Northern Rockies/Alberta Big Sky sentiments. Input welcomed

Jnelly

Booting up
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Madison WI
Hello. The short of it is, I need to land on a second location for this year, I am pretty well zeroed in on Grand Targhee for one. But in a debate over the second. I am strongly leaning toward Big Sky for a 3 day swing later this year but very tempted to revisit Whitefish b/c I had such a good trip last year. Now that Epic is shut down my research has led me to here for all your opinions.
Me: 42yo Level 7. Def not a mad-man, I like to have fun and come home in one piece. Blacks with decent snow...not interested in doubles. I've skied Alta, Brighton, PowMow, Snowbasin and Whitefish. I usually seek out more out of the way places/less glam as I travel solo (read: over developed Vail-esque type of places do not appeal to me). Ill sleep in a yurt so accommodations are low on the priority list and I don't mind mediocre/ no food...its not a deal breaker.
Of the places Ive been, Whitefish was about perfect but I was fortunate enough to ski in 40+ inches over the course of time I was there so call it a snow-aided trip. However the pitches, variety of runs and ability to explore at places like Whitefish and PowMow appeal to me a lot. I ski during the week so crowds are usually a non-issue but I still consider it.
That said, what is everyones feeling on Big Sky.
I appreciate the insight and discussion!
Cheers
Jesse
 

T-Square

Terry
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You can't go wrong at Big Sky. The last EpicSki Academy I attended was there. Phenomenal!
 

bbinder

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One word: go. There is something there for everybody and a really nice vibe. The longest lift line that I experienced at Big Sky was during trip I made with my family over President's Week: 90 seconds. Big Sky is one of the places that I will always return to.
 

Philpug

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Hard to argue about Big Sky, it has it all.
 

Troy

Screw First Chair
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Big Sky (day2) 211.JPG I was at Big Sky few years back and considering going there again this year in late December if snow conditions are good. Really enjoyed this very massive ski area. When I was there snow pack levels we very low but still had good skiing experiance. One of the days i was there wind died down sun came out, was able take tram to top Lone Peak. Was very fun, challenging and scary experiance. Only regrets was not spending more time there. I would highly suggest skiing there.
 
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tch

What do I know; I'm just some guy on the internet.
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While we're on the subject...how hard is the South Face -- Lenin, Marx, etc? I was there at -15* weather and breezy, so did not want to take the tram when it finally opened. Compared to runs at Snowbird/Alta? Can you ski it alone? (I'll be there solo)
 

KingGrump

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All things being equal. It felt just a bit steeper than Great Scott and Silver Fox. Not by much.
 

BS Slarver

Formally known as Catskill Carver
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805
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Big Sky MT
Lenin and Marx are great on the right day !
It chokes down to about 200 cm wide in the middle for a few turns, then opens back up wider.

When you nail it you can look back up and say....
" well, maybe I do know how to ski after all ?! "
 

squill

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SWMT and Big Sky are great, BUT don't break out the new skis on opening day unless you want to get to know your local tuner. You can skip the long road back off the tram by jumping into the Gullies, skiers left on the saddle of Lenin(if I remember correctly). At Bridger you need to bring the duct-tape and Hamm's
 

Sibhusky

Whitefish
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Whitefish
Since you haven't been, okay, Big Sky. Personally, the price of skiing there along with the limited after ski options would put me off. But then I made my choice fifteen years ago.

Big Sky is huge. There's that. And they've got some truly scary terrain.

But, for you, you said Whitefish is perfect. And we'd love to have you back. They're talking mild La Nina again and that's our weather. We're also good for "groomer zoomer" types as opposed to those looking to conquer some scary terrain. Plus we have plenty of tree skiing of various densities for dipping your toe into something more technical.
 

Jack skis

Ex 207cm VR17 Skier
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So far the Big Sky talk has been pretty much focused on Lone Peak skiing and the Tram. There's also skiing on two (or 3) aspects of Andesite Mtn. Challenger Lift gets you onto another side of Lone Peak and what was a separate ski area, but now a part of BS. There is skiing to the right and below Lenin and Marx that is almost a separate area with it's own lift. Having spent 9 or was it 10 winters at BS I gained a lot of respect for the place and it's enormity. Truly all kinds of terrain and weather. Skiing off the Tram on Lone Peak alone is risky in my mind, if trouble occurs it might take some time before someone could lend a hand.

So you oughta go for sure. Nobody ever mentions the trees in Deer Park, or the pitch, terrain, and snow on Country Club but they should. If you get a chance ski the place.
 

BS Slarver

Formally known as Catskill Carver
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@Jack skis - your getting me psyched up, as if I needed any help. Agree with the enormity and like Phil says, it does have it all !
We've been know to spend a day just lapping the challenger / iron horse area.
 

TonyC

Contact me at bestsnow.net
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Sibhusky has it right. Notice all the commentary above about Lone Peak including a tram pic.
Blacks with decent snow...not interested in doubles.
Everything off that tram is double with the possible exception of Liberty Bowl, which is usually 1,500 vertical of moguls.

Marx and Lenin are not any steeper than Great Scott and Silver Fox, but the latter runs ease off the steepness after a few hundred vertical while Marx and Lenin sustain theirs for 1,000+. There's a lot of exposure and if you fall the odds of hitting something are much more than at Snowbird due to half the average snowpack. The OP isn't going near these places.

As steep as the upper mountain is, most of the lower half of Big Sky is flatter than most places. Mainstream intermediate runs are typically around 4-1 length to vertical. With the exception of Andesite most of the blue terrain at Big Sky is at least 5 to 1. So there's somewhat of a terrain gap at the advanced intermediate level which is where it sounds like the OP is.

Big Sky is huge, and on a 3 day trip the OP will find plenty to stay entertained but probably not like it as much as Whitefish.
 

skidrew

Putting on skis
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263
So far the Big Sky talk has been pretty much focused on Lone Peak skiing and the Tram. There's also skiing on two (or 3) aspects of Andesite Mtn. Challenger Lift gets you onto another side of Lone Peak and what was a separate ski area, but now a part of BS. There is skiing to the right and below Lenin and Marx that is almost a separate area with it's own lift. Having spent 9 or was it 10 winters at BS I gained a lot of respect for the place and it's enormity. Truly all kinds of terrain and weather. Skiing off the Tram on Lone Peak alone is risky in my mind, if trouble occurs it might take some time before someone could lend a hand.

So you oughta go for sure. Nobody ever mentions the trees in Deer Park, or the pitch, terrain, and snow on Country Club but they should. If you get a chance ski the place.
+1 to not focusing just on what's off the tram. Challenger lift has a ton of terrain as well, as to the Headwaters, which goes down into what used to be called Moonlight Basin.
I'm a big fan of Big Sky, so would never tell someone not to go.

Yeah, it's not cheap (no big place is), but you can buy ahead for discounts. Also, if you stay in the BS lodging they have packages that build in lift tickets for "free". And you can find some excellent food, even if that's not important to you.
 

Monique

bounceswoosh
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Colorado
To answer OP:

I went to Diva West at Big Sky a few years ago. Spring conditions were extreme the week we were there, with a lot of terrain closed or just looking awful. And I still had a blast. Big Sky has so many sub-regions that feel completely different.

While we're on the subject...how hard is the South Face -- Lenin, Marx, etc? I was there at -15* weather and breezy, so did not want to take the tram when it finally opened. Compared to runs at Snowbird/Alta? Can you ski it alone? (I'll be there solo)
As for Lenin and Marx - I dunno, people told me they were so much harder and longer than Horseshoe Bowl at Breck. I didn't find them much different; a little longer, sure. But super wide with lots of room to maneuver. Note: I didn't ski Dictator Chutes or the Gullies. HOWEVER. Because of the spring conditions, the snow was pretty firm at the time, and I did see a guy fall at the top of I think Lenin and keep sliding all the way down. I would recommend avoiding that. All of those runs would have been a lot more fun with winter conditions.

Not sure if I understand the question of whether you can ski it alone. The resort does not require a buddy for the tram, nor do I think it was particularly "extreme" (again, I didn't do the tighter sections - I remember being interested in them, but there wasn't much snow left there, and no one dumb enough to want to go with me). But obviously if the terrain is pushing your comfort zone, a buddy would probably be a good idea. As I recall, they're just as featureless as the map suggests, so I wouldn't go up there with low vis.


The Headwaters was much more challenging (especially with low snow pack - lots of rocks in relatively tight spaces). I took a looooong time getting down Firehole, I think it was.

In general, I would love to go back there with decent snow conditions ... looked amazing ... and dang it, I WILL ski the Big.
 

epicentre

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MT
40 Inches of fresh is indeed great, but did you get to ski the fog? It's a total dealbreaker for many WMR guests since it can be so bad and persistent. Big Sky is truly a bucket-list mountain that will appeal to your desire to explore. But it's best enjoyed with a good snowpack so keep it your second trip of the season and that would be ideal.
 

Sibhusky

Whitefish
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2,512
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Whitefish
Last year wasn't that bad, fog-wise, not compared to the two years before that. He could easily have missed it. Looking at my notes and pictures, I only come up with five days it was an issue out of my 69 skied. That may have been due to sheer luck, but I don't think so. I don't think I hit even one "zero chair" day.
 

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