The Last Chance Nordic Ski Club is Helena’s hometown cross country ski club. Membership is open to cross-country skiers of all abilities, and we encourage all skiers to enjoy the Club’s grooming on the MacDonald Pass and Bill Roberts trails. Named for Helena’s famous gold-bearing Last Chance Gulch, LCNSC began in the 1980s as an informal group of local Nordic skiers, whose duties included overseeing the MacDonald Pass Nordic ski trails. In 1996 we incorporated under the laws of the State of Montana as a public benefit corporation for the purpose of encouraging and supporting cross country skiing in Helena, MT.
We groom about fourteen kilometers of trails on MacDonald Pass; these trails unfold just east of the Continental Divide, about fifteen miles west of Helena. When we’re able to do so, we also groom about four kilometers of track on the in-town Bill Roberts Golf Course. We groom Mac Pass and the Golf Course, when snow-depth permits, for both classic and skate skiing. Skiers of all abilities are welcome on either trail, and skiing is free. To defray grooming and other expenses the Club welcomes skiers to become a Last Chance Nordic Ski Club member or make donations. There’s a lot of work done year-around, behind the scenes, to make the MacDonald Pass trails and the Golf Course tracks skiable. Besides grooming four to six days a week, there are snow-machines, rollers, and ginzu’s that need to be purchased and maintained; trails to be kept free of trees, branches, stones, and grass; signs to be erected; maps to be updated; this website to be maintained; restrooms to be maintained and cleaned; grants to be sought and procured; parking lots to be plowed out; and many other large and small but vital tasks. About half the grooming is paid, all other work is done by club members volunteering. Four or so Saturdays a year, our Youth Skiers program provides kids, ages three to twelve, with a couple hours of fun on the snow alongside volunteer instructors and parents while they improve their cross country skiing skills. A weekly Master Skiers program, open to all skiers of all abilities, brings continuing cross country ski education to the eighteen-plus years-old set.
To help members communicate about regional races, exchange trail condition reports, share rides, sell XC ski gear, and so forth, LCNSC moderates a Groups.io email list. Club members are automatically signed up when they join or renew their membership. Alternatively, individuals can sign up for the listserv anytime by sending an email to LastChanceNordicSkiClubListservfirstname.lastname@example.org.
The Last Chance Nordic Ski Club is a Montana non-profit corporation and a federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation. The Club’s Taxpayer Identification Number is 80-0022948.
All the Club’s efforts are funded by membership contributions, grants, and donations. LCNSC has a volunteer board of directors and volunteer program coordinators, and others giving of their time and talents. We’re governed by several documents, including Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. All club meetings are open, subject to Montana law. The Club has no paid officers or year-around employees, but does pay part-time groomers to groom generally four days a week.
Board Officers and Members
Board meetings are open to all. Meeting times, agendas, and minutes are posted on this website.
- President – Laura Cunningham
- Vice President – Pete Behrends
- Secretary – Valerie Kurth
- Treasurer – Cliff Sheets
- Member of the Board – Larry Dolan
- Member of the Board – Tom Flowers
- Member of the Board – Hermes Lynn
- Member of the Board – Luke Osborne
- Member of the Board – Robert Ray
- Communications – Friedrich Drees
- Equipment Maintenance – Bob Richards and Don Harris
- Forest Service Agreements – Stan Bradshaw
- Fund Raising – Erna Jensen
- Golf Course – Dave Dalthorp
- Grants – Cliff Sheets
- Grooming – Larry Dolan
- MacDonald Pass Trail Maintenance – Mark Hall
- Special Events – Robert Ray
- Youth Skiers Program – Pete Behrends
- The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest provides invaluable support and guidance, as well as a conditional use permit for grooming and maintaining the Mac Pass trails.
- We work closely with the City of Helena Parks Department so, when there’s sufficient snow in town, we can groom classic and skate ski tracks on Bill Roberts Golf Course.
- The Club is grateful to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for their support. For example, the new “sweet-smelling toilet” planted in 2013, was made possible with the support of both the Helena National Forest and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
- We’re grateful for The Base Camp’s long-time cooperation, providing affordable skis, boots, and poles to kids.
- The Club is appreciative of its many local businesses and private donors for their assistance in purchasing grooming machines and apparatus.
- Last but not least, we thank our extraordinarily good neighbor, Jeff Battershell, for his unflagging efforts plowing out the Mac Pass parking lot.