Who Owns the Top of Lone Peak?

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SAM Magazine--Bozeman, Mont., January 2, 2004--The ownership of the summit of the 11,166-foot Lone Peak, which is home to Big Sky, the Yellowstone Mountain Club and the new Moonlight Basin, is the subject of what is to become a court battle.

According to the Billings Gazette, Tim Blixseth, owner of the Yellowstone Club, has filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service claiming that it had erroneously deeded a 20-acre parcel--the peak of the mountain--to Moonlight Basin. It is no secret that Blixseth has been trying for several years to purchase Big Sky Ski Resort from Boyne USA Resorts. At the same time, he also has his eye on constructing a lift to the top of the peak for the Yellowstone Club, thus being able to advertise 4,000 feet of vertical, which would add about $200,000 to the value of the remaining 725 lots for sale at the private ski club--a $140 million jump.

The land in question was deeded to Moonlight Basin by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, but Blixseth claims the land was promised to him as part of a land swap he executed in 1998, giving the Forest Service Big Sky Lumber land in exchange for the parcel at the top. To further complicate matters, there is no precise survey and there are boundary issues with a neighboring forest and wilderness area.

Moonlight Basin has no intention of giving up the land saying that it is integral to their future plans, as well.