By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

RED LODGE – This year’s ski season in southwest Montana will go down as one of the best in memory, and for some, those memories are still being made without chairlift assistance. But one ski area hasn’t even started turning its bull wheels for the season.

Beartooth Basin Ski Area, 25 miles south of Red Lodge, is slated to open in late May. Just one of two lift-accessed summer ski areas in the U.S., Beartooth Basin has nearly 1,000 vertical feet of terrain peppered with cliffs, chutes and cornice drops, all accessed by a pair of Pomas.

“It’s the most snow we have seen in the last decade,” said the area’s operations manager Austin Hart.

On June 5-8, Beartooth Basin will play host to the Fourth Annual Beartooth Summer Session, a four-day event featuring a park, shuttle-accessible backcountry and the steepest summer skiing in North America.

The Booster Strap Big Mountain Slopestyle competition on June 7 will showcase athletes competing in a venue with both big mountain and park features. Following the contest is the Lagunitas Brewing after party in Red Lodge at a venue not yet chosen.

Lift tickets will be discounted during the event, and Portland, Ore.-based ON3P Skis will offer free public demos. Beartooth Mountain Guides, out of Red Lodge, will organize a 3,000-vertical-foot road lap descent from the ski area with shuttle service back to the lifts.

With the heavy snowfall in the Beartooths this winter, conditions should be prime for the Summer Session.