The "Lone Peak Pass" is the combo ticket that allows total mountain access (nearly 6000 acres) to Big Sky riders desiring Moonlight experiences. Locals and visitors alike can mix up their day on the vast expanses of blues and greens, but the real punch is for the more extreme enthusiast. This pass gets you on the tram on the Big Sky side and allows you to experience the "North Summit Snowfield" on the Moonlight side; sort of the Holy Grail of Lone Mountain runs. (Excluding the rarified Little Couloir!)
Like the much vaunted Big Couloir, you haven't conquered Lone Peak until you have braved your way down the challenging traverse to drop into the most incredible snow in the Rockies! As a snowboarder, there's nothing quite as challenging as getting led down the Primrose path, by a fellow skier. In my case, this was Bill Primrose, whose made the trek a dozen times this season, taking at least a half dozen NSS virgins along with him. My thanks to Blaine, Joanne, and knuckle-dragger Casey for their encouragement and guidance as well. The ski patrol on both sides of this mountain do an excellent job keeping access and control to the most epic of lift-accessed terrain in the country. As always, deep-pow gratitude to you guys and gals as well!
The nature of the Snowfield is skier-perfect; an easy entry off the cornice into the north-facing chasm yields up deep fluff in turn after turn. With an area that doesn't see direct snow-damaging sunlight, it was like riding in the palm of God's hand. The "exits" are important to correctly navigate, in my two runs, Bill led us down Great Falls, where the snow was spectacular and then Rips (a bit tougher) to lower Direct, which made the entire day worth it. Wow. One of my friends once told me he had returned from heli-skiing in Alaska only to find what he was looking for right here on this run and I now believe it!
Anyway, the exciting Easter weekend began by hooking up with a couple of first-time visitors from Brighton, Big Sky's sister resort in Utah. Jay and Seth were well-studied in the lore and the lure of Lone Peak. They had memorized the names of lifts and runs and familiarized themselves with particular challenges to hit during their visit. They were still anxious to team up with me for a guided tour. With the tram a bit busier than usual, Jay spied the A to Z chutes and like a little kid, pointed and said, "I wanna do that!" This led to my first boot-pack off Challenger where we dropped Castle Rock and sailed thru incredible fresh pow back to the tram. Jay struck up a conversation with local skiing legend Lonnie Ball and his wife Mary who were friends with the late extreme skiing pioneer Doug Coombs. These guys were getting awed from all directions! We grabbed a couple slots to drop the Big, and then, since we had an hour to kill, ran a great line down the gut of Lenin. The fun of making turns in the Big Couloir kicks up endorphins that are unmatched and addictive to any rider. The snow and the quiet solitude of this particular mountain gully are an experience that no one forgets. I'm sure this will be true for these guys as well.
The next tram-lap took us over to Dakota/Wyoming as a growing storm suddenly limited our visibility, however absolutely incredible snow made the trek worth it and the tree-shots thru Bavaria were a huge bonus. Jay found the trees "mystical" and would return for more the following day in the fresh powder that had fallen overnight. Taking the left side of Marx from the Otter Slide down to To Hell You Ride traverse into Ace off the Dirt Bag Bowl proved genius. We were like 3rd tracks and when I fell 2/3rd's of the way down I could only laugh as I tumbled like a growing snowball rolling in several feet of softness! Throw in some more boot-packs up Bone Crusher and off the Headwaters all the way out to Three Forks, toss in some Gullies and Dictator Chutes and you have one super-fantastic weekend. Wow, this stuff is gonna end soon with only 20 days left in our 142 day season and it's still one of the best season's on record for quality snowfall. It's gonna be bell to bell this year: Big Sky started out of the gate with a bang and it looks to be wrapping up that way.
Let's ride the Sky!