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Low snow forces Beartooth Basin to shut down early

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View of the chairlifts at the Beartooth Basin Ski Area along the Beartooth Pass. ADOBE STOCK


The summer ski area Beartooth Basin announced this week that it’s closing early due to rapid snowmelt that has decimated the area’s historically deep snowpack, even at high elevation.

The 2022-23 winter was the third-snowiest on record for the Montana State University campus, according to data from the National Weather Service in Great Falls. In early April, 125.3 inches of snow had fallen at that location, trailing only 1997 (136.9 inches) and 2018 (126.2 inches).

Beartooth Basin sits at roughly 10,900 feet elevation on the Beartooth Pass about 25 miles outside of Red Lodge. The one-lift operation is typically open from Memorial Day weekend, when the pass opens, through the end of June.

The closure was announced Tuesday on ski area’s Facebook page, where the page administrators wrote, “We had an awesome run, but Mother Nature has not cooperated as of yet. We are up there doing work, and if we by chance get new snow, we may open for a bonus weekend.”

First established in the mid-1960s as a summer training ground for alpine ski racers, the ski area is one of North America’s oldest summer ski training locations, according to its website. It has no lodge or warming hut and is generally considered lift-assisted backcountry skiing.

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