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One day at Big Sky

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

We will be at Big Sky on Saturday for our first time and would appreciate tips on how to ski the mt. We are three expert skiers, although my SO doesn't like skiing anything scary. We ski lots in Utah. Thanks.

post #2 of 8

No specific tips at the moment, but be encouraged that you will have a great time.  Some of the best cruisers in the country. Your SO should not be intimidated at all.   It also has some of the smallest crowds, snow quality that stays due to lack of traffic and cooler northern location. Check the trail map, it is pretty clear.  And -- if you get a chance and are up to it in skills, take a trip up the tram. It offers some great lift accessed steep lines. 


Maybe more specific suggestions when I get time.  

post #3 of 8

Big Sky got over a foot of snow this week and probably more today.  Skiing should be good all over the mountain.  I'd recommend starting on Andesite, which is the hill on the left at the base area.  Take Ramcharger chair, get off and follow the road around the hill.  You'll end up on Elk Park Ridge, one of the best cruiser runs anywhere.  You can either take the groomer down or play around in the off-piste stuff in Elk Park Meadow, to the right of the run.  If you go into Elk Park Meadow don't make the mistake of going downhill too early.  Instead, parallel the groomer at least half way down the hill before heading downhill.


Next, take Thunderwolf chair up and hang a hard left off the top.  Follow the signs to Big Horn.  This is another great groomer run.  You can either ski it or drop off into one of the glade runs on the left.  You'll see signs for the glade runs usually with ropes around the enterance.  I would skip the first one (Snakepit) because you can end up above a nasty cliff if you don't know where you're going.  Bears Lair is the next one.  It fairly steep with thinned out trees.


I'd then take Thunderwolf again and go exploring the glade runs off Ramcharger.  They are tucked in the trees between the groomers with the best ones are off Tippy's Tumble and Silverknife.  Don't hang around the glades too long as you'll want to get to the tram early since its a Saturday.


After you're done warming up on Andesite take Swift Current, follow the road to the right then take the Lone Peak triple.  When you get off you can see the tram base.  I'd recommend hitting the tram earlier as lines can get long on Saturdays.  When you get off the tram you have a lot of choices.  If the line is short I'd recommend heading back around the mountain to where the tram is and skiing either 'The Gullies' or Crons.  These will put you back to where you can get on the tram immediately.


Two other great options are Lenin and Marx on the south side of the mountain.  Eventually you'll hit a road on both.  Follow the road to the left all the way back to the triple chair to get back to the tram.  The most popular run off the tram is Liberty Bowl which is worth doing as your last ride up the tram.  You will end up on Shedhorn chair and need to ride it to the top to get back to the road that will take you back to the triple.


I'll write more later (if I have time) on what to do once the tram lines get too long.

post #4 of 8

Other places to hit at Big Sky if the tram is busy:


The Turkey Traverse in the Lone Peak Bowl.  Its a long traverse but due to the north facing exposure and the tendency for the winds to blow snow in the snow is usually really good.  If you take the first chute after the long traverse hang a hard left right below the rocks & look for untracked areas.  People sometimes leave powder there for days.


The Rice Bowl is off Swift Current.  On days with winds from the west it will continue to get new snow blown in all day.  It isn't very long and has a long return to the base but worth hitting on your way back in.


Big Rock Tongue off Challenger Chair.  Getting to this run can be tricky as the top is wind exposed so I can't give safe directions since I haven't skied it recently.  This is an east exposed steep open space that gets snow blown in when the winds are from the west.  The snow tend to be very good.


I have been avoiding Shedhorn Chair and Dakota Chair due to the long dry period & their low south facing exposure.  If you do get tempted to try Shedhorn don't take Cow Flats unless you enjoy trekking.....it really is flat.  Either take Liberty Bowl down from the tram or follow the traverses to the left through the trees you'll see at the top of Swift Current.


If you feel like some great groomers I recommend Elk Park Ridge & Big Horn off Thunderwolf, Tippy's Tumble and Silverknife off Ramcharger & Lolo and Calamity Jane off Swift Current.  Be aware that some of these groomers are over 1,500 vertical feet and have a steeper pitch than you realize......I've seen some good skiers wipe out on them near the bottom due to tired legs.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips. Between a kid that does not wake up well in the morning, a spouse that does not ski well in the afternoon, and a long tram line, I did not quite get to all the goods, but would have been completely lost without your guide. Snow was great on north faces (e.g. Turkey Traverse), mixed elsewhere. I was particularly drooling over Gully 1, but it was not to be. Lots of people in Big Couloir. Andesite skis way bigger than it looks on the map. I would have spent alot more time on Challenger if it had more snow and I was prepared to live alone.


You should flesh this out, and make it a Big Sky guide a la Bob Peter's JH thread. And add an appendix for Bridger.

post #6 of 8

Now that they have a wiki I'll probably start something that others can add to.  The biggest problem with giving advice about skiing Big Sky is the mountain changes so much depending on how much snow it has, where the snow has come from, winds, temperatures, sun exposure, time of year, etc.  Advice really needs to be given based on recent observations.  The constant changing is actually a good thing as you can almost always find something good to ski there if you know where to look.

post #7 of 8

Lots of people in Big Couloir???

Are you sure..this is one of the most insane lines at BS or any place for that matter-beacons,avi etc

check in w/ski patrol.the headwall cornice requires mandotory air (or some sort of hairy entry), then a hard jog to avoid the rock walls before dropping the main chute. The Big C. runs the top of Lone Peak down to the Tram Line-serious exposure

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

^yep (I'm pretty sure that's what I was looking at). At least 5 groups of 2-3 (can't go solo) in the 35 min I was waiting on the Tram line, many on tele skis. Conditions were excellent, oddly seemed to be lots more snow than I see in various pictures on the web. Drop in still a trick but otherwise did not look too terrifying. In contrast, the chute next over (Little Couloir? Apple Core?) looked like it was rocks only for the first 100 ft, and there were still tracks on it.

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