Despite the hot, windy and dry weather the plains experienced this winter, the Teton Pass ski area has secured enough snow and will open for the 2021-22 season on December 17, according to owner Charles Hlavac de Choteau.
The ski area offers skiers and snowboarders in north-central Montana affordable rates and uncrowded trails in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest about 40 km west of Choteau.
âWe had a kind of dry fall with few starts and stops, with small amounts of snow melting then,â Hlavac said on December 10. A week ago the ski area picked up 17 inches and 16 inches of snow again brings the base depth to 31 inches and the summit depth to 36 inches as of December 12. Hlavac said they compacted the snow to keep it from blowing away.
Skiers should expect early season conditions on the hill with light snow in some areas and bare spots.
Hlavac said Teton Pass was fortunate enough to be 17 inches from the last snowstorm, which bypassed many other ski resorts in the state, as it was located north of the Rockies.
The ski area will be open every day from December 17 to January 2, with the exception of the early closure on Christmas Eve and the closure on Christmas Day. Daily hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
From January 3, the ski area will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each week at the same times and will keep this time until closing or mid-April, whichever comes first.
Hlavac said the road to the ski area is cleared of snow, sand and in good driving condition. “We are trying to maintain the road so that two-wheel drive vehicles can get on it on weekends,” he said.
The ski area has a special offer on season tickets until December 17th. At special prices, adult season passes cost $ 350 (usually $ 500); and youth season passes are $ 250 (usually $ 300). Children 6 and under ski for free.
Day passes cost $ 50 for adults and $ 45 for youth, and the ski area sells gift certificates for $ 5 discounts for Christmas. Skiers can find and purchase passes and gift certificates online at skitetonmt.com.
Hlavac said the ski area will have 26 open runs with 1,000 vertical feet. The main chairlift and the Rabbit Hill Conveyor will both operate. The No Name extension area is not open at the moment due to lack of snow. Hlavac said he hopes to be able to open the extension in February.
Both the rental shop and the ski school will be open. A one-day package of skis, boots, poles and helmet will be rented for $ 30.
Preseason work on the hill was complicated by several high winds in November that destroyed 35-40 mature evergreen trees on the main ski area. On the No Name expansion in fear of a previous wildfire, 90% of the dead trees have been blown over and there are thousands of downed trees.
âWe tried to go over there and open things up so we could move on,â Hlavac said. âWe made a lot of recordings in November and December, which is not normal. He said it will take years for the full cleanup to be accomplished.
Hlavac has invested in a new used mower, purchased from Bridger Bowl. The new Snowcat is more reliable and has more power than the old one. Operators won’t have as much difficulty cleaning deep snow and achieving higher levels. âIt will do the job a little faster and be more pleasant to use,â he said.
The entire ski area employs around 25 people, and Hlavac said he still has around 10 other positions available in the bar, restaurant and rental store. âWe’re always looking for help with the holidays, and that tends to come with college kids coming back and wanting to work a few days and high school kids on hiatus,â he said.
Anyone interested in working there this winter should call them at the ski area at 406-466-2209 or email them at email@example.com.
The ski area will operate the full service kitchen and lodge bar with no capacity restrictions.
âWe will have the same great food as usual and we now have the full liquor license,â he said. The restaurant will serve, among other things, homemade soups, wraps and sandwiches, burgers and pizzas.
Hlavac, who managed the ski area from 2010 to 2017, purchased the ski area from Teton Pass Inc. from New Zealand owner Nick Wood and several other investors in September 2019.
Hlavac came to Choteau at the age of 15 and worked at Teton Pass until high school, starting in 1999. After graduating from Choteau High in 2003, he attended Montana Tech, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2007. He then worked full time for the US Forest Service in several western states and spent two years working as a civil aerospace engineer for the US Navy in San Diego, California, before returning to Choteau in 2010.