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Big Sky -- Questions about Lone Peak

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

A group of us will go to Big Sky this winter for a week of skiing and relaxation (no wives or girlfriends allowed cool.gif), and I have a question about getting down from the top of Lone Peak.

 

Is Liberty Bowl ever groomed?  What is its general condition, day in and day out?  I can ski well and with confidence anything groomed, regardless of pitch, crud or width, but am not a big fan of moguls or powder.  I can get through moguls, but not very well and am not really interested in learning.  However, I really want to take the Lone Peak Tram to the top AND ski down.  From what I've read, Liberty Bowl looks like the easiest way down from the top.  Just in case, what about South Face?  Is it much tougher than Liberty Bowl?  In general, given my lack of ability and interest in moguls and powder, what are my odds of getting down from the top of Lone Peak and enjoying it at the same time?

 

Your thoughts and advice on the foregoing would be greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 16
Liberty Bowl isn't groomed so it does get moguled, and if it snows it's gonna have powder. It 's 1400' of exposed slope, and has good pitch (sorta steep) with no shelter from ugly weather. Oh yeah, it's often boney. Try it on a clear day in good weather, you might find it a pleasurable challenge. If you don't give it a try you'll regret a missed chance.

JTN
post #3 of 16

Can't speak for the day in and day out conditions, but when I was there last February it was riddled with moguls and rocks just to make it into Liberty Bowl.  Once in the bowl, the size of moguls diminished, but it definitely was not groomed.  I'm sure conditions would be different with more snow.  Check with patrol or other skiers when you are there to see how the peak is skiing. 

 

You could always take the tram to the top and take a look for yourself.  I saw a bunch of people when I was there, that would ride the tram up, take pictures, and then ride it back down. 

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
That's great info. Thanks for helping out. Looks like I'll go up early in the day when the weather's good. Definitely want to give it a try. Will get two weeks of skiing in colorado earlier in the season, so I'll have the opportunity to work on moguls prior to going to BS.
post #5 of 16

When I skied Liberty Bowl while in Big Sky last March, it was thin at top where you had to pick your way through some exposed rocks, and then it was basically windblown crud with ripples in the surface making it interesting to get down smoothly.  Howver I was told that conditions were better at other times of the week so it really depends on what the conditions are for any given day.

 

But that is skiing.  You have to be aware of changing conditions and be prepared to handle them in order to get down any difficult slope safely.  BTW skiing moguls reguarly is the best way I can think of to learn how to ski changing and mixed conditions.  So if you really want to enjoy your Big Sky experience as well as become a better skier, consider taking a few lessons while skiing in Colorado prior to heading to Big Sky.  You may even want to take a class at Big Sky that will take you to Liberty Bowl where you will have the instruction and support of an instructor.

 

IMHO learning to ski well off piste and to be able to handle just about anything in your way is THE great joy of skiing that gives you a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you safely get down that rock exposed double black diamond run.

 

Good luck,

 

Rick G

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tervizeks View Post

A group of us will go to Big Sky this winter for a week of skiing and relaxation (no wives or girlfriends allowed cool.gif), and I have a question about getting down from the top of Lone Peak.

 

Is Liberty Bowl ever groomed?  What is its general condition, day in and day out?  I can ski well and with confidence anything groomed, regardless of pitch, crud or width, but am not a big fan of moguls or powder.  I can get through moguls, but not very well and am not really interested in learning.  However, I really want to take the Lone Peak Tram to the top AND ski down.  From what I've read, Liberty Bowl looks like the easiest way down from the top.  Just in case, what about South Face?  Is it much tougher than Liberty Bowl?  In general, given my lack of ability and interest in moguls and powder, what are my odds of getting down from the top of Lone Peak and enjoying it at the same time?

 

Your thoughts and advice on the foregoing would be greatly appreciated.

 

If you really have no interest in moguls or powder then I think your desire to ski from the top of lone peak is kind of misguided... Because that is exactly what you will find -  in addition to a lot of windblown crud. Big sky has so much terrain that you will love in other part of the mountain (Andesite Mt, And the runs off of swift current on the front side) and be able to enjoy with your current skill set that there is no reason to step so far out side your comfort zone, unless you really want to go there. 

 

I spent a week skiing big sky in late march in 2009 (my wife was attending ESA) a big snow year and we got serious dump of snow on that trip (12" a day for 6 days). I still hit a surprising number of rocks on lone peak. The mountain is big and exposed and can be very hard to find your way arround if the snow is moving or flat light and that's just the way it is. Liberty bowl - the easiest way down from lone peak - is a big SE facing bowl pitch is a bit under 40*. Liberty Bowl wasn't moguls when I was there and that aspect seems to get enough wind loading that I suspect you could usually find places or times of day (early)  where the wind blown snow fills in the moguls. Maybe a local can chime in, but I don't think anything on lone peak gets the traffic to really mogul up (like what you see in other resorts)  unless its been a while since it has snowed. I also saw no evidence of a road  that a groomer could use to access the top of lone peak. 

 

If you plan to go there, I would suggest taking a few lessons. Learning to ski with finesse and touch in the moguls will help, so will learning how to really drive a ski with authority and carve more confidently which is a skill that very much translates into good skiing in an open spaces like Liberty bowl. 


Edited by tromano - 7/15/12 at 12:42pm
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Many thanks for the additional input.  Each year I take at least one lesson, usually at the end of my first week skiing, in order to keep improving and to check my progress.  I've just never been a fan of moguls and powder.  I get such a rush of enjoyment from carving on groomers that I've never felt the need or desire to really explore moguls and powder.  The carving just doesn't get old for me.  In any case, we're doing a week in Steamboat and a week at Copper, so I'll make a concerted effort to get out of my comfort zone and improve my skills in different areas.  As for Big Sky, I'll explore the whole mountain and will love every minute of it.  I just want to go to the very top AND ski down...  "Why do you climb mountains?"  "Because they're there."

post #8 of 16

If all you can ski confidently is groomers, then the tram is beyond your skill set. I'm sure you could probably survive skiing it from the top, but If I was on the patrol there, and you asked me that question, I'd recommend you didn't go there. It isn't intermediate terrain, and inadequate skills could be a hazard to yourself and others.

 

If you decided to go there anyway, it would be very wise to have someone with you to show you the way, it is very easy to get lost up on top if you're not used to it, and you might end up on something much more than you bargained for.

 

Consider your responsibility in going there pursuant to Montana Law, which in part states:

 

A skier shall know the range of the skier's ability and safely ski within the limits of that ability and the skier's equipment so as to negotiate any section of terrain or ski slope and trail safely and without injury or damage. A skier shall know that the skier's ability may vary because of ski slope and trail changes caused by weather, grooming changes, or skier use.

post #9 of 16

Not a local but skied there 25 - 30 times in the past 25 years.  Volantaddict is right that the peak is probably beyond your skill set if you can only ski groomers comfortably and safely.  Liberty bowl is the easiest way down but it is not easy.  A solid upper-intermediate who can safely ski steep ungroomed (slowly and carefully) could get down Liberty bowl in good conditions.  Don't think of skiing anywhere else off the peak -- very steep experts only skiing that could be very dangerous if you lack the skills.

 

Here's a suggestion:  you get to the tram that takes you to the peak by riding the bowl triple chair.  Take the triple chair but don't ski down to the tram.  Instead, ski to your right (clockwise) to the bowl.  Most people ski the first one-third because it is the easiest. Start there.  If you are struggling there, stop and don't try the peak.  If that's easy for you then take another run to the last third (south wall) where it is the steepest.  If you can ski the south wall safely it is about the pitch you will find in Liberty bowl.

 

The good thing about the peak is that you can go up there, look at the conditions and then decide.  You don't have to ski it to get back down.  Take your pictures then go back down on the tram.  Lots of people do just that.  But don't do it on a powder morning as it is not cool to fill the tram if you're not going to ski.

 

The best thing, of course, is to hire an instructor for the day who can assess your actual abilities (who can really tell on the internet?), decide whether it's a no go or whether with a little instruction she/he can guide you safely down the peak.  Suggest Ursula (little bear here on epic). She is excellent but you need to do it in advance because she's booked up quite a bit of the time.
 

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Again, many thanks for the info and honest feedback.  Just what I was looking for. 
 

post #11 of 16

Big Sky has free mountain tours.  They split them by ability.  Our "dark blue" group spent a wonderful two hours with the mountain host.  We started at Andesite Mtn and went all the way over to where Big Sky and Moonlight Basin share a chairlift.  Stayed on groomed runs but she pointed out all the places that we would probably like once she got a feel for the type of skiers were in the group.  The group was mostly older skiers (55-70) who normally ski black runs (groomed and ungroomed) in New England and out west.  Also gave us a good tips for the tram.  If you only want to go up for the view, leave your skis at the bottom but take your poles.  Also suggested we wait until Monday.  It was a great introduction to start our week of skiing at Big Sky.

post #12 of 16

http://www.bigskyfishing.com/Montana-Info/skiing-big-sky-3.shtm

 

Here are some information that might be useful if they are accurate. 

post #13 of 16

good advice above and what I usually do is some research before going to places. Google and youtube are your friends so this might help you for a visual....

 

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=big+sky+Liberty+Bowl+

post #14 of 16

Good luck with the man-cation.  I did the same thing as part of a group in 2010, staying at Charis Lodge.  See my writeup under Big Sky resort. http://www.epicski.com/products/big-sky/reviews

 

You mention your own skiing skills, but what about the rest of the group?  If they are all better skiers than you, you WILL get dragged into Liberty Bowl.  On the other hand, if they are lesser talents than yourself, have fun with it and don't beat them up too bad all week.  Or maybe it's more fun to make them squeal......?

post #15 of 16

Liberty Bowl is relatively steep -- sections in the 40 degree range and most of it in the mid-30's.  It is definitely off-piste skiing.

 

If you want to ski Liberty Bowl, then you need to seriously step up your skiing.  I'd recommend taking some lessons.  There's plenty of steep off-piste terrain to learn on at Big Sky.  If you take lessons, they will work you over teaching you the skills necessary to ski steep off-piste terrain.  That includes learning how to self-arrest, as a slide down a 30+ degree 1000+ foot bowl not only risks bodily harm, but possibly death (although Liberty Bowl has few of the terrain features that pose larger risks to life and limb, like trees and rock bands).

 

As others have suggested, you can start on Andesite Mountain.  If you can handle those slopes, then you might try the triple chair into the bowl, where you can traverse into steeper lines that are relatively short.  These will have moguls, but they are small moguls (usually).  If you can handle that, then it's time to test yourself on the Challenger chair, where you should first attempt Moonlight (the run right next to Moonlight Basin).  It will have, most likely, large moguls and has an initial and ending section that are relatively steep.  If you can handle that run, then some of the other lines off of Challenger might be attempted next, such as Big Rock Tongue (traversing into from the left side -- it is very steep if you come in from the top).  If you can handle that, then you are ready to attempt Liberty Bowl. 

 

Off of the top of Lone Peak are some of my favorite runs anywhere.  I love the North Summit Snowfield, but you need a transceiver, pole, and shovel to ski that and expert skills.  The Big Couloir is a signature run with a section that exceeds 50 degrees -- and some sections that are relatively narrow (15-20 feet).  As with the North Summit Snowfield, you need permission from ski patrol to ski the Big.  But there's always Marx and Lennin which always give my sphincter a tinge -- 1200+ vertical feet of slope that is in the upper 40 degree range.  I love steep skiing, and Big Sky has it in spades.

 

Don't overlook my suggestion to take some lessons; steep skiing is an area where technique is far more important than will.  And if you decide to do so, ask for Ursula Howland, one of the best instructors (and my personal friend).

 

Mike

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post


Don't overlook my suggestion to take some lessons; steep skiing is an area where technique is far more important than will.  And if you decide to do so, ask for Ursula Howland, one of the best instructors (and my personal friend).

 

Mike

 

Agreed, if you take a lesson with Ursula, she will certainly be able to tell you if your skills rate skiing the tram, and perhaps tweak your skiing to the point where you're ready. My first trip to Big Sky included freeskiing with her, and she tested me on lesser runs before suggesting I try Big Coulior. As was mentioned previously though, you need to book her ahead of time, she is the best, and as such, is in high demand.

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