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Backcountry guides around Big Sky

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I am going to ski Bigsky in February and was hoping to get out in the backcountry for 2-3 days. I don't know the area well. I have been looking for a local guide service on line but have not found much. Anybody know of any guides in the Bigsky/ Bozeman area?
post #2 of 20

Mod note: updated thread title to "Big Sky" for clarity

 

Welcome to EpicSki!  Where do you usually do backcountry skiing?  Have you tried asking Grizzly Outfitters, which is near the base of Big Sky?

 

Paging @Rio, EpicSki Ambassador for Bridger Bowl

post #3 of 20

I'll ask some of my friends that do more back country for recommendations. I'm mainly a resort skier.

post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rio View Post
 

I'll ask some of my friends that do more back country for recommendations. I'm mainly a resort skier.


So am I.  Especially with all the terrain available at Bridger and Big Sky that's plenty adventurous without any hiking.  But I'm curious to know what you can find out. :)

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
We usually take a big trip to British Columbia every year and there are plenty of guides up there. This year the crew voted for Big Sky. I thought there would be more guides in the area
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TR860 View Post

We usually take a big trip to British Columbia every year and there are plenty of guides up there. This year the crew voted for Big Sky. I thought there would be more guides in the area


How much have you looked at the Big Sky trail map?  In particular, the terrain off the tram or the Headwaters double on the Moonlight side.  How much do you know about the terrain off the ridge at Bridger?  There is so much complex, steep, never-groomed terrain at both places and relatively few people, that for most skiers on a ski vacation there is relatively little reason to do the work required for back country skiing.

 

Here's an article about comps that were held in Moonlight Headwaters chutes a few years ago.  That was before Big Sky bought Moonlight.  Hiking is required after getting off the lift.

 

http://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/584124/moonlight-basin-showcases-expert-headwaters-terrain

 

Photos of Big Sky from 2014-15 by Martin Bell, who knows the place very, very wall.  Scroll down until you get to the pics from late Jan.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/130416/big-sky-photos-2014-15

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am sure the inbound terrain is plenty technical, but we are looking for 1-2 days out of the resort for some skinning and a pleasant day in the BC.  Not for the gnarliest couloirs in the area.  I dont know the area at all so hiring a guide is the safest most efficient way to get to what we want.  

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Especially with all the terrain available at Bridger and Big Sky that's plenty adventurous without any hiking.

Just not the same.

But I don't have any help for the OP. redface.gif
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Especially with all the terrain available at Bridger and Big Sky that's plenty adventurous without any hiking.

Just not the same.

But I don't have any help for the OP. redface.gif

 

Understand the draw of back country.  My point is that because for the average ski vacationer who spends a week at Big Sky there is less reason to hike for turns than at some other ski destinations so less potential business for back country guides compared to some place like BC or the Tetons.  So that's probably why the OP can't find them easily.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
  There is so much complex, steep, never-groomed terrain at both places and relatively few people, that for most skiers on a ski vacation there is relatively little reason to do the work required for back country skiing.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 
Understand the draw of back country.  My point is that because for the average ski vacationer who spends a week at Big Sky there is less reason to hike for turns than at some other ski destinations so less potential business for back country guides compared to some place like BC or the Tetons.  So that's probably why the OP can't find them easily.

 

I didn't mean to sound snarky or anything.  Apologies.

post #11 of 20
What he might really need is to be hooked up with some local people who do it. I used to know someone who lived in Bozeman and really only did back country skiing, he was there on a snow science Masters. But he got a job in Silverton, so he's gone now. (And he was an 'x' of the daughter, so you know I'm not allowed to contact him...) But maybe Googling for a local ski store that has a back country focus and emailing them will yield some recommendation for a local guide. Or contacting Jordy might produce a money hungry grad student used to working in that terrain. Just be honest with these people about your experience.
post #12 of 20

The main skiing is based out of the Beehive Basin trailhead, which is only a few miles from Big Sky proper but unfortunately generally requires a four wheel drive to access (not to get in to, but to get out of). From the parking lot, heed the private property boundary warning signs, and skin upcanyon for about 30 minutes. From there you have short mellow meadows or you can turn right and follow the steep skin track to a ridge, then drop down into Bear Basin. Or, you can continue straight in to upper Beehive.

 

The other popular area is about one hour south on the boundary of Yellowstone. There is a zone called Bacon Rind, which is straightforward, and a second much mellower option closer to West Yellowstone called Telemark Meadows.

 

The Gallatin avalanche forecast is good and updated daily. The forecasters regularly ski into Beehive to collect beta.

 

I am sure there is such thing as a guide who will take you there but have never actually heard of one.

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

Understand the draw of back country.  My point is that because for the average ski vacationer who spends a week at Big Sky there is less reason to hike for turns than at some other ski destinations so less potential business for back country guides compared to some place like BC or the Tetons.  So that's probably why the OP can't find them easily.

 

 

"The average ski vacationer" wouldn't be asking for guides in the first place. 

 

There's a rather big difference of hiking for 30 min to earn some cheap turns, vs touring for 3 hrs with skins. The latter is a tiny nitch in the US, whilst it's common in Europe. Canada is half way between those two extremes. 

 

It's got little to do with the terrain within Big Sky. It's just American skiers don't have the habit of hiring BC guides. No demand means no supply. I know quite a few wilderness guides of different activities in the northeast. They would have starved to death long time ago had they not gotten their bills paid doing other things. 

post #15 of 20
There are backcountry guides for the Colorado Front Range. There must be some in Big Sky.
 
@TR860 - have you checked out these guys? Even if they only do instruction, they may be able to hook you up: http://www.montanamountaineering.org/
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 

good point at_NYC.  

post #17 of 20

Aspen has a couple of full time and lots of part timers.  Canada has a ton because of all the heli/cat ops.

 

Maybe send Bunion on TGR a PM.  He would probably know someone.

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

Aspen has a couple of full time and lots of part timers.  Canada has a ton because of all the heli/cat ops.

 

I think a lot has to do with the "mode of operation" and the subtle difference between the outdoor tourism industry of the two countries too. 

 

A few years back, I was organizing kayak camping trips for a group of somewhat experienced kayakers. Had trouble finding suitable guides in the US. But easily found a lot of choices north of the boarder. Seems American customers who want guides are mostly beginners who needs to be taken care of. So that's what the few guiding services focus on. Whilst Canada have well established guiding services who offer local knowledge for experienced customer to be led into more challenging & exciting area. 

 

Sorry can't help with leads. Good luck finding suitable guides for your trip.

post #19 of 20

Been thinking about spending a little time back on Epicski, so I guess this is a good place to start.

 

As was already mentioned, Beehive Basin is close and offers some excellent touring and turns, depending on whether you stay down off the ridge or not. Yo-yo skiing off the ridge on the Bear Basin side has good steeps and turns. I triggered a big slide up there years ago, so be carefull!

 

All the trail heads in Yellowstone park offer excellent touring with steeps usually a little distance in. My favorite was always Fawn pass. Plenty of great turns once you get to the pass. Really good for an over nighter. Bacon Rind, Big Horn pass trail, and Specimen creek all have really nice initial touring terrain leading to steeps further in.

 

One tour about 10 miles south of Big Sky is Cinnamon Mountian. Trailhead is right across from the Cinnamon Lodge. It leads up to the top where there is an old fire lookout. A nice day trip with some nice fairly safe turns back down.

 

Southwest Montana is a back country skiers paradise, but it can kill you if you make a mistake. Ask around in the bars and while riding the lifts and you will get some other suggestions.

post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TR860 View Post

I am going to ski Bigsky in February and was hoping to get out in the backcountry for 2-3 days. I don't know the area well. I have been looking for a local guide service on line but have not found much. Anybody know of any guides in the Bigsky/ Bozeman area?


Since you probably don't know . . . RicB is a Ridge Guide and instructor at Bridger.  He knows what he's talking about.

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