Over the summer, work began on a new base area at Schweitzer in Sandpoint, Idaho, that will change the way day-skiing visitors experience the mountain. The first phase of the project, dubbed the Base Camp project, includes a new chairlift, a 1,400-space parking lot, and a new road that will connect to Schweitzer Mountain Road from the existing roundabout.
Construction on phase one is currently underway and expected to be completed for the 2023/2024 season. Future developments in the area will include additional skier services like rentals, SnowSports School, and a day lodge; expanded beginner terrain that will increase Schweitzer’s overall skiable acres from 2,900 acres to approximately 3,050 acres; and three new chairlifts.
Schweitzer’s Master Plan & The Base Camp
The Base Camp improvements at Schweitzer are part of the resort’s multi-year master plan that was launched in 2017, and one of the most obvious challenges in recent years is the need for more and better parking.
“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,” explains mountain operations director Rob Batchelder.
The vision for Base Camp is to become a dedicated area for day guests, perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers and riders, with ample parking and services.
“When fully realized, the development of Base Camp will create approximately eight new runs, three new lifts and an additional carpet catering to beginner and intermediate skiers and riders,” adds Batchelder.
One of the proposed lifts from Base Camp will connect to the saddle area between Down the Hatch and the top terminal of the Stella lift, making it possible to access the back side of the mountain without needing to pass through the main village or ride the Great Escape quad.
One of the key differentiators for this arrival zone is that the lift and the parking will be on similar elevations, meaning when guests arrive to Base Camp, they will not have to walk up a hill to access the lift—a huge benefit for parents with kids.
New High-Speed Quad to Replace Musical Chairs Lift
In addition to the new 1,400 parking spots (nearly four times the capacity of the current Fall Line Lot), the coolest piece of the plan especially for families and beginners is the replacement of the Musical Chairs double chairlift.
In the spring of 2022, a down payment was made with Leitner-Poma for the purchase of a new high-speed detachable quad lift, similar to the Cedar Park Express. Alignment for the new Musical Chairs lift will shift to connect Base Camp to the main village, spanning over Schweitzer Creek and ending near the SnowSports School meeting area in the village.
“The installation of a high-speed detachable quad will be a major enhancement for all of our guests,” says 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 (2-3 times the existing capacity), 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.”
The goal is to have the new Musical Chairs lift operational for the 2023/2024 winter season with access via the Fall Line parking lot, the Village and Happy Trails run, and the new yet-to-be-named run.
Learn more about Schweitzer’s master plan at Schweitzer.com/schweitzer-life/master-plan.
Originally published as “Schweitzer’s Game Changer” in the November-December 2022 print issue.