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Big Sky Resort

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I will be going out to Big Sky from 3/17 to 3/23 with a group of about 30. There are skiers of virtually all abilities. From prior Epic Ski threads I guess that I'm a solid 6, and we have a handful of level 8-9. I've been looking at a trail map and sort of day dreaming. I know some of you call this mountain home and I have a few questions.

Do you have any recommended runs?

What are your personal favorites? Why?

What are the current conditions? Are the blacks and double blacks off the Lone Peak tram well covered?

I note that some of the runs require either signing out with the ski patrol, or "beacon, shovel, and partner". Are any of these really appropriate for level 6 or 7? Can one rent a beacon and shovel at the resort? Where? Cost?

Are there any other ski mountains in the vicinity? How far, and and is it worth it to visit for a day?

What are the best bars? (Blues band =>> good bar)

Do they really roll up the sidewalks at night?

Thanks for any discussion.
post #2 of 9
I was at Big Sky for a week in March 2000. There's some serious steep skiing off Lone Peak (try Lenin and Marx). Unfortunately, to get back to the top it takes a minimum of 1 chair and 1 tram ride, but usually 2 chairs and the tram. Almost impossible to do tram laps unless you traverse around to the front of Lone Peak and ski the 1st or 2nd narrow chute off the Gullies. Another great area for advanced skiing is off the Challenger chair, especially to the skier's left as you're unloading off the chair (very slow chair however). If you're solid level 6 you'll be able to ski the tram but it may be a bit of a struggle. Stay in Liberty Bowl to start since it's by far the tamest way down. If you're pretty comfortable with that give some of the other stuff a try, but if I remember correctly, the rest gets a lot steeper. As far as the transceiver and shovel trails, there wasn't enough snow when I was there and it would have been a lot of work for not that many turns. Stick with the runs off the tram. For intermediates, lots of stuff off the Swift Current Express lift and on Andesite Mountain. Best thing is no lines anywhere.

Don't miss dinner at Buck's T4 dinning room. A bit pricey but fabulous game dishes. One of the best ski vacation meals I've ever had. Well worth it. As far as after hours, it is pretty quiet and there's very little apres action. If you're staying in slopeside lodging there's only 3-4 restaurants to choose from for dinner that are within walking distance. There are shuttles back down to the valley, but they don't run that often. A car or bus in your case would be very helpful especially if you don't want eat at the same restaurants all week long. Have fun!

Talk less, ski more.
post #3 of 9
First of all congrats, Big Sky is great. I have been there three days in January and really enjoyed it. Sorry, no local info follwing. Propably you will not find many in this thread, there are not many folks skiing or boarding in Big Sky anyway - another big plus thanks to absence of any major metropolitan area in its vicinity.
Recommended/favorite runs: 1. Hit the bumps on Mad Wulf (Andesite). 2. Completely traverse the bowl and hammer down to the bottom of the lone peak triple. 3. Liberty Bowl. 4. To the left off Challenger like Prosper says. There are exposed spots when snow coverage is poor (which has been the case during my stay). Coverage on the blacks and double blacks off the Lone Peak tram was OK back then, but not exciting. Well, check it out when you're at Big Sky, and work from there. If it's really no good it will propably be closed.
Big Couloir and the A-Z chutes require sign-out and equipment which to my knowledge can not be rented. Maybe because it is assumed you're not going to return anyway. Oh boy, these runs are intimidating. Experience in other extremes, e. g. Corbet's Couloir or serious downhill racing are a must. So is a helmet. The steepest and most dangerous stuff i have seen which can be accessed from a lift or tram with such a short and easy hike.
Other skiing: There is Jackson Hole in Wyoming, but i would not claim it to be near. Too far away for a daytrip anyway. Maybe try out snowmobiling in Yellowstone. There are many rentals in West Yellowstons, and this might be the last year recreational snowmobiling is allowed to the current extend. And it's a great alternative to six days of skiing in a row.
Yes, they really roll up the sidewalks at night. There are a few restaurants and bars which are nice, but not exciting.
You can find more info like this in the resort reviews of www.mtbreview.com.
post #4 of 9
park is closed to sleds

get here quick while there is still snow!

Free your heels, poke your eyes out!
post #5 of 9
I also made a trip to Big Sky this year and flat out loved it. I have been hesitating to post in response to your inquiry because there are in fact many BS/Bozeman locals who ski there and post here regularly--Rio, 7mary, BSR and of course ridgehiker. They can give you more and better info than I.

I'll just let go with this--the area is huge, empty and has beautiful terrain for absolutely every level. For this reason it is a super location for a group trip or family trip. Second, don't even think about suggesting to your group the terrain which requires a shovel, beacon, etc. The A-Z Chutes and most of the stuff off the Lone Peak Tram is absolutely hair-raising--as you will see when you arrive. Most ski areas would simply rope these areas off and threaten to pull passes of those who poach. Any in your group who are up to skiing this stuff will find it on their own and will make their own calls.

Agree with Prosper about Buck's T-4. Also hit Edelweiss on Friday night for fondue. They start you with the classic cheese fondue and then move you into a fondue bourguignon, which bears a faint resenblance to a japanese tempura (chicken, veggies and fish in batter cooked in a hot oil). Fun and very well prepared. Order a bottle of the house Kabinett with your meal at Edelweiss--the best grape you'll find on the mountain (altho Bucks has a pretty good pick of Cal. Cab.s, if that is your preference).

Dante's Inferno is good for lunch. Sat next to and chatted briefly with Ted Turner at Dante's when I was there with family over the holidays. I gave him my business card, but he still hasn't called. What's up with this guy?

Enjoy; and promise not to tell too many people how great Big Sky is when you return.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your responses. I now have a better idea of the situation, although I guess snow cover and quality will have an impact. I've printed off your responses, made a number of copies, and will be passing them around to the group.

All: Your recommendations regarding the somewhat tamer stuff will be of benefit to me and the majority. And your warnings on the more extreme will surely prove a lure to a handful. (Actually, I'm sure they'd
be checking them out anyway)

Prosper & JW, your recommendations regarding dinner are very welcome and I'm sure the wine suggestions at Edelweiss will be much appreciated by the wine aficionados.

Finally, we've been told that snowmobiling in Yellowstone is no more. I believe this was the last year for it, and in order to avoid startlin the critters when they're "reproducin", its over for this year.

Again, thanks for all your responses.
post #7 of 9
Jimmy D, how did you trip to Big Sky go? I'd love to hear where you skied and ate and what you thought.

Talk less, ski more.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi Prosper, and jpfeiffer, ridgehiker, & JW

The mountain was great. The snow was only adequate. From the second day on it was quite warm 50F+ in the afternoon, followed by 20F at night, so we had anywhere from crusty to "bulletproof" snow in the AM the remaining days. I started off with the groomed stuff in the mornings.

I skied Liberty Bowl a number of times. It was my favorite, a nice steep open face with "bumps" but not really moguls. Really an exhilarating feeling, with the big unweighting followed by the substantial compression and the desire to keep turning, turning... don’t let it stop! Only problem was that you had to ski the multi-mile run to the bottom, followed by two lifts and a tram to get back to the top. I limited myself to one such run a day.

Didn’t get to Marks or Lenin. The route angling left to them had more rocks peeking thru the snow than heading straight out to Liberty Bowl. By the last day I figured out that skiing them would allow me to traverse around to the front and avoid the trip to the bottom, and I decided to pay a little visit to our comrades. I was waiting in line at the tram, ready to take either of these runs, when I noticed a hand written sign, "Do NOT ski Marx or Lenin unless you are an EXPERT!!!" As I stood and wondered, another patroller skied up and added about six more exclamation points!!!!! What gives? Well I chickened out and did Liberty Bowl once more. The snow was heavy, but soft and fun, I don’t see why M or L should have received such an emphatic warning, as I saw a lot of small skiing flecks on it as I took the long slow runout to the bottom once more. Are they really a lot steeper than Liberty Bowl?

I only got one run off the very slow Challenger lift. It was mid-steep and bumped up, but I didn’t ski it very smoothly and was intending to go back. Concerns about the lift (I had seen it stopped a number of times and was told it was shut down for a least a half hour once), and reports that the snow was not softening up in the PM kept me away. Actually, the good skiing elsewhere, particularly under the Lone Peak Triple chair, and the fast approaching end of the week kept me on other runs.

It was also in the tram line, having decided to do the more dicey looking First Gully, that I noticed light under the heel piece of one of my bindings. The screws were being pulled out--which explained the "causeless" binding release in the Liberty Bowl on the prior run. I bailed on that and got rentals, took one run and turned them in for another pair with still dull, but at least not rounded, edges (both were "performance packages", bullshit). Anyway, excuses, excuses, I never did one of the Gullies. I did take the Turkey Traverse around the top of the bowl. The steep, but short, reward was fun, but really not worth the traverse, IMO.

I believe five of our group did the Big Couloir at some time during the week, with two of them (ski patrollers here in Cleveland) getting to "open" it with the Patroller one morning after striking up a conversation on the first tram ride up.

Bucks T-4 was excellent, I would guess almost all of our group managed to eat there at some time during the week. I also took one day off and visited Yellowstone. Highlights: buffalo, with two adolescent males, I presume, roughhousing it, and a coyote doing the predator thing, stalking, leaping, and actually catching some sort of small critter.

Thanks for all your suggestions, I enjoyed them and found them useful. Jpfeiffer, I believe it was your comments that got some of us laughing.

Anyway, thanks again, and you can bet I’ll get back to Big Sky at some time.


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[This message has been edited by JimmyD (edited March 31, 2001).]</FONT>
post #9 of 9
Piss poor luck Jimmy D. We ended up with 5 days straight of snow last week in the Bozeman area and more on the way this week (they have a winter storm warning for tonight with 8 to 10 inches of snow predicted). I went to Big Sky yesterday and most of the steeps had good coverage including the Challenger chair.
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