Bridger Mountains

An aerial view of the Bridger Mountains and Bridger Bowl Ski Area. 

LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff

After scuttling plans to start spinning its lifts two weeks ahead of schedule, Bridger Bowl Ski Area has returned to its originally planned opening date of Dec. 8.

"We started off with quite a bit of snow as of early November, and it was looking very favorable with good coverage on the mountain," Doug Wales, the ski area's marketing director, said Tuesday.

But a combination of rain and record-breaking warm temperatures across the state took a toll on Bridger's mountain snowpack last week, he said.

As of Tuesday, the settled base of 29 inches at the mid-mountain weather gauge was less than it had been two weeks earlier, despite a couple inches accumulating Monday morning.

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"We still need to get some more coverage to feel good about getting things going," Wales said. "We don't like to force an opening if we don't feel like we have the conditions to operate."

Bridger wasn't alone in pushing back its start to the season, with Showdown Montana and Maverick Mountain Ski Area also postponing their openings last week.

But overall, mountain snowpack remains above average throughout most of the state. The average moisture content in Southwest and south-central Montana ranged from 144 to 180 percent of normal as of Tuesday, according to snow data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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