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Moonlight Basin - info appreciated

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'd be interested in hearing about any experiences anyone has with Moonlight Basin.

Some questions to spark a discussion:

1. Just how good is the terrain? The few glances I've had at the north facing ridge look like a lot of fun.

2. Too much hype? Not enough hype? Overvalued? Undervalued?

3. To me, the development model and conservation stewardship seem fantastic. Is it unrealistic? Perfectly realistic?

4. Any predictions about what it'll look like in 10 years?

5. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong?
post #2 of 11
Vinn -

So far Moonlight has attempted to be a better steward of the land than its neighbors. Of course, that is fairly easy to do when your neighbors are Big Sky (the community, not the ski area) & The Yellowstone Club. Considering what they charge for a place it is nice to see them put some of the money back into doing a better job protecting wet lands and streams.

As for the ski area, it has tough competition to be compared against so it gets unfairly knocked. Big Sky abuts it and is huge with a great variety of terrain. Moonlight has some good terrain and some great terrain but its current lift system makes skiing the good stuff awkward especially when its warm. Everything feed to the Six Shooter lift which has long, sun-exposed runouts back to the lift.

The employees at Moonlight all seem to love working there.

My biggest concern about Moonlight Basin is what their attitude will be towards the locals once all their lots are sold. Right now they have much more capacity than their tenants can use so they welcome us with open arms. (The money at Moonlight is in the real estate.) I have a feeling that will change 10 years from now.

As for where did they go wrong, that is tough to say. I don't like to see as much development as they have up there. I really don't think the ecosystem can handle it. I talked to a couple that have been living on the Gallatin River (which Big Sky, Moonlight and the Yellowstone Club all feed into) for 30 years and they commented about the changes in the river they've seen in the past 5 years. I appreciate Moonlight's efforts and prefer them over the other developments but would prefer to see things slow down up there.
post #3 of 11
Rio, There is only about 5% of MLB terrain that effects the Gallatin. All the human generated waste water from that 5 % goes to the west and into our treatment facility. The greatest majority of our lands all drain west to the Madison watershed. The water quality in the Gallatin has been impacted in the last 15 years, no doubt. I think a large portion of the impact is from the porous sewer system in the meadow village.

Our lift system is a work in progress, we have been in operation for 3 seasons. Next year we will be putting in another 6 pack that will also leaves from the bottom of the 6-shooter area. That will be where our base area is sited in the near future. That will be the center of what is now MLB.

Long sun exposed runouts? Not sure what you mean. we face due north.

My thought would be that we currently are suffering from a lack of manmade snow at lower elevations. Once some limited snowmaking is in place I think that will help out those runouts. Considering that everything you ski is 98% natural snow, even in the previous 2 winters with below average snowfall the coverage has been pretty fair at low elevations. Some limited snowmaking should harden up those runouts and make them a good deal better.

I can understand the concerns about what our attitudes will be in the future towards the day skier. I am pretty confident that our management understands one concept. It won't be the lot and homeowners that allow us to break even on operational costs. It will be the day skier who pays the bills. With as much terrain as we have available, it will be a matter of keeping the lifts as full as possible (in Montana thats still not very full) and the local population as a loyal component. To do that we will need to offer value.

What I frind really interesting is that our "hype" has been generated by newpaper articles and most guests who try us have heard about us by word of mouth. We have to date done very little advertising.

Vinn, our plans for the future have us at complete lift buildout by 2010. This includes a proposed lift to our portion of the summit of Lone Peak. At full buildout we will have approx. 12 lifts, 4 of which will be HS quads and 6 packs.

In my opinion ( I work for MLB and have since day 1.5) what we have done wrong is that we have gone too fast on certain projects and then had to go back and fix certain things that could have been done better if we had taken the time. Last week our owners put the brakes on several of those projects with a simple message. "slow down a bit and do it right the first time"

What we have done right is pretty simple. Show the community and the guests you care about them and are happy they voted with their hard earned free time. In this age, most anyone can find the $$ to go to a ski area. Time is a precious thing to waste at a place that doesn't appreciate you.

MBRT is probably the coolest program I have seen at a ski area. Our website explains the process but in essence it rewards school age kids who improve their GPA with free skiing and free rental gear.

Thanks for your interest Vinn.
post #4 of 11
Long sun exposed runouts? Not sure what you mean. we face due north.
It might not be the sun exposure as much as the low altitude but there is a problem in warm weather, especially in the spring, with the lower runs you need to ski to get back to the six shooter being soft, very sticky and sometimes barren. It would be nice to have some slower chairs that start up higher giving access to the glade runs without having to ski all the way down.
post #5 of 11
Both points are well taken. I think the aformentioned future snowmaking and the hard snow that it creates will help with the slower snow conditions you describe. It is a problem in the spring.

There will probably not be any slow chairs to access glades from mid-mountain. At 8 min. for 8400 linear feet and a 4 min. ride up lone tree the time spent of lift rides and the amount of terrain serviced sort of equal out.

The other 6 Pack out of the bottom of the 6-shooter base will go to near the top of Lone Tree and access those glades with about an 8 min. ride time. That should serve the same purpose. Thanks for the input and I will pass along your thoughts to our management. Anything else?
post #6 of 11
Anything else?
The Ruebens in the deli at the main lodge are the best I've had in Montana. Every time I eat there I end up eating too much. Any help with that would be appreciated.
post #7 of 11
Sorry Rio, can't help ya with that one. The Ruebens are a fav. of mine as well.

Perhaps hypnosis would help. Or split a sandwich with a patroller of your choice...
post #8 of 11
I was at Big Sky/Moonlight in late January. Snowfall up to that point was the most since 1996-97 and conditions were outstanding, so if anything was sketchy by March this year I suggest getting that snowmaking installed soon.

The topography of both Big Sky and Moonlight is nosebleed steep up high and pretty flat on the lower half. Some of the blue runs from Lone Tree are nicely designed with dips and rolls to provide some varying pitch.

What I don't get about lift placement is the Headwaters lift. Its base should be down by Lone Tree's base so experts can run laps on the steeps (most of which require some hiking/traversing from the top) without having to go all the way down to Six Shooter.

The other issue is that the combined ticket with Big Sky is most attractive from the skier's perspective but is only available on a single day basis for $78. The ski spring ski experience would be optimized following the sun around both areas. Experts could alternate runs on Challenger and Headwaters. And at the moment the combined ticket is required to ski the North Snowfields. For the destination visitor a multiday combined ticket should be offered.
post #9 of 11
Tony, good questions.

Snowmaking is in the future. Hopefully next summer we will begin that project. Again, we are a 3 year old resort.

The Headwaters is not terrain that most skiers are able to handle. We are trying to limit access and number of skiers. None of us want to see the quality diminished by overskiing of the terrain. That was the reason behind a short hike to access the lift.

The lift we put in was for the purpuse of elimination of the original 900-1000 foot hike. The patrol was taking a beating and getting tired.The Headwaters lift was a bargin by current standards. We bought the Hole in the Wall lift from KW in Cali, re-engineered it, re-built it completely and installed it for less than.... well, much less that the cost of a condo in Big Sky...:

I still free ski my days off, mainly to get to experience what the guest sees. My runs are usually like this, a run down one of the Headwaters, a couple of short rippers on the frontside of Lone Tree, a long one down the glades to 6-shooter and then take the 8 min. ride to recover. Repeat as needed.

I wasn't aware that there is no multi-day Lone Peak pass available. I will ask at the next staff meeting about that and get you an answer.

Not only is the combined ticket required for the North Summit, a beacon, shovel and probes are a requirement. This will remain the case for at least the next season.
post #10 of 11
Not only is the combined ticket required for the North Summit, a beacon, shovel and probes are a requirement.
A partner is needed, also.
post #11 of 11
Tony, the upshot from todays staff meeting was that the day rate for a Lone Peak pass is and will be 78.00 per day.
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