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Living the dream Ski Bummin: which town? whitefish/big mt?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
i'm gonna be done with school in a year- thought about places to go to live and ski (i'm east coast city schoolin' right now- HATE IT).

at first, i was thinking head back to new england, live in burlington, vt and ski there. but i'm young, and i want to go somewhere out west.

so i figure my options:

1. SLC: work a real job, ski good snow. but would have to live in a big city (which i hate- and i'd rather not be in utah- somewhere better)

2. jackson hole: ski bum mecca- also many super bums and egos- probably a bit much- i just wanna ski good snow.

so i get to thinking- where to go? well, i'm kinda leading toward big mountain/whitefish, mt. seems to be a pretty chilled out, basically unheard of area (at least, mainstream-wise). cheap living- well, i know there are some yuppies out there, but it's no jackson or aspen by any means- very limited mansion sprawl... gotta find a halfway decent job.

how is the skiing there? i'm not into 50 degree chutes (well, not really) i like steep, powder, trees, small cliffs in the trees- i don't care that much about above the treeline bowls/chutes- i'm from the east and at home in the trees- is big mountain pretty damn sweet? do they really get a decent amount of snow compared to other places? wondering how steep the mountain is- i know there's good backcountry.

another plus is fernie is only a couple hours away, and kicking horse/red mountain are both 4 hours or so, too.

anyone familiar with the life in whitefish, and skiing at Big Mountain?

thanks
post #2 of 17
Big Mountain...zero crowds.

Hellroarin Basin does have some good skiing too. If you have the chance to bum for a year, by all means...DO IT!
post #3 of 17
Why not take some time and travel around a bit to see different ski areas and then pick one that you like. In Utah, don't overlook the Ogden area. Utah's got more than "big city" stuff. How much snow is there at Big Mtn. now? I'm hearing Big Sky hasn't had much fresh for the last month or so. During a tour of multiple areas, ask about normal snowfall. Who's got the most reliable conditions year in and year out?
post #4 of 17
Go to Aspen! Great skiing, tons of money flowing - some of it is bound to wind up in your pocket. It's expensive but you could find something cheap and probably make more money as a ski bum there vs else where. There's serious skiing at Aspen.
post #5 of 17
I agree with PJ. Since you're just starting out you may as well mix your skiing with a chance to meet some people who may give you a lead on a real job later on, or you might get lucky and meet a rich man's kid and live happily ever after!
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
yeah- the thought has crossed my mind. thing is, i live in NW DC (the uber rich part), and i'm already around tons of money- already met those kinds of people who've hooked up with a high paying job (for a student- my friends are all jealous)...

i kinda hate it- being around too much money. flashy cars and clothes, etc. just kinda brings me down. i want to get away from such people- apsen's pretty much the same place as here- they're just on vacation. not that there's anything wrong with the wealthy- just not my cup-o-tea. i plan on ending up in vermont (most likely)- simpler, slower life is my kinda thing. that's why i look at whitefish... is it worth going all the way out there to ski? or should i just stick to VT?
post #7 of 17
I ski patolled and lived in Montana for 5 years and skied Whitefish many times. It is not on a par with Jackson or the Salt Lake and it has some pretty ugly weather. Being on the banks of Flathead Lake it is damp and foggy (like can't see the chair in front of you) a lot of the time. Living is pretty cheap and the people are nice in Montana, but Salt Lake or Summit County have better skiing and better snow in my opinion. Whitefish is an amazing place when the weather is nice, but your odds for that are better in Utah or Colorado. If you want to ski Montana consider Bridger in Bozeman, Snow Bowl in Missoula, or Big Sky.

I have skied quite a bit in the northwest and it has many nice qualities, but after living in Colorado with 300 days of sunshine a year it's hard to go back to the constant flat light skiing in Montana. My last trip up there we did a 10 day loop around Montana and BC (including Whitefish). It never snowed but we still never saw the sun for the entire trip.
post #8 of 17
I am from Whitefish, PM me. Dont listen to ppl about the weather, just means more skiing for you. And, once your a local and know the area and surrounding slackcountry it is just as good as Boz-Angeles. Fernie is close as is the Bitteroot and GNP. I am considering moving back and finishing up my dissertation there.

BTW- I am just the oppisiste of mudfoot. I lived in NM/CO for 15 years before moving to MT. Wouldnt give up MT, the overcast, lack of crowds, money grubbers, great snow for anything. I could never move back to NM/CO.
post #9 of 17
If you like privacy, chilled environments, and entire resorts to yourself, consider Japan for a season or two.

there are alot of aussie tourists in some major resort towns, but the other 600 resorts see very little foot traffic. If you like powder, your supply will NOT be hindered by other skiers. the locals don't chase pow here.

And the money is good, being a college grad you can get hired via any major U.S. city and be earning over 30K plus complete benefit packages before you even arrive.

Oh, and japanese women rock. Most of us foreigners end up married within a few years. No offense to american woman, but the cultural upbringing up Japanese women is truly unique.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
Why not take some time and travel around a bit to see different ski areas and then pick one that you like. In Utah, don't overlook the Ogden area. Utah's got more than "big city" stuff. How much snow is there at Big Mtn. now? I'm hearing Big Sky hasn't had much fresh for the last month or so. During a tour of multiple areas, ask about normal snowfall. Who's got the most reliable conditions year in and year out?
Big Mountain's got plenty of snow, we're six hours north of Big Sky and on the other side of the Divide, so Big Sky is no indicator of Big Mountain.

A "normal" year we have 300 inches. I think we're running a bit behind at the moment, but that's nationwide pretty much. We are 100% open with plenty of coverage. Unfortunately the coverage is quite "firm" at the moment. We have been at 100% open since around Christmas. Settled base at the summit is 74 inches (191 inches to date) and we don't need lots of feet to cover boulders or anything like other ski areas, most of the mountain is grassy when there's no snow.

I don't know how good the bumming is. There is TONS of construction work in the summer for experienced people, but this winter the mountain brought in a lot of South American kids to be lifties, etc. Supposedly they work harder. I don't know if the kids from SA will want to come back though, supposedly their housing situation was NOT what they were led to believe. (High rents and no sheets whereever they are being housed.) The place I work has a terrible time hiring people that have their act together and want to stay in a job longer than 2 weeks, so it must mean all the good workers are employed somewhere.
post #11 of 17
I tend to agree with the other folks from up in northern montucky.

The place is drop dead beautiful, the snow is good in a year when everywhere else is hurtin. The proximity to the BC interior is a plus and when I was last up in Whitefish, there were some very beautiful ladies around and about.

PS, I ski Lone Mountain at Big Sky and live outside Bozeman.


Sib Wrote "we're six hours north of Big Sky and on the other side of the Divide, so Big Sky is no indicator of Big Mountain."

How True Sib; Ain't it funny how many people overlook how big the State of Montana is?


Aspen....... now that is f-ing funny.
post #12 of 17

Whitefish

Ono, as you stated, want to get away from $$$, $$$ and $$$ yuppies etc. You will love Montana, the people are real, they actually look you in the eye and smile. The only real phonies are the visitors from Calif. etc.
Like No. Idaho you can pull into a parking lot in the winter and half the cars er trucks are running witb n o one in them. Look around the parking lots and you'll see keys in the ignition, people don't lock their homes. A pretty unique way of living compared to NY, Calif. or even Aspen or any big city for that matter. The real difference is the people and the life style.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
yeah... i've been mulling over things lately. i like big sky country, in general. i've been looking at whitefish, bozeman, and missoula. i'd like to checkout a couple spots. i plan on getting my masters (in geology most likely) so bozeman and missoula would be good...

however, i'd like to take time off from studying (and take advantage of wicked cheap in-state tuition after a year or two residency). for school- i don't know which one- MSU or UofM. kinda like bozeman over missoula. anyone got any recs on that? i know bozeman is smaller- and closer to more ski areas... both, i imagine, are very nice places to live- laid back and what not. and the pictures of both are AMAZING. i'd empty my bank account right now to suck in one of those views for an hour (i'm a poor student, though)

i'm pretty much a toss up between bozeman and whitefish. can anyone give me a rundown of these three, seemingly-heavenly towns?
post #14 of 17
and with no crime comes cops justifying their jobs. My time in Bozeman taught me that cops are bored, waaay bored. Two friends lost their driver's licenses for biking while drunk. DUI. No joke. I got several tickets at once for running two stop signs while riding my mountain bike "Driving my Vehicle" no handed by the fricking park where kids were playing ball on my way through the neighborhood. Then I got an obstruction of Justice ticket for refusing to give my "driver's" license. The one that you use for CARS! :

All in all it cost more than 800 bucks plus nasty ticks (moving violations) on my driving record that henceforth affected my insurance.

I fricking hate bozeman cops. Get a life if you read this, losers. I can't believe you gave me tickets for being out of control of my vehicle while I was riding my bike no-handed and weaving around pine cones laying in the street.

6 years on and I'm still furious.: I wonder if my friends ever got their licenses back or how much it cost them in the long-term.

don't drink and bike in bozeman. and if you do ride your bike, keep your hands on the handle bars and don't hop curbs, look both ways and don't forget your seat belt. A driver's license must be carried at all times too. :
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ono View Post
yeah... i've been mulling over things lately. i like big sky country, in general. i've been looking at whitefish, bozeman, and missoula. i'd like to checkout a couple spots. i plan on getting my masters (in geology most likely) so bozeman and missoula would be good...

however, i'd like to take time off from studying (and take advantage of wicked cheap in-state tuition after a year or two residency). for school- i don't know which one- MSU or UofM. kinda like bozeman over missoula. anyone got any recs on that? i know bozeman is smaller- and closer to more ski areas... both, i imagine, are very nice places to live- laid back and what not. and the pictures of both are AMAZING. i'd empty my bank account right now to suck in one of those views for an hour (i'm a poor student, though)

i'm pretty much a toss up between bozeman and whitefish. can anyone give me a rundown of these three, seemingly-heavenly towns?
I did my undergrad and MA at U of MT in Missoula, the skiing is closer in Missoula then Bozeman. Snowbowl is an easy 15 minutes and is an awesome little area with sick BC. It depends on what you are doing in school. I know both have a good geology dept, btu depends on what type of geology you want. Missoula is much more of a real town then Bozeman which has tons more tourists. I love Missoula and was very unhappy when I had to leave for further studies. It has everything, lots of culture and food becuase of the univeristy population, good montana fun with guns and trucks, great mtns, great fishing, great skiing... you get the picture. To me Missoula is everything a MT city should be. I miss it alot. Whitefish is very much a smaller version of Missoula.

The skiing is closer in Whtiefish and in the winter the town revolves around the ski area, not the same in Bozeman that is bigger and further from the mtns. Everyone in Whitefish is very proud of thier mtn and in some way connected to it. It is also cheaper and easier to get a job in Whitefish then Bozeman as it is smaller and has no uni. I think you know where i would pick, but you really need to visit them yourself. Some ppl like the west side of the divide, some the east. My Bozeman friends think i am stupid for liking Missoula more... They just dont want to admit the truth.
post #16 of 17
Recent (not current) panorama scenery at Big Mountain (late Jan 2007). Panorama shots
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
thanks for the responses.

yes... i'm on the fence here. whitefish seems pretty damn cool. maybe gonna spend a season there (or two??- while i get residency) then probably move to a school town. i've heard from a few of you missoula is the place to go. snowbowl seems small (well, good skiing, no resort= my style) does it get crowded?

bozeman- yeah, i can see why some of you are calling it out as touristy/hipster crowd- i grew up in a relatively rich CT town, and a LOT of kids went to MSU (kinda hippie/hipster kids whom are now moving on to east coast law schools- not exactly what i'm looking for in a place) who knows- leaning toward whitefish, then on to missoula (tentatively).

now i'm scared that i'll get stuck out there- that i'll never leave or see my family/friends ever again (tradeoffs for the good life, eh? they can visit)

pictures are worth a thousand words- thanks sibhusky. those tree shots look DELICIOUS. mouth watering. big mt seems pretty much my kinda placec- lotta trees, steeps (but not fall-and-die steeps) and a few small cliffs- plenty of adventure in the BC, etc. pictures of missoula, too, are pretty sweet- the Mts. are right there.

sibhusky- got a dog for me someday? i love huskies.
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