Big Sky Resort - Snow Report 3/7-3/9
March 12, 2004
First it's a nice and very picturesque place ... remote, buried deep in the gallatin forest. There are actually three ski resorts on or around the one "big sky" mountain: Big Sky, Moonlight Basin, and Yellowstone Club. however the LAST one you have to be rich to get into (apparently Tiger Woods was there last week with his swedish fiancé)...
The resort area has (at least) 2 hotels, dozens of condos, and a mall area with shops and a variety of restaurants of different price levels. In and around the area are other things to do besides ski such as x-c skiing (lone mountain ranch), hiking, fly fishing and so forth. And is near Yellowstone and Glacier National Park (I think)
I skied 2 of 3 days but tired from Utah from the week before, and skiing with almost a rank beginner on day 2, I did NOT get a full sense of the mountain... BUT here is what I think.
First the conditions weren't and maybe NEVER are as nice as utah. Still they had plenty of snow. I did a ski pole test and was able to push my pole all the way to into the snow in the trees ... so the snow pack was AT LEAST that deep.
however the big downside was the top 3-5 inches was a relatively heavy wet snow -- so no piles of soft powder.
The terrain is more geared towards the intermediate skier and advanced intermediates on the lower slopes. The more expert terrain comes down off the main peak and around the rims of the bowl facing the main resort area. These are OPEN steep runs with rocky obstacles mainly.
On the lower slopes then you typically get greens/blues and black runs -- and the black runs are all moguled up, while the blue runs are groomed.
It was suggested to me that excellent tree skiing existed in two areas: shedhorn/iron horse), of which one I made it into. Unfortunately I couldn't quite figure out WHERE this was precisely and so I can't report on it. nothing jumped out at me that was similar to brighton so either I'm a complete idiot or don't know what to look for ... BUT i saw *little* evidence of tracks into the trees so who knows...
From the top, the Tram presents you with at least 3 main options or faces to ski down, OR you can go into the ski patrol hut and sign a release form, bringing a partner, shovel, and avalanche beacon and head down Big Couloir or Little Couloir (if it is open) around the OTHER side. Of the 3 faces Liberty bowl is rated the easiest (black)... (no i did not get to it but desperately wanted to ski down the top) Also from the top, you can follow rim/ridge lines down and drop into the main bowl, these are all double-black areas.
OVERALL -- For me, I think I'd go back for sure but make it part of vacation NOT devoted exclusively to skiing... none the less, ITS great skiing and I'd likely change my mind if i went FRESH, I'd probably ski everyday and have a blast!
Interestingly, the same family that owns Big Sky owns BRIGHTON in Utah...!
Hey Kev- thanks for the Big Sky update. I've only been to Big Mtn. Montana but for some reason it remains one of my favorite mountains out west. My parents enjoyed Brighton a lot too and, while I thought they had great New England style intermediate runs in Snake Creek, for my money I'd take Solitude. Anyway, yeah the snow can get surprisingly heavy in those mountains. The heaviest snow I have ever skied was not California or Oregon or Washington but in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We got 16 inches of "freshies" one day out there and it was like a dump truck and spilled cement all over the mountain. How snow that wet tracks that far inland out west remains one of the great unsolved mysteries...