At most ski resorts these days, new restaurants usually open with elegant promises of chef-this and almond-encrusted that, coupled with sparkling reviews in slick websites and glossy real estate-driven magazines.
But when Bridger Bowl, Montana, held its grand opening for the new Alpine Cabin on Saturday, attended by about 50 people, the focus was on what has fueled this little ski area since the beginning: families and community. Because without them, the new mid-mountain restaurant and shelter would’ve had a much more difficult time coming to fruition.
Situated off the Alpine chair along northern boundary, the Alpine Cabin grew out of efforts from the Ric Jonas Memorial Foundation and the Bridger Bowl Foundation to provide a place for skiers and families to gather in this area. When it was clear that the cabin needed additional funding, the groups reached out to the community, and the response was immediate and generous. Inside, there are 160-plus plaques indicating who donated to the project, a reminder that the cabin was not built to make a quick buck, but rather continue to prove why Bridger has become so vital for so many skiers in Montana. With the Alpine Cabin, it's clear that they care enough to help build something that will last long after they are gone.
Surrounded by mellow, intermediate terrain, the cabin's south-facing windows offer scenic views of the Ridge, Bridger Bowl's rugged hike-to zone. While the hut will mostly be used by beginners and families, they will certainly be joined by the occasional Ridge skier, however greasy and unkempt, after he or she re-enters the civilized world from a lap on the Northwest Passage.
Along the walls are oversized classic photos that embrace the area's core skiing roots. Among the photos are shots of Doug Coombs, who honed his big-mountain skills here long before he became famous, and Tom Jungst, a local who appeared in Greg Stump movies back in the day. Outside, groms roll in the snow while their parents drink beer out of plastic cups.
Summing up the grand opening, Christopher Bulger, president of the Bridger Bowl Foundation, made his own elegant promise. "A special place called Bridger Bowl just got a little more special," he said.
Then it was time to take a run. Sluice Box, anyone?