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Big Sky 2011/12 Trips plans/Reviews etc

Discussion in 'United States' started by PiedPiper, Jun 15, 2011.

  1.  
    PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    I made it out to the Dakota area today - only 1 quick run through the trees found it very good though, nicely spaced trees in the top 2/3rds, bit sketchy below that., but mostly trees/roots rather than rocks.

    Got my first major board scratch chasing fresh pow today, was in the bowl- went wide in the middle and then heard a big crshhhh and fell on my arse - which HURT!, scratched my board, and managed to rip my pants at the same time [​IMG]

    it was snowing when i finished today, but it think it has stopped now - well down here in the village it has, maybe up top its still snowing. Gonna try challenger and that side of the mtn tommorow, maybe have lunch @ moonlight basin lodge wgucg i hear is good.

    I will def do the tram, was very cloudy today up there so i gave it a miss, but maybe tommorow....
    yeah i'm planning to do at least liberty to dakota, and hopefully at least one of the gullies too.

    (idealy i would like to clock the Big C, but we will have to see)

    on a negative side i am still having trouble breaking in my new Boots, front foot is very sore when riding [​IMG]
    and now i need to buy a new pair of snowpants...
    oh well the best kinds of problems [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  2.  
    Android

    Android New Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    It would be a much shorter list to suggest places not to ski to be honest [​IMG]

    Top of the list suggestions is to make sure you don't ignore Moonlight Basin. Even though it's technically a seperate resort you can buy a lift pass that covers both mountains or if you already have a multiday Big Sky lift pass you can pay a few extra bucks to upgrade your ticket to include Moonlight for a day. You can ski between both mountains and only requires 2 chair lift rides to work your way over there (Swift Current then Iron Horse). Also make sure you stop for lunch at the Moonlight Lodge when over this way (you don't need to access Moonlight Basin to get this this either as it's actually adjacent to the Iron Horse chair which is a bonus)

    Depending on what level of skier you are and what your terrain likes and dislikes are, these would be my picks:

    Green groomers: Don't be intimidated by the look of Andesite Mountain when looking at it from the village (Tippys Tumble and Silverknife have gradients that would be rated as black at any other resort). Over the back of Andesite there are some great green runs that are serviced by the Southern Comfort chair. Most lower level skiers never venture away from the Explorer chair without realising there's much more for them to explore.

    Blue bloods: Where to start ! Very simply put, there are so many good blues here with challenging terrain for this level that you'll go to another ski hill after this and think the blue's are beginner runs. Andesite again is the place to be with Timppys Tumble, Silverknife and Hangmans being the pick of the bunch. On Lone Mountain I'd suggest Chucks Run, Crazy Horse and Upper Morning Star (on a clear day) if you want a close look at the Lone Peak.

    Black open trails: When the snow is good, The Bowl and Never Sweat are great fun and when you head over to Moonlight you should use Snakebite and Elkhorn as your journey down to the chair lifts.

    Black glades: Without doubt my favourites were the glades in Moonlight, Brokenheart, Shaftway, Trapline, Double Jack or Single Jack....take your pick !. If you want to stay close to home then the front face of Andesite has some good semi-cut trails between the blue runs. Wounded Knee, Blackfoot and Blue Room (watch out the last part of this run !) were the pick here. It goes without saying that this is my favourite level of skiing !

    Double blacks: Two simple places, The Challenger chair and of course the Lone Peak Tram. From the back side of the Challenger chair you can drop into the chutes on the Moonlight Basin side of Lone Peak and are well worth it when the sun is on them in the morning.

    Now I really want to go back !
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  3.  
    try hard

    try hard Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Hang on Android we loved the Andesite side of things. As mentioned above, Tippys Tumble and Silverknife we really enjoyed, but also loved Elk Park Ridge. Off the Swifty lift, quite enjoyed Calamity Jane for a cruise. Lots of fun. A big drawback is that there is nowhere on Andesite to get a drink or a quick snack. Not a big deal if you are skiing down Tippys etc as you end up down in the village anyway. Shame that the Pinnacle restaurant isn't open. Stunning building, but as it was apparently owned by the now defunct Spanish Peaks people, it sits dormant. We had the kids over at the Southern Comfort lift a few times and to go in for a warming hot chokky meant everyone off the mountain and down to the village. Village is a very loosely used term. Nearly non existent. The only time we saw any sort of atmosphere was on the Saturdays when they had music pumping through the place. they should do it way more often.
  4.  
    Hacski

    Hacski Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Yep, those are the main drawbacks. In terms of the latter I broke a pole and the one ski store I could find had a couple of small sizes and that was sit, so I ended up borrowing one from lost property. Most equipment stores seemed to be in the village at base of the hill. Sun Peaks is still ahead in terms of the village atmosphere and given how SP is rated as a 'family' resort that says something.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  5.  
    Android

    Android New Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    What, the Pinnacle Lodge is no more !?!?!

    They were doing a roaring trade when we were there so hopefully someone else picks it up as it a great building and good location for a snack or lunch when your on Andesite. I'm not surprised though that the Spanish Peaks mob went belly up. The place was ghost town and the lifties must have had the most boring jobs on earth. From what I heard the Big Sky owners are only holding on by the skin of their teeth so I can't imagine they'd have the capital to take it on.

    [​IMG]

    Trust me I'm with you Try Hard. We loved Andesite and you're right, I did forget to mention Elk Park Ridge....and the meadows. See what I mean, it's long list of places worth skiing !

    I totally agree Hacski, for village atmosphere Sun Peaks is the benchmark for others to stack up to.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  6.  
    Hacski

    Hacski Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Spanish Peaks, is that the Yellowstone Club's private ski field off to the other side of Andesite?
  7.  
    Hacski

    Hacski Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Bob and I trying to find the other way onto Lobo end up on Chucks in this low res video.
    [​IMG]

    It was a nice neck of the woods.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2013
  8.  
    Android

    Android New Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Yellowstone Club is a different kettle of fish to Spanish Peaks (or should I say a different bucket of debt [​IMG]). Spanish Peaks is a property development adjacent to Big Sky with it's own token runs on a very small hill and about 3 chairs lifts with direct access to Big Sky (you might have noticed a chair just below the Southern Comfort chair that wouldn't have been operating). They went bust only late last year and have shut the whole place down including the Pinnacle Lodge which they operated.

    Yellowstone Club is a completely seperate development over on a different mountain and from what I understand it's a totally private resort for members only (celebrities and rich wannabe's). They had their turn at going bust back in 2008 but went down the Chapter 11 route and were therefore able to keep operating.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  9.  
    Android

    Android New Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Damn, another great run I forgot to mention, Chucks !

    Also Stump Farm is another good choice, not many stumps but lots of bumps [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  10.  
    PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    We are really loving Elk park ridge, and Big Horn on Andesite - we have done both of them multiple times now.
    Yeah i am really dissapointed to see that the pinnacle lodge is closed, only other on Mountain food is Shedhorn grill which we have yet to try.

    Totally agree that silverknife would be a black anywhere else, we can see it form the window in our room at the lodge, it got a good grooming last night, and i was flying down it today, think it will be a good run to get the gf into the steeper stuff.

    But the highlight of today was our 1 run off the challenger chair, think it was highway, well i was very proud of the gf to get down in good time/pace, hell even i was surprised at how steep it is, but now i'm looking forward to exploring more of that terrain.

    we also made it over to the moonlight Lodge today for lunch, tho only got food from the grill still very nice, and amazing how quiet that part of the mountain is, think we will go to Moonlight basin proper tommorow as it is the first day of a long weekend here, and i expect a lot more people - god forbid i might have to wait in line for a chair!!
    Go a good look at the headwaters from the challenger chair, OMG that stuff is soooo steep, having to rethink my hopes to attempt any of those. i have been logging my days with ski tracks will see if i can link some pics in another post.
  11.  
    Android

    Android New Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Glad to hear it's not just me that thought the runs at Big Sky were steeper than average. If you're a glade skier PiedPiper try doing a run or two down the area of Blue Room (don't be fooled by the name) and let me know whet you think of the gradient as you near the bottom of the run. That'll confirm whether we on the same page !

    There's only 2 places that I can clearly recall standing at the top of a run and feeling a heavy dose of vertigo kick in and that's Big Sky and Revelstoke.
  12.  
    Hacski

    Hacski Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    The pitch right at the bottom of those would make it so if it were not so short and didn't have the flat run out around to the front of The Summit.

    I was kind of in agreement till that last bit then decided it wouldn't work.

    Marmot Meadows was pretty steep for a blue when ungroomed. MrK runs parallel with Crazy Horse and then pitches down MM to join the cat track which Crazy Horse becomes. Seeing as CH is blue MrK+MM has to average out as a blue and as MrK is a rather mild green that makes MM a borderline black in the above conditions. Again being relatively short and running onto a flat track I guess they left it as blue.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  13.  
    Hacski

    Hacski Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    I went back to Marmots to be a more determined with it but the two blokes in this video kind of put the kybosh on that, as I reached the start one was already down it saying "too late now"
    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2013
  14.  
    PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Well i finally made a trip up the tram yesterday, gven we had 6-8" overnight and it was a blue sky morning it was a no brainer - i did lennin, down through to the Dakota chair, then spent the rest of the morning lapping on that chair. Lennin was truly awesome, close to a foot of fresh, more in parts, it was an amazing run. The rest of the morning in Dakota was pretty good too, dont think i've ever had so many fresh tracks runs one after the other like that, well maybe Japan, but it is soo much steeper here. Today was VERY cold though, first time i've experienced Europe like bitter cold here, it started snowing about 11, and hasn't stopped since, looks like another powder day tommorow, hopefully now that presidents weekend is over the tram line will be a lot smaller, and the freshies will last longer.

    Really too cold to take the camera out today so no pics, hopefully get some tommorow
    Did get some good ones on the powder day yesterday, will do a full TR when i get back to aus.
  15.  
    PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    [​IMG]

    Oh and this for the next 48 Hours.....
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  16.  
    Choppers

    Choppers Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Well we'reall packed and reay to go..... fly out on United tomorrow at 4:20 and all very excited.

    How has the skiing been Pied Piper. Seems you tmed you trip great and snow forecast into next week too.

    Go any more pics yet? we're dying to see the trip, less so facing our 3 flights to get to Big Sky!

    Any pointers on decent restaurants or must do's so far
  17.  
    Android

    Android New Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Hey Choppers

    I can throw in some good suggestions on restaurants.

    Mountain village:
    The Cabin (fine dining)
    Whiskey Jacks (pub/casual dining and plenty of local atmosphere)

    Meadow Village:
    Lotus Pad (the best Thai food we've had in the USA and close to the best ever !)

    Gallatin Gateway:
    Buck's T-4 (best local wild game in the region and they have their own personal shuttle service to pick you up and drop you back to the mountain village)

    Pretty much all our dining experiences at Big Sky were top notch and we only had one place that suffered from the American practice of rushing you through your meal (3 courses served in 45 minutes [​IMG])
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  18.  
    Hacski

    Hacski Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Andiamo Italian Grille was a little disappointing, pasta too al dente. Although the Huntley wasn't tops we didn't mind Chets and they have The Bad Larrys there some evenings pre dinner and they do a good show.
  19.  
    Android

    Android New Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Funny you should mention this restuarant as that's the place where we were pushed through in 45 minutes. We didn't have time to savour the food and find out if was any good or not !

    I also forgot to mention using the village shuttle service to go up to the Moonlight Lodge for dinner. Good food, good service and a great peaceful location.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  20.  
    Choppers

    Choppers Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Hi guys, arrived late last night. First day skiing today, busier than normal according to the locals complaining in the 3 min lift queues. Weather very cold and blizzard like today. Light was very poor and flat even in yellow lens, not the day for pushing yourself.

    . Most of mountain shut in the arvo. Wonderfully dry powder. Incredible even... Won't even form snow balls!

    Did a few runs on andesite today, very pleasant and great for a first day. Very happy overall.

    With the exception of needle like snow blasted in my face on the Swiftie.

    We covered a tiny part so far. Just eaten the best burger ever at black bear and bull grill. Bargain at $11.

    Can tell we ll all love big sky. Lots of good comments in the party of 4 today and it's only day 1.

    I'm planning on doing a full resort review and photos.
  21.  
    PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Before i do a proper TR i would Highly suggest u check out BYOM, down in the meadow village, "By Word Of Mouth", easily as good as Bucks T4, which was probably our best meal up there.

    Argghh it was very painful to leave on Friday Morning seeing a blue sky day, after a few days of non-stop snow.

    My big regret is only going up the Tram once [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  22.  
    McNads

    McNads Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    G'day guys,

    Just to encourage you, please keep the posts and TRs coming. I'm going to Big Sky next season (having finally settled on my first Nth American itinerary) and I'm hanging on every word!

    Thanks.
  23.  
    Choppers

    Choppers Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Hi mcnads. Don't worry, very in depth review in the next 2 weeks with pics.

    This place is blowing my expectations which were very high already. . Wonderful skiing, great friendly locals and an empty resort. Truly incredible. Don't overlook andesite. Great mountain with do much there.

    Went down the liberty bowl today, was on the 2nd gondola, very very big and mean looking is lone peak. Liberty bowl was steeper than anticipated, very wild up that way and virtually no one there.

    You ll have a ball. Will post more soon.

    New fave resort by a country mile.
  24.  
    Choppers

    Choppers Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Only minor downside is ever do slightly wayward piste signs. But we re talking really minor [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  25.  
    McNads

    McNads Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Thanks Choppers, very much looking forward to it. The place does look incredible.

    Whilst I have no doubt there is bucketloads of great terrain there, the whole back side of Lone Peak i.e. Dakota and Shedhorn chairs as well as the options from the top on that side just look freaking sensational. I can just see myself riding those two chairs all day with the occasional jaunt around to the front side to get back up to the top.

    Would love to hear about the off-piste trees/glades options as well.

    Mate, you've scored well hitting it right now too, well done!
  26.  
    Choppers

    Choppers Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Yeah it's pretty hairy off the lone peak tram. Scenery becomes very alpine like and we were awestruck. Easiest way down is the tram or else liberty bowl. Got lost from my group and had a bit of a ski around that area, almost all blacks mostly doubles. Not tried the trees too much in that area yet but heading there tomorrow so will report more tomorrow.

    Gladed runs are awesome. Special mention are: blue rooms, wolverine, ambush glades, Congo, elk park meadows and Snake Pit - all on Andesite.

    We found a great route back via powder ridge access to ski about 20m from our Condo..... Very handy [​IMG]

    Notable positives today: resort very quiet, max lift line time all day was 1 min!!!, my plus 1 had a group half day lesson and ended up getting a private lesson as no one else was in the group so half day lesson for $70!, one of our team had a sore leg, went to doctor and got a letter and the resort refunded her remaining lift ticket and ski/boot hire. Very impressed with that gesture.

    More to come.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  27.  
    Android

    Android New Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Yep, I totally agree that the glades off Andersite are worth doing. Also the semi-gladed runs in between the blues on the front face of Andesite (eg. Wounded Knee) are a laugh. Personally I found the best glades were actually over at Moonlight Basin so don't forget to get over there aswell.

    I also had a great experience with the medical centre. I dislocated my shoulder 2 days into the trip (it pops out almost as easily as Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon but doesn't go back in quite so well !) and the guys at the Medical Centre were brilliant. The bill, not so great thanks to the American medical system.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  28.  
    PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    the bavarian trees in the dakota area, are probably the best tree runs on the mountain, imho. especially the top 2/3rds, they get a bit thicker on the lowest part!

    have fun finding dakota chair, go left, keep going left, if you think your lost your on the right path!! dakota valley is lotsa fun too
  29.  
    Choppers

    Choppers Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Close to 8 inches Of the lightest powder imaginable. Dipped over to moonlight basin which has a nice feel to it. Skiing was delightful and managed to find loads of nice gladed blacks.

    Toughest run so far at moonlight was Shaftway. 6ft wide, very steep, trees and deep chopped powder.

    Locals said today was the best day of the season and the powder the best that they have skied anywhere.

    Very surprised more is not made of the phenomenal quality of the snow here. Noticeably lighter and drier than when we went to Colorado.

    Just been wallowing in the hot tub drinking a nice cold beer as yet more snow is falling.

    Back over to moonlight again tomorrow then 4 days on the lone peak exclusively.

    My god do I love this place........

    More to come.




  30.  
    McNads

    McNads Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    G'day Choppers,

    Back from work,TF.Chuck a few questions at you if I may:

    How were the crowds in general (weekdays and weekends)?
    Were you there for President's weekend, how was that?
    If crowds were down to non-existent, did they still run all chairs?
    How were the temps in general? We'll be there the first 2 weeks of Feb according to the current plan.
    How long did the place take to track-out on the more obvious stuff?
    If one were inclined to search and explore, would it be relatively easy to find untracked days after the last fall?
    Did you spend any time on the Dakota chair at all?

    Sorry for all the questions and thanks mate.

    Nads.
  31.  
    Choppers

    Choppers Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Hi McNads,

    Got back this morning. Will write a full report with some pics tomorrow night.

    My bro who lives in the UK has the bulk of the pics and is sending them over shortly on DVD which I'll reedit my post.

    Overall a splendid choice of resort. Love the place and skiing and the delightful locals and Montana beers too.

    The apres is ok but its the skiing you go for.

    Will write a very detailed post tomorrow answering all your questions and more.

    You'll have a great time I guarantee it, especially if you are in the upper blue-double black range. Though there is also loads and loads of skiing for every level.

    more to follow....
  32.  
    PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    I'll chime in..

    Crowds were non-existent week prior to presidents day weekend.
    Presidents day weekend ( including friday prior) were, busy---ish lines on first lifts in the morning, then small lines in most places - except Dakota were i never waited in line once the 10 days i was there.
    Shedhorn did get some longish lines too, being a slow double chair - even 30 people waiting makes a big line.

    Presidents day this year was the biggest weekend Big Sky have ever had, approx 6,000 guests.
    The week after presidents weekend was medium busy ( more than previous week, but less than the actual weekend)
    Hope that helps..
    general stuff got tracked in a day, harder to find / access stuff tracked in 2 full days.
    Eg. I was still finding some untracked stuff 2 days after a snowfall out around Dakota.

    All chairs seemed to run regardless of number of people on the mountain [​IMG]

    I was almost never cold whilst riding, did get pretty chilly on a few of the chairs when the wind was blowing etc.
    We did have 1 VERY Very cold, day - i even put toe warmers in my boots - a first for me.

    The Dakota area is great, but it is definitely in the out and about wild part of the mountain, basically no grooming, just make your way thru the trees and buyer beware stuff, would be great once u really know the area well - i was riding it alone so wasn't being too adventures with which lines to choose etc.
    But, having said that - probably the best tree skiing of my life ( and i went to niseko last year)
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013
  33.  
    Hacski

    Hacski Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Don't remind me. They were delicious, one reminded me of a local brew we had in Wanaka which ranks as the best I've ever tasted, up till Big Sky
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  34.  
    PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Heh, i wasn't going to start on the wonderful beers, so many, such variety. I love the dark ales, not as strong or as thick as a stout, just good full flavored beer! I never thought such a small place (population wise) would have such a healthy diversity of beers! Either the Big Sky scotch Ale, or the Beltian White were me favorites!
  35.  
    McNads

    McNads Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    Thanks for the intel Pied Piper and Choppers, I'm certainly looking forward to any TRs.

    So we should score it relatively uncrowded if this year is anything to go by, we will be there for 9 nights (8 snow days) and departing on the Friday before the President's Day long weekend starts. We'll be doing 5 days at Grand Targhee prior to heading to Big Sky, hopefully we'll score a decent amount of untracked powder there, and then move on to the BIG one.
  36.  
    McNads

    McNads Dedicated Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    I've got to admit, I'm a little concerned at the spread between GT and BS there. We will have 13 on-snow days, and currently looking at 5 at GT and 8 at BS. BS looks big enough for 2 weeks, yet doesn't get the pow that GT does. Hmmm, the dilemma of it all. If anyone has been to both, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
  37.  
    Choppers

    Choppers Well-Known Member

    Re: Big Sky?

    yeah pure powder comparisons are kinda difficult. I heard off the lifties 2 inches here feels like 4 inches elsewhere. Even with no snow when the wind picked it up the snow on trees/mountain it was blown on to the pistes and was delightful to ski on.

    BS has less crowds and way bigger terrain and even a few days after a snow fall you can still find tracks. On weekends I'd head to Moonlight Basin. You get very used to gavin the resort empty and begrudge slightly more queues at the weekends.

    One local we heard was grumbling and packing his skies away at 1pm and said it was becoming more like a normal resort...... we still virtually walked right onto the lift. we were gob smacked.

    On the steepness of the slopes, friends from europe were amazed how steep the blacks were (not including the double blacks), what is black here might be double black elsewhere. The blues were challenging in places but I can't recall too many steep groomed blues.

    We did 14 days stay at big sky, 12 days skiing and of that 10 at BS and 2 at MLB. I still probably needed another few days to cover what I wanted to.

    jackson hole and GT are next years destination possibilities along with Revelstoke.

    Interesting we heard a few locals rave about JH but then say they all preferred BS for the terrain and quantity.

    The beer and food are really very good. Particular stand outs are the Scottish smoke, Lone Peak IPA and the John wayne burger at the Black Bull which was the best ever burger I've eaten and a steal at $12.50 with fries too (I have a pic to be uploaded too)

    we heard on a busy day that BS haas 3000-3500 people, Moonlight had 1000 ppl one day when busy then 400 the other... thats across 2000 acres too1 so super empty.

    Moonlight Basin was a very pleasant surprise too. Andesite also was a revelation. so much more than a beginners/ low intermediates paradise.