By Amy Pearson

Teton Pass Ski Resort got its start in the mid-60s when a local ranching family in the Choteau area decided it was a worthy endeavor. The Crawfords sought an area in the Rockies near their community which would consistently have enough snow and accessibility to sustain a ski hill. Like many ski areas, they started with a rope tow. In 1967, they installed a Poma lift, built a small A-frame lodge, and opened to the public.

Attracting visitors to the ski area proved to be a challenging task for the Crawfords. Many people in the surrounding agricultural communities had never been downhill skiing before. Plowing the old Forest Service logging road leading up to Teton Pass also proved to be quite a task using farm trucks and an old D8 dozer.

In 1973, the Crawford family invested in a chair lift and ran both lifts simultaneously without the modern convenience of electricity. To this day, the lifts and lodge are powered by diesel- fed generators. Technically speaking, the area is eleven miles away from power.

The 80s initiated a time of transition for the ski area. Some folks from Shelby and Conrad obtained ownership and worked to rebrand the hill as Rocky Mountain High. In the 90s, an Austrian man purchased the ski area. Then a group of six farmers and ranchers managed the place for twelve years from 1995-2009.
It was sold to a fellow out of New Zealand in 2010, and current owner Charles Hlavac started managing for him in 2012.

Hlavac attended high school in Choteau and always enjoyed the local ski area. He obtained an engineering degree and lived in a few other places before coming back. After managing and caretaking on the mountain for years, he purchased Teton Pass Ski Area in the summer of 2019. Covid shut them down early in 2020, but they have bounced back since then garnering a fiercely loyal following.

“There are people I won’t see most of the year, and then they are coming up every weekend to ski and buy food. It’s a huge community,” Hlavac says. “This place brings people together.”

My mother Nancy Pearson (Lear) grew up on a ranch north of Fairfield and fondly remembers the days when her whole family would go ski at Teton. One year Nancy and her seven siblings all got wooden skis for Christmas, and from then on, they were up at the hill at least one day every weekend and sometimes both days.

“We carried a tow rope in the car,” Pearson muses. “People were always going in the ditch on the way up to the hill and we would pull each other out. It was just part of it. And it was really fun.”

Pearson remembers packing sandwiches and hot cocoa in thermoses so they could ski most of the day without stopping. She recalls a tight-knit community between the employees and guests who would even help their family keep an eye on her brother Bill who sometimes suffered from epileptic seizures.

My mom and dad first took my oldest brother and me skiing at Teton Pass in the early 90s. It was an immediate hit with us, and we eventually learned all the trails. We spent countless hours racing each other down Many Falls, and bragging about who took the most difficult run.

I had my January birthday parties up there, and I remember begging my parents to make the seventy-mile drive from north of Conrad every weekend.

Hlavac and his partner Melissa are keen to carry the family tradition of skiing at Teton Pass forward. Though the work is significant, Hlavac says the reward is providing a safe and awesome ski area in a place that wouldn’t have anything else. They suspect that their thirteen-month-old son Henrik will likely be donning skis by himself this year.

Teton Pass is open Friday-Sunday and some Mondays. They are aiming to open on December 9th this season.

Interested in Advertising?

You've made a great decision! Send us a message and we'll be in touch.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt