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Lookout Pass Ski Area Plans Upgrades

The Lookout Pass Ski Area is hoping its upgrades this summer will excite downhill skiers next winter.

The Montana-Idaho border ski area will add 40 acres and another run to its current 100 skiable acres.

Clearing of trees and grading hill side surfaces will begin next month surrounding a 1,000-foot-long half pipe for snowboarders and skiers.

All improvements are to be ready by November.

The project is part of Lookout Recreation Inc.’s 15-year plan to pull in more than 50,000 skiers a year.

That includes adding a second chairlift, expanding the lodge and ski shop area and, by the year 2011, having a 20-unit condominium unit next to the lodge.

“Right now, it’s all in the planning stage,” said Dean Cooper, co-owner and the ski area marketing director. “It will take a while.”

Cooper naturally hopes the end result for this small cedar wood lodge with a worn wooden deck will be profitable.

A recent National Ski Area Association economic study shows that the resorts that are the most profitable have either about 50,000 or more than a million skier visits a season, Cooper said.

Right now the small lodge, owned by Cooper and fellow partners Jim Fowler and Don Walde, attracts just 25,000 skiers and has struggled to make a profit in the challenging Inland Northwest ski industry.

The three owners, who also have a bike and ski shop in Post Falls, bought the ski area in 1992.

They say they’re not trying to make it into a destination ski area, some Sun Valley or Vail, Cooper said. “Our niche is as a small family area. No high-speed quads (lifts). We cater to the mom and dad with 2.6 kids market.”

, DataTimes

Tags: business