Turner Mountain Ski Area Schedules Tentative Opening Date

Ski area near Libby hopes to open this weekend

By Dillon Tabish

Ski season is ready to launch at Turner Mountain.

The ski area near Libby is tentatively planning to open this weekend.

The volunteer staff hopes to open the mountain Dec. 26. The ski area would stay open daily through Jan. 3 before returning to its regular schedule of Friday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bruce Zwang, president of the Kootenai Winter Sports board that operates the nonprofit ski area, said the mountain needs less than eight inches to open.

“It looks really favorable,” he said Monday.

Several inches of snow have fallen in the last 24 hours and more is in the forecast, according to the National Weather Service, which could help ensure Turner Mountain’s opening. The summit, with an elevation of 5,942 feet, had a settled base of 22 inches and the base had 10 inches as of midday Monday.

The opening of Turner Mountain marks the third ski area in Northwest Montana to rev up the chairlifts this winter. Blacktail Mountain in Lakeside opened last weekend and Whitefish Mountain Resort opened earlier this month.

Twenty-two miles north of Libby, Turner Mountain has one double chairlift, 22 named runs and 2,110 feet of vertical drop. More than half of the runs are groomed and most are for advanced or expert skiers. The mountain can be rented by private parties on non-operational days.

Skiing in the Libby area dates back to 1936, when residents formed the Kootenai Ski Club and began descending hills around the town. In 1961 Turner opened with a 1,200-foot rope tow. The following season, the community formed Kootenai Winter Sports to begin raising money to install a T-bar lift.

In the late 1990s, Ski Magazine declared that Turner might offer the “best lift-assisted powder skiing in the U.S.”

For more information visit www.skiturner.com.

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