Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the western US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Moderator: Tony Crocker

Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Postby ChrisC » Fri Aug 20, 2021 11:07 am

Red Lodge was the final stop on my inland Northwest ski tour. Potentially there was supposed to be snow from a strong upslope storm (this was the same day Denver was receiving almost 3-4 feet), but the wrap-around snow bands never materialized. So more of the same....sunshine and spring skiing.

Red Lodge is also on the Indy Pass. Given the daily rate is $90, a Spring Indy Pass for $199 quickly pays for itself. However, the day I arrived was an intra-state ski club race so lines for lift tickets were long since everyone had a free lift ticket voucher. Also, lift lines were long in the AM with all the racers and spectators on the hill. There was also a decent amount of day skiers from Billings. Still, the definition of a line is maybe 5-10 minutes.

On a final note, Red Lodge is not exactly in any snowbelt located far from the Continental Divide, and snow bases were the lowest I experienced on my trip. Mostly this was not an issue. However, there is a peculiar situation going on at Red Lodge. The main runs on the front side of the mountain - Miami Beach, Triple and Grizzly Peak lifts - are all covered by snowmaking and had good snow bases.
But Red Lodge expanded in the 1990s to their backside - Cole Creek and Palisades lifts - and installed high-speed quads yet neglected to add snowmaking to any of the runs. Therefore, coverage was really sketchy on the main runs in this zone. In the Cole Creek zone, all the intermediate runs had such low bases and exposed obstacles, they no longer could be groomed. Worse yet, the entire Palisades sector is referred to as "Bonus Terrain - Open Weather Permitting". WTH?! :shock: :? :rotfl: (This sector closed about a week before I arrived. But it reopened a week later after more snow so they want to open it.) I assume Red Lodge is trying to set expectations that this sector is rarely open - or less than 50%. I don't get it - you put in 2 multi-million $$$ quads in the 90s but do not install the supporting infrastructure of snowmaking ... and you have had 20+ years to correct this issue? There is snowmaking on the front side - why not just extend it? And if it's water rights - acquire more or just ration your current use? It's a shame because there are beautiful sandstone spires in this zone.

This debacle must have served as inspiration for Discovery Basin's expansion into Silver Chief Basin. Both places - Let's install a lift lower than the rest of the resort - places with already modest NW snowfalls - and just pray for snow? :-k Oops - does not work.

Anyways, I do not want to detract from Red Lodge overall. There was plenty of snow on the front side, and all the expert runs up high with low traffic. With the arid air of the plains, the snow was quite dry and remained packed powder. However, I recommend monitoring snow reports before committing to a visit to Red Lodge.

OK, onto the skiing.

Image
Image
My phone lost power before the end of day...
Image
Image

I arrived from Livingston, MT in the morning ... Red Lodge is very noticeable in the distance.

Image

The actual town of Red Lodge serves as a gateway to Yellowstone National Park as well. Again, another Montana gem.

Image

The lower mountain and early race preparations.

Image
Image
Image

The upper mountain Grizzly Peak.

Image
Image
Image

Views off the summit towards the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness.

Image
Image

The Cole Creek sector. This area was surprisingly steep with lots of narrow canyon runs, bumps, and glades.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

A few more Grizzly Peak photos. It's quite austere looking out to the Plains.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Finally, it was time to drive back across Montana to Spokane. Incredibly scenic. A week in the inland Northwest - practically without a cloud or any precipitation.

Image
User avatar
ChrisC
 
Posts: 1087
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:00 am
Location: San Francisco Photo: La Grave, France

Re: Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Postby snowave » Sun Aug 22, 2021 11:14 am

another great report, thank you.

I've been to Red Lodge in the summer, and it is indeed a great little town. I've heard about the inconsistent/variable snow issues, but didn't know about the HSQ debacle. What a mess, and quite unfortunate.
Sno..
snowave
 
Posts: 471
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 6:50 pm
Location: McCall, ID

Re: Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Aug 22, 2021 9:47 pm

Liz and I enjoyed Red Lodge two nights in June 2013, after rafting the Middle Fork Salmon and while skiing Beartooth Basin before moving into Yellowstone.

On the morning of February 9 Lonnie called me while driving I-90 in Montana. His plan was to ski an afternoon at Bridger and Red Lodge the following day. Red Lodge still had a low tide 24-30 inch base, so I persuaded him to divert to Discovery (about an hour from his location) that day, ski Bridger the next day and blow off Red Lodge.

During ski season Red Lodge is a considerable detour from the other places, though ChrisC driving that way after skiing Lost Trail was not so different than Liz and me driving to Sandpoint after skiing Mission Ridge. How soon was ChrisC's flight home from Spokane after the Red Lodge day?

ChrisC wrote: I don't get it - you put in 2 multi-million $$$ quads in the 90s but do not install the supporting infrastructure of snowmaking ... and you have had 20+ years to correct this issue? There is snowmaking on the front side - why not just extend it? And if it's water rights - acquire more or just ration your current use?

This is the American West. It has to be water. Big places like Vail and Sun Valley brag about having 700 acres under snowmaking. Do we really expect a place like Red Lodge to have enough water to cover more than a quarter of its 1,600 acres adequately? Water supply, not snowmaking coverage is usually the limiting variable. Just compare Big Bear and Mt. High as Exhibit A.

ChrisC wrote:This debacle must have served as inspiration for Discovery Basin's expansion into Silver Chief Basin. Both places - Let's install a lift lower than the rest of the resort - places with already modest NW snowfalls - and just pray for snow? :-k Oops - does not work.

Discovery was lured into Silver Chief primarily by the prospect of a more convenient access road for some of its clientele, though I'm inclined to agree with q that a new road wouldn't do that much for them. At any rate Discovery invests frugally in used fixed grip lifts like Sun Valley's old Limelight.

Putting a detachable quad into Palisades is indeed a head scratcher. Surely the high speed lift should have gone into Red Lodge's base and an old fixed grip into Palisades if they really wanted to expand into that area of known occasional use. Cole Creek and Grizzly top out around 9,500 and are north facing, so I'm guessing they are decent in February/March most seasons. I also guess that being the closest daytrip area for Montana's largest city means Red Lodge is more in the ballpark of Bridger and Snowbowl for weekend traffic and much busier than the other local joints in Montana.

At any rate ChrisC's itinerary would be not a bad model for James sometime.

Here's the part of ChrisC's trip that sets a high bar for anyone:
3/12 Mt. Spokane 37,719 vertical
3/13 49 Degrees North 38,408
3/14 Silver Mt. 33,392
3/15 Lookout Pass 25,131
3/16 Discovery 35,501
3/17 Montana Snowbowl 33,106
3/18 Lost Trail 28,112
3/19 Red Lodge 26,748

8-day total 258,117

My 8-day record is 225,300. BUT:
1) It was in Austria riding state-of-the-art high speed chairs and gondolas.
2) 90+% of the six days in SkiWelt and Sallbach were on groomers.
3) The 8 days weren't consecutive because I took one day off to watch the Hahnenkamm.

I believe Red Lodge is the only area ChrisC visited with any high speed lifts. He skied more in the other 7 days than I did in the 8 in Austria and a much smaller proportion on groomers. I have 73 days lifetime over 30K vertical but only 8 of them did not include high speed lifts: 4 at Mammoth in the early 1980's, 1 at Castle Mt. and 3 at Mt. Baldy. Baldy's Thunder Mt. is a more efficient (low length-to-vertical ratio) lift than those at most of ChrisC's destinations, Discovery and Snowbowl excepted.

Chris is a better skier than I am, but I have to believe these days were close to bell-to-bell and perhaps without a lunch stop. I'm guessing he was also solo and not ever waiting on anyone. =D> =D> =D>
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 10966
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Postby tseeb » Mon Aug 23, 2021 9:55 am

From skitracks that ChrisC posted, it does not look like he stops for lunch and it missed some of his vertical from Red Lodge when phone lost power. Great reports and pictures. How do you remember the details when posting 5 months later and skiing 8 days in a row?

Another reason for the Silver Chief chair at Discovery is that it is used for mountain biking in Summer. See https://www.skidiscovery.com/bike-park/ where you can also find mountain bike trail map.
User avatar
tseeb
 
Posts: 988
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:16 pm
Location: Northern California

Re: Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Aug 23, 2021 12:16 pm

tseeb wrote:From skitracks that ChrisC posted........ How do you remember the details when posting 5 months later and skiing 8 days in a row?

A closer look at the skitracks screenshots shows a lot of info to jog one's memory, including the maps with sequential numbered runs.

ChrisC's skitracks show, as Tseeb noted, no lunch stops and most of the days were in the 6 3/4 hour range. Only Lookout was under 6 hours.

Our pace was definitely more leisurely. I'd guess we averaged 5 1/2 hours on the hill, nearly always with a lunch stop. We rarely got on the hill before 10AM except for the powder days at Schweitzer. Early on the trip Liz was making morning calls to Florida. During our last week with mostly spring conditions there was no rush to be skiing at opening bell.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 10966
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Postby ChrisC » Tue Aug 24, 2021 9:23 am

Thanks for adding up my vertical.

I generally do not care too much about that stat. I do care about trying most of the trails/sectors out - so the map.

Memories - every photo has a geo tag on it, combined with ski tracker. Not too challenging.

Lunch? Not often. I put some protein bars in my pack - and prefer those to burger/fries. I did stop at Mt Spokane, Lost Trail and Red Lodge for some food at times.
User avatar
ChrisC
 
Posts: 1087
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:00 am
Location: San Francisco Photo: La Grave, France

Re: Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Aug 24, 2021 9:27 am

Thanks for the detailed descriptions and pix. I'd always wanted to check it out; however, it's a long way from anything.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3846
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: Red Lodge, MT: March 19, 2021

Postby EMSC » Wed Aug 25, 2021 4:17 pm

Best info I could find online is the Corning and Marble families seem to have owned it when they put the HSQ lifts in... and for 20 years after that. JMA, owner of Homewood bought in in '07, but did some sort of partial cash out by issuing tightly held stock in 2016.

Given that lack of a primary shareholder at this point, I'd guess it's very difficult to get much new investment done other than critical items.
User avatar
EMSC
 
Posts: 2310
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 6:54 pm
Location: Front Range of Colorado


Return to Western North America

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 31 guests


All content herein copyright © 1999-2017 First Tracks!! Online Media

Forums Terms & Conditions of Use