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Tahoe or Big Sky?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
After attending ESA in Aspen this season, another Bear and I are going on a two week road trip leaving from Summit County on or about 28 January. We're doing Jackson/Targhee for a week for sure, so the decision for the 1st week is Tahoe or Big Sky.

Assuming good coverage at both, which would you choose? I was in Tahoe 2 seasons ago and skied Heavenly/Alpine/Squaw. If Tahoe is the choice I would like to check out Kirkwood/Sierra/Sugarbowl and go back to either Alpine or Squaw. We would be skiing M-F so no weekend crowds to worry about.

If Big Sky is the choice we would be staying in Bozeman and ski Big Sky/Moonlight for 3 or 4 days and 1 day at Bridger. Neither of us has skied any of these areas.

I'm an advanced skier and the other is expert, but neither one of us is into hucking cliffs and I'm VERY mediocre in bumps although I survive them.

Oh and we'll be sure to lay out our plans in the "meet on the hill planning" forum here on Epic to hopefully ski with other Bears during the two weeks.

Thoughts?
post #2 of 19
Just my two cents but if it were me I would definitely hit Big Sky/Moonlight Basin and Bridger for a couple reasons. They will all be mountains you've never skied which I think is a BIG plus as it's always fun to check out something new. I think just this year for the first time Big Sky and Moonlght Basin have an interconnect too.
Second, logistically it just makes sense to shoot north into Montana from JH...hell of a lot closer than Tahoe.
Full disclosure...I've hit all the major Tahoe areas but never skied Big Sky/MB or Bridger but have heard great things about them
Anyway that's what I would do...
post #3 of 19
Big Sky is a three hour drive from Jackson Hole unless the winds are blowing in which case it can take up to 6. Bozeman is another hour from the Big Sky junction. Many people I run into at Big Sky & Bridger are doing an annual loop starting at Jackson Hole, then skiing Grand Targhee, Big Sky & Bridger Bowl. The biggest reason to pick Big Sky & Moonlight is you'll find the mountain empty during the week even on big powder days. Even if you don't get powder having the wide open empty spaces at Big Sky & Moonlight is a skiing experience that you'll never forget.

Bridger Bowl is definitely a must ski. It has great snow and some wicked terrain. The biggest problem with Bridger is knowing where to ski. Much of the best terrain is hard to find even if you know about it. Post something on this forum a couple weeks before your trip to see if someone local is avilable to show you around. (I'm usually up there on weekends and some weekday mornings.)
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Treewell/RIO thanks for the input.

Montana does have an allure for me and we can do either one relatively inexpensively. It's obviously a nice choice to have. Once a decision is made I'll be posting for details like parking etc...

Staying in Bozeman does reduce logistics as we would probably move from south to north shore Tahoe at some point in the middle of the week if we ended up there.

Nightlife isn't a huge concern just need a decent meal and a few barley pops.
post #5 of 19
I lived in Tahoe for 20 years & Skied Squaw, Alpine, Sierra & Kirkwood lots. They each have their own personality. Great tree skiing at Sierra, major steeps at Squaw & Kirkwood, and Alpine has great variety. In a good year they all get a ton of snow, but the weather can be fickle in the Sierras. You can get anything from blower pow, to rain & eastern ice. Be prepared for anything. Another drawback is the vertical is not as great as a place like Jackson.
I did the loop Rio spoke of a few years back, & that makes more sense to me. Targhee's not huge, but I had light, deep powder everyday. Big Sky can be cold, but over 4k vert., and with the addition of Moonlight Basin I probably wouldn't bother with Bridger unless you wanna do some hiking & are experienced with avi equipment. The drawback would be a possible lack of snow in January. Personally I would see who's got the snow and make my choice at the last minute.
JF
post #6 of 19
These two resorts are about as different as you can find in the US. MT has light dry snow and limited night life while Tahoe has the heavier Pacific snow and all the nightlife of a major casino resort. Decide what you're most interested in. But, if you go to Tahoe, make several of the ski areas around the lake.
post #7 of 19
My take: (disclaimer I work for Moonlight Basin)

This is the 2nd season that Moonlight & Big Sky have offered a co-pass. This combination offers the largest skiable acreage in the U.S. About 5000+ acres. There aren't a lot of cliff hucks etc. What you will find is a huge expanse of a ski experience that is draped over Lone Mountain. Currently we are skiing over 270 degrees of a very large pyramid shaped mountain with a sub-mountain thrown in for good measure. If you have Google Earth, run a search for Big Sky Montana. The view is fairly recent and shows the place off well.

January is a cold month and is quiet, I wouldn't expect empty slopes in any case. The place has been discovered.

The upper level terrain is mind blowing. Not a lot of bumps here, just steep skiing on some long runs and plenty of cruising as well.

No matter what anyone tells you, spend at least a day at Bridger, the place is still very cool.
post #8 of 19
Well, the only Tahoe area I've skied is Squaw, and that was after they had shut down a number of lifts, but it seemed small after skiing Big Sky a few weeks earlier. Big Sky is huge and can have dry powder up top while wet stuff falls at the bottom (in the spring that is, base elevation is over 7,000 ft.). There is some very steep and challenging terrain for any level of skier. Given good coverage Big Sky is hard to beat (if you pony up for the combined Lone Peak day pass, there are mad steep chutes on the MLB side too, but if you don't plan on skiing them, then the BS side is the ticket to get).

As Rio mentioned Lone Mountain is a few hours from Jackson, so it seems like a no brainer. After Bridger you can head west a couple hours to Discovery for some intense steeps along with a wide variety of levels of terrain, and then another hour and a half to Snowbowl which, behind the Lone Mountain areas boasts the Most verticle feet of terrain in Montana and largely adv/exp terrain. Of course the MT resorts lack the comeraderie of standing in long lift lines, but sometimes one must make sacrifices.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Bunion/VA thanks for the info, much appreciated.

If we end up at Big Sky/Moonlight, we'll probably do seperate tickets for both as it seems more cost effective and Bridger is definately on the itinerary.

I don't mind steep chopped up snow at all, so the relative lack of bumps will be nice. I'll still do a few bump runs, because something in the back of my mind always tells me I have to

I'll be PMing you two and others like Rio when the time is near for a possible get together.

It's gonna be good no matter what, because if conditions aren't great in Tahoe or Montana/Jackson we'll have to "settle" for Utah
post #10 of 19

See you in Big Sky ☺

jgiddyup, I hope to meet you in Aspen. I will tell you so much about Big Sky - you won't be able NOT to visit 'my' mountain.

(And I will take you on a tour)

Little Bear
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
It's a date Little Bear and I certainly MUST pick your brain in Aspen. Many thanks for the hospitality.
post #12 of 19
While I didn't have a bad experience at bridger bowl I found that the bottom of many of the runs have a looong flat expanse you must cross to get back to the lifts, I found it tiring and annoying. Maybe I am just too impatient.

As a recommendation, instead of Bridger, make a run down to Red Lodge, it's a smaller area, but I found it to be wide open mountain mostly skied by locals. Good terrain and a lot of fun, IMO.
post #13 of 19
Check the snow report carefully before going to Rock Dodge.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgiddyup View Post
It's a date Little Bear and I certainly MUST pick your brain in Aspen. Many thanks for the hospitality.
Skiing with Little Bear is another advantage of the Big Sky experience. She knows the place well, and you'll never to worry about her slowing you down. She's willing to wait for you though.
post #15 of 19
You mentioned Bridger as being on your list yet not a cliff-hucker and not so hot in bumps. Bridger is famous for its "ridge" that involves a minimum 15 minute hike and a partner and a transceiver (which you can rent at a local ski renter on the way) You won't find bumps up there, and there are ways around the cliff hucks, but if you aren't interested in hiking, there is really no reason for Bridger. The groomers suck compared to Big sky. If you want 2-8 fresh lines in deep/blower snow, Bridger is great. The locals are ridiculous and may be perfectly willing to take you to (or show you) a nice line (500-1000 vert) of your own snow. The hill is 6000-8000 above sea level. If you are from much lower, and not strong, the hike may be tiring. If that scares you (I hope it doesn't- it's not mandatory scary skiing) then Big Sky has your name all over it. i love both places for different types of skiing.
post #16 of 19
I would hit up Big Sky instead of Tahoe. It will be a lot shorter drive from Jackson.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai View Post
You mentioned Bridger as being on your list yet not a cliff-hucker and not so hot in bumps. Bridger is famous for its "ridge" that involves a minimum 15 minute hike and a partner and a transceiver (which you can rent at a local ski renter on the way) You won't find bumps up there, and there are ways around the cliff hucks, but if you aren't interested in hiking, there is really no reason for Bridger. The groomers suck compared to Big sky. If you want 2-8 fresh lines in deep/blower snow, Bridger is great. The locals are ridiculous and may be perfectly willing to take you to (or show you) a nice line (500-1000 vert) of your own snow. The hill is 6000-8000 above sea level. If you are from much lower, and not strong, the hike may be tiring. If that scares you (I hope it doesn't- it's not mandatory scary skiing) then Big Sky has your name all over it. i love both places for different types of skiing.
Thanks for the insight Samurai and we may or may not do the hike depending on conditions and what the way around the cliff hucks look like, but we're definately going to Bridger for a day.

Altitude has never been a problem for me (Other person teaches at Copper), so not really concerned about that and if timing works out right, we'll be skiing with a local or two.
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgiddyup View Post
Thanks for the insight Samurai and we may or may not do the hike depending on conditions and what the way around the cliff hucks look like, but we're definately going to Bridger for a day.

Altitude has never been a problem for me (Other person teaches at Copper), so not really concerned about that and if timing works out right, we'll be skiing with a local or two.

Riding Bridger Chair, most of the ridge lines are visible. To your right, sunnyside, is The O's; possibly the most vert. at a thousand. Three cliff bands stretch across- you'll spot many lines through that don't involve air. Not visible, passed The O's is a huge open field called The Apron; a very popular first timers line. It's a long hike, but faces north and often holds huge amounts of light snow. There is often a train of people hiking and I'm sure they'd be happy to point anything out. Also, inquire about a ridge guide; it's a buck and it shows all the lines in a small brochure of aerial photos. Have fun, Bridger is a sick little nook.
post #19 of 19
Samurai, I prefer to take people on their first Ridge tour to the Nose, which is to the left of Avalanche Gulch (looking up at the Ridge). I have had some very scary moments guiding people to the Apron because of the exposure on the traverse.

Jgiddyup, do take Ursula up on her offer. If you and your friend happen to be at Bridger on a day that I am there too, I would divulge a few secret chutes and alleys too.
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