On August 22, Alterra Mountain Company announced that it had finalized its acquisition of Schweitzer Mountain in Sandpoint, Idaho. It’s the most recent addition to the brand’s growing collection of year-round mountain destinations.
Schweitzer has been a partner with Alterra for several years. Previously, Ikon Pass holders were allotted 5 days at Schweitzer per season. Now, however, Alterra Mountain Company officially owns the resort, so full pass holders will have unlimited Schweitzer days.
“With [this acquisition], we are excited to expand our presence within the Pacific Northwest skier market,” Jared Smith, President & CEO of Alterra Mountain Company, said in a press release.
This acquisition is the latest in a decades-long string from Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company. Both corporations have increased their resort holdings year over year, and while that pattern has some undeniable benefits for consumers and local businesses, locals have pointed out downsides, too.
Alterra Mountain Company’s Newest Year-Round Destination
Located in Northern Idaho, Schweitzer offers some of the best skiing in the state and has since 1998. From the mountain, you can see Lake Pend Oreille and into Washington state, Montana, and Canada.
It is the largest ski area in Idaho, offering 2,900 acres of high-angle groomers, gladed tree runs, as well as wide-open bowl skiing and riding. GearJunkie has called its mountain biking an “under-the-radar gem.” And the mountain itself is renowned for its family-friendly vibes.
“Today Schweitzer begins a new chapter as part of the Alterra family and we couldn’t be more excited,” Tom Chasse, President & CEO of Schweitzer, said in a press release of the acquisition. “Looking ahead, we will continue to evolve and provide the best family-friendly mountain experience in the region, while upholding the unique values and culture that we’re known for.”
With the closing of Alterra’s acquisition, Schweitzer becomes the 17th mountain under the company’s ownership. Full Ikon Pass holders will now have unlimited access to Schweitzer throughout the season. But Ikon Base Pass holders will continue to have just 5 days on their passes. According to Alterra, Schweitzer pass holders will also be contacted in October 2023 to learn about their pass options.
What Does This Mean for Schweitzer?
Schweizer is the most recent acquisition by Alterra and its competitor Vail Resorts. Starting in 1997, Vail purchased Keystone and Breckenridge resorts and subsequently expanded over the following decades to absorb numerous others. Alterra was formed in 2018 when Aspen Skiing Company and KSL jointly purchased Intrawest and started doing the same.
This pattern of corporate conglomeration has been a double-edged sword for the ski community and the resorts being gobbled up. On the one hand, corporate ownership opens up access to much deeper coffers and more extensive resources. It also means locals who purchase the Ikon Pass will have a cost-effective way to access Schweitzer as well as 50 other Ikon mountain destinations.
On the other hand, corporate acquisition means more visits from non-local Ikon or Epic Pass holders. At places like Crested Butte, that’s resulted in parking problems, and crowd sizes the resort never saw prior to its acquisition.
As far as management goes, Alterra is leaving Chasse, Schweitzer’s CEO, in charge of daily operations and the resort’s significant future improvement plans. The corporation is also leaving the owner and developer of Schweitzer, MKM Capital, to oversee non-ski operations and real estate holdings, and to lead future real estate development projects.