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Published October 2001. This article does not reflect any lift upgrades or terrain expansions since then.

In March 2001 I was among about 50 ski journalists who accepted an invitation to ski at the new private Yellowstone Club while at a convention at nearby Big Sky. While the mountain already had 4 lifts and 2,700 vertical of skiing over 1000+ acres, the only other infrastructure present then were 3 lodges and 16 mid-mountain guest cabins. 70 of the projected 864 memberships had then been sold, and the first homes were scheduled to be built in summer 2001, along with a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course. Also available to members in summer will be an equestrian center, 14 miles of private fly-fishing streams and 40 miles of hiking and biking trails. The Yellowstone Club property is bounded on the north by Big Sky ski area and on the west entirely by wilderness.

Membership initiation fee is $250,000, with annual dues of $16,000. Members are expected to purchase property and build a home, with total cost likely in the $3-5 million range. Later there will be a larger base facility, the Warren Miller Lodge (he is Director of Skiing), with condos ranging from $500,000 to $3 million. The Yellowstone Club is the vision of Montana timber entrepreneur Tom Blixseth, who assembled the Club property by exchanging parcels of land adjacent to Yellowstone National Park which will be preserved from development. He and his wife comprise the membership committee, and they envision a low-key family-oriented environment. "We have a simple motto, " he says, "Check your ego at the gate and pick it up when you leave. If you can't accept that, then you shouldn't apply."

For more information check the Yellowstone Club website. Dick Needham wrote most of the Inside Tracks article, but I supplied the following analysis of snowfall and ski conditions:

Terrain Difficulty






Var. Index

Yellowstone Club







From Big Sky’s Lone Peak, Yellowstone Club’s groomed runs are visible to the south. Less obvious are the Pioneer Ridge steeps or the backside gladed area. We’ll briefly analyze the terrain and snow conditions with specific emphasis upon the impact of the unusually low skier density.


Lift Serviced





Snow Conditions




High Mths

Low Mths


Direction of Exposure




GE 90 in.

LT 30 in.

Base Depth





Yellowstone Club, Mont. 8,920












Snowfall stats are from the adjacent Big Sky resort. [Elevations and exposures are specific to Yellowstone Club] We expect Yellowstone’s conditions to be more consistent due to more favorable exposure as well as less skier traffic. While Pioneer Ridge is 1,200 feet lower than Big Sky’s Lone Peak, it is far less rocky and should attain adequate coverage earlier in the season. Base area coverage will be enhanced by snowmaking beginning in 2001-02, and we would expect good coverage of the groomed runs by Christmas most of the time. The expert Pioneer Ridge terrain will be best mid-January to mid-March. Spring conditions will usually be better than Big Sky’s with the more northern exposure.



Terrain Type:

Cruising: Manager Jon Reveal formerly oversaw operations at Keystone and Snowmass, so the grooming is impeccable. The low skier traffic will allow perfect corn snow to develop in spring on most of the groomed terrain. The groomers are slightly steeper along the north-facing Lake Lift than the east-facing Lodge and American Spirit chairs.

Moguls: Surely you jest. No skier traffic means no moguls. If you need a bump fix, take the connector lift (to be built in 2001) into Big Sky and ski Challenger for a while.

Steeps: Even experts are pampered at the Yellowstone Club, as the top of Pioneer Ridge has obviously been worked over to smooth out rocks and create a gradual groomed run along the top before deciding which steep run to hit off skier's right. There are numerous steep shots of up to 800 vertical, of which Stein’s run had the best snow and sustained fall line on our visit. The top entrances are often narrow and there would undoubtedly be more of them with more normal snowfall than we saw in 2001. The ridgeline groomer continues around to the backside if the chute entrances look too intimidating upon closer inspection.

Wide Open Spaces: The steep Pioneer Ridge terrain is the only area clear of trees, mainly because it is subject to avalanche control. The long and wide-open south face of Big Sky’s Lone Peak is very visible from the Yellowstone Club, so you can ski over there too when conditions are right.

Trees: The backside Ching Forest is lightly gladed for 500-1,000 vertical. Though it is relatively short, it is very wide and offers many intermediate-pitched lines of ungroomed snow. The trees close out below 9,000 feet, so a couple of runs have been cut through the lower forest, ending in the back track around to the Lake Lift.

Powder: "Private Powder" is one of Yellowstone Club’s key selling points. With 10-20 people per day on the hill in Montana’s cold midwinter climate powder should accumulate over small storms and preserve for several days thereafter. Some of the normally groomed runs are left alone in storms to provide an ideal setting for intermediates to ski powder. Also, employees are not allowed to ski untracked runs before members and guests.


Intermediates: There is an abundance of intermediate terrain. Also, the opportunity to ski powder and the Ching Forest glades in a low-pressure environment will be very appealing to most aspiring skiers.

Novices: The high level of service and quiet ambience should make most novices very comfortable.

Children: Yellowstone Club is marketing itself with a strong family orientation. Day care was already available in 2001. Children’s programs are planned for both the winter and summer attractions.