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Big Sky in early/mid December?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
So my school's ski trip this year is to Big Sky, from December 9-15 (skiing 10-14). What kind of conditions can I expect for this trip? I'm hoping the top of the mountain will be mostly open by then, is this a reasonable possibility? I'm interested in black and double black terrain, primarily the chutes and I love deep powder.

We were blessed last year with great snow at Steamboat, but I'm a bit skeptical of how much to expect at Big Sky.

So, what's the deal (usually) in early December? Thanks
post #2 of 17
Mid Dec. the top of the mountain (Lone Peak) is usually not completely open. Big Sky is pretty aggressive about what they will have open early. Hope for early and good snows but thats awfully early to bank on.
post #3 of 17
Lone Peak opened at Thanksgiving last year and it was a very noteworthy event because it's so rare. You have very steep odds against double black terrain at Big Sky being skiable that early.

I don't know many schools that get out that early for Christmas, but if this is a regular event the list of destination resorts that have a good shot at full operation that early is very short. Steamboat is on that short list. I would recommend the areas I rated 5 for Christmas here and for advanced skiers rule out any place rated lower than 4 : http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/fam_ski.htm .
post #4 of 17
You certain about that Tony? I recall that the Tram was open for turkey day, but it was scenic rides only. We didn't see the beginnings of coverage until early/mid December.

At any rate, your thoughts are spot on.
post #5 of 17
I was there Dec 10-11 for a Military apperication weekend and the tram was running and we skied off it into the Liberty Bowl at least. I can't remember if any of the chutes where open or not. Remember it's all in how much snow we get between now and then!
post #6 of 17
The Northern Rocky Mountain PSIA has been conducting fall training the first weekend in December since 1988. We have never had to cancel and the coverage is generally pretty darn good. Last year we skied Marx and Lenin and the bumps off the Challenger chair and the snow was exquisite though you had to keep vigilant against barely covered scree.

Of course, we had to do the event in Montana, and Big Sky consistently has the best early season conditions in the area.
post #7 of 17
My advice would be to follow the weather reports closely and think about renting skis instead of bringing your own. Big Sky is a great place but my experience is that December 9-15 is kind of early for great snow coverage and they don't call those Northern mountains the "Rockies" for nothing.
post #8 of 17
Bring your rock skis
post #9 of 17
The Northern Rockies had an exceptionally good start last year. I don't have last year's Big Sky data but Bridger had 100 inches in November 2005. My progress reports last year mention Lone Peak opening "at the end of November," so maybe it was just after Thanksgiving.

I'd recommend doing that first week of December northern Rockies training at Grand Targhee.
post #10 of 17
Not that any of it matters much. If its an exceptionally kind Nov. anything is possible. If it is a more typical Nov. well?

1995/96 we had 100" in Oct. at the Lobo snow plot (8800'). It was the first year of the tram and as soon as the machine was ready to run and the A/C was completed we were skiing everything there was to ski off the summit.

Looks wet this week.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well it's not like they can reschedule a trip for about 800 people (usually), so it's either Big Sky or nothing.

Anyway, the trip is insanely cheap ($345 for four days of skiing + lodging in condos, with a fifth day of skiing available for very little), so I'm going regardless. I'll just have to pray for lots of early season snow I guess! I'm definitely renting skis just from a convenience standpoint, though I'm bringing my boots, of course.

The trip is for Northwestern University, in case anyone was wondering. Time to settle in and wait. I can't believe how little this trip is costing me though; even demo ski rentals are only about $20 a day, and I booked a plane ticket using frequent flyer miles so that was "free". Sweet!
post #12 of 17
Are your dates set in stone?
Just wondering, if I've got the time off I'll head over that way and catch a few runs with ya, if that's ok
post #13 of 17
Now you know why the trip is cheap. Keep that in mind for future reference. Many of your 800 people will be casual skiers and be very happy with the abundant lower mountain slopes which don't need so much coverage. You also may want to do a day excursion to Yellowstone as I did last January from Jackson.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
Now you know why the trip is cheap. Keep that in mind for future reference. Many of your 800 people will be casual skiers and be very happy with the abundant lower mountain slopes which don't need so much coverage. You also may want to do a day excursion to Yellowstone as I did last January from Jackson.
Actually it's just as cheap every year. I payed the same price for Steamboat last year. I'd imagine more of the reason it's cheap is that it's being booked for 800 people. From what others have told me the snow has been pretty solid on the last few trips (and I can verify it was at Steamboat, although that was record-breaking snowfall).

I should add that when you're someplace with 800 fellow students from the same school, the trip is inevitably a great time even if there is no skiing at all .
post #15 of 17
That time of year is dead in the travel business in general and you will get good deals in most places. With all those empty rooms they are delighted to get 800 people. The Yellowstone suggestion was constructive. It's worth a day of your time even if the skiing is good. But if you're an advanced skier you should try to get some input on the choice of location for a trip that early.
post #16 of 17
The good news is a big wet front has hit the area dumping heavy, wet snow on the local mountains. They are predicting rain & snow in Bozeman off and on for the next ten days with snow in the surrounding mountains. Getting an early dump of heavy, wet snow really helps with getting the upper steep areas at both Big Sky & Bridger skiable early in the season.
post #17 of 17
We have been talking snow and hopefully it will be good. The comment about rock skis is good advise. The Lone Peak gets a fair amount of wind which blows the snow off some areas. Some of the traverse tracks have rocks showing even in March.

On the same "warnings" track. Be sure to bring warm clothing. BS can be (not always) cold so be prepared.

One last comment. Hopefully Lone Peak will be open. It has some of the most extreme lift accessed (no hiking) terrain in the US. Enjoy
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