Big Sky, MT 3/2/2015

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Big Sky, MT 3/2/2015

Postby tseeb » Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:25 am

Tony Crocker left our hotel in Belgrade on airport shuttle to Bozeman airport across highway at 5 am. The previous evening, I did a big load of laundry, took a hot tub, then met up with a guy in Bozeman who sold me an $80 voucher for Big Sky (walk-up is $103+tax=>$106) before we had a late dinner at Montana Ale Works. This would be my 6th day in a row of morning drive of up to two hours to get to skiing, ski most of the day, then apres-ski drive to relocate to a new place. I'm not sure if it was because of that or that I lost my guide and skiing partner or that I'm getting a little run down and developed a hacking cough to go with my often running nose after skiing 10 days in a row and 11 of 13, but I could have had a better day.

I arrived at totally clear Big Sky a little before 9. By the time I booted up and skated, then walked and waited in moderate line, my lift ticket was issued at 9:19. I went up Swift Current lift and took a warm-up run on Calamity Jane groomer. Next time up I went up the Lone Peak triple and skied very nice chalky snow in The Bowl and through Low Bench, but also found a couple of rocks. I went up the triple again and got in line for the Lone Peak Tram. The wait was 4 trams, but it went fast as ride is only 4 minutes. The Big Couloir was closed as the cheese grater rocks at the entrance were mostly uncovered. After looking around and taking a few pictures, I skied Liberty Bowl to Sledhorn chair. Snow was good, but it was rocky at the top which meant while I was looking ahead to pick my line, also had to look down to avoid rocks.

The next time up my wait was 5 trams. I used it to drop a layer as I was getting warm. I went to the ski patrol shack at the top of North Summit Snowfields where ski patrolwoman tried to discourage me from skiing it. She said only one group had gone there all morning. After talking to her for 10-15 min and thinking I may have to give up because they don't let you go alone, two snowboarders arrived who said I could join them. They had not done the run recently, but at least one of them had done it previously. After signing out, including leaving a contact phone number in case I did not make it, we skied the good snow off the top ridge. Only one way down, Great Falls, was open and we did not find it. When we got to a corner with some fencing, we could not see beyond a steep rollover and there were tracks on a traverse below us into some less steep snowfields so we skied down to it. It was a mistake as we ended up skirting some closed signs and with the boarders directing me from below, I had to side-step then ski across a rocky area before getting onto slabby steep slope that got me to the flats. I was overheated and had to take off my pack, helmet and jacket to let the steam out. Then I still had another 2,000 vertical feet to ski to bottom of Six-Shooter lift where I bought a Gatorade and again took off my jacket, this time removing way-too-warm and partially soaked liner. In retrospect, I should have not gone with boarders and instead tried to go with skiers who got to patrol shack as we were leaving and who skied the correct line that looked much better than what we came down.

After riding lift, I skied to the car and left pack and jacket liner there. I skied mostly groomers the rest of the day, with some steeper pitches mixed in that usually were not as good. I finished my day with a couple of laps on S-facing long and slow Sledhorn lift that was still in the sun after 3 pm. I left Big Sky at 4:15 pm with 22.2K vertical and had a 2 1/2 hour drive to Driggs. Targhee should be good today and my cough was better than previous night, maybe due to an excellent Thai dinner at one of the two Thai places in town of 1,600. I woke up to snowplow running on highway in front of where I'm staying and it looks like 3-4 inches on my car and snowing heavily at 6 am.
Attachments
0840TramBaseSigns.JPG
Tram Base
0845TramGoingOver.JPG
Tram going over. The bottom of Big Couloir looks good, but getting into it and past one choke would be difficult
0847OnTram.JPG
Being inside tram looking down at this does not bother me
0842TonyTopOfTram.JPG
At viewpoint on top. It was not that cold so I was too hot until I dropped jacket liner and pack.
0436UpperNSnowfields.JPG
The snow along the rocky edge was pretty good, but the whole run was 4,000' vertical with a very trying middle
0440WhereWeCameDown.JPG
We came down through rocks, which look easy to get through from below. We should have been in wide chute at right.
0443Lenin.JPG
Lenin, one of the Dictator chutes that I did not ski
0850SledhornDirtPatch.JPG
This run under Sledhorn chair was closed
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tseeb
 
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Location: Northern California

Re: Big Sky, MT 3/2/2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:15 am

tseeb wrote:Only one way down, Great Falls, was open and we did not find it.

Great Falls (the chute in the right side of tseeb's pic from below) is what I skied in 2006 with Patrick. That was the famous incident where he stopped for pictures in the middle of the 40 degree chute and the wind blew his pack over and a camera lens went on a 1,000 vertical ride. Last year I skied North Snowfields twice (second time with Liz) via Rip's, which is not as steep but much sketchier for snow cover. My guess is that the boarders had skied Rip's in a prior season.

At any rate I must bear some responsibility here, because I raved to tseeb about how North Snowfields are a can't miss Big Sky experience. Given the lower cover perhaps tseeb might have enjoyed Lenin or one of the Dictator Chutes more.

Interesting that Big Sky was warmer than Lost Trail or Discovery. I warned tseeb what a cold mountain Big Sky usually is.
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