King of the Hill

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Q&A with the new manager of Bridger Bowl.

There’s a new face in town, and apparently, he likes big dumps. This winter, Bridger Bowl will operate under new management. Hiram Towle joins us from small-town Oregon after eight years as general manager of Mt. Ashland Ski Area. We got a chance to catch up with Hiram; here’s a bit of what we covered.

O/B: You’ve had a job at a ski hill for a lot of your adult life. What departments have you worked in?
I started in 2002 at Sunday River, one of the East Coast’s biggest resorts. I was mostly in mountain operations, and after a decade of working there, the thought of being a general manager entered my mind. I moved over to the hotel and restaurant side of things to get a wider grasp on how everything worked before moving to Mt. Ashland in 2014.

I want to be the face of the ski area and lead from the field, but I’m not exactly sure how it will look yet. I will be present, though, I can assure you that.

O/B: What’s a day in the life of a general manager like?
Most of it is spent supporting the team. I’m very hands-on—you’ll see me bumping chairlifts, shoveling snow, checking tickets. I make an effort to be present, to show my face and earn the respect of each department. That said, I have to balance my time. Most everything I do involves some sort of creative problem-solving. My main job is to understand how all the departments tick and how I can best support them.

O/B: Do you have any winter or skiing traditions—snow dances, powder breakfasts, après?
I’m not very superstitious. Our team at Mt. Ashland would make a bonfire, generally the day before Thanksgiving, and honor Ullr. At the end of the day, though, I don’t really believe in long-range forecasts. If you want my long-range forecast, ask me in May and I’ll tell you what happened.

hiram towle, bridger bowl, bridgers, bozeman, skiing, montana

O/B: Speaking of superstitions, have you heard about the Whale?
I have not. My first trip to Montana was my second interview for this position. I’m trying to get ahead of it and do as much research as I can. The Ridge is famous, and I haven’t even skied it yet! I don’t want to be the newbie that comes in and fails to impress the locals with his lack of knowledge. I’ve got a lot to learn.

O/B: Do you have any plans, immediate or future, for Bridger? What can people expect?
First, I have to learn the ski area. I’m not gonna come in guns a-blazin’. There’s already some long-term planning in the works. Really, I’m going to rely on the team to run their ski area. I’ll just ensure that they have the tools to do it. I have a bunch of people to listen to: the board of directors, the team, the community. Bridger is an epic mountain and I’m excited to be a part of it and maintain its status.

O/B: How about the “Hiram on the Hill” video series? That garnered a big following at Mt. Ashland. Do you have anything like that in store for Bridger?
“Hiram on the Hill” was born in Mt. Ashland, so I think moving it here might be some bad juju, like renaming a ship or something. That said, I’m really big on truth in advertising, and I know that Bridger is, too. I want to be the face of the ski area and lead from the field, but I’m not exactly sure how it will look yet. I will be present, though, I can assure you that.