A cantankerous weather system brought spotty snowstorms broken by high pressure to Montana last week. While [R335R, Red Lodge Mountain] reveled in piles of powder, other resorts have been forced to open on a limited basis.

Red Lodge Mountain is one resort in Montana that has skiers and riders dancing in powder. Last weekend, skiers were treated to 22 inches of powder—enough for the resort to open almost 100 percent of their runs.

“We’ve been skiing on the best early-season conditions the mountain has seen in many years,” Spokesperson Jeff Carroll said.

Four lifts will be operating midweek with access to the entire front side of the mountain. The Cole Creek and Willow Creek chairs will run on weekends until Dec. 17. After that, Red Lodge will have all lifts running daily.

Red Lodge Mountain 12.5.11 (3)

Opening weekend conditions at Red Lodge surpassed previous years. Photo Courtesy of Red Lodge Mountain.

On the opposite corner of the state, [R056R, Blacktail Mountain] plans to crank up all four of its lifts along with the handle tow for beginners on opening day, Dec. 10. The ski area plans to operate Saturday and Sunday this weekend before launching its regular Wednesday through Sunday operating schedule. Blacktail will also open daily Dec. 14 through Jan. 2 for the holidays.

In the middle of the state, [R359R, Showdown Montana] plans to launch its season on Dec. 9 followed by a post ski day exhibition Rail Jam on Dec. 10. Skiers and riders can also get $10 lift tickets on Saturday, Dec. 10 by donating seven cans of food to the annual food drive. The ski area operates Wednesdays through Sundays. It will also open daily Dec. 21 through Jan. 8, with the exception of its Christmas Day closure.

While some Montana resorts garnered powder, less than normal snowfall for early December has plagued several other resorts. Despite meager snowfall, many resorts are forging ahead with limited openings thanks to temperatures that allowed snowmaking guns to fire up.

[R810R, Bridger Bowl] announced a limited opening for Dec. 9. Only beginner lifts will operate, including the Powder Park Quad and the Snowflake Triple lifts. Due to the limited terrain, tickets will cost $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Beginners on the Snowflake lift can buy tickets for $5.

snowmaking at Bridger

Snowmaking will get Bridger Bowl's beginner lifts open this weekend. Photo Courtesy of Bridger Bowl.

Snowmaking will allow [R046R, Whitefish Mountain Resort] to open Dec. 10 with limited terrain. Chairs 1, 3, 6, 7 and the Magic Carpet will operate. Chair 1 will operate only for skiers and riders to access Chair 7 terrain and return from the backside. Chair 7 will offer skiing on Goat Haunt, Whitetail and Gray Wolf. Daily tickets will cost $39 for those age 13 and older and $25 for kids.

Fresh snowfall is forecasted before opening day at [R1512R, Moonlight Basin] this weekend. Season passholders get to hop on the lifts a day early on Dec. 9 before the lifts open to the general public on Dec. 10. The Derringer and Six Shooter lifts from the Madison Village Base Area are expected to operate with access to all levels of runs and the terrain park.

Resorts on limited openings plan to add other lifts as soon as conditions permit. Those offering reduced lift ticket rates will raise ticket prices accordingly.