Skiers and snowboarders alike took to the slopes on Christmas Eve to enjoy a beautiful day at Montana Snowbowl. 

A snow storm early in the week made for a good snow pack, but the sun was shining and there were only a few clouds in the sky Sunday morning. 

Ian Sutherland was hitting the mountain to celebrate his 33rd birthday. It's something that has turned into a tradition for him.

"Just getting out, relaxing, being in the woods and by yourself. Just forgetting about all the everyday bullcrap," Sutherland said of the joys of snowboarding. Sutherland has been snowboarding for 17 years and Snowbowl is his favorite place to go. 

Not far behind, getting ready for the day was Matt Sylvester and his 4-year-old daughter Lucy, whom he said is a third generation "Snowbowler." 

Sylvester said it is a "daily tradition" for skiers to try and get out once the season starts and that he asked for two feet of snow for Christmas. When asked what his favorite part about skiing was, he deflected to his daughter. 

"Jumps," Lucy exclaimed with a smile as her father pulled on her pink mittens, adding that she likes to go fast. 

Even though the temperature was in the single digits, it couldn't stop Joe Lustik from working up a sweat. As Director of Volunteer Ski Patrol, he and a colleague returned to the base after setting up some fencing along the boundaries. 

Lustik said it was a good opening week at Snowbowl, although there were a few injuries on Saturday.

"The hardest part is sharing somebody's misery, having someone up here loving the outdoors like we all do and have their day ruined — if not their season — by an injury is sad," Lustik said. "We all have some empathy for each other when an injury takes us out."

He added that while there is no "right way" to have a good time, it is important to know your limits and abilities on the mountain. 

One thing is for certain, everyone has a personal preference for their ideal ski conditions. 

Both Sutherland and Sylvester like to get out when it is dumping snow. 

Sam Selisch said he prefers it to snow a lot over night and then have a clear day.

Miles Hess, visiting from Portland, doesn't mind when the temperature is a little bit warmer so he can ski in just a sweatshirt. 

No matter the case, people continuously shuffled onto the chair lift and up the mountain to get their runs in for the day, as the ski season is officially underway. 

Montana Snowbowl is located 12 miles northwest of Missoula and is now open daily, except for Christmas day. 

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