A snowstorm prior to Thanksgiving followed by frigid single-digit and sub-zero temperatures ushered in the ski and snowboard season in Montana. Accumulating natural snow caused several resorts to open for the holidays to the delight of skiers and snowboarders anxiously eyeing the slopes.
Memories of several consecutive winters of scant early season snow faded fast with what Big Sky Resort touted as "the best conditions in 10 years." Thanksgiving Day saw the lifts start turning for the season at Big Sky.
Discovery Ski Area expected to open 35-45 percent of their terrain with three chairlifts running Thanksgiving Day on what it called "high quality snow." Silver Chief, the resort's new backside chair, was not operating, but will run Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays for skiing 200 new acres when conditions permit. The resort is planning to groom some of the steeper runs on Granite Lift by closing the lift to skiing Thursdays.
Bridger Bowl opened two weeks early with what the resort termed "excellent early season snowfall." Lifts ran for three days over the holiday weekend. The resort closed Monday, but plans to reopen Dec. 3-5 before opening for the season Dec. 10.
Montana Snowbowl shot for opening Nov. 27. Snowbowl plans to run its lifts Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in early December. Daily operations are scheduled to start Friday, Dec. 18, the same day the shuttle bus from the base of Grant Creek begins running. The shuttle will run Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and the week after Christmas. It costs $3 round trip.
Great Divide Snowsports has been running a soft opening for several weeks with skiing and riding on the rope tow with a few park features. The resort opened the Mount Belmont Chairlift over the Thanksgiving holidays for the earliest opening of the top of the mountain in the resort's history.