Just one of the great things about living in Big Sky is that we get the chance to show off this giant mountain to people who haven’t been here before. These were big mountain skiers who are in the industry and have skied most every place else but Big Sky had elusively missed their list, until now. It was Mike and Dan, Dan who spends his winters in an unnamed Wyoming resort had heard plenty about Big Sky, but today was the day I’d get to show him exactly what the Biggest Skiing in America looks like.
Mike and Dan had explored the lower mountain earlier in the day while Brandon and I were going to catch up and show off the big stuff for the afternoon. It was a perfect, blue-bird day and the temps were comfortable so we started our big ski tour by lounging on the plaza at the picnic tables eating delicious burgers from the Burger Bar outside, the servings were plentiful and we were fueled up to get to the top.
We rolled four wide up Swifty, then made our way to the Triple Chair. When the mountains popping white and the sky is deep blue, skating around the corner of the Jay Walk unleashes the immensity of the Lone Mountain with a wide Bowl to the left, steep Gullies straight ahead and the ornery A-Z chutes finishing the cirque to the right.
We got to the top and even though we hadn’t seen Dan or Mike make a turn before, we knew they were adventurous and strong so we skied Otter Slide to the Dictator Chutes. We positioned above the chutes, but before we pushed off, we took a moment to take in how big this terrain really is, not only are you standing 800 feet above a rollover cliff section, but looking straight out toward the Madison range with Cedar and Sphinx, and countless unnamed snowy peaks and faces, we all knew correctly that even though a lift got us to this point, this was real mountain skiing.
The snow was that really nice consistency of chalky, maybe 2 inches of grippable snow that had been nicely wind buffed smooth for steep, but easy turns. We honked a left (by the way, as a guide they told me I say “honk left” and “honk right” a lot, so now I have a complex) and we worked our way to Lenin proper, only long enough to find the entry point back to the right underneath the cliffs we had just skied above. From there our turns got deeper with barely touched lines that still kept us high enough to get above the unloading bullwheel of the Shedhorn lift. We scooted quickly across the Duck Walk, glancing at the steep mountain side on our left and the steep drop off to the right to position ourselves for a second lap up the Tram.
Now that we had showed them the technical steeps, now it was time for the big wide steeps that Marx provides with almost impossibly long vertical drop. Our friends were loving it and even though the Tram was closing for the day, we still had a full hour of Challenger laps to explore.
By now with the short January sun, it was starting to dip and we would relish with the rays at the top of the legendary fixed grip double. The snow was great and we hit our favorites like 17th Green, Moonlight and BRT North. For Dan and Mike, who knew the next day we’d stretch out the Biggest Skiing even further with Moonlight Basin, I think they were beginning to think this area had no end, which in a lot of ways, it doesn’t while it continues to wrap around Lone Peak.
Just a few more satisfied Big Sky first-timers who pledged to come back. I’ve determined there are two types of skiers out there, those who haven’t skied Big Sky, but talk about the plans to make the plans to someday make the trip, and those who have experienced the place and count the days to when they’ll be back.
How many days do you have left?
We’ll see you out there,