Big Sky: Rocky Mountain High
Big, raggedy flakes sifted down from the sky as seven Mad City Ski Club members boarded the bus at Bozeman airport on January 19. The snow continued for the entire 50 mile ride to the Huntley Lodge at Big Sky Mountain Village. Our snowy greeting was a sign that we were in for six superb ski days.
There were no crowds at Big Sky. Even at the two main lifts at the village base, there were no lift lines. Some cruisers still had the day’s grooming marks at 3:00 in the afternoon.
The snow was consistent, reliable, and soft. Temperatures were moderate, in the high teens and low twenties. We met other skiers and Mountain Hosts who told us that the conditions during our week were the best that they had experienced in 10 years.
Big Sky is built on three mountains: three faces of Lone Mountain, Andesite Mountain, Spirit Mountain, and Flatiron Mountain. Each would be large enough to be its own ski resort in the Midwest. Together, they comprise 5800 skiable acres (for some, anyway) and 260 separate runs. Over the course of our six days, Club members explored all of the mountains: from northernmost Horseshoe to the aptly named southernmost run (Badlands), and all those in between.
Two club members skied down from the top of Lone Peak. Others, including your correspondent, declined the heart-pounding, vertigo-inducing, death-defying hardscrape plummet from the top in favor of the more sublime pleasures of the resort’s many well-groomed, tree-lined green and blue cruisers. Over the course of the week, Club members rode 18 of the resort’s 19 primary lifts. We avoided only the lift that services the dozen-or-so double-black chutes with unappealing names like Hell’s Half Acre.
Two club members opted to take a day off skiing to tour Yellowstone National Park in winter. They saw Old Faithful erupt, and combined snow coach travel with invigorating hikes to experience Yellowstone’s backcountry and to see lots of wildlife.
After 6 days of hearty breakfasts, spectacular ski days, soothing apres-ski hot-tub soaks, Club parties, delicious lunches and dinners, and restful nights, we boarded the shuttle in the wee hours of January 26, and caught our flights back in Bozeman. It was the best week of skiing that your correspondent has ever experienced.
You can view the Big Sky, January 2018 photo album here.