Today was one of the magical days that reaffirms any choices ever made that led you to live on a mountain. Deep snow with beautiful blue-bird conditions . . . yeah, works for me. We started this feature because we know the numbers don't tell the whole story, well days like today, that's more true than ever.
We've been sitting in the path of one snow system after another for the past six weeks, but while walking home from the Sno-Bar last night and with snow falling steadily and piling up quickly, I figured we simply had another fun day ahead of us, I've quit keeping track. What I didn't count on was that this was a northerly snow system, the perfect storm for Big Sky Resort, because it loads heavy on all southern and eastern aspects.
It's a phenomenon that those that live here are privy too, but when snow safety snowmobiles out at 5 a.m. to check the snow stake at Lobo, he gets a 5 inch measurement for overnight with 9 inches in 48 hours. But after my first lap in the Bowl, getting several face shots with snow rolling up my knees, it's the classic upper mountain snow multiplier, 2 feet easy up there. I got a report from Stergar who skied the Big Couloir who was reporting thigh, to waist deep sections in the apron rolling out the bottom. 5 inch powder day indeed.
I spent most of my time exploring Challenger, bagging all the standard spots I love, like 17th Green, Moonlight/Midnight, but paying special attention to skirting in and out of the trees, which had plenty of fresh tracks even deep into the afternoon. My next move wasn't within my normal free-ski style, especially when each and every lap was so incredible, but at 2:30 I completely shifted my strategy, I took Fast Lane back to the Base Area and decided to check out Andesite.
My theory was this: generally, there's always going to be more snow on the upper mountain, and going down the back side of Andesite to Thunderwolf is almost as low as you can go. But the over-riding element in the equation is that Elk Park Meadows faces South/South-East benefiting the most from this storm and this area is huge, not nearly enough powder skiers could track it up when they've spent their whole day at the Tram and Challenger. My gamble paid off and I wound up smoking more Elk Park Meadows Laps in 90 minutes than I have all season combined.
I love the pitch of that area and the snow was still a foot to 18 inches deep and even though I crossed many tracks, most turns were on giant pillows of soft, silky snow that gave you just enough bounce to re-load for the next turn. You can veer, left and right always spotting the sweet spots through the Meadows on the 1,800 vertical foot sustained run. Then my trick was on every ride up Thunderwolf, I'd scope out my next preferred line by using the trees as my markers for next time I was at the top. Oh, one other treat, I had all of this nearly all to myself, I might not have gotten within 500 yards of another skier the entire powder filled afternoon.
I'm on the mountain a lot this week with several projects, plus I didn't even get to talk about skiing Friday with legendary skier and Big Sky Passholder, Tom Jungst from Warren Miller and Greg Stump movie fame. So much skiing and so little time to write.
We'll see you out there,