Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the western US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.
Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:19 pm
Haven't been on the board much the last few years but occasionally lurk.
After what is arguably the 2nd worst start in 40 years for Utah, and even worse for southern Colorado and parts of Cali. I had been watching the snow fall 300 mils north long enough and left Park City at 4am and pulled into the Huntly lodge at the bottom of Big sky at 10am Tuesday, after smooth sailing up I15 till hitting ice paced roads and -17F temps in the west yellowstone area.
After little skiing this year I'm not in ski shape but maintain a fairly active life so I, and my friend Brain where ready to see what Big sky is about.
The mountain: ITs big and ominous, the peak almost calls you from once you lay eyes on it. The southern snow fields are constant pitch and about 2500ft vert a huge area with some unique terrain down low but overall wind packed and boring. I actually liked the terrain lower below treelike more, this is another 1300 ft down which makes for some of the biggest straight fall lines I've encountered. This side is about as big as most big east coast areas by itself. Lifts are doubles and slow but move up steeply so its a nice break. This is probably some of the better tree skiing on the hill but it faces south so you'd have to hit it quickly. The North snowfield and runout where not open but look to have some more really big lines, close to 4000 ft down to moonlight side that way via multiple bowls and chutes lines, not sure how often this opens? I was told that people get hurt up on the peak fairly frequently, that sign near jackson tram about respect would be better suited on Lone peak if you want my humble opinion on the matter, no compition (I didn't say better skiing) in big mountian lines between the two.
I really liked warm up skiing below the peak in turkey traverse area skiing wind buffed hero snow. Fairly little vert area but stunning surroundings. The Blue bubble on powder seeker lift could be used really well in poor weather. You can see almost all the classic lines on the peak and a-zs. I don't really know how this is opened during a big storm cycle?
moonlight basin side is really nice north facing terrain with about 1900-2200 vert of super rolling groomers with packed powder and cold conditions. On par with Sun Valley when the snow there is good. There is a section of the mountian served by a short steep lift that opens upshot seems like 1000 acres you have to yourself. Really good skiing Some of the lifts are older fixed grips and the terrain is like park city light but the groomers are really fun.
The entire Zone that includes challenger lift and the headwall is what really stands out to me. Its fairly steep north and east facing terrain and give access tot he A-z chutes (south face and kinda short, but cool entry and some nice rock formations.) and The headwall. The headwall is kinda crown jewel of inbounds chute skiing. Never seen much like that inbounds outside of snowbird and squaw in the states. It felt longer in terms of vert (1300-1600 shots I was told) then both those areas.
The access requires a backpack to carry skies as I found out, and about pissed my pants. There was a section with a rope that I was ok with but the area before and after shook me a bit. Getting your skies on a slope that steep with buffed wind snow was a challenge. I think doing it a few times it would become easier. I saw in youtube videos at times there is a traverse that cuts the hike portion out and looks about 400 ft less of very, this traverse requires a bit more then they have.
Skied 2 lines up there that felt and skied almost the same, both choked to about 10 ft for a bit and felt like a slide for life could occur if you fell. My advice to my self was not to do anything special and take your time, and do what you normally do.
Challenger itself is a fun area with some interesting terrain and good protected snow.
Big sky has a reputation of being rocky because of wind and somewhat limited moisture and I can see that being true. the ridglines have lots of lunch tray type rocks that get wind swept but fairly easy to figure out. Love that cold dry snow up there. so easy to set an edge.
Most of the foliage is lodgepole and some bristlecone pine, then rocks which is not a bad thing unless you are there under a 50-60 inch base probably . Lower mountain reminds of breck.
The Ram charger and front side area of big sky is quite good groomer skiing as well, overall I think it is laced out well. Lifts where nice outside of some in the middle near moonlight lodge.
Huntley lodge and Snowshone convention center where really nice, the ski mall has a few options for dining too. I didn't see many lodges on mountian but we brought brown bags so I wasn't watching really.
Great family mountain too. I've heard access into Bozeman is not great but it seemed reasonable even though we drove in front the south. Could easily spend 5 days skiing there if the snow is good
Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:48 am
TRam wrote:After what is arguably the 2nd worst start in 40 years for Utah
TRam wrote: even worse for southern Colorado
Worst of all time IMHO
TRam wrote:and parts of Cali
Sadly, no. Most of Tahoe is pretty bad but 2011-12 and 2013-14 were worse in Nov.-Dec. Mammoth and Mt. Rose were probably above average into mid-December this year before three dry weeks plus the holidays took a toll. Mammoth has already been resurfaced with 10-18 inches Thursday night and another 2-3 feet are expected Monday/Tuesday. We will be driving up there Tuesday night.
Tahoe got mostly rain Thursday and the upcoming storm will be mostly rain below 7,500 feet.
Nice write-up on Big Sky. No question some of the lines on Lone Peak have the most DFU exposure I've seen inbounds in North America.