Today I was surrounded by soft snow, but the real treat was observing just how soulful and strong the ski community is that is attracted to Lone Peak. This morning in the parking lot I ran into Mike Mannelin, straight from Alaska where he earned a backcountry guide certificate (congratulations) he was back to his MT spot to sneak in the final days to the season. I mentioned I’d be booting up at 1 and so we agreed to meet later. I had a request from a 20 year visitor to Big Sky, Andrew, from New York, who is a fan of this page and thought it would be fun to tag along for a ski day.
I checked out the US Adaptive National Championships in the morning, truly being inspired by these amazing athletes carving around gates, I could only dream of skiing their style while excelling above and beyond their disabilities.
For my turn at turns, I was in the base area at 1 to meet Andrew and there was Mike, ready to join us as planned. We got to the top of Swift Current and skied to the Triple Chair. I hadn’t been on snow for a few days so I wanted to get a sense of what these storms brought before heading to the top, so we pointed toward the Turkey Traverse to get a South Wall quick lap. We were joined by Andrew, who was welcoming Mike back and before we knew it we were a foursome. The snow was soft, the turns were familiar and the group was strong, before I had even started off the Turkey Traverse, Mike was already standing near the Triple Chair.
We settled into the Tram area, and it was a joyous homecoming for Mike; between the smiles of seeing their old friend back and the fun snow, it was a cool scene. By now our group was growing bigger as I introduced Andrew to KP, and Jeff was there on his ski repair “lunch break”. Next thing you know, Chad, a local photographer rolls up and offers his Big Couloir spot to the group and Mike and Jeff jump at it. For Andrew, KP and I, we take the Liberty snow fence over the Yeti Traverse heading toward the Gullies.
I had a tip from the morning that Crons was loaded and deep, but as it turned out the Gullies were skiing super smooth and creamy. Andrew, who only gets to ski here a few times a year, but grew up with the instruction of former ski director Hans, put on a show with balance, ease on this terrain. Once cutting to Crons, the first word that came from his mouth was “silky”, which I liked, because it was perfect, boot-top, wind loaded turns that were like first tracks at 2 in the afternoon. With serendipity, Mike and Jeff finished on Cue Ball right as we got there.
We spun it back around to the Tram line, where once again, Mike was seeing all the familiar faces welcoming him back. Now we had tasted the powder and had the permanent smiles on our face. The next lap we followed KP’s lead for the belly of Marx, the conditions were prime for a top to bottom, something I can’t remember doing since February. With that sustained pitch and never ending vertical, it could have been a top 10 run for me this season.
I was to get back to the office, but with the new friends, the kind who had met an hour before but were tied together with shared powder, I left Andrew in the care of the locals for them to finish out their own ski day.
It’s really good skiing right now, I really hope you get to join me in finishing strong.
We’ll see you out there,