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Pumped for our first trip to Big Sky and have a few questions for you guys [from Alabama]

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Background:

Group of 5 skiers. Mid - late 30s, all in great shape. We'll be flying in late 2/19 and returning 2/25. 4 days of skiing with 1 day for a snowmobile trip into Yellowstone.  I would call 3 of us solid advanced intermediates that like to mix in a healthy dose of steep/expert terrain along with the groomers, which is probably where the other 2 guys will likely be hanging out. We've skied bowls and glades at other resorts (Colorado, Park City, Jackson Hole), but we don't have a lot of experience with chutes and it seems there are quite a bit of that off of Lone Peak. However, we like to test our abilities and improve. Especially considering we get one trip a year to do it. I've watched as many videos as I can of the terrain (I love doing this) to prepare for the trip but I know videos can't always give an accurate picture of the terrain.

 

Ski Questions:

-I assume some of the terrain off Lone Peak such as Liberty Bowl/Marx/Lenin should be similar to what we've skied before?  Are they usually heavily moguled?

-Are any of the chutes easier or recommended?

-Do any of the runs require avy equipment? We're renting all of our equipment so this probably isn't an option.

-Any signature runs (not named Big Couloir) that we should make sure we hit?

-Now that the lift tickets combine Big Sky and the Moonlight Basin area, is there only one parking area to access the lifts or would it be

 easier to park somewhere else to access Moonlight Basin?

-How easy is it to ski from one side to the other? Do you guys recommend spending a day just focusing on each side vs. traversing back and forth?

-I've searched and appears there are no discounts out there for lift tickets. Anyone aware of any?

 

Non-ski park related questions:

-I've read the roads we should be using are well maintained. We'll only be driving between the airport to Big Sky and then the 1 day to West Yellowstone. We've rented a SUV, but I don't know if it will be 4WD. If not, should we be ok?

-Any idea on the drive time from the Meadow area (where we are staying)  to the resort? 10 minutes or so?

-We usually like to grab some groceries once we get our rental, but we won't be flying in until 11 PM. I know groceries in Big Sky are probably higher. Are there any good late night or 24 hr options in Bozeman that we could visit before we drive to Big Sky?

-We're not big on cuisine, but any can't miss restaurants?

 

Would like to ski Bridger one day, but I think the consensus for the guys (one of which has to leave early) is to maximize our exploration of Big Sky. Needless to say we are super excited. As I mentioned, we only get one trip a year coming from AL so we like to maximize our time when we're there. You guys that live near the mountains just don't know how great you have it. I would gladly trade all the beach days down here for powder days. I appreciate any help you guys can provide to help make our trip even more EPIC! 

post #2 of 20

Five skiers could split an instructor/guide and the cost would be relatively insignificant.

post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamaski View Post
 

Background:

Group of 5 skiers. Mid - late 30s, all in great shape. We'll be flying in late 2/19 and returning 2/25. 4 days of skiing with 1 day for a snowmobile trip into Yellowstone.  I would call 3 of us solid advanced intermediates that like to mix in a healthy dose of steep/expert terrain along with the groomers, which is probably where the other 2 guys will likely be hanging out. We've skied bowls and glades at other resorts (Colorado, Park City, Jackson Hole), but we don't have a lot of experience with chutes and it seems there are quite a bit of that off of Lone Peak. However, we like to test our abilities and improve. Especially considering we get one trip a year to do it. I've watched as many videos as I can of the terrain (I love doing this) to prepare for the trip but I know videos can't always give an accurate picture of the terrain.

 

Ski Questions:

-I assume some of the terrain off Lone Peak such as Liberty Bowl/Marx/Lenin should be similar to what we've skied before?  Are they usually heavily moguled?

-Are any of the chutes easier or recommended?

-Do any of the runs require avy equipment? We're renting all of our equipment so this probably isn't an option.

-Any signature runs (not named Big Couloir) that we should make sure we hit?

-Now that the lift tickets combine Big Sky and the Moonlight Basin area, is there only one parking area to access the lifts or would it be

 easier to park somewhere else to access Moonlight Basin?

-How easy is it to ski from one side to the other? Do you guys recommend spending a day just focusing on each side vs. traversing back and forth?

-I've searched and appears there are no discounts out there for lift tickets. Anyone aware of any?

 

Non-ski park related questions:

-I've read the roads we should be using are well maintained. We'll only be driving between the airport to Big Sky and then the 1 day to West Yellowstone. We've rented a SUV, but I don't know if it will be 4WD. If not, should we be ok?

-Any idea on the drive time from the Meadow area (where we are staying)  to the resort? 10 minutes or so?

-We usually like to grab some groceries once we get our rental, but we won't be flying in until 11 PM. I know groceries in Big Sky are probably higher. Are there any good late night or 24 hr options in Bozeman that we could visit before we drive to Big Sky?

-We're not big on cuisine, but any can't miss restaurants?

 

Would like to ski Bridger one day, but I think the consensus for the guys (one of which has to leave early) is to maximize our exploration of Big Sky. Needless to say we are super excited. As I mentioned, we only get one trip a year coming from AL so we like to maximize our time when we're there. You guys that live near the mountains just don't know how great you have it. I would gladly trade all the beach days down here for powder days. I appreciate any help you guys can provide to help make our trip even more EPIC! 

Welcome to EpicSki!  Good questions.  Here is info based on what I know first hand based on my first trip to Big Sky and Bridger was a couple seasons ago.  Shared a condo with friends in Meadows.  Had even more fun at the EpicSki Big Sky/Bridger Gathering last season staying in the Big Sky Village.  I live in NC.  You are going to have a very good time!

 

Ski Questions:

-I assume some of the terrain off Lone Peak such as Liberty Bowl/Marx/Lenin should be similar to what we've skied before?  Are they usually heavily moguled?

Don't expect moguls, too big and too long for the number of people who get there.  Bump runs exist elsewhere.  Midnight and Moonlight off Challenger for instance.

 

-Now that the lift tickets combine Big Sky and the Moonlight Basin area, is there only one parking area to access the lifts or would it be easier to park somewhere else to access Moonlight Basin?

-How easy is it to ski from one side to the other? Do you guys recommend spending a day just focusing on each side vs. traversing back and forth?

Easy to ski between the two if you know the way.  But probably not worth it.  Note that for the EpicSki Gathering, the day at Moonlight was just that . . . a day at Moonlight.

 

-I've searched and appears there are no discounts out there for lift tickets. Anyone aware of any?

Pretty much only with lodging by Big Sky or at Bucks T4.

 

Non-ski park related questions:

-Any idea on the drive time from the Meadow area (where we are staying)  to the resort? 10 minutes or so?

Allow 15-20 min from condo to ski lodge, depending on where you park.  Easiest if the driver drops off everyone else with his gear, then goes to park.  Short open tram ride or 5 min walk to the base from the free parking lot.

 

-We usually like to grab some groceries once we get our rental, but we won't be flying in until 11 PM. I know groceries in Big Sky are probably higher. Are there any good late night or 24 hr options in Bozeman that we could visit before we drive to Big Sky?

The airport is not in Bozeman.  It's just west near a town called Belgrade.  There are a couple supermarkets there.  Maybe a local can tell you if they are 24-hour.  Or you can look up in Google and call.

 

Highly recommend doing the free Mountain Host tour the first day.  Do a couple warm up runs off the lift that goes to Andesite Mtn.  With 5 of you, might become your own little group.  The group my ski buddy and I were in was all folks who ski blacks out west.  The tour has to be on groomers but we were cruising at speed between the stops for descriptions of what to ski later.  Got all the way over to the share lift with Moonlight, so we knew how to deal with the tram, Challenger, and how to get back to the Big Sky base.  Big Sky is not that difficult to figure out after such a tour.  One tip mentioned was that the far side of the bowl under the triple near the top of Lone Peak is about as steep as Liberty.  Can try that first before making a commitment to skiing Liberty.  Nice run, but pretty long if not comfortable with that level of steepness.  Especially if not acclimated to the altitude yet.

 

Too bad you'll miss Bridger.  Next time. I think you'll want to go back.  I did and intend to at some point.  :) 

post #4 of 20

Here's the 2013 Big Sky/Bridger Gathering trip report:

http://www.epicski.com/t/119474/bridger-big-sky-gathering-2013-trip-report

post #5 of 20

Don't discount the Challenger chair.  THere is some great skiing up there and some chutes that will scare you as well.  Yes you can ski over to Moonlight do some runs and come back over very easily.  We were there last years and were hitting one of Moonlight's lodges for lunches most days...nicer and better food.  Don;t know if that will still be the case.

 

The chutes are all pretty hardcore I think and you may want to give them a pass.  You don't need any gear except for Big Couloir and you won't be skiing there.

 

Hit the Dakota lift.  I already mentioned Challenger.

 

I don't understand people who go to places like Big Sky to ski Groomers.

post #6 of 20

Didn't say the folks I did the Host tour with went to Big Sky to ski groomers.  Just that the tour must be on groomers.  What we learned from the Host was all about the fun stuff away from the groomers to check out during the rest of the week.  The other skiers besides me and my ski buddy were part of a senior ski club from the northeast.  Must have had 50+ people.  Those who went in our group liked to ski trees and ungroomed blacks, but old enough to not be looking for steeps and chutes.  I think the average age was about 65.  I felt like a youngster at age 55.

 

The tour is good warm up for a flatlander on the first morning after arrival.

post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Didn't say the folks I did the Host tour with went to Big Sky to ski groomers.  Just that the tour must be on groomers.  What we learned from the Host was all the fun stuff to check out during the rest of the week.  The other skiers besides me and my ski buddy were part of a senior ski club from the northeast.  Must have had 50+ people.  Those who went in our group liked to ski trees and ungroomed blacks, but old enough to not be looking for steeps and chutes.  I think the average age was about 65.  I felt like a youngster at age 55.

Lol.  Marz,  I went with my ski club last year at age 55 and was on the younger end of our demographics.  We also had plenty of groomer skiers, but, like I said, I just don't understand that. Our tour guide actually took us into some trees at the end of the tour. (sshhh)

post #8 of 20

Liberty Bowl off Lone Peak is intimidating as you first head over toward it, then once you can see over the edge you realize it's not bad at all.  Here's a few of us (from this forum) last season...

 

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 

Wow, already some great info in here! If anyone thinks of anything else please continue to share. Thanks!

post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Didn't say the folks I did the Host tour with went to Big Sky to ski groomers.  Just that the tour must be on groomers.  What we learned from the Host was all the fun stuff to check out during the rest of the week.  The other skiers besides me and my ski buddy were part of a senior ski club from the northeast.  Must have had 50+ people.  Those who went in our group liked to ski trees and ungroomed blacks, but old enough to not be looking for steeps and chutes.  I think the average age was about 65.  I felt like a youngster at age 55.

Lol.  Marz,  I went with my ski club last year at age 55 and was on the younger end of our demographics.  We also had plenty of groomer skiers, but, like I said, I just don't understand that. Our tour guide actually took us into some trees at the end of the tour. (sshhh)

Depends on where you live.  For someone in the southeast or mid-Atlantic, cruising on groomers at Big Sky for a few days would be a major treat.  Granted they could do that in other places as well, but I can think of reasons to choose Big Sky over more accessible places that are more likely to have lift lines.  Especially if you stay slope side.  For instance, being able to take ride up the tram for the view (and ride back down in the tram) or doing a day trip to Yellowstone are unique experiences.

 

I did trips out west as an intermediate every few years while I was working.  Enjoyed them a lot even though all I was doing was cruising groomers.

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamaski View Post
 

Wow, already some great info in here! If anyone thinks of anything else please continue to share. Thanks!

Have you found this thread yet?  Great pics from @Martin Bell

http://www.epicski.com/t/123393/big-sky-photos-2013-14

post #12 of 20
post #13 of 20

http://www.epicski.com/products/big-sky

 

We've got 12 reviews of the area in our resort review section.  Have you read any of them yet?  Lots of good info, tips, and several of your questions are answered there.

 

And yes, Liberty Bowl was heavily moguled when I was there in 2010.  No reason to avoid it; it's the easiest way down.

 

Avy gear is recommended going off the side of Lone peak down into Moonlight as well as checking in at the top patrol shack.  Not 100% sure on that, especially since the two resorts merged.

 

Nice pix of Liberty Bowl JayT.  The runs below are actually the Yellowstone Club and are not part of Big Sky.  If you've got more money than God you can go there.

post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 

Marz, Tony and, Spike: I had not seen some of the links so those are definitely going to come in handy. I've scanned through them, but plan to go through them a little more thoroughly when I have time. Those are some incredible photos by Martin Bell.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Depends on where you live.  For someone in the southeast or mid-Atlantic, cruising on groomers at Big Sky for a few days would be a major treat.  Granted they could do that in other places as well, but I can think of reasons to choose Big Sky over more accessible places that are more likely to have lift lines.  Especially if you stay slope side.  For instance, being able to take ride up the tram for the view (and ride back down in the tram) or doing a day trip to Yellowstone are unique experiences.

 

I did trips out west as an intermediate every few years while I was working.  Enjoyed them a lot even though all I was doing was cruising groomers.

 

As far as crank's question about skiing groomers, I think Marz hit the nail on the head. Since it is usually only one trip a year, we like to maximize our time skiing and little to no lift lines are a huge draw. It's something a lot of people who have access to the slopes may take for granted, but people like us are just incredibly excited to get the opportunity to ski. Sucking in the crisp, cold mountain air. Taking in the incredible views. The sensation you get from gliding across the powdery, white substance we may see once every 2-3 years. Most of our group likes to challenge themselves, but will tell you to a man that they are just as happy zipping down a blue groomer as a challenging bowl filled with moguls since it means we're there! Our 4-5 days a year to experience the freedom skiing provides to those that take up the sport.

 

This is our Super Bowl.

 

So should you ever get tired of skiing or contemplate not making it to the slopes for an afternoon, please take a moment to think of those more geographically challenged. :) Thanks again to everyone for your input!

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamaski View Post
 

Marz, Tony and, Spike: I had not seen some of the links so those are definitely going to come in handy. I've scanned through them, but plan to go through them a little more thoroughly when I have time. Those are some incredible photos by Martin Bell.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Depends on where you live.  For someone in the southeast or mid-Atlantic, cruising on groomers at Big Sky for a few days would be a major treat.  Granted they could do that in other places as well, but I can think of reasons to choose Big Sky over more accessible places that are more likely to have lift lines.  Especially if you stay slope side.  For instance, being able to take ride up the tram for the view (and ride back down in the tram) or doing a day trip to Yellowstone are unique experiences.

 

I did trips out west as an intermediate every few years while I was working.  Enjoyed them a lot even though all I was doing was cruising groomers.

 

As far as crank's question about skiing groomers, I think Marz hit the nail on the head. Since it is usually only one trip a year, we like to maximize our time skiing and little to no lift lines are a huge draw. It's something a lot of people who have access to the slopes may take for granted, but people like us are just incredibly excited to get the opportunity to ski. Sucking in the crisp, cold mountain air. Taking in the incredible views. The sensation you get from gliding across the powdery, white substance we may see once every 2-3 years. Most of our group likes to challenge themselves, but will tell you to a man that they are just as happy zipping down a blue groomer as a challenging bowl filled with moguls since it means we're there! Our 4-5 days a year to experience the freedom skiing provides to those that take up the sport.

 

This is our Super Bowl.

 

So should you ever get tired of skiing or contemplate not making it to the slopes for an afternoon, please take a moment to think of those more geographically challenged. :) Thanks again to everyone for your input!

Thumbs Up

 

Hope you'll do a trip report with a few pics and your impressions after you get to Big Sky. 

post #16 of 20

Nice seeing a fellow Alabamian on the site :).

 

I'm up in Athens (outside of Huntsville).  Family and I go out West once every year for a winter vacation.  Began back in 2007 and my sons and I are going to Breckenridge late Jan for a week.

Took my family out to Big Sky 3 years ago.  Loved it so much I went back with just a friend 6 weeks later on the spur of the moment.  You will have a great time.

 

We stayed ski-in/out at Moonlight Basin the first trip.  Moonlight was less crowded, had some good runs, but to me, got boring after a day.  But then again, I don't do anything above a single black.  I'm just mainly a blues groomer guy.  But Moonlight does have some definite steeps at the top that I wouldn't even attempt at my level.

 

But I really enjoyed Big Sky for my ability.  Lift lines were non-existent in early January and plenty of trails to keep it exciting.

 

Make sure you buy your groceries ahead of time up near Bozeman before you head down.  There is a small grocery store in Big Sky, but it will cost you.

 

As far as road conditions.  They keep the roads pretty well plowed, so you shouldn't have any problems with a front wheel drive vehicle.  And almost all rentals in those winter resort towns are front-wheel drive or SUVs with four wheel drive.

 

Have fun.


Edited by bamaman - 1/17/14 at 10:36am
post #17 of 20

Wow, with my post, we now have three bama skiers in the same place.  

 

Nothing to add to the OP, but just wanted to greet my fellow bama guys.  I've been making trips out west since 2006.  Typically manage 1 - 4 trips per season.  I'm heading out in a month for a day a Schwietzer and the a week in BC at Red Mountain / Whitewater.

 

Enjoy your trip and report back.  Welcome to Epic.

 

Tim

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timr1 View Post
 

Wow, with my post, we now have three bama skiers in the same place.  

 

Nothing to add to the OP

 

 

Haven't been to BigSky so unfortunately I don't have anything to add either.  Just wanted to throw my hat in the ring and make it FOUR Alabama skiers!  :)  (I'm in Clanton, about 50 miles south of B'ham)

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 

Bamaman, Tim and David, thanks for dropping in to say hello!

 

David and Tim, it is a small world as I live in Clanton, but commute to Birmingham for work. Bamaman, I used to also commute to Huntsville once a week for work so I'm familiar with Athens. It's great to run into others from the area that share the same passion.

 

Maybe we can one day have an epic gathering at the Cloudmont Ski Resort in Mentone! Ha. :D 

post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamaski View Post
 

Background:

  I would call 3 of us solid advanced intermediates

 

we don't have a lot of experience with chutes

 

So... Snow does not stick well to steep terrain. It is easily shoved off and pushed downhill. When the snow all gets pushed off, no more fun on that terrain until more storms come through and people can try again to pack in a good base on that terrain.

 

Chutes have a tiny fraction of area compared to a traditional run. Thus, the actions of one skier or a group of skiers can and will have a much larger impact to snow conditions.

 

The most common thing that happens when somebody gets in over their head in a chute is they sideslip down, because they lack the skills to successfully make the needed turns to manage their speed in the limited space available. On steep terrain, sideslippping will move a staggering amount of snow downhill.

 

However, an advanced skier skiing the same terrain will help pack snow into the chute, helping that chute hold better conditions and stay open longer into Spring. 

 

You know you are ready to dabble in chutes when you can terrain AT LEAST as steep as the chute, in a controlled manner while skiing a line straight down the fall line, with you tracks being several feet tighter than the chute you are considering skiing.  If you cannot, I would suggest looking at things from the standpoint of being considerate of other skiers and stay off the terrain.

 

Don't get me wrong- this isn't being said in the tone of "flatlanders shouldn't wreck the pow."  What I am trying to point out is that it just doesn't take too many sideslips in steep chutes before the terrain is scraped down to rock, at which point nobody gets to have any fun on it.  The actions of a few skiers/boarders can ruin that terrain for weeks until storms and skiers can pack new snow in.

 

So, I'm just giving you another thing to consider before skiing in tighter terrain- Your actions can have impacts to the snow that persist long after you go home.

 

Have fun in Big Sky. Someday I will make it up there.

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