What a week we've had in Big Sky, it might snow a little or snow a lot, but regardless, it seems to be snowing every day for the month of December. I have to check in with our snow safety professionals, but my last count showed it snowing at least 15 days in December, and it's only the 22nd. So what do we do with all this snow? you might ask, of course I need to take journalists out and show it off.
I was out of town for a conference, on my flight home, I sat next to Stevie who lives in Helena, who is a huge fan of skiing Big Sky, what better luck could I have? Talk about having something in common with a total stranger . . . he told stories of reading the site and finding gems that he can later explore with great results.
I booted up on Wednesday to join Carolyn and Keith who were visiting from Fernie for a story in an Edmonton paper. For those who haven't heard, the dollar is getting near par with Canada so many of our friends from the Great White North are very keen in exploring all there is to offer south of the border in Montana. I'm happy to oblige and we set out for a day to explore everything we could. For the morning we warmed up on Mr. K, followed by several Andesite laps that took us all over. My highlight was stumbling into Congo which is a gladed tree run that we thinned out several summers ago. This run has many things going for it, first, there's a bail out spot, members of your group not up for trees can meet you at the bottom by skiing Safari, second, it's a perfect pitch that give you just enough speed, but not so much that your efforts need to be squandered in trying to scrub speed. Finally, it's a tree run! It holds snow, it's north facing and it gets less traffic than the wide open runs, which means soft snow, almost every day.
We kept spinning laps all over the mountain before lunch at Peaks Restaurant. I suspect my guiding must have been going well, considering I kept checking in for the lunch break and my eager companions kept saying, "just one more run". As much as I'd like to stretch my arm patting my back, I suspect the phenomenal terrain and fun snow might have been doing most of the heavy work.
Let's jump to Saturday, yeah, bummer, got hung up in the office for 2 days straight, sorry Stevie (he seemed to think I simply ski every day at will). I had a new group to show off the biggest skiing in America to, they are guests of ours in the Powder Ridge Cabins and will be writing a syndicated column to appear in newspapers across the country. It was a big group, six of us in total, so the decision for the morning was to split up with Eileen and I to explore the lower mountain with the rest of the group to explore everywhere else.
I love to give complete mountain tours because it puts me on terrain I'd rarely check out if I free-skied all the time. For instance, I learned when going up the Explorer chair, a perfect lift for lessons and beginners, that our sharp terrain park crew has added yet another terrain park area. They've placed a few rollers in the ample snow, plus a flat box with easy transition and even a rail with a beginner take off spot. I can't wait when I get a chance to play and progress on the beginner park they built. Eileen and I rolled up Swiftcurrent where she was really impressed that there was no lift line on a Saturday at the front end of a holiday week. We checked out Mr. K which is skiing as perfect as it ever can, freshly groomed every night with plenty of snow, 3 miles of the most clean, green turns that you couldn't replicate if you could shape the mountain yourself.
We went up Andesite and turned toward Elk Park Ridge, one thing I love about this run is that you can ski with friends, but get completely different experiences while skiing together. On the left side is the ridge which has been groomed, while getting on the right side, where I played, you could find the 6 inches of still barely touched powder to play in. We'd synch up every 500 feet or so, while I could jump from the pow to the groomed with ease.
After our lunch at Whiskey Jacks, we re-configured the groups with Christine from snowsports school set to show Eileen around while I could grab the willing for the more steep terrain we have here. We started with an-after burrito warm up run to the bowl area. Wow, I might have missed the first powder day, but the snow has settled into really carvy snow. We then worked our way back up the triple chair to ride the Tram with only 9 passengers; my group took up 4 of the spaces. After the banter with Tom from Ski Patrol, we decided to get into Marx, my two companions are really strong skiers and I knew they've been waiting to really let it loose with a giant, big mountain run. The top of Marx has filled in nicely, but still needs very careful execution to get past the Gullies Travers fence. Once we were there we were free to let them loose, Reggie and Mel handled the steep, open skiing with 4-8 inches of snow perfectly, plus I must admit it was good for my soul to ski big, fast turns.
After that, with smiles all around we finished our day in Challenger, we skied Moonlight and cut into the trees at Todd's Pocket, they reminded me that it might be my mountain, but it's their skills that make the difference when I flailed off a small rock that they aired perfectly.
I'm off to spend some family time in my home town in Eastern Montana, luckily my new friends get to stay and continue to explore all that Big Sky offers for the next week. So with that, enjoy your time in Big Sky, I'll be thinking of what I'm missing daily and will mentally scope out my ski day when I'm back at the end of the week.
We'll see you out there,