Hometown Mountain Shoutout: Bridger Bowl – A Montana Gem

Nathan Longhurst | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Bridger Bowl catching the first glow of sunrise. | Photo: Austin Larson/ facebook

The Bridger Mountains rise dramatically from the plains of Southwest Montana in a continuous, jagged ridge of limestone running for 20 miles. Sweeping down the east face of the range is a snow-sliding paradise: Bridger Bowl Ski Area.

Going big on the Ridge! Photo: Bridger Bowl/ facebook

The terrain at Bridger is separated into two distinct parts. Above the small, simple base area rises a gentle slope, dotted with snowy trees and easy-rolling terrain. As you glide above the mellow groomers and glades on one of the seven lifts, the fabled Ridge looms high above.

Bluebird skies after another big storm. Photo: Bridger Bowl/ facebook

“The Ridge” is a wall of limestone, two thousand feet high and two miles wide, split by countless narrow couloirs choked with deep, airy powder. This hike-access, beacon-required terrain pushes the envelope of what could be considered “in-bounds” skiing, with few hazard markings, untracked powder stashes days after the last storm, and truly gnarly lines. It is a place best explored carefully, with much scouting from below and with a friend who has ventured out before. Once you take the time to learn its secrets, it will reward you with a skiing experience like none other.

Mundy’s Bowl, inbounds terrain, in foreground, with Saddle Peak, an easily accessible backcountry area, behind. Photo: Nathan Longhurst

If the Ridge isn’t gnarly enough, Bridger also has open backcountry gates. Expert skiers and riders can continue along the top of the ridge as far as they like, with access to miles of world-class backcountry terrain.

Hiking the Ridge on a powder day. Photo: Nathan Longhurst

One can not simply talk about Bridger Bowl without waxing poetic about the snow. When a ski area has its own named weather pattern, you know it’s going to deliver. When temperature, moisture, and wind conditions all align, the legendary Bridger Bowl Cloud settles on the mountain. This bulging, dark lenticular can stay parked for days at a time, and it DUMPS. 20-inch days are common, 30-inch days happen most seasons, and any grizzled local will tell you about some legendary 80-inch day (snorkel mandatory) in a bygone winter. The snow itself has a name too –  Coldsmoke. Thanks to the cold, dry Montana air, the powder comes down blissfully light and fluffy, offering the tantalizing possibility of the Perfect Turn.

Going deep on the steeps! Photo: Bridger Bowl/ facebook

While the terrain and snow are spectacular, what truly sets this place apart is the community. At its heart, Bridger is a gathering place for people who love sharing the joy of the mountains. It is a non-profit, community-owned ski area. The eager anticipation buzzing among a small crowd waiting for first chair on a powder day, greeting your favorite patroller along the bootpack, or enjoying a drink with friends after another epic day on the hill — these are the things that make Bridger a truly special place.

Bridger Bowl: Ski the Cold Smoke! Photo: Bridger Bowl/ facebook

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2 thoughts on “Hometown Mountain Shoutout: Bridger Bowl – A Montana Gem

  1. Bridger. Some of the best easy access sidecountry there is. Often too busy. 20 inch dumps happen, but are far from common. 68″ record setting dump in 2003.

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