To say it’s a miracle wouldn’t be that big of an understatement - Teton Pass Ski Area near Choteau is open for the season, and it’s all thanks to Charles Hlavac and his team.
“This year we got a late start on getting open,” Hlavac said. “There was a lot of work just to get to this point of being operational, so for the most part we’re going to be trying to get back to the point of being open, being consistently here, and we’ll be running it a lot like we were.”
Even though they missed some good bouts of snow in September and October, they expect to be able to operate well into April thanks to the consistent snow that they’ll get on the Rocky Mountain Front.
The quick turnaround and opening announcement was even a surprise to some of the employees like Randy Gramm.
“I’m just amazed that we got it going just a few days ago,” said Gramm, one of the Ski Patrol members at Teton. “I didn’t think that it would happen maybe until January, and when we got the word that it was going to open up Saturday at 12:30, it was a whirlwind and just incredible.”
The amount of effort that goes into running a ski lodge, especially one like Teton which is 11 miles away from the closest power source, is huge. The drive up to the area ends with about 10 miles of gravel roads, which are often caked in snow and ice. Couple that with the fact that you’re driving up a mountain and access can become a bit restricted at times.
Charles and his team plow their own roads, fix up the mountain snow so it’s safe for skiers and snowboarders, and run a full-service restaurant and bar in the lodge.
“It’s hard to understand the behind the scenes efforts that go into a ski area,” said Charlies. “It’s a lot.”
It’s safe to say that the two missed seasons took their toll on the community. People from surrounding towns and even other states come to Teton for the snow and stay for the scenery.
“Oh, big time,” Gramm said with a smile when asked if the re-opening had a positive impact on the local community. “This is a big boost for the community, and I know many, many people that have missed this greatly.”
Teton Pass is about 33 miles west/northwest of Choteau; click here to visit the Facebook page.