I spent the weekend skiing powder at the Downing Lodge in the Bitterroot near Hamilton. The skiing was good and reasonably stable despite an avalanche warning issued 2 days prior to our departure. We spent the first morning driving to Hamilton and approaching the lodge, and the afternoon was spent lapping the skier's right edge of the main avalanche bowl. Between people and dogs, we put down 29 sets of tracks and had a great time skiing the clean, continuous fall lines in about a foot of settled powder. Last summer's fire has opened up quite a bit of new terrain, and it was fun to slalom through the stark black forest.
The lodge itself is awesome, and we fully enjoyed all the amenities including a hot tub, electricity, running water, a piano, and a spectacular view of Hamilton and the Bitteroot valley. Leah took advantage of the full service kitchen, and dinner was amazing. Good times with one of the best crews I could have asked for.
Joshua was up early the next day, and a spicy breakfast was served upon emerging from bed. From there, it was out the door and into the cold. We spent the day bouncing around on terrain below the Wave and the Crown, skiing Nina glades, climbing to the Crown, skiing back down through the Wolf glades to a bench above Barley lake, climbing up and skiing Point Break, then skiing out via the skier's left edge of the Avalanche bowl. With the relatively high avalanche danger, we resisted some of the more temping terrain including the Crown and the Wave. At the end of the day, I also opted out of a second hot tub soak in favor of one more run to make it about a 7,000 vertical foot day of excellent powder skiing. It was with some reluctance that we packed up and headed home. The only major hiccup of the trip occurred back at the trailhead when one of our cars refused to start, but we made it back to town in one car, and the second car was retrieved the following day, so no harm done.
I heartily recommend booking a night at the Downing Mountain lodge. There is endless powder skiing terrain, even when avalanche danger is High or Considerable. The terrain lends itself nicely to interesting link ups of different bowls and glades, and the views from the top are always spectacular. The lodge itself is pretty plush, but not too expensive. And the owner, John Leherman, is one of the best people you will ever meet. Anywhere. Book a night today, and if not, be sure to get it on the calendar for next year. I will certainly be back. For more information on the Downing Mountain lodge, go to the website.
|Leah floating through powder at Downing.|
|Dinner at the lodge. Happy Birthday Nate! Photo by Joshua Phillips.|
|Just another powdery ski run at Downing.|
|Ben skiing Point Break.|
|Ben on the last climb.|