Story and photo by Tyler Allen

Skiers in Southwest Montana this
spring have experienced too much
of a good thing. The heavy snowfall
this winter and continued precipitation
of the past month had a
significant impact on the spring skiing
season.
The Beartooth Highway
traditionally opens for the season
Memorial Day weekend to allow
travelers to drive between Red
Lodge and Cooke City, and affords
skiers easy roadside access to the
incredible terrain of the Beartooth
plateau.
The significant snow depth has
made plowing the road a slow task
this year, and the Wyoming side
of the highway isn’t scheduled to
open until Friday, June 10. This
means access to the famed Gardiner
Headwall and Reefer Ridge will be
pushed back at least a week.
The Montana Department of Transportation
has been plowing the road in
earnest from Red Lodge up to the
state line, which would provide
ski access to the top of the Rock
Creek drainage. However, continued
snowfall and rockslides have
hampered the work of plows and
road crews, and opening the road
will be weather-dependent.
Sylvan Pass, near the east entrance
of Yellowstone National Park, has
also been shut down to skiers this
spring due to unstable snow and
major avalanches repeatedly burying
the road. Currently, that road
is closed from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.,
when solar heating could cause
the large, south-facing avalanche
paths to slide over the road.
Skiers hoping to climb the high
peaks in this area and ski the
Beartooth Pass will have to be
patient this year and let the
weather, as well as the snowpack,
settle out.

Note: Plow crews resumed work clearing snow from the last few miles of US-212, the Beartooth Highway. After clearing snowfall which accumulated last week, they will finish opening the road between West Summit and the Montana-Wyoming State Line. Weather conditions permitting, this should allow the entire length of road between Red Lodge and Cooke City, Montana, to open to travelers by next weekend. beartoothhighway.com