Northern Rockies/Alberta Big Sky sentiments. Input welcomed

Thread Starter
TS
Jnelly

Jnelly

Booting up
Skier
Joined
Aug 11, 2017
Posts
42
Location
Madison WI
So a few points to cover the lot.
Lone peak tram is out of the question for me..I have no interest or desire and frankly it's above my pay grade in terms of skill. I am indeed a solo skier so highly technical, "steeps", rocks, tree wells....no thanks. I do love me some trees and did follow /join a few thru the trees at Whitefish last year for safety but didn't explore them much as they were a way different animal than the Utah trees I've been in. If I come back this year I maybe in search of a local guide (hint hint) to hit what I missed last year. Those trees were downright menacing looking not to mention the amount of fresh snow in and around them. I'd rather live to ski another day.
In terms of [email protected] might be able to say what level the fog was...I skied Feb. 26, 27, 28th. It mostly was not an issue for me. There were times of where it was thick but it was not an all together deal breaker. I will say it kept me (at times) from doing upper parts of Toni-Mat and Ptarmigan but was not sustained. Traversing some of the upper portion was not ideal to be sure..backside zero issue. Once below the first "tier" so to speak it was fine.
 

Sibhusky

Whitefish, MT
Skier
Joined
Oct 26, 2016
Posts
2,893
Location
Whitefish, MT
So a few points to cover the lot.
Lone peak tram is out of the question for me..I have no interest or desire and frankly it's above my pay grade in terms of skill. I am indeed a solo skier so highly technical, "steeps", rocks, tree wells....no thanks. I do love me some trees and did follow /join a few thru the trees at Whitefish last year for safety but didn't explore them much as they were a way different animal than the Utah trees I've been in. If I come back this year I maybe in search of a local guide (hint hint) to hit what I missed last year. Those trees were downright menacing looking not to mention the amount of fresh snow in and around them. I'd rather live to ski another day.
In terms of [email protected] might be able to say what level the fog was...I skied Feb. 26, 27, 28th. It mostly was not an issue for me. There were times of where it was thick but it was not an all together deal breaker. I will say it kept me (at times) from doing upper parts of Toni-Mat and Ptarmigan but was not sustained. Traversing some of the upper portion was not ideal to be sure..backside zero issue. Once below the first "tier" so to speak it was fine.

Wow, you landed on some great days!!! Record days. I don't know anyone who didn't say those days were the best in living memory. So, while I'm glad you got to experience that, it is NOT normal. And any viz problems were probably due to the fact it was snowing. There was actually no need to do the trees these days, it was over knee deep on the stuff that was groomed in the AM on the 26th.
  • record day. over 20 inches on the groomers. light and fluffy. truly a record day.
  • chair 1 stopped running, but I was exhausted anyway
  • more snow, still deep and fluffy. Grand Parade trees and Good Med
If this was what happens when you show up, please come again. But, don't plan on that. We normally are in the 3-4 inch range, arriving pretty regularly.
 

TonyC

Contact me at bestsnow.net
Pass Pulled
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Posts
679
Location
Glendale, CA
Weather issues are a matter of personal comfort. Some people are more comfortable in marginal visibility than others. And if you like skiing in the trees it can be a non-issue. Since Whitefish has excellent tree skiing that's probably why lots of locals don't worry about the fog. But some visitors might feel differently and should be so forewarned.

At Big Sky the weather issue is cold. It's surely the coldest ski area in the western US. Most skiers can adjust clothing appropriately to ski at single digit temperatures. That's not the average but it's quite frequent mid-winter. If you don't like that, Big Sky is not an ideal choice, though you can lower the odds of frigid temps bu going in March with the tradeoff of likely spring conditions on the quarter of terrain that faces south.
 

Monique

bounceswoosh
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
10,214
Location
Colorado
Since Whitefish has excellent tree skiing that's probably why lots of locals don't worry about the fog.
Also, there's a big difference between skiing familiar trees in fog vs skiing unfamiliar trees (in general) when you don't know where you need to pop out or which direction to turn at the bottom, whether to keep speed, is there a gully, etc.

Even without trees - I don't ski Copper much and was there solo one time. Got really really turned around in low vis and ended up taking a bizarre way to the base - turns out there was a run just below the base of the lift I'd been lapping, but I couldn't even see it.
 
Thread Starter
TS
Jnelly

Jnelly

Booting up
Skier
Joined
Aug 11, 2017
Posts
42
Location
Madison WI
Wow, you landed on some great days!!! Record days. I don't know anyone who didn't say those days were the best in living memory. So, while I'm glad you got to experience that, it is NOT normal. And any viz problems were probably due to the fact it was snowing. There was actually no need to do the trees these days, it was over knee deep on the stuff that was groomed in the AM on the 26th.
  • record day. over 20 inches on the groomers. light and fluffy. truly a record day.
  • chair 1 stopped running, but I was exhausted anyway
  • more snow, still deep and fluffy. Grand Parade trees and Good Med
If this was what happens when you show up, please come again. But, don't plan on that. We normally are in the 3-4 inch range, arriving pretty regularly.
It was truly a retire your skis weekend bc the odds of coming from out of state to that is a never going to do it again type of thing. Your right too; everyone I spoke to in town or on the lifts said it was the best few days they've known in the duration they've lived there. And like you said. No need to seek snow which means there is a plethora of mountain to be had yet!
 

Sibhusky

Whitefish, MT
Skier
Joined
Oct 26, 2016
Posts
2,893
Location
Whitefish, MT
Weather issues are a matter of personal comfort. Some people are more comfortable in marginal visibility than others. And if you like skiing in the trees it can be a non-issue. Since Whitefish has excellent tree skiing that's probably why lots of locals don't worry about the fog. But some visitors might feel differently and should be so forewarned.

At Big Sky the weather issue is cold. It's surely the coldest ski area in the western US. Most skiers can adjust clothing appropriately to ski at single digit temperatures. That's not the average but it's quite frequent mid-winter. If you don't like that, Big Sky is not an ideal choice, though you can lower the odds of frigid temps bu going in March with the tradeoff of likely spring conditions on the quarter of terrain that faces south.
Well, the three days he was there the viz problems were due to blowing snow.

Flat light, however, is frequently an issue here. Whether due to being overcast, snow, or fog, plan on it.

His days:
First:


Second:

Third
 
Last edited:

skidrew

Getting on the lift
Skier
Joined
May 1, 2017
Posts
330
^ I'd hit that!

As for tram on Big Sky - don't rule it out if conditions are good. Liberty Bowl is definitely advanced, but not beyond that. And if the tram lines are short because of bad conditions, it's definitely worth a trip just for the views (which I did last year - bluebird day).
 

milkman

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
Posts
136
Location
Mid South and Big Sky
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)
No prohibition about skiing alone but at least find a friend on the tram and ask for advice. All skiing off of the tram is true High Alpine. You're subject to quickly changing conditions, wind, flat light, powder pockets and firm conditions on the same run and long tiring runs. I always suggest you try Liberty Bowl first. If there are no issues there then step up to Marx, then Lenin. My advice is to always pick a day with decent visibility for your first decent on any Double Black slopes. This is particularly true off the tram.
 

milkman

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
Posts
136
Location
Mid South and Big Sky
^ I'd hit that!

As for tram on Big Sky - don't rule it out if conditions are good. Liberty Bowl is definitely advanced, but not beyond that. And if the tram lines are short because of bad conditions, it's definitely worth a trip just for the views (which I did last year - bluebird day).
you can always ride the tram up and down late in the day for "sight seeing only". Lines are usually short. A great way to take a late day break before cruising down to the base area after riding the tram back down.
 

milkman

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
Posts
136
Location
Mid South and Big Sky
So a few points to cover the lot.
Lone peak tram is out of the question for me..I have no interest or desire and frankly it's above my pay grade in terms of skill. I am indeed a solo skier so highly technical, "steeps", rocks, tree wells....no thanks. I do love me some trees and did follow /join a few thru the trees at Whitefish last year for safety but didn't explore them much as they were a way different animal than the Utah trees I've been in. If I come back this year I maybe in search of a local guide (hint hint) to hit what I missed last year. Those trees were downright menacing looking not to mention the amount of fresh snow in and around them. I'd rather live to ski another day.
In terms of [email protected] might be able to say what level the fog was...I skied Feb. 26, 27, 28th. It mostly was not an issue for me. There were times of where it was thick but it was not an all together deal breaker. I will say it kept me (at times) from doing upper parts of Toni-Mat and Ptarmigan but was not sustained. Traversing some of the upper portion was not ideal to be sure..backside zero issue. Once below the first "tier" so to speak it was fine.
Lots of trees in Big Sky. Different from Whitefish but also very nice. Lots of variety, green, blue and black, and even the greens are really fun.
 

DanoT

RVer-Skier
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,447
Location
Sun Peaks B.C. in winter, Victoria B.C. in summer
One of the nicest things about Big Sky is that is it one of the few uncrowded major US resorts. Expect a line up only at the base first thing in the morning and sometimes at the tram even on a powder day.
 

TonyC

Contact me at bestsnow.net
Pass Pulled
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Posts
679
Location
Glendale, CA
The tram has a serious lift line problem any time the skiing and visibility are good up top due to its ridiculously low capacity of 15 people. 20 minutes is routine and 35 is not uncommon at peak ski hours. Fortunately this is not relevant to the OP. The other lifts are every bit as wide open as everyone says and skier density is very low everywhere, especially on the Moonlight side.
 

graham418

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Mar 25, 2016
Posts
1,749
Location
Toronto
Our ski club finally booked Big Sky this year, after many years of me lobbying for it. It went on sale yesterday morning, sold out in 3 minutes. It seems there was some demand!!
We are going to be there first week of March. 3rd to 10th. Time to pray for snow!! Hopefully it will still be good when we arrive. Thats the problem with club trips and booking 4 months ahead.
Keep the good tips coming, its always good to get the skinny on a pace I have never been to.
Any thoughts on how to plan a day? where to ski in the morning, where to go in the afternoon? Where does the snow stay? where are the good trees?
Also, while doing my Google diligence, I have read that there are rocks. Is this true? only a early season problem. Is it bad enough that i shouldn't take my good skis?
 
Last edited:

Monique

bounceswoosh
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
10,214
Location
Colorado
Our ski finally booked Big Sky this year
Uhoh. Skis can book trips? I'm in trouble ... gotta keep my credit card well away from those tricksy things ... ;-)

Also, while doing my Google diligence, I have read that there are rocks. Is this true? only a early season problem. Is it bad enough that i shouldn't take my good skis?
"You gotta love skiing more than you love your skis" - dunno if that's a well known saying, but I heard it from an instructor. Words I live by. Do you really want to ski the wrong ski just to prevent a scratch or core shot? Almost everything can be fixed, and unless you're racing on the skis (in which case, they're the wrong skis to bring to Big Sky), the ski won't act any different after a professional repair.

FWIW, I had the shop at the base fix a core shot. It was actually from a different mountain - I'd been in a hurry and hadn't had a chance to get it fixed yet.
 

Crank

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Dec 19, 2015
Posts
1,359
You will love it. Are you staying at the Huntley?

Rocks yes, good skis definitely. Bases can be repaired.

There are good trees way over to skier's right at Dakota and Shedhorn lifts and good trees way over to skier's left near the outside edge of Moonlight Basin and there are good, steeper trees off the Challenger lift, and fun intermediate trees off the Ram Charger lift and maybe my favorite trees off the Thunder Wolf lift. So pretty much good trees almost everywhere.

First time out there about 45 years ago snow was pretty consistent around the mountain. Last season when we were there it was best up high and best of all off the Challenger. Lots of great,great skiing up there.
 

Fuller

Semi Local
Skier
Joined
Feb 18, 2016
Posts
723
Location
Whitefish or Florida
My notes for Whitefish last year...

Feb 26 - Powder day 18"
Feb 27 - Chair 1 went down (power failure), nice day but cut short.
Feb 28 - Snow overnight and during the day, fantastic!

I am beyond stoked to get back there, I racked up 766,404 ft of vert while I was there in all kinds of conditions but I would like to check out Big Sky too.
 
Last edited:
Top