Pros: Great value, uncrowded
Cons: Not enough difficult terrain
I went skiing last weekend with a friend who was on a budget and we decided to try out Teton Pass. I couldn't find a lot of information on the internet about it so our expectations were pretty low but we were pleasantly surprised. Teton is a small but fun hill with beautiful scenery and better snow than I expected.
- Teton Pass is probably the most uncrowded ski hill I have ever been to. We skied right onto the chair all day and seldom had more than a few people on the same run as us. It often felt like we had the place all to ourselves.
- The conditions were surprisingly good. Obviously this will vary depending on the year and the weather, but this was the last weekend of March and the mountain was still in mid-winter condition. Coverage was excellent - it was my first day on brand new skis and the bases didn't even get a scratch. I would take any statements you may have read about Teton not getting much snow with a grain of salt.
- This hill is an excellent value. At only $29/day for an adult pass, it's one of the cheapest I've found. If you don't have gear, they offer a lift pass/rentals combo deal for only $39/day.
- Teton Pass is an excellent place to learn to ski. There is a lot of green and blue terrain where beginners and intermediates will feel comfortable. There's enough variety to be entertaining but very few places where learning skiers can really get into trouble.
- Access. Teton Pass is out in the middle of nowhere, and there is no on-hill accommodation. Your only choices for a hotel are 40 miles away in Choteau, and that means a minimum of an hour's drive each way to and from the hill. They're rough miles too - the access road is narrow and winding and much of it is gravel. You can make it in a car without too much difficulty but it's rough going.
- Limited facilities. Teton Pass's base area consists of a rental shop and a day lodge. That's it. There is no night life to speak of, and eating options are limited to the items offered in the day lodge. Teton Pass is a ski hill for people who go to ski and not much else.
- Teton Pass is a pretty easy hill. Most of their black runs would probably be blues at other resorts. There are a few challenging trails like Firewater and Slim Jim, but unfortunately the runs aren't very long. There are several short runs through the trees like Emma's and Many Falls that aren't very steep but ski like the tight little trails you used to love as a kid. Teton Pass has only one chairlift and it doesn't go terribly high, meaning that if you ski fast it will rarely take you more than 3-5 minutes to reach the base. Teton also has a somewhat awkward platter lift (just installed this year) that provides access to some nice glade skiing in an area thinned out by a past forest fire. The pitch is steep enough to present a challenge for advanced skiers, but it won't have anyone quaking in their boots.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Teton Pass. There isn't anything there to truly challenge expert skiers, but there is enough variety on the hill to keep most people entertained for a day. Teton has announced plans to install another lift in 2011 that will reach higher up on the mountain and open up a lot of more advanced terrain. It may mean that they'll crank the prices up a couple bucks, but from what I could see up there it will be worth it. Considering the value, the lack of crowds, and the good snow, I'll be giving Teton Pass another shot next year.