Thanks to a winter of plentiful snow, Southwest Montana ski areas are extending their season — or at least are thinking about it.
Discovery Ski Area is contemplating a one-weekend extension, and will wait until the end of March to make that decision.
Ciche Pitcher, vice president of resort operations, said Wednesday that Discovery’s last day is scheduled for Sunday, April 3, but could stay open the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Snow conditions and skier visits will determine whether they extend the season, Pitcher said.
“We recognize it is a fluid situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bridger Bowl will extend its season by a week, and Moonlight and Big Sky resorts will stay open through Easter, which is April 24 this year, according to the Bozeman Chronicle. Bridger Bowl announced Tuesday it will close April 12, rather than April 3, though not all of its lifts will remain open.
All are attributing the exceptionally good snow year for the extended season.
Maverick Mountain, west of Dillon, is having an excellent snow year, with a 64-inch base. Owner Randy Shilling said they’re open only on weekends and will stay open until April 3.
He said Maverick’s closing is dictated not by snow conditions, but rather the sharp decrease in skiers by mid-March.
“The locals are excited early on and then as the season goes on by mid-March, they’re pretty well skied out,” he said. “They get burned out on it and things start to open up in town — the golf course opens up in another couple weeks, fishing starts and calving is going on.”
Great Divide ski area, northwest of Helena, has a basic policy when it comes to skiing, owner Kevin Taylor said.
“As long as it’s skiable, we’ll be skiing,” he said. “We’re typically the first area to open and the last one to close.”
The hill was open before Thanksgiving. And two years ago Taylor fired up the chairs in early May for a final day, charging $1 per lift ride. This year Great Divide has been blessed with good snow and Taylor said an early January warm spell was followed by cold that froze the snow “like a glacier.” He said that will stick around for a while.
Great Divide will remain open Wednesday-Sunday until April 3, will open the weekend of April 9-10 and then remain open one weekend day thereafter until the snow is gone.
“We like those sunny days,” he said. “We always put bands out on the deck and something interesting on the grill.”
— Compiled by Standard staff