Discovery, MT, Mar. 27-29, 2023

Tony Crocker

Staff member
We arrived at the historic Kaiser Hotel in Philipsburg after a 2 hour drive from Great Divide. The Kaiser does not have an elevator but it does have a dumbwaiter to send luggage up to the rooms, which are all at the top of a steep stairway.


We dropped into the Brewery in hopes of finding our Scottish forum poster q. The locals said he’s easy to spot in his yellow ski pants, and not much later they spotted him going into the White Front bar in the next block.

Liz and I ended up having dinner at Bricks Pub. Q came by as we were finishing up.

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Long time bartender Gwen gave us some after dinner whisky/licorice shots.

We just missed flyover and his daughter, who had skied the weekend at Discovery in 26 inches new snow. Q said Sunday might have been the best day he has ever skied at Discovery, so flyover and daughter really scored. We think q celebrated hard Sunday night, as we did not see him on the hill Monday.

We still had excellent conditions Monday-Wednesday. Snow remained in soft winter mode as Monday was probably under 20F and Tuesday/Wednesday had heavy overcast. Sluice Box on the front side Anaconda lift and Winner Ridge on the backside lift Granite were freshly groomed Monday so we started with those. We then skied chopped powder along the Granite liftline.


This skied well due to low water content vs. typical Sierra or what we had two weeks ago at Iron Blosam. We found more of this lightly chopped powder on Head Frame after skiing most of groomed Medicine Ridge.

I now moved to Limelight and its extensive mostly double black terrain, stating with Mother Lode, the central line down the western (corrected!) bowl. I next followed some locals down Limelight’s liftline, ducking into the trees above the pitch and scoring maybe 5 turns in the 2 feet of weekend powder. Next was Snaggle Tooth, one of the steep north facing shots skier’s left of Limelight’s liftline. These had smooth chalk on my prior visits but now had the chopped leftover powder.

We took a short lunch break, which all three days included the fresh baked Disco cookies.


After lunch we took another Winning Ridge cruiser, then skied Bad Finger into Limelight. I figured correctly that the abundant loose snow would increase Liz’ comfort on the steeps but she was still exhausted after that and skied groomers the rest of the day. I skied two more Limelight runs, Manhattan and Catch a Wave, alternating with frontside blue groomers Gold Rush and Claim Jumper.

I skied 18,600 vertical, maybe 2K of cut up powder.

Tuesday continued a fairly traditional grooming pattern. On the Anaconda chair Berkeley and its Atlantic Cable variants were groomed, and on Granite chair, Tap r Lite and Youse Guys were groomed in addition to Winning Ridge. So we started with those 3 runs. Liz on Tap r Lite:


Discovery has gone high tech, installing RFID gates at the base Anaconda lift.


We got RFID cards at the window Monday but were able to renew them online for Tuesday and Wednesday for $50 adult and $44 senior.

We skied halfway down Medicine Ridge and entered Limelight via Little Finger.


Looking back up at the western bowl:


After a couple of frontside groomers, I took Liz down Manhattan into Limelight’s western bowl.


Liz agreed that Manhattan was similar to steep eastern bump runs like Stowe’s Front Four. But thanks to the recent dump the bumps were not gouged that deep and the snow was soft.

I next skied an adjacent run Ajax, which is a bit steeper and has scattered trees on its lower half.


I was now ready for a lunch break. After lunch as on Monday I started with a Granite groomer, then alternated frontside runs with Limelight runs Good Finger and Christmas Park. This snowboarder had a relaxing ride up the Anaconda chair.


The frontside faces south and lower ungroomed parts of it had a slight crunch Tuesday. But everything on Granite and Limelight remained in 100% winter mode. I skied 19,900 vertical Tuesday.

The Kaiser Hotel has an extensive gift shop where Liz bought a few items. This is where we saw this composite license plate.


Q’s rental car broke down, so we did not see him on the hill Tuesday. We did share a drink at the Brewery with him though.


We had dinner both Monday and Tuesday nights at Kiko’s Mexican restaurant. It is the only place in Philipsburg open Monday’s. The lady at Kaiser said one of the other place’s Doe’s was open Tuesday until 7PM, but when we wandered by at 6:10 we found it had closed at 6:00. Do not plan to eat late in Philipsburg!

There was a light dusting of new snow Wednesday, slightly improving already excellent ungroomed skiing. Wednesday must be at least one snow groomer’s day off. No Granite or Anaconda runs were freshly groomed. However, Discovery was so quiet both Tuesday and Wednesday it didn’t matter that much.

Liz stayed out of Limelight Wednesday, conserving energy for the next two days at Lost Trail and Sun Valley.

After our Granite runs I skied Good Finger, view down from there:


View across to steeps dropping skier’s left from under the Limelight lift:


Closer profile of Terminator, which I skied about half an hour later:


Late Limelight runs I skied were The Pitch, Guns & Roses and Maverick. We did not see q on the hill Wednesday either, and we quit at 3:15 to drive to Wisdom, a very small town 25miles from Lost Trail. I skied 17,000 vertical Wednesday.
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Excellent report and interesting to hear first-hand from the Q chronicles.

Q’s rental car broke down.
Ah, the infamous "overpriced" rental car!

we did not see him on the hill Monday.
we did not see him on the hill Tuesday.
We did not see q on the hill Wednesday either
I've had similar experiences with skier acquaintances from the UK. Seeing them on the hill is at best a 50/50 proposition but you can always find them drinking (heavily!) in the pub.
I've had similar experiences with skier acquaintances from the UK. Seeing them on the hill is at best a 50/50 proposition but you can always find them drinking (heavily!) in the pub.
:icon-lol: :icon-lol:. So you're saying Q has a reputation to uphold?

Looks like some nicely pitched tree/bowl skiing.
Looks like some nicely pitched tree/bowl skiing.
Seriously pitched.

All of those double diamonds are legit. You could argue there are not as many runs that steep in all of Front Range Colorado. A-Basin before the Beavers (which I have never skied, thus the caveat) had about half as many.
nice report. Fwiw, the coffee porter at the P-burg brewery is the best I've ever had.

You guys might have the fastest Covid recovery I've seen. I had a mild case for 10 days, but had no energy for another 10 and could only do a few runs until week 4. We are fully vaxxed, but didn't get paxlovid.

Regardless, Glad you're both feeling well enough to ski.
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Great to meet you and Liz, Gwen is a local legend! Apart from the folks I stay with Gwen is the first local I met when she bartended in the White Front on my dad, brother and I's first visit to Discovery in 2002. Must have missed you on the hill both Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Actually spoke to a liftie down in town on Wednesday evening who said someone was asking for me and was headed to Lost Trail so guessed it was you guys. You missed a tour of a couple whisky boxes at 3.45 yesterday, next time! Tuesday was completely ruined by a truck that would not go into gear. It's landed up costing me a fortune but that's for another day and trying to not let it ruin my last few days. My left knee and groin however is restricting my days to mainly afternoons!

This season has been without doubt the best season ever(or damn close) with over 90" at the top in my years here completely unheard of. Rock bands and cliffs all over Limelight are completely covered and we are skiing lines that are never generally skiable. The out of bounds skiing in East Bowl(East Bowl is actually the bowl with Catch-A-Wave and Russell etc with West Bowl the one with Fingers Tony) has been unbelievble all month with knee to thigh deep turns daily. Normally we would ski out there a lot more but inbounds has been so good there hasn't been the same need.

Although not my cup of tea there is what some folks think is fantastic out of bounds skiing from the top of Granite out skier left of Winning Ridge(known as Powder Parks locally). Fairly shallow pitch, prone to rocks but has been skiing well this year but if Silver Chief is not running which is most of the time you need to know where you are to make sure you hit the traverse out to get back to Granite. There is also out of bounds skiing on the front side alongside Berkley which I have never skied but 2 friends did recently at close of the day. Missed the traverse out and landed in a 90 minute slog to get back to the parking lot haha. For the out of bounds stuff or inbounds steeps on Limelight like Elevator Shaft and Shangri-La I will happily show you in person but not document it online. It is spectacular haha.

Picture is from a few years back at my whisky box.


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q sounds like an interesting fellow. I'm curious whether he goes off on tangents about children, adrenochrome and the Clintons after the late night drinking sessions?:)
You guys might have the fastest Covid recovery I've seen.
There are lots of people who have had completely asymptomatic infections. It's safe to say we recommend Paxlovid. I was already on the downside when I started it, but I obviously wanted to avoid a long period of fatigue afterwards. Still, I've never skied so many "half days" as during that week: Pebble Creek, all four days at Big Sky and Great Divide. Discovery had the first "normal" days after the illness, being out most of the day and skiing a significant part on demanding runs.

Liz had only been sick about 8 hours when she started Paxlovid. She had one more day of feeling bad, and took a third day of not skiing just to be safe. She also didn't want to relapse and possibly miss the Ski Hall of Fame dinner last Friday.

In my case the real anomaly is that I was OK those 3 hours at Pebble Creek when I was very feverish both the night before and night after. Overall this illness was not quite as severe as the one I had in Chamonix and Annecy in 2018.
Seriously pitched.
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All of those double diamonds are legit. You could argue there are not as many runs that steep in all of Front Range Colorado. A-Basin before the Beavers (which I have never skied, thus the caveat) had about half as many.
The two bowls off Limelight offer a multitude of runs that are not just seriously pitched, but also easy to efficiently lap with just one lift ride and no, or very little, traversing. My ski area count isn’t particularly high, but it is difficult for me to think of another area I have skied with so many steep lines that can be accessed with such a small investment of time and effort to get back to them.

As a ski parent, I had a moment on Saturday afternoon when I experienced a bit of a feeling of “mission accomplished” in the sense that my daughter, who just turned 17, is now fully capable of competently, efficiently, and safely skiing near the upper end of terrain I’m interested and comfortable skiing, at least under soft conditions. After warming up on Manhattan and Ajax, we somehow ended up in a particularly steep funnel of somewhat tighter trees and a small cliff somewhere, I think, in the trees between Catch a Wave and Maverick. (When my wife was gracious enough to agree to ski alone for the afternoon so that my daughter and I could lap Limelight, I had agreed that we would try to avoid truly gnarly lines but could not guarantee there might not be a navigational error.) I dropped through and turned around expecting that I might have to talk her down. She needed a moment to consider the chessboard but was soon at my side and off we went. For a variety of reasons, including the pandemic, until this trip, she had not had the opportunity to ski powder or big mountain terrain in 4 years. The plasticity of the adolescent neural network amazes me.

I didn’t get any pix of that moment, but here’s another of a different line somewhere in the Eastern bowl.

Anything skier's right of Maverick is seriously steep 40+ degrees right where the tree spacing gets tighter. Catch a Wave looks wide open at the top, but watch out below. It was way more forgiving this year with the abundant recent snow though.