First-ever ski guide to give backcountry tours of Bitterroot National Forest


HAMILTON, Mont. - John Lehrman is an expert explorer. He knows the Bitterroot National Forest so well, the Forest Service has permitted him to guide skiers through public lands.

Before Lehrman was granted a special land use permit by the Forest Service on February 25, his guests at Downing Mountain Lodge had to have all the knowledge of the area on their own.

Lehrman has been skiing the area for 22 years and running his lodge for the past five years.

He has done his best to inform and direct all backcountry ski enthusiasts who visit his lodge, but not being on the mountain with them makes it easy for even intermediate skiers to get into a sticky situation.

"Knowledge of the area, weather conditions, avalanche preparedness, all that stuff can be time consuming," Lehrman says. "This will give access to skiers who want to make that jump to backcountry, but maybe don't have the time to invest in all that that entails."

Lehrman says if a skier has basic downhill skiing experience and can get a hold of backcountry gear, he can do the rest.

His background in forestry and wildlife biology gives Lehrman a unique niche in guided backcountry skiing tours.

He wants to implement his knowledge of the local wildlife and avalanche behavior in his tours so his guests will have more confidence in explorations of the Bitterroot National Forest.

Spring snow season has over a month left. You can find out more about John Lehrman and his lodge above Hamilton here.

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