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Schweitzer Mountain
Schweitzer Mountain is located in Idaho
Schweitzer Mountain
Schweitzer Mountain
Location in Idaho
Schweitzer Mountain is located in the United States
Schweitzer Mountain
Schweitzer Mountain
Location in the United States
Location Bonner County, Idaho, U.S.
Nearest city Sandpoint
11 miles (18 km)
Spokane, Washington
80 miles (130 km)
Coordinates 48°22′01″N 116°37′23″W / 48.367°N 116.623°W / 48.367; -116.623
Vertical 2,440 ft (744 m)
Top elevation 6,400 ft (1,951 m)
Base elevation 3,960 ft (1,207 m)
lowest chair - Stella
4,700 ft (1,433 m)
main village
Skiable area 2,900 acres (11.7 km2)
Runs 92
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg - 20% beginner
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg - 40% intermediate
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg - 35% advanced
Ski trail rating symbol-double black diamond.svg - 5% expert
Longest run Little Blue Ridge
2.1 miles (3.4 km)
Lift system 10 chairlifts
- 1 high-speed six-pack
- 3 high-speed quads
- 2 triples
- 2 doubles
- 2 surface tows
Lift capacity 15,900 / hour
Terrain parks 3
Snowfall 300 in (760 cm)
Snowmaking 200 acres (0.81 km2)
Night skiing 2 chairlifts

Schweitzer Mountain Resort is a ski resort in the northwest United States in northern Idaho, 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Sandpoint. Located in Bonner County 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 (70 km) south of the Canada–US border.

Schweitzer Mountain has a summit elevation of 6,400 feet (1,951 m) above sea level with a vertical drop of 2,440 feet (744 m). There are 92 named runs and open bowls on Schweitzer's skiable area of 2,900 acres (11.7 km2), served by 10 lifts. The average annual snowfall is over 300 inches (760 cm). The longest continuous groomed run is Little Blue Ridge Run, at 2.1 miles (3.4 km), and the uphill lift capacity is 15,900 passengers per hour.


Humble Beginnings

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, but his name remains with the mountain.

Skiing at Schweitzer began as early as 1933, but the ski area opened thirty years later as "Schweitzer Basin" in the fall of 1963. Dr. Jack Fowler of Spokane was an avid skier and frequently drove to The Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana, in the late 1950s; he looked for a closer alternative and had noticed the snow-laden mountain on many of his trips. After several years of garnering support in the Sandpoint area, the ski area was launched. Opening day was December 4, with a day lodge at 4,700 feet (1,433 m) and a mile-long (1.6 km) double chairlift, which provided 1,700 feet (518 m) of vertical drop; a T-bar lift was added a month later. In 1991, Jack Fowler wrote Looking Back on Schweitzer: The History of Schweitzer Mountain Resort with co-author Ross Woodward, covering the history of the resort from his inspiration in the 1960s to the plans for the 1990/91 ski season.

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. It was immediately popular with regional skiers, and tallied 55,000 visits in its fourth season. A second T-bar was added in 1965, another in 1967, and three chairlifts (Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear) were added in the fall of 1968, relocating T-bars and rope tows.

The back area of Colburn Basin was developed in 1971 with two more chairlifts (#5 & #6) and a small day lodge, the Out Back Inn. More construction in 1972 added a base area restaurant, 36-unit overnight lodge, and a 20-unit condominium building. 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. General manager Wormington left in 1977 for Mt. Spokane and was succeeded by Pierre Huguenin, and the area soon dropped the "Basin" from its name and became just "Schweitzer."

The Brown Years

For its first two decades, the ski area was a non-profit corporation, with hundreds of stockholders. Co-founder Jim Brown, Jr., a sawmill owner from Sandpoint, took it private in the early 1980s. 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.

When 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 in the fall of 1990, as well as lights 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 (10.1 km2).

In 2003, the mountain added a new dimension to its array of services, Selkirk Powder Company aka Selkirk Powder, a State of Idaho licensed outfitter and guide service. Selkirk Powder is an independent concession founded by Ken Barrett and Chip Kamin (d 2013). Selkirk Powder Company operates on Schweitzer private property outside of the ski area boundary and the abutting Priest Lake State Forest. Selkirk Powder began guided tour operations with snowmobile tours from the summit of Schweitzer into the Priest River Valleys. Selkirk Powder began offering snowcat skiing in 2007. In 2017 Selkirk Powder began offering helicopter skiing.

McCaw's Schweitzer

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 (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 2-to-4-acre (0.8 to 1.6 ha) 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.

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 early 2013, discussion turned to an expansion of the White Pine Lodge with twenty new units on the south side of the building, near the current main parking lot. Sales of those additional units began in 2013, with three sold in the first month on the market, but additional sales lagged and the project was shelved.

Present Development

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. The Mill Building houses ski rental/repair and a retail shop, The Source. The day lodge in the village, 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. There are two additional day lodges on the mountain. Sky House, which operates both winter and summer at the top of the Great Escape lift, houses ski patrol, restrooms, a counter service restaurant (Red Hawk Cafe, operates in winter only), and a full-service restaurant and bar (The Nest). The Outback Inn, near the base of the Stella lift, has cafeteria service and restrooms.

In 2019, plans for a 30-unit boutique hotel in the village were announced, with construction beginning that summer. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the projected opening of this hotel one year until the 2021/22 winter season, though some construction was done during the summer of 2020.


Elevation & Geography

  • Village Elevation: 4,700 ft (1,433 m) - Main Village
  • Summit Elevation: 6,400 ft (1,951 m) - Top of Great Escape Quad
  • Bottom Lift Elevation: 3,960 ft (1,207 m) - Outback Inn
  • Vertical Feet: 2,440 ft (744 m)
  • 2,000–4,400 ft (610–1,341 m) above the surrounding land

Terrain & Snow

  • 300 inches (760 cm) of snowfall
  • 2,900 acres (12 km2) skiable inbounds
  • 10% beginner
  • 40% intermediate
  • 35% advanced
  • 15% expert
  • 32 km (20 mi) of nordic trails (winter: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking)
  • > 40 km (25 mi) of hiking and biking trails (summer)

Current Lifts

  • Basin Express - (1063 ft rise, 4 min) Doppelmayr CTEC High Speed Detachable Quad - (2007) - took the place of lower portion of former Chair One
  • Lakeview Triple - (710 ft rise, 4.5 min) Doppelmayr CTEC Fixed Grip Triple - (2007) - took the place of top portion of former Chair One
  • Musical Chairs - (592 ft rise, 6 min) Riblet Fixed Grip Double - (1968, moved to its present location in 1990)
  • Great Escape - (1678 ft rise, 5 min) Lift Engineering/Doppelmayr High Speed Detachable Quad - (1990, retrofitted in 1997)
  • Sunnyside - (1280 ft rise, 8 min) Riblet Fixed Grip Double - (1968) - formerly known as Chair 4, operates on busier days only
  • Stella - (1550 ft rise, 5.5 min) Garaventa CTEC High Speed Detachable Six-Pack - (2000)
  • Cedar Park Express - (1447 ft rise, 5 min) Leitner-Poma High Speed Detachable Quad - (2019)
  • Colburn Triple - (1360 ft rise, 8 min) SkyTrac (division of Leitner-Poma) Fixed Grip Triple - (2019)
  • Idyle Our - (160 ft rise, 4 min) Doppelmayr CTEC T-Bar (2005)
  • Musical Carpet - (100 ft rise, 4 min) Sunkid Magic Carpet (2005)
  • Happy Trails - Handle Tow (1990s, moved to its present location in 2005) - used for tubing attraction

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"
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