a new family-centric lodging program dubbed "The Schweitzer Difference"), the summer of 2012 was marked by more significant and visible development. The exterior of the Mill Building, one of the oldest buildings remaining in Schweitzer Village, was extensively remodeled and repainted. On the inside, the Ski & Ride Center was revamped, featuring a more logical flow from registration to rentals and lessons. Gourmandie was expanded with new space and artisanal food options. The Great Escape Quad received a new electrical system, increasing its reliability and efficiency. Finally, the Musical Chairs double was extensively rebuilt, with a new drive, new paint, and new chairs featuring restraining bars.
In the village, discussion has turned to an expansion of the White Pine Lodge with twenty to thirty new units on the south side of the building, near the current Lakeview Parking Lot. Such development would be subject to approval, but construction could begin, pending economic analysis, as early as spring 2013. As the resort approaches its fiftieth anniversary in December 2013, a range of expansion and improvement opportunities are assumed to be on the table.
Elevation & Geography
- Village Elevation: 4,700 ft (1,400 m) - Main Village
- Summit Elevation: 6,400 ft (2,000 m) - Top of Great Escape Quad
- Bottom Lift Elevation: 3,960 ft (1,210 m) - Outback Inn
- Vertical Feet: 2,440 ft (740 m)
- 2000–4400 ft. (610–1341 m) above the surrounding land
Terrain & Snow
- 300 inches of snowfall
- 2,900 acres (12 km2) skiable inbounds
- 20% beginner
- 40% intermediate
- 35% advanced
- 5% expert
- > 40 kilometres (25 mi) of hiking and biking trails (summer)
- No. 1 - Basin Express - Doppelmayr CTEC High Speed Detachable Quad - (2007) - lower portion of former Chair One
- N/A - Lakeview - Doppelmayr CTEC Fixed Grip Triple - (2007) - top portion of former Chair One
- No. 2 - Musical Chairs - Riblet Fixed Grip Double - (1968, moved to its present location in 1990)
- No. 3 - Great Escape - Lift Engineering/Doppelmayr High Speed Detachable Quad - (1990, retrofitted in 1997)
- No. 4 - Sunnyside - Riblet Fixed Grip Double - (1968)
- No. 5 - Stella - Garaventa CTEC High Speed Detachable Six-Pack - (2000)
- No. 6 - Snow Ghost - Riblet Fixed Grip Double (1971, moved to its present location in 1988)
- No. 7 - Idyle-Our - Doppelmayr CTEC T-Bar (2005)
- No. 8 - Musical Carpet - Sunkid Magic Carpet (2005)
- No. 9 - Happy Trails - Handle Tow (1990s, moved to its present location in 2005)
Selkirk Powder Company
In 2005, the mountain added a new dimension to its array of terrain. Selkirk Powder Company offers 3,000 acres (12 km2) of cat-skiing terrain on the north and west facing slopes of Schweitzer Peak and the surrounding area. An average run is approximately 1200 vertical feet and the longest is approximately 2200 vertical feet. Also offering snowmobile tours, Selkirk Powder Company operates primarily on Schweitzer-owned land, meaning there is a potential for lift expansion on Big Blue and the north/west-facing slopes in the future.
Looking Back on Schweitzer: The History of Schweitzer Mountain Resort
One of the first people to truly realize the potential of Schweitzer Basin as a ski area, Dr. Jack Fowler, a Spokane dentist, wrote a book about the resort in the 1990s. Looking Back on Schweitzer: The History of Schweitzer Mountain Resort focuses on the early stage of Schweitzer's development into a ski area. The first time Fowler saw the mountain was on the way back from a dismal ski trip to Big Mountain in Montana. While stopping to stretch in Hope, Idaho, Fowler's eyes fell upon Schweitzer Basin and found the snow that he did not find at Big Mountain (now Whitefish Mountain Resort). That basin stayed in his mind until he entered it on foot and skis--on Memorial Day--to test out the skiing. He was impressed, and thus became a prime mover for the ski resort.
In the Press
- "#21 in the USA" - 2007 Skiing Magazine Reader Resort Survey
- "#3 in the USA for Tree Skiing" - 2007 Skiing Magazine Reader Resort Survey
- "Best Resort in the Inland Northwest" - The Inlander Reader's Poll, 13 years running
- "Big Slopes and small-town charm at Northern Idaho's up-and-coming resort." - Sunset Magazine, Dec. 2003
- "#3 in the USA for Lifts" - SKI Magazine, October 2008
- "Best Place to Ditch the Crowds" - Skiing Magazine - October 2008"
- Schweitzer.com - official site
- Ski Lifts.org - photos of Schweitzer Mountain's lifts
- Idaho Winter.org - official state tourism site
- Schweitzer turns 40, Dec-2003 - Sandpoint Online.com - Winter 2004
- Schweitzer Mountain History by Bob Gunter - Sandpoint.com
- TerraServer USA.com - USGS topo map and aerial photo