HELENA — With the first snowfall of the season this week, many are already thinking about the return of winter sports.
While it still may be a month before the ski lifts start running, there are plenty of opportunities for backcountry and cross country skiing nearby. However, experts say it’s always a good idea to double-check your gear before you head out.
Tim Lynch, manager at The Base Camp in downtown Helena, says that now is the time to check out your gear before you get on that first chair lift.
“October, in the beginning of the year, is a great time to go through your gear and kind of go through your checklist especially with Nordic skiing checking to make sure your boots fit making sure your bindings are tight on the skis, that your bases are waxed, and then also your backcountry kit,” explained Lynch.
Lynch says the busiest time of the year at the shop is whenever it snows. Additionally, the shop gets extremely busy around Christmas and into the new year. he wants to remind folks to get their gear checked out early in order to beat the rush.
“So we encourage folks to come in early and now is a great time to come in and either have your storage wax scraped off or have wax added to your skis. We’re also happy to answer questions on if you're needing a new pair of bindings or if you're looking to upgrade your bindings,” said Lynch.
Once you have your gear tuned up and are ready to hit the snow, there are plenty of easily accessible options nearby. The Continental Divide trail along MacDonald Pass is a local favorite that Lynch recommends.
Great Divide Ski Area also allows guests to travel to the top to get a pre-season run or two in for those who simply can’t wait for the chairlifts to start running. They allow uphill travel year-round except for when lifts are running. Their uphill travel policy is listed on their website and at the bottom of the hill.