By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Outdoor enthusiasts hungering to ski and tube at the end of Beaver Creek Highway may have to wait for their day in the snow, as the Pah-Nah-To Recreational Park struggles to deal with this weekend's heavy snowfall.
"We just come from there and there's 40 inches of snow up there," said Jason Belcourt, project coordinator for the Rocky Boy Recreation Tourism Project, which oversees the park. "We're going to have to go back and reset our lifts to accommodate that much snow." Belcourt said he'd like to open the Screaming Beaver Tubing Slide on Thursday, but it will be difficult with that much snow.
"It depends on how well our grooming equipment is going to work for us in this deep of snow," he said.
Belcourt said a crew will be grooming beginning today. The slide is located just below Bear Paw Ski Bowl.
Announcements will be made on the radio Wednesday about whether the tubing slide can open Thursday, he said. If not, it will open the weekend of Jan. 10-11.
Dave Martens, hill manager of Bear Paw Ski Bowl, said today the ski hill won't be able to open until the weekend of Jan. 10-11.
"We can't open this weekend because we're not ready," he said. "We can't even get out there. With that much snow, it's going to take us three days to pack it."
Martens said there already had been a base of 6 inches to a foot before last weekend's snowstorm, which he said was probably the biggest dump the hill has seen in more than 20 years.
"So with this new snow on top of it we should have some really good conditions. But it's just we have to get it packed before we can open it to the public."
Despite the heavy snowfall, Martens said there is no avalanche danger at the hill. For avalanche conditions to exist, he said, there had to have been a good snowpack already. Subsequent layers of snow and fluctuations in temperature and wetness of the snow can then create a problem. Bear Paw does not have those conditions, he said.
"It's not crusted over or anything. It's just powder," he said. "There's absolutely no avalanche danger."
Belcourt said the area's cross- country ski trails will be groomed in time for the weekend of Jan. 10-11.
Although there will not be any groomed snowmobile trails this year, a variety of logging roads and open terrain on and around Eagle Creek, Moses Mountain and Miner's Gulch can be used for snowmobiling, he said.
Harvey Friede, tribal road maintenance director, said his department will begin plowing Beaver Creek Highway from the reservation line to the ski hill this afternoon.
"We'll have it ready for them," he said.
The 7,000-acre Pah-Nah-To Recreational Park, formerly known as the Chippewa Cree Recreation Area, was opened by the Chippewa Cree tribal council in the 1970s to spur economic development, Belcourt said. The park is open to tribal members and nonmembers. Nonmembers can buy permits at the hill on the weekend, or can call 395-4207 during the week.
Permits for cross-country skiing cost $3 for children, $5 for adults, and $35 for a season pass. Permits for snowmobiling cost $35 for a season, $6 per day and $10 for a weekend. The tubing run costs $8 for kids and adults for two hours, and $6 per child for groups.
The Chippewa Cree Tribe operates the tubing run. Bear Paw Ski Bowl is owned by the tribe but managed by a Havre nonprofit group called the Snow Dance Ski Association, Martens said.
Lift tickets are $12 for children ages 9-18, and $15 for skiers over 18. Children 8 and under ski free.