Missoula Events

New terrain parks and ski runs at Big Sky Resort

Big Sky Resort received 30” of snow last week gearing up for a strong open on November 26, 2015 and unveiling three new terrain parks and three new ski runs, adding a few more acres to their already 5,800 plus skiable acres.

For terrain parks, The Cache, an advanced new natural style park is stashed in the trees skier’s left of the Swift Current chair lift line. Its location will allow easy access to and from the newly revamped Swifty Terrain Park that has received increased acreage and an improved jumpline. The Cache has replaced the traditional Freestyle Forest in the Moonlight area, which has been redeveloped into a family friendly kid’s adventure area named, The Lost Frontier.

The Madison Base Area is scheduled to open December 11, 2015 where Wagon train, off Cinnabar, has been dedicated to two new terrain parks, the new advanced park, Peacemaker, and intermediate park, Maverick, both replacing Zero Gravity and Pony Park Terrain Parks. Peacemaker, will pick up just after the Cinnabar bridge, running all the way down to Glacier Way ski run. Maverick, will begin just off Glacier Way ski run and will be accessible through Peacemaker Park or off Derringer chair lift for quick laps.

The new intermediate glade run, White Magic, is a nod to the classic Warren Miller Film of the same name and has opened about three more acres of terrain accessed via the Swift Current chair lift on the skier’s right of Crazy Horse ski run below the confluence of Buffalo Jump ski run. Another new intermediate glade run is Short Stack, accessed via the top of Derringer chair lift on the skier’s left.

Kids of all ages are going to enjoy whooping it up on the new beginner glade run, Playground, assessed via Swift Current chair lift between Black & Blue and the bottom of Lower Morningstar ski runs and has opened an additional five acres of terrain.

Mountain Operations crews have been busy improving the skiing experience cutting in a new black diamond ski connection, Comet, providing easier access from Outer Limits ski run to the top of Six Shooter chair lift. Machine and saw crews also worked diligently removing re-growth, deadfall, and stumps on ski runs to allow more terrain to open faster.

For more information, visit bigskyresort.com.

News from Downing Mountain Lodge

From John Lerhman, owner of Downing Mountain Lodge, a backcountry ski lodge near Hamilton:untitled

I had recently sent some folks a basic update, but could not send to all my friends and guests due to email list size constraints. Hence the new look and email content provided through Constant Contact. I do like the new format and hope you will too.

We have been working hard this fall on continuing the hazard tree reduction project. By glading another significant ~150 acre section of the main bowl of little Downing Mountain, specifically working in ZONE B this season after a good start in ZONE A last year, we have significantly reduced the hazard presented by the fire hardened whips and snags. Thanks to a number of volunteers: Bob, Ken, Mike, Blake, Daniel, Kenny and Will who contributed their time and significant energy to helping fell hazard trees and work on the vision to improving safety and skiability in our favorite locations. We also wish to thank the Bitterroot National Forest for cooperating in helping us burn firewood slash piles on Rabbit Run along the skin ridge in ZONE D. Additional thanks goes to the Darby Ranger for granting us permission to work on this hazard tree reduction project in the 2012 burned area. If interested in contributing for trade we’ll be at it again next summer and fall.

Western Montana Avalanche Center: Base is forming up high

From the Western Montana Avalanche Center’s Steve Karkanen:

Western Montana received our first significant mountain snowfall this week and it is starting to look like winter has arrived for good at the higher elevations. This is Steve Karkanen with an early season avalanche information update from the West Central Montana Avalanche Center.

While the valleys received a light dusting, the mountains picked up enough snow to start forming a base. A snapshot of 4 SNOTEL sites shows Saddle Mountain with 12″, Twin Lakes 6″, Stuart Peak 9″. It looks like the snow near Hoodoo already melted off after accumulating about 4″.  It’s cold enough and the sun angle low enough that much of what we see in the higher mountains should remain for the winter.

We are currently planning for the 2015-2016 winter and have a few changes to make you aware of. We are adding another advisory day so our scheduled days will be changing. We will be issuing advisories on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings this winter. We feel that this spreads our coverage out a little better particularly for the weekend period.

Travis Craft and Logan King will be writing and posting the advisories this year with assistance from Dudley and I.  Brian Martens will again be working with local schools, the UM and other groups interested in introductory avalanche safety information and field training.  Send an email to us atinfo@missoulaavalanche.org if you are interested in what we have available for your organization.

We plan to start regular advisories in mid-December with earlier information updates as conditions change.

March events at Montana Snowbowl


March 6th Spring For Women Only Lesson Program:

Spring skiing at the Bowl!  Now in its 3rd year, Snowbowl’s spring FWO is the perfect lesson program for women looking for some great instruction, and great ski buddies.   A follow up for Snowbowl’s most popular lesson program packages include a half-day lift ticket, and a free après drink at the bar after the lessons! Register online by Feb. $27 for a discount at http://www.montanasnowbowl.com/fwo-for-women-only/

March 8 – 5th Annual Vertical Challenge

Compete in teams of two to rack up the most vertical feet in either our “Bowls Challenge” (how many laps down the Snowbowl’s East or West Bowls) or “All-Mountain Challenge” (skiing/riding the entire hill). New this year we’re adding a “rando” style uphill sprint to the top of the mountain before the lifts open. Teams that compete in the uphill challenge can either just race up the mountain or join the other participants in the other challenges, add a bonus lap to their totals and show who belongs among the truly hard-core. Lots of categories to win and prizes including two pairs of skis provided by Big Sky Brewery! Registration is $25/team if done by noon on Friday March 6th. Registration includes a free lunch served chair-side and a post-race brew provided by Big Sky Brewery (for those of age). Race day check-in for the “Rando” uphill is 7:30AM, the rest of competitors may check in later. **Please note a valid lift ticket (not included in registration fee) is required to participate in the lift served challenges.

Sponsored by Big Sky Brewery. All proceeds benefit Missoula Food Bank. Register online at http://www.montanasnowbowl.com/


March 15th Best of the Bowl:

Popular end-of-the-year race to find out who’s got the best moves at the Bowl with alpine, tele, and snowboard division. Participants are judged on speed and style as they race down the infamous Griz Chute. No registration required.


March 22nd North Dakota Downhill:

Slide and glide contest on the North Dakota Downhill trail. Registration is free; there are lots of prizes and fun for all ages and abilities. No registration required.

Veterans from all service branches to serve as Whitefish Winter Carnival LVI parade Grand Marshalls

For many years, the mountain town of Whitefish, Montana has celebrated its Winter Carnival based on the lore and history of Ullr, the God of Snow. February 6 – 8, 2015 will present the 56th Annual Whitefish Winter Carnival featuring this year’s theme “America the Beautiful ­- Honoring Veterans” offering locals and visitors unique ways to celebrate winter with quirky Whitefish traditions. National Geographic named the Whitefish Winter Carnival one of the “Top 10 Winter Carnivals in the World” in 2012.


Whitefish Winter Carnival Chair Paul Johannsen exclaims, “The community response to the theme honoring Veterans has been truly exciting. It’s a great thrill for the carnival board to feature our men and women of the military this year.”


Winter Carnival events and its full cast of characters kicked off Saturday, January 10th with the Merry Maker where the Prime Minister Luke Walrath and Duchess of Lark Linda Ray were introduced to King Ullr LVI.  King Ullr LVI Lin Akey and Queen of Snows Anita Welch were coronated on Saturday, January 17th. Prince Frey and Princess Freya will be unveiled on Saturday, January 24th.


The February 6 – 8 weekend festivities kick off with the Winter Carnival Gala at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant on Friday night. Saturday features the Penguin Plunge (a hole is cut into Whitefish Lake and participants take a dip to raise funds for Montana Special Olympics), then include an old fashioned main street parade, i, pie social, , x-country ski race, hockey tournament, a figure skating demonstration and more. Sunday culminates with the Rotary Pancake Breakfast. The festivities are open to the public and most are free of charge although Winter Carnival buttons are encouraged.


The Grand Parade on Saturday, February 7th will feature nearly 25 veterans as Grand Marshalls representing the Navy, Marine Corp, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard and every conflict from World War II to Desert Storm. Other Grand Marshalls will include representatives of the Montana National Guard and local VFW posts. The Grand Marshalls will follow the Whitefish Winter Carnival float and royalty in the parade riding in red, white and blue vehicles.Penguin Plunge

About Whitefish Winter Carnival
And the story goes…….Once upon a time, there lived a god named Ullr who reigned over the winter activities in the Nordic regions. Aiding him were his Prime Minister and Queen, who were skilled in creating the beauties of winter. But as time went by, his subjects became more engrossed in exploring the world and its oceans and paid less homage to their god-king and the festivities of their winter season, so Ullr became a god all but forgotten except in dim tradition.

After centuries of brooding and searching the world for a place of rest, Ullr and his two remaining subjects came to northwest Montana. So struck were they with its beauty that they decided to settle and selected the Big Mountain, looming over Whitefish, as their adopted home. Their rest was short lived as they soon found their home was also the abode of a fierce band of snowmen called Yetis, who attempted to kidnap their Queen. Ullr and his followers, being more agile and resourceful, prevailed and learned to live with only occasional skirmishes with the Yetis.

Eventually humans invaded the Whitefish area with axes, guns and wagons. Ullr, his followers, and the Yetis observed these people as they civilized the valley and some were alarmed when they saw people begin to invade what they called home. Ullr found these settlers were not aware of his presence and as he continued to observe them, he found that they not only enjoyed the sports of winter but also referred to Ullr himself as a patron saint of their small celebrations and revelries. He was honored by this reverence.

Seeing his chance after centuries of loneliness and self-banishment, Ullr assumed the garb of these people and went among them. The Yetis, however, would have nothing to do with these people except for attempts to drive them away. Ullr aided the settlers in subduing the harassments of Yetis and became their hero and true King. It was proclaimed that there would be an annual fete at which King Ullr and his court would be given the homage due to them, a celebration called the Whitefish Winter Carnival.
Now each year, on the first weekend of February, the town of Whitefish comes together and invites people from miles around to celebrate winter with a variety of activities, events and merriment. The Yetis, bolder than ever, try to steal the Queen, harass the Prime Minister, and interfere with the festivities to assert their right to Big Mountain and Whitefish. But Ullr, and his growing band of local followers continue to subdue them and send them fleeing back to their haven in the high valleys beyond Big Mountain. And Ullr again reigns as master of winter sports and frolics along with his Queen and Prime Minister, beloved in the hearts of his loyal subjects.

Lookout Pass sets skier visitation records

Lookout Pass Ski Area, located off I-90 on the Montana/Idaho border west of Missoula, recently announced two new skier visit records:

·       Saturday, January 17th was a new single day attendance record with 2, 243 skier visits for the day;

·       Saturday, January 10th was a new single day Free Ski School lesson program record with 403 kids in attendance for Free lessons.


“Thanks to all our guests,” said owner Phil Edholm.

Western Montana ski areas boast some of the deepest snowpack in the U.S.

Snowbrains.com came out with a list of the Top 10 deepest snowpacks in the USA, and several ski areas near Missoula were on the list.

Kelly Canyon, Idaho topped the list with 96 inches, but Lost Trail Powder Mountain came in 3rd with 76 inches. Lookout Pass came in 6th with 72 inches, and Blacktail Mountain was tied for 7th with 71 inches. Snowbowl came in at No. 10 with 69 inches. It’s been a great snow year in the area so far, let’s hope it keeps going!




Series of storms have brought over 12 feet of snow to Whitefish Mountain Resort so far this winter

It was a White Christmas and then some at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Three storms brought over four feet of snow in just 14 days making skiers happy and creating excellent conditions to kick off the New Year. With over 12 feet falling since mid-November, a base depth of nearly six feet at the summit, and deeper pockets spread across its 3,000 acres, Whitefish is one of the top resorts for snow conditions in North America.

“This year Whitefish is set for one of its best winters of recent memory with fantastic snow conditions and additional terrain accessible from the new Flower Point chairlift,” said Whitefish Mountain Resort President Dan Graves. “Between our ideal location for drier Rocky Mountain powder, and our highly-acclaimed grooming crew, Whitefish Mountain Resort can deliver reliable high-quality conditions throughout the season.”

Whitefish Mountain Resort also aims to deliver consistent value to its guests as demonstrated with the January White Sale package: purchase two days of skiing, and two nights of lodging and receive the third day and night free. Offer is valid through January 30 including Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend, some restrictions apply; call 800-858-4152.

Getting to Whitefish keeps getting easier with the return of Amtrak’s normal schedule effective January 12. Whitefish is the Empire Builder’s most popular stop between Seattle/Portland and Minneapolis with the eastbound train, arriving at 7:26 a.m., and the westbound arriving at 8:56 p.m. Flying to northwest Montana has never been easier with the new Saturday nonstop service from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Glacier Park International (FCA), and daily nonstop flights from Denver, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

A variety of other Ski & Stay packages are available at Whitefish Mountain Resort throughout the Winter Season. For more information on Whitefish Mountain Resort’s vacation packages, and up-to-date daily snow reports and daily video visit www.skiwhitefish.com.

Caught on video: Skier screams, curses at Bridger employee because he wasn’t allowed to ski in avalanche terrain without a beacon


A video of a skier at Bridger Bowl near Bozeman angrily demanding a refund because he wasn’t allowed to ski in avalanche terrain without the proper safety equipment went viral over the weekend, garnering more than 120,000 views on Facebook and YouTube.

In the video, which was originally posted by Marli Stroup-Trusty on Facebook on Jan. 3, shows a man cussing and yelling at a cashier behind a ticket window. The man is upset because he wasn’t allowed to ski Schlasman’s Lift, a part of the mountain where skiers are required to have a transceiver, a device for finding people or equipment buried under snow.

The man screams:

“Show me where that lift line says when I pay 52 bucks I can’t ski it. It doesn’t! Nowhere does it say that lift line is the only one I won’t have access to when I bought the ticket. When you sold me my F%$^*&# ticket you didn’t say, ‘Hey guess what, you can’t ski that lift.”

An onlooker comes up to the man and asks him to watch his language because he has a 4-year-old child next to him, and the angry skier brushes him off and continues ranting at the poor cashier.

The man also confronts two people standing nearby: “You want to get in a fight? You guys want to pick a fight? Mind your own F^&&^% business, give me my money back!”

Bridger Bowl officials have said that the requirement to have a transceiver is noted on maps and signs above the ticket window.

Bridger Bowl marketing director Douglas Wales told KTVQ.com that he had never seen such an outburst from a customer.

We work very hard to put out information we feel is necessary to understand, and also requires them to read the literature and pay attention to the signs,” Wales told the Bozeman news station.

The map of Bridger Bowl clearly shows areas in purple where skiers are required to have a beacon.

In the comments section of the Facebook and YouTube posts, many people are clearly angry at the skiers behavior. He has not been identified. Someone even offered to buy the woman behind the window lunch.

map of bridger

Big Sky, Bridger resorts report record holiday skier turnout

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The Big Sky and Bridger ski resorts are reporting record turnout over the holidays.

Big Sky Resort broke its own record on New Year’s Eve for single-day skier visits with more than 8,000 skiers getting in turns at the hill.

Bridger Bowl Ski Area also set records for both the month of December and a single day that saw about 5,000 people on the mountain.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (http://tinyurl.com/qjbvh3r ) a lot of snow and long holiday weekends contributed to the increases.