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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Schweitzer Mountain sells resort operations to Alterra

A skier rides up the Cedar Park Express at Schweitzer Mountain in 2020.  (Eli Francovich/The Spokesman-Review)

The owners of Schweitzer Mountain Resort have sold its ski operations to Colorado-based Alterra Mountain Company, which controls 16 other ski destinations, including Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado and Crystal Mountain in Washington.

The resort, located northwest of Sandpoint, has been owned by the MKM Trust since 2005. According to a news release, Tom Chasse, president and CEO of Schweitzer, will continue to oversee daily operations.

In 2021, the ski resort joined the Ikon Pass network that connects skiers to resorts all across the U.S. and the world. That service is operated by Alterra.

“Since becoming an Ikon Pass partner in 2021, we’ve had the good fortune of learning how Alterra Mountain Company has quickly evolved into an industry leader,” Chasse said in the release. “The company’s commitment to preserving the authenticity of their mountain communities while investing in the overall mountain experience is what we’re most looking forward to as the newest member of the Alterra family.”

Schweitzer’s first public chairlift opened in December 1963. The 2,900-acre resort has had a handful of owners over the last 60 years. On its website, Schweitzer credits skier Jack Fowler as its founding father. Jim Brown, one of the initial investors, led much of the resort’s early expansion.

The MKM Trust became sole owner of Schweitzer in 2005 after a split with joint-owner Harbor Properties. At the time of the split, Harbor Properties became the sole owner of Stevens Pass near Leavenworth.

The MKM Trust represented the estate of Keith McCaw, who died in 2003. He had made his fortune as a stock holder in the McCaw Cellular Communications, a company that was built by his brother Craig McCaw. AT&T purchased McCaw Cellular in 1995 for $11.5 billion, according to newspaper archives.

Since 2005, the owners pumped more than $100 million into Schweitzer, including five new lifts, the Sky House day lodge, 31-unit boutique hotel Humbird and a wellness spa. On top of those new investments, Schweitzer owns multiple on-mountain hotels and condos.

Schweitzer features 92 ski trails in winter and 40 miles of biking trails in summer. According to the company website, the mountain receives 300 inches of snow every year.

A daily ski pass for an adult in 2022-23 costs $100-110. An adult season pass for 2023-24 will cost $999 to $1,049.

“With an incredible mountain in one of the most beautiful settings in the country and a world-class operating team, Schweitzer has everything we look for in a destination,” Jared Smith, president and CEO of Alterra, said in the news release. “The mountain has been a valued partner on the Ikon Pass for several seasons so we’ve been able to see the exceptional team, community, and opportunities for continued investment up close.”

Headquartered in Denver, Alterra operates Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado; Palisades Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Valley in California; Stratton Mountain and Sugarbush Resort in Vermont; Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia; Tremblant in Quebec, Canada; Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada; Crystal Mountain in Washington; Deer Valley Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah; and CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia.

The transfer of ownership is expected to close later in 2023, and is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The companies indicated that more details will be released once the transaction has closed.

Efforts to reach officials at Schweitzer on Thursday were not immediately successful.

Reporter Colin Tiernan contributed to this report.