Butte, Montana receives an average of 62 inches of snow per year, and a group of Orediggers are revitalizing the Montana Tech Ski Club in hopes that students can enjoy all that the winter wonderland has to offer.
Quinn Cox is president of the Ski Club. He is a software engineering student from Soldotna, Alaska, who has been skiing since first grade.
“I like skiing because it is a great way to go outside in the winter and get some exercise,” Cox said. “It really calms me down after a long week of classes.”
Students have been working to revitalize the Ski Club since last winter.
“The Ski Club’s mission is to make skiing easier to access and cheaper for Montana Tech students,” Cox said.
Downhill skiing is a fun sport, but it is often expensive and can be cost-prohibitive on a student’s budget. Ski Club is working to offer a rideshare to help students without cars, reduced rates or group lodging accommodations at resorts across the state, gear, a wax table, and lessons from members for students who want to learn.
“I would like to have all snow sports involved, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding,” Cox said.
Each type of winter sport has a distinct vibe that will appeal to different people. Cox enjoys both cross-country and downhill skiing. Nordic, or cross-country skiing, is different from downhill skiing in that it often takes the skier across flatter terrain, rather than down a steep run.
“Cross-country skiing is a lot more laid back. It’s like going out for a walk. It is a great way to get out, especially if you don’t have gear because the school rents gear,” Cox said. “Downhill is a lot more of an adrenaline sport that’s fast.”
Montana Tech’s location makes it the perfect home base for both type of skiers. The university is located 20 minutes from Homestake Lodge. Homestake Lodge was just voted #6 on USA Today’s Best Cross Country Ski Resorts 2023. Cross-country skiers also enjoy close access to Moulton Reservoir Ski Trails, located on Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest north of Butte, and a number of trails located at Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area located a short drive away outside of Anaconda. The Mile High Nordic Ski Education Foundation grooms Moulton and Mount Haggin trails.
Skiers can also leave campus and be at Discovery Ski Area, located near Philipsburg, in about an hour. Cox says Discovery has free cross-country options, and lots of opportunity for downhill skiers for all skill levels.
“Discovery has some really easy trails to learn on, but it also has room to grow,” Cox said. “The front side is mostly your easier blue and green trails, and the backside is harder trails, reds and blacks, with a decent amount of variety.”
This year, a lack of snow in the area around Butte has Cox working to organize trips to other areas, however.
“We are setting up ride programs,” Cox said. “I would love to take a group.”
Cox says more than 20 students have expressed interest in the club this year, and he expects that number to grow substantially.
“You can make some really good friends,” Cox said.
The Ski Club will hold its first meeting on Jan. 17 at 4 p.m. in ELC Room 203. The club will meet in the same room on Jan. 18 at 5 p.m.
Members of the Montana Tech community who would like to donate gently used gear to the club can contact Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org.