Missoula Events

Hamilton Lion’s Club offers ski bus to Lost Trail Powder Mountain

The Hamilton Lions Club, which has sponsored the ski bus program for  local youth since 1975, will once again be sponsoring the ski bus to Lost Trail Powder Mountain along with co-sponsor Big Sky Eye Care. The bus will run on Saturdays, Jan. 10, 17, 24, 31 and Feb. 7, 14, 21. Departure is at the  Westview Center, Hamilton. Load at 8:00 a.m.and leave at 8:30 a.m.  Return to bus at 3:30PM and leave mountain 4:00PM sharp. The bus will be back to Westview by 5:00PM. Parents, Guardians please be there to pick up!


The cost is $10 per rider. You can also buy ski tickets for the following prices:

Discounted Ticket Prices (purchased on the Bus):

Under 13                                $20.00

13 and older                          $30.00

                                                Adults Welcome                   $30.00

David Bacon of Missoula got some air on Thursday, the opening day of the 75th season at Lost Trail Powder Mountain on the Montana/Idaho border south of Darby. DAVID ERICKSON - Ravalli Republic

David Bacon of Missoula got some air on Thursday, the opening day of the 75th season at Lost Trail Powder Mountain on the Montana/Idaho border south of Darby.
DAVID ERICKSON – Ravalli Republic

Please bring exact amounts for riding and skiing

                                                Please NO checks

Policy :

1.  Ride up on bus & Ride back on bus, unless you have parents written permission prior to leaving.

2.     All skis and boards in a bag… carried in escort pickup boots and lunch bags carried on bus.

3.     If rental is needed a signed rental slip must accommodate the rider…sponsors cannot sign slips. Rental forms are available on the bus. Rental fees paid at lodge when getting equipment.


Bridger Bowl’s new lodge aimed at greener skiers, boarders

Coming off its biggest season ever, Bridger Bowl Ski Area will unveil the newly built 2,400-square-foot Alpine Cabin at a public ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m.

Bridger Bowl

Bridger Bowl

“It was a pet project of mine,” said Kristie McPhie, a member of the Bridger Bowl Foundation, which helped raise about half of the money for the $550,000 building. “It’s always been a long way to get to the bottom and the lodge to get warm, or to go to the bathroom.”
The facility off the Montagne’s Meadow run, located on the far north side of the ski area, will provide a place for beginner and intermediate skiers as well as ski school students to get out of the weather. The cabin is serviced by the Alpine Lift, one of two new lifts (the other is Powder Park) installed in time for last winter’s skiers and snowboarders.
The cabin is the last step in the planned improvements for that side of the mountain, outlined in the nonprofit ski area’s master plan, said Doug Wales, marketing manager for Bridger Bowl. He said the addition of the new lifts was one of the reasons Bridger had such a great season last year.
“It’s definitely provided a boost to our skier visits,” he said. “And with the cabin that has become a destination for a lot of visitors — there’s about 500 acres of terrain over there.”
The 2013-14 winter ended with about 217,000 skier visits to the mountain located northeast of Bozeman. That figure was up considerably from the previous high — 211,000 skier visits two years ago. Naturally, the mountain staff would like to top that figure again in this, its 60th season.
“That was a great winter and all indications suggest there’s plenty of interest this year,” Wales said. “Pass sales were strong, and we’ve got a lot of people excited about the new lifts.”
McPhie, a Bozeman interior designer, said a generous $70,000 donation from the Ric Jonas Foundation helped to kick-start the Alpine Cabin project.
“They transferred their foundation funds, which enabled us to get it built sooner,” she said. “It’s been a great partnership.”
Another $132,000 came from a Tourism Infrastructure Investment Program grant from the Montana Commerce Division. Private donors also pitched in with smaller contributions. The balance of the expense was paid for out of Bridger Bowl’s cash reserves.
Nate Heller’s Studio H Design in Bozeman was the architect for the cabin. He said his company donated “a ton of money and time” to the project because Bridger Bowl is Bozeman’s local ski area and his snowboarding staff wants to see the mountain thrive and grow. He noted that Bridger was able to use locally sourced materials — native rock and beetle-killed pine logs — as part of the construction materials to further reduce costs.
Pat Johnson, Bridger’s mountain manager for six years in the 1980s, also helped cut construction costs when he signed on as project manager for the Alpine Cabin.
“They actually still have some of the same equipment from when I was there,” he said, a compliment to the mountain’s maintenance staff.
With his knowledge of the area and Bridger Bowl’s equipment, Johnson was able to utilize Bridger’s excavators and bulldozers to do much of the site work and save money. It wasn’t all smooth going, though, he said. After pouring the footings in early June, the mountain received about 6 inches of rain, stalling the project until the area dried out at the end of the month. Luckily, a mild fall helped crews finish up in mid-October before snow flew.
“In June I was starting to sweat bullets,” Johnson said. “If we had an early fall, I wasn’t looking forward to hauling up material on SnoCats.”
The cabin’s design, with large windows looking south toward the rest of the mountain and the valley below, is more contemporary than Bridger’s other buildings. A 9,000-pound, soapstone Tulikivi stove will provide much of the heat for the structure, fueled by the many pine trees thinned to clear runs as well as those killed by beetles, Heller noted.
The cabin is already open to the public and offering limited food service such as sandwiches, soups and bratwursts. Beer and wine are also available.
Because last year was so popular at the ski hill — on some days the mountain staff was turning vehicles away because of a lack of parking — the ski area also expanded its parking by about 250 spaces by moving 45,000 yards of dirt from behind the ski patrol cabin.
From where the dirt was removed, the ski area staff will create a new, beginning ski area to provide a wider run and move some of those skiers away from the congested base area.
“That will give us more breathing room around the lodge,” Wales said.
After opening for the season on Dec. 5, following a large snowfall prior to Thanksgiving of about 15 inches, Wales said the ski area is holding snow well despite this past week’s warm weather.
“Now we’re just biding our time and looking for another layer,” he said, adding with a laugh that he had no idea when that might come. “I swore off forecasts a long time ago.”

Big Sky Resort announces educator weekend

On Dec. 19-21, Big Sky will offer half-off lift tickets and rentals to all educators and their immediate family. Proof of employment and family ID is required. Go to www.bigskyresort.com for more information.

Pro skier to host women-only ski clinic at Discovery Ski Area

DISCOVERY SKI AREA – This January 22nd and 23rd, pro skier Lisa Densmore Ballard returns to Discovery ski area to host “Your Turn,” a women’s only ski clinic, for the second year in a row. Participants can expect a full day of instruction and analysis by Lisa and her instructors. This includes individual on snow clinics and video review for each skier.
It’s not all work though! The day starts with continental breakfast, a ski demo paired with instruction, lunch falls in the middle, and finally the après-ski party! Expect food, fun, and prizes to go along with a full day of learning.
The clinic is limited to the first 64 women to sign up (32 per day) at bobwards.com. The cost is just $30 for the clinic. The lift ticket to Discovery Ski Area is extra. Season pass holders need only pay for the clinic. Due to the popularity of this event participants may sign up for either the 22nd or 23rd, but not both. The 2014 clinic sold out immediately so it is recommended that interested parties visit bobwards.com as soon as possible.
Lisa Densmore Ballard has been involved in many aspects of the ski world. A member of the U.S. Ski Team in the late 1970’s and a six-year veteran of the Women’s Pro Ski Tour in the 1980’s, Lisa has competed in ski racing for most of her life. Today, she is a standout on the master’s circuit, with 4 world titles and 80 national titles across all alpine disciplines. She has been the number one ranked skier in her age group and a member of the U.S. Alpine Masters Ski Team since she joined the master’s circuit 1991. In addition to competition, Lisa has been highly regarded ski instructor and coach for over 20 years.

The event is sponsored by Bob Ward’s, Elan Skis and Discovery Ski Area. Bob Ward’s is Montana’s oldest and largest sporting goods retailer celebrating 98 years in business in 2015. Bob Ward’s is still family owned and operated, with stores in Missoula, Bozeman, Butte, Helena, and Hamilton.

Lisa Densmore demonstrates a turn at one of her clinics.

Lisa Densmore demonstrates a turn at one of her clinics.

Local youth programs start at Big Sky Resort

Big Sky Resort’s progressive Youth Local Programs are a great way for kids from as little as three years old to 14 years old to be introduced to or improve ski and snowboard skills while they enjoy the winter outdoors. Early season registration discounts end December 14, 2014 and programs are filling up fast. Kids ten years old and younger ski free when enrolled in a youth program.
The Skiwees program is designed for three and four year olds and is ideal for first time skiers looking for a strong start or future rippers who are already cruising around the mountain. The Skiwees instructors specialize in early childhood development and work with these youngest skiers to ensure a strong start and a love for the slopes.
Mad Wolf is a popular program intended for level one through seven skiers ages four to 13 years old. The goal of Mad Wolf is to inspire a lifelong passion for the mountain experience. The last day of each session is a celebration that culminates in a fun race and an awards ceremony.
A new program is the Wolverines program for ages eight to 13 years old that enjoy being challenged and are skiing at levels five through nine. The focus is on developing solid techniques while relishing in a variety of terrain and conditions. Concentration on broad skills and blend elements of race training, free style, and all-mountain skiing. The last day of each session is a celebration that culminates in a fun race and an awards ceremony.
The pinnacle of the Youth Local Program is the Big Sky Rippers for advanced skiers and riders ages ten to 14 years old with a skill level of seven or above. The curriculum reinforces fundamental techniques of advanced skiing of big mountain terrain, free style, avalanche awareness, beacon skills, and independent judgment with an emphasis on safety. Rippers are given an opportunity to participate in Big Sky Resort’s First Tracks program on one morning in each session (weather and conditions permitting).
Skiwees is a half day program offered in two sessions, early January to mid-February or late February to early April, each on Saturday or Sunday in the Mountain Village area or seven days a week at the Madison Base area. All other programs are full day offering two sessions, early January to late February or late February to late March, each on Saturday or Sunday in the Mountain Village area and the Madison Base area.
Visit www.bigskyresort.com/youthprograms for more information.

New triple lift at Whitefish Mountain Resort will access 200 acres

At Whitefish Mountain Resort, skiers and snowboarders are excited about the new Flower Point Chairlift, a triple lift which will open up 200 acres of new terrain on the north side of the mountain.

Helicopter crews installed all 17 towers for the new lift earlier this summer. The resort cut six groomable runs that will be accessible from the new lift, all of which will be intermediate. The Flower Point area also has some advanced tree skiing. The lift will also provide access to one new run on the front side of the mountain, called “One Grand Parade.” Because the north side of the mountain gets less sunlight in winter, the snow holds longer there.

Before this year, Flower Point was only accessible to hikers and was outside the resort’s boundary. The area will now be patrolled by the Whitefish Mountain Resort ski patrol.

Whitefish Mountain Resort’s opening day will be Saturday, Dec. 6. The resort also completed $910,000 in upgrades to the Base Lodge, and added a Summit Weather Station to provide live weather data to customers.


Como Trails Club won’t groom XC trails this winter

The Bitterroot National Forest has been notified by the Como Trails Club that the group is not planning on grooming trails south of Lake Como this winter for cross country skiing. According to the group’s website http://comotrailsclub.weebly.com, they are currently “finding it difficult to secure capacity such as volunteers, board members, and funding to run the club.” The organization has groomed 30 miles of trails for skate and classic skiing and has operated under a volunteer agreement with the Forest since the winter of 2009-10.
December 1st is the “official” opening day for the Chief Joseph Ski Trails. The trail system located at the southern end of the Bitterroot Valley near Lost Trail Pass has been significantly expanded over the past few years to include 15+ miles of traditional classic-style cross-country trails and over 20 miles of multi-use trails for skate skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding and more. For the latest grooming information, trail conditions, and maps visit www.bitterrootxcskiclub.net
Lost Trail Ski Area on the Bitterroot and Salmon-Challis National Forests has announced that they will begin their 76th season of operations this Thursday, December 4th. Open Thursday-Sunday, the ski area has hundreds more acres of new terrain this year, thanks to some recent thinning operations on the mountain. For the latest conditions and information visit www.losttrail.com

David Bacon of Missoula got some air on Thursday, the opening day of the 75th season at Lost Trail Powder Mountain on the Montana/Idaho border south of Darby. DAVID ERICKSON - Ravalli Republic

Lost Trail Powder Mountain is set to open Dec. 4.

Discovery Ski Area to open Thanksgiving Day








After receiving 10 inches of snow over the weekend, Discovery Ski Area near Philipsburg will open Thanksgiving Day. Through the four-day weekend the mountain will open its beginner and intermediate runs on the front side, including the Jubilee Chairlift, Easy Chair and Totemoff Magic Carpet. Lift tickets will be $21 all weekend long.

Discovery will continue to operate Saturdays and Sundays through December, and starting Dec. 20 will open seven days a week through the rest of the season. Visit skidiscovery.com for early-season discount lift ticket prices.

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Opening day: Lost Trail Powder Mountain kicks off 75th season of skiing

David Bacon of Missoula got some air on Thursday, the opening day of the 75th season at Lost Trail Powder Mountain on the Montana/Idaho border south of Darby. DAVID ERICKSON - Ravalli Republic

David Bacon of Missoula got some air on Thursday, the opening day of the 75th season at Lost Trail Powder Mountain on the Montana/Idaho border south of Darby.
DAVID ERICKSON – Ravalli Republic

LOST TRAIL PASS – There are certain mythical days on the mountain – when the sky is deep blue, the pristine powder is piled up waist-high and the cold air bites the lungs – that make every skier and snowboarder feel like they’ve won the lottery.

Thursday, the opening day of the 75th consecutive season at Lost Trail Powder Mountain south of Darby, was one of those days.

With an accumulated base of 53 inches of sugary snow and temperatures maxing out at no more than 5 degrees, the conditions at Lost Trail for the first day of the 2013-14 season were so perfect that everyone in the lift line at 9 a.m. had the same blissful grin on their face. The parking lot was only half full by lunchtime, so there was enough untouched cold smoke for everyone who wanted it. Every few minutes, the frozen air was pierced by the triumphant shouts of a powder addict getting their fix and releasing a dreary offseason’s worth of pent-up frustration.

“It’s a great opening day,” said Scott Grasser, who manages the ski hill with his sister Judy. “My foreman Justin thinks it’s the best we’ve had in 10 years, and I agree. It’s just absolutely insane out there. The cold temperature is helping the snow, so we’ll take it.”

Grasser, taking a break from changing out a beer keg, said that employees from other ski hills in Montana have been amazed at how much of the white stuff has fallen on Lost Trail’s slopes in the past few weeks.

“We’ve got folks here from Big Sky and Bridger, all over the place, and they are saying we have the best conditions in the state right now,” he said.

The first “Powder Thursday” of the year, as it’s known locally because the mountain is open Thursday through Sunday during the ski season, is always an occasion for catching up with the hill’s loyal customer base, according to Grasser.

“It’s just like all our family has come back for Christmas, it’s really cool,” he said.

The mountain first officially opened in the winter of 1937-38, and Grasser’s father, Bill, bought the ski hill in the late 1960s. The family has made numerous upgrades since then while avoiding the corporate feel that pervades many other resorts in Montana and Idaho. There are no electronic ticket-scanners, apparel shops or lattes to be found here.

This past summer, crews removed dead or diseased lodgepole pine from about 230 scattered acres on the mountain to ward off a mountain pine beetle infestation and to reduce safety hazards. The thinning left dozens of new 15-foot-wide trails through the remaining timber, which powderhounds eagerly took advantage of on Thursday. Grasser said he’s seen a lot of changes and improvements to the area over the years.

“From when I was a kid just having chairs 1 and 2, we’ve added chairs 3, 4 and 5,” Grasser said. “And all the thinning the new glades on the Idaho side are just epic.”

Judy Grasser said she looks forward to opening day every year.

“Today was really cool, watching all the season pass people come in,” she said. “The new terrain and everything, it’s really cool. The conditions are really good, other than the cold. This has been one of our better openings in quite some time. Obviously we have gotten a very nice snow niche. It’s a nice secret family.”

Aaron Hoffman of Salmon, Idaho, was definitely appreciative of the conditions and the new terrain as he exchanged high-fives with his buddies at the lodge during lunchtime.

“It’s a powder day to remember for sure,” he said. “It’s as good as we get normally like in January or February. I mean it was like three feet, easy. It was just soft snow. I could stick my pole all the way. And it’s like a new mountain with all the thinning they’ve done, it’s really great.”

Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or david.erickson@ravallirepublic.com.