Chief Joseph Pass 12/21/22

All ski trails at Chief Joseph Pass were groomed today, and saw almost no traffic so they are in great condition. But there is a reason they saw so few skiers: it’s really cold! If you come up to ski Thursday be prepared for temperatures well below zero. It will be too cold for skate skiing, but should be great classic skiing for the extra hardy among us.

Fairgrounds 12/25/2022

Fairgrounds update from Chief groomer Tony:

Took advantage of a weather window and cleaned up the Fairgrounds this morning.

3″ of dry fluffy snow on top of wet, soggy snow, it almost looked like a lesson in futility (make a bigger mess out of it) but it smoothed out nice. Challenging flat light, went off trail in a few spots due to driving by braille moments. So easy to get lost out in the back lot!

Attempted to set track, it wasn’t cooperating, so I gave up trying.

As it cools off and it sets up more it will be great skating all weekend.

Chief Joseph Pass, Multi Use Trails

This year we are make some changes to our grooming program for the multi use trails at Chief Joseph Pass. The current plan is to groom these trails about once a month. We will likely also not be grooming all of the connector trails between Gibbons Pass Road and Overlook each time. The Ski Trails will still be groomed weekly. The changes are being made for several reasons:

Grooming the Multi Use Trails has gotten more difficult. A large fire break was cut along side Gibbons Pass Road as part of fighting the 2020 Trail Creek Fire. Without the protection from the wind that the forest granted there are many large snow drifts. Grooming through these drifts takes significant time, and the drifts re-form quickly.

Decreased Grant Funding. The amount of grant funding we receive from Montana FWP to help pay for grooming has decreased about 30% in the past few years.

Increase diesel costs. We partner with Lost Trail ski area to groom these trails, they do the grooming with a snowcat that runs on diesel, and diesel prices have gone up significantly the past few years. Diesel is the single biggest cost for this grooming.

Usage. We could have dealt with the increased costs by reducing grooming frequency on the ski trails and multi use trails. Grooming each trail system costs about the same amount, but the ski trails serve significantly more users who are dependent on well groomed trails.

If you are interested in seeing the multi use trails groomed more often and in helping pay for it, let’s talk. Grooming these trails costs about $600 each time, and we could easily add grooming on specific days, or increase the overall frequency if someone wants to help pay for it.

Como Update

Trails at Lake Como currently have good snow coverage, and are well packed powder. Conditions are good for skiing with classic skis or metal edge touring skis. Skate skiing is possible from the trailhead up 550 to the middle road junction, but it is definitely advanced conditions. We are planning on grooming later this week, but the exact timing depends on weather.

We are going to hold off on grooming Lower Road(550a) for now. The amount of truck traffic on it means any grooming is a waste of resources. We are working with the USFS on a solution to keeping wheeled motorized vehicles off it, and if that happens, or if the snowpack gets deep enough to keep trucks out we will start grooming it again. Unfortunately this means there are no beginner/green groomed trails at Como for now.

Chief Joseph Pass 12/9/2022

Most ski trails at Chief Joseph Pass were groomed Thursday, with the exception of Banshee, Middle Fork, and Joseph Creek, which still need a little more snow to fill in some of the creek crossings.

Last weekend we reached the point in the season where grooming at Chief Joseph Pass switches from our volunteers on snowmobiles to a Snowcat from Lost Trail ski area. Because of the abundant early snow this happened several weeks earlier than the last few seasons. This means wide flat trails, nearly perfect corduroy, and tracks on most trails. This also allowed our volunteer crew to shift their efforts to other locations: Lake Como, The Ravalli County Fairgrounds, and a new location we are going to try out grooming(More info on that soon).

We will be having a club meeting in the parking lot at Chief Joseph Pass this Saturday, December 9 at noon. Please join us to meet other club members, talk about what you want from the ski club, and help elect a new board of directors.

Hamilton Fairgrounds

Fairgrounds update from our chief groomer Tony:

Still going! Was able to do laps tonight with the Ginzu groomer and it cleaned up nicely!

Great place to learn or practice your skate skiing!

Not enough snow for tracks, we’re working with a hard 3″-5″ platform of snow over grass and dirt, keeping our fingers crossed for more!


After spending all day friday at Como, our chief groomer Tony headed back out to the fairgrounds friday night. Here is his report:

Como didn’t quite wear me out, so I went over to the Fairgrounds with the Ginzu groomer this evening and cleaned up the skate lanes.

We somehow made it through another warm spell, track is firm with just a few thin spots.

Still need more new snow to re set the tracks.

Should be good skating in the morning!

Como 12/2/2022

The volunteer grooming crew were able to get “ALL” of the trails at Como rough packed today!

Probably too soft for skating, we packed down some deep snow today with just rollers so there is not a lot of compaction yet.

Same goes for bikes, please don’t even try, it’s too soft with no base.

A reminder to the bike crowd, these are ski trails, not multi use trails. We ask that riders stay off the corduroy if they are sinking more than1/2″ and/or leaving more than tread marks, ruts are not cool.

Also same goes for hikers, these are ski trails, not hiking routes, if you are sinking in, please stop and find somewhere else to hike.

Otherwise, park at the Boat ramp parking, hike up the footpath to the 550/550A intersection and ski from there, everything is packed!

The touring conditions will be awesome!