Early Season Skiing: First Turns of the Year at Lolo Pass


It was hard to image a better ski day, especially considering that it was my first day on skis since May.

Lookout Pass, Lost Trail Pass, and Lolo Pass had all picked up 16 to 24 inches of snow in the past week. Lookout Pass opened for the season on November 18. I was super jealous of all the stories of great early season skiing. It was time to make some turns of my own.

Work and family obligations prevented me from skiing until Sunday. I was worried I had missed out on all the fun. Fortunately, I was wrong.

We left Missoula at 8 in the morning and headed up Lolo Pass. We were excited to ski, but expectations were pretty low. At the very least, we knew we would get some exercise and fresh air.

Portions of the road were snow-covered and the snow level was much lower than we thought it would be. We became a little more optimistic. There were no cars in the pullout and the previous tracks were almost completely filled in.

The clouds slowly gave way to blue skies as we started skinning. It had turned into a picture-perfect day.


We took three laps. The snow was light and deep. Temps stayed in the 20s all day long. Despite all of the obvious logs, stumps, and rocks littering Lolo Pass, we didn’t hit anything.

My dog, Pika, was chest-deep every step of the way. She loves the snow and loves chasing me down the mountain. She would have much preferred if our day ended after our second lap, though. It was her first day of the season, too, and I have not been able to run her as much I usually do. We both need to get in better shape.

It ended up being very memorable day. Not just good early season skiing – a straight-up good ski day. Here’s to many more this season.

Ski your face off.






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Travis Goodkind is the owner of the Missoula business Backcountry Racks & Skis. The Vermont native moved out west after college 10 years ago in pursuit of bigger mountains and has never left. He spends his free time exploring Montana’s mountains, trails, and rivers with wife Julie, son Asher, and black lab Pika. Check out his blog, Backcountry Freeskier, for more powdery goodness.