Powder hounds are just starting to drool and already the state is down a ski resort. Teton Pass announced last month that, due to difficulties retaining insurance coverage, the mountain will remain closed for the entire 2011-2012 season. With forecasters predicting another bountiful crop of La Niña snow, the timing couldn't be worse.
Teton Pass re-opened last season after languishing on the real estate market for two years. New Zealand native and millionaire resort owner Nick Wood purchased the 401-acre resort west of Choteau in the summer of 2010 for nearly $300,000. He poured close to $2 million into upgrades and building renovations and began planning for future expansion on Mount Lockhart.
But for all Wood's investment, Teton Pass failed to consider the age of its main lift. According to the resort's Facebook page, "We were informed very recently that the grips that hold the chairs on the rope are no longer acceptable to the insurance company due to incidents at other ski hills with similar grips last winter." The closure was announced on Facebook, in local media and on the resort's website with the addendum that all pre-sold season passes would be refunded.
The news comes as a disappointment for skiers and snowboarders on the hunt for cheap passes and short lift lines in western Montana. Of Wood's many promises, he made good on keeping ticket prices low. Adult day passes were listed at $38 for this season, roughly the same rate as other nearby resorts like Discovery and Lookout Pass.
Messages of frustration littered Teton Pass's Facebook page following the announcement. Some launched personal attacks on Wood and the resort, while others questioned whether Teton Pass could survive without a full winter's revenue.
Wood has assured locals that the resort will do its best next spring to address the insurance company's concerns. Teton Pass, he says, intends to reopen in winter 2012.