Lost Trail begins the season with a powder day
by Nathan Boddy
“Couldn’t ask for a better opening day!”
This phrase was spoken by more than one happy skier at Lost Trail Powder Mountain as the 2021/2022 ski season got underway. The first day of lift service was on Thursday, December 16th, and true to form it was most certainly a ‘Powder Thursday.’
R.J. Higgins, Marketing Director at Lost Trail, summed it up this way, “Today has been incredible. Everybody is super happy and there is a good amount of snow out there. It’s one of the deeper first-days we’ve had in quite a few years.” His statements were proven true by the graceful tracks written upon the runs accessible from chairs 1 and 2. Powder hounds seemed to be getting a taste of February in mid-December.
Lost Trail, which celebrated its 80th year of operation in 2018, did not just wait for the snow to make this year’s opening special. Says Higgins, “We did a lot of work this summer on some of our major runs like Southern Comfort, and Far Out.” He explains that trimming the runs had them well prepared in case of a low snow opening, but that, “we ended up getting a greater snow amount.” Also included in the preparations for this year’s ski season, Lost Trail has remodeled and heated the bathrooms in the lodge, and finished the new dining area known as the “Powder Room,” immediately adjacent to the front porch.
Located on the Montana-Idaho border on Highway 93, the ski area has been a draw to people up and down the Bitterroot as well as the Salmon River valley for years. While its size and location may make it hard for Lost Trail to compete with large resorts like Big Sky and Ski Whitefish, the family-run establishment enjoys a comfortable family-friendly environment that is hard to match. To that end, Lost Trail recently got some wide ranging publicity by Teton Gravity Research, who produced the short film, “In Pursuit of Soul.” According to the TGR website, the film, “explores the fiercely authentic culture of independent resort towns across the country, while meeting the people that call those mountains home – the true soul of skiing and snowboarding.” Among the well balanced shots of stunning mountain landscapes, the film aims to point out the intrinsic value of small, community-based ski areas like Lost Trail.
The TGR film, which is available to view free on the TGR website, highlights 12 independently owned and operated ski areas in the United States, one of which is Lost Trail Powder Mountain. Many of the sentiments expressed within the film will be very familiar to those who have considered Lost Trail their mountain over the years. For example, Matt Cote of Magic Mountain Ski Area in Vermont, says, “There is that want to be faster and bigger and better. But faster isn’t always necessarily better. When you’re having a conversation on the lift with your family member, do you really want to cut it short? Everybody is always so wrapped up in whether or not you can go faster that nobody stops to ask themselves if you should.”
NOAA forecasts for precipitation in Montana during this year as La Niña conditions exist, would indicate an above average snowfall. Higgins, (and most powder hounds) hope so. “We’re supposed to have a really good snow year. We got 33 inches in the last seven days, another three last night and are supposed to get 1 to 2 today and 3 to 7 tonight, so hopefully storms just keep coming at us.”
Ticket sales at Lost Trail are also up this year, a fact which Higgins attributes to the ‘word’ about Lost Trail getting out. “People are just stoked on the vibe we have created, and the powder and the snow we have.”
But, an increase in visitation will not mean that Lost Trail isn’t looking out for its family-friendly environment. Lost Trail has partnered with Lisa McKinney, of Blue Dogs Media, and Amy Coseo at Studio Verde Creative, both of Missoula, for “all things marketing.” One of the programs they’ve undertaken will be unfolding this week as they encourage skiers to be on the hunt for the ‘Elf on the Mountain.’ Beginning on Wednesday the 22nd and through Friday the 24th, skiers should be on the lookout for the Lost Trail Elf. Anyone posting a photo with themselves and the elf on social media will be entered for a chance to win a 10-day transferable pass, valued at over $400. To make the program work for all, McKinney says that two of the three elves will be located higher on the mountain, while one will be lower and more accessible for beginner skiers. As a clue to where the elves might be, says McKinney, “Look for the double candy canes!”