Missoula Events

When a good ski day goes bad

What’s your definition of a bad ski day?

I know what you’re thinking. There’s no such thing as a bad ski day.

Oh, they happen.  Not often, but occasionally one slips in there.

I remember a few years back when my boyfriend and I drove to Bozeman to ski Bridger one day and Big Sky the next. Lots of snow, but high winds closed nearly every lift at both resorts, leaving us with nothing to do but sit at the Bozone all afternoon….ok, could’ve had worse endings.

Well, Missoulian Sports Writer Nick Lockridge looked forward to his first day on the slopes Friday, only to have his excitement doused. Here’s his report …

Snowbowl, you owe me.

The venerable ski resort opened Friday for its first weekday powder day. The experience was either boom or bust, depending on who you talked to. I was one of those that had their powder dreams busted. Twice actually.

OK, here’s what happened.

I arrived at the mountain at 9:30 a.m. The lot was packed and you could see a large line of bums (how did that many people get Friday off?) already swinging up the lift. I went inside the lodge to get my season pass. Apparently so did the rest of Missoula.

The line backed up at the ticket counter, around the fireplace through the tables and benches and back towards the cafeteria, where it wrapped around and followed its same path to the beginning. Suffice to say, it was long. Some pass holders had waited for an hour when Snowbowl owner Ronnie came out amid cries for help to hand out lift tickets to season pass holders under the condition they, of course, return later that day to pick up their real season passes. A new line, which intertwined with the old one, formed and some skiers were on their merry way.

Once in line at the lift, I fastened my new lift ticket, which looks just like a day pass, to the lanyard I was going to use for my season pass. After wading through the maze of poles, ropes and riders for 20 minutes or better, I got to the front of the line, where the HCIC (Head Clipboard in Charge) told me I had to get out of line and go back down to the lodge for another pass.

The reason: my temporary pass was on “an detachable device.” WTF! Aren’t coats exchangeable devices? The HCIC wouldn’t budge, literally. That is one stout liftee. Not wanting to hold up the line I went back down to the lodge and waited in line for another 30-40 minutes.

Now, I’m a Snowbowl guy – I’ve been a season-pass holder five times since I first learned to ski at the Bowl in 2003 – but this was ridiculous, and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. But wait, it gets worse.

After seeing the excitement on so many skiers faces coming off the slopes, I decided to give it another shot. This time the wait was even longer and it was made worse when the liftees started loading every other chair because they were having troubles with the lift (sound familiar opening day crowd?).

After waiting and waiting and waiting, I finally reached the front again only to have the equipment personnel shut down the lift for repairs – with ME next in line.  Once again icy lines were the culprit.

Upset couldn’t even begin to describe my feelings. The lift closed at 11:30 and was going to be down for an hour. By the time it reopened, I had to be at work.

My first day of skiing never really happened.

While other skiers were carving down sick lines through the trees, I was winding through lines that would make you sick.

Not only did I not ski, I couldn’t even manage to get on the chairlift. At least I got my season pass. They can’t take that away from me.

Can they?

— NL

6 comments to When a good ski day goes bad

  • big sage

    The Bowl had better get its act together. How can expand when they can’t manage what they have? The passes should have been laminated in advance. The ski area should have been open week days earlier in the week…..and the on going lift issue should be fixed.

    It might be a long season!

  • Snowbowlisajoke

    And if you dare to ride a snowboard at the mighty snowbowl, they will ask to see your leash. The only groms who even know leashes still exist are in Missoula, because no other ski areas in the United States still ask for them.

    People say “steep and deep” when it’s south-facing, not steep, and rarely deep. Runs are cut perpendicular to fall lines in many places, and the “epic” tree skiing isn’t really that epic at all – it’s rarely steep enough. Top it all off with locals who think they rip while wearing their butt-protectors on monoskis, and I’d rather hike/skin somewhere if I’m unlucky enough to be in Missoula for the winter.

  • Haters


    sounds like you have some personal issues you need to resolve. by the way, the leash issue is a state law in Montana. Thanks

  • rolo

    This experience shouldn’t surprise anyone. Snowbowl has consistently been the most overpriced and overhyped ski area in the state.

  • Kelen

    You gotta be tough to ride the bowl – puttin up with bad conditions alot, putting up with lifts that never are working. At least they have a sweet website tho, it’s like some kind of vintage website from the 90s, but it does ok. You have to be tough too because at snowbowl you ride the lift more than anything, so dress warm. And you gotta be tough because snowbowl people think there really good but they’ve never seen people at other ski areas who laugh at snowbowl, don’t tell people you go there or they make fun of you

  • pro

    wow i could say so much to all you negative people.. you must be skiers.. first off, showing up at 930 on OPENING POWDER DAY is the stupidest idea i’v ever heard. he obviously doesnt really want first lines, doesnt matter where you go. that’s just common sense. people start showing up around 730-8 on powder days (yes, that’s 2 full hours before open). next, the passes are laminated, but it’s faster to give people passes when there are a million people wanting there pass at once. it’s a mom an pop mountain not a multi-million dollar resort. also your lift ticket has to be attatched to something that cant easily be removed no matter where you go. that’s so you cant give it to someone else so they dont have to pay. some lifties dont care and usually they lose their job. most mountains run spot checks on their lifites to make sure they’re doing their job right and in full. which includes the leash law. and yes, that’s a real law and is also is required by the mountain’s liability insurance company. for the lifts, if you would like to donate around a million dollars to put in the “oh so perfect” chairlift you want, be my guest. which btw, also have a ton of problems. i went to big mountaina and a lift broke down, omg yes, at the beginning of the year. and hellroaring.. is it ever open? same with the conditions. sorry that’s the weather not the mtn. the last few years have been bad for everyone. my last visit to big sky there were 40-70 mph winds for 4 days. the last day only 1 lift was open til 11. but there’s nothing to complain about this year or you need to move to alaska or something. there are a lot of really amazing skiers and boarder at snowbowl including once that have won national competitions. if you’re not finding powder that’s your fault for not getting off the run. and if you think it’s not steep enough maybe you should go drop the cliffs. there are as many challenges as you give yourself. also, snowbowl reputation.. you’re talking to the wrong people. cause it actually has a really good rep. one last thing.. note that the writer is a pass holder. so he obviously doesnt think it’s that bad.

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