FD Tennessee

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I am so glad I found this site.

I took up skiing a few years back, and I have been averaging 2 ski trips a season. I have done I70, Aspen twice, Whistler, Steamboat, and Vail. It has been a blast.

I have invested quite a bit in private lessons, but I don’t get to spend enough time on the snow to carry over a lot of my progress year to year. I would say I am a confident intermediate.

This year we decided to shake things up and go to Big Sky. My schedule required us to book in Mid-January. This one is a guys trip. If anyone has any advice that you think would be helpful to a first time Big Sky visitor, thanks in advance.
 

Talisman

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On your first full day take a tour with a Mountain Ambassador (green coats). Tours leave from the Swift Current lift base at 10:00 AM (it might be 10:30) and you will be shown around the mountain. Consider taking a snowmobile or snow coach tour in Yellowstone NP on an "off day" the park is amazing in the winter.

If I am not working I will show you around after you get the basic feel for the mountain, sno and your preferences.
 

Tony S

thread drift a specialty
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Kind of like a wine lover's first trip to France: Suggestions are a big ask, not knowing more about your tastes.

Don't miss the friendly open tree skiing on the front of Andesite mountain, if the snow is decent. It's hiding in plain sight.

Go to the summit if visibility is good; it's worth the wait for the tram. You may well be intimidated by the exposure, but go with a sober buddy and just take it slow and easy on the way down.

You will not find all the good stuff without some kind of local or at least experienced guidance. That's okay - you will do that on your second trip. But don't stick to the groomers. That would be a shame, no matter how nice they are.
 
Thread Starter
TS
FD Tennessee

FD Tennessee

Booting up
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Tennessee
I did come to the right place. Nice trip report, and thanks for all the other suggestions.

I start getting anxious for snow as soon as the weather begins changing, and all I can do right now is think about it, tinker with gear, and order a few things.

Anyone who happens to be there and has good or bad advice to share will at the very least have earned a few rounds on me.
 

sbooker

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I've not been to Big Sky yet but I am headed there in February. I have been to Jackson Hole in January though. It's likely to be a bit chilly at Big Sky in January. Pack a few layers.
 

milkman

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Mid South and Big Sky
I am so glad I found this site.

I took up skiing a few years back, and I have been averaging 2 ski trips a season. I have done I70, Aspen twice, Whistler, Steamboat, and Vail. It has been a blast.

I have invested quite a bit in private lessons, but I don’t get to spend enough time on the snow to carry over a lot of my progress year to year. I would say I am a confident intermediate.

This year we decided to shake things up and go to Big Sky. My schedule required us to book in Mid-January. This one is a guys trip. If anyone has any advice that you think would be helpful to a first time Big Sky visitor, thanks in advance.
All good advice so far. Lessons are good. As a fellow flat lander I know Pre season conditioning and stretching can also help you enjoy the trip more. Where’re you staying? Buy your tickets on line to save a little. Intermediate Tours are at 10:30 and 1:30.
I’ll be there all winter. Send me a PM when you have your dates set and we can get together.
 

skidrew

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266
Go to the summit if visibility is good; it's worth the wait for the tram. You may well be intimidated by the exposure, but go with a sober buddy and just take it slow and easy on the way down.
IF he's an intermediate, then perhaps a "scenic" on the tram is the better bet - after 2:30 the line disappears b/c they wont let you ski down. But you can go up until 3pm, look around, and take the tram back down.
 

TonyPlush

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Go to the summit if visibility is good; it's worth the wait for the tram. You may well be intimidated by the exposure, but go with a sober buddy and just take it slow and easy on the way down.
IF he's an intermediate, then perhaps a "scenic" on the tram is the better bet - after 2:30 the line disappears b/c they wont let you ski down. But you can go up until 3pm, look around, and take the tram back down.
I agree with skidrew. Lone Peak is firmly advanced terrain IMO, and the "if visibility is good" is a key point of that sentence that shouldn't be downplayed.

Last year, I skied down Liberty Bowl in total whiteout conditions. I'd already skied it earlier in the week no problem (in good visibility) but on the second trip, the fog was so bad I couldn't even see the signposts marking the way down. (They're spaced every 30 feet in seems, meaning visibility was even less than that) I'd classify the whole experience as one of the most terrifying things I've ever done on skis. Great snow though! haha...

Personally, I'd be very hesitant to recommend Liberty Bowl to intermediates. To put it in terms OP might be familiar with, I'd say to enjoy Liberty Bowl at Big Sky, you need to feel confident skiing all of Keystone, Morningside Park at Steamboat (Liberty Bowl is much steeper though) Imperial Bowl at Breck, Blackcomb Glacier at Whistler, and some of the double blacks at Aspen Highlands. (IMO Liberty Bowl steepness felt like the Deep Temerity area at highlands.)

By all means though, take the tram up and look around. If you decide you're up for the bowl then awesome! It's amazing!
 

skidrew

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By all means though, take the tram up and look around. If you decide you're up for the bowl then awesome! It's amazing!
Though the one problem there is that you're pretty committed to Liberty Bowl before you can really see it. Yes, you could take the walk of shame back up, but . . .

Instructor I've skied with at Big Sky did a progression for me a few years ago - can you do The Bowl? Can you ski off Challenger? If yes, then you may be ready for Liberty Bowl. I won't say it's the only way to test, but I will say that The Bowl at least is a pretty short/quick way of finding out if you might be capable . . . .

(And of course conditions matter a lot - everything off the Peak can be dodgy because of weather, snow, wind, even when the rest of the resort is skiing great.
 

Talisman

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Gallatin County
Though the one problem there is that you're pretty committed to Liberty Bowl before you can really see it. Yes, you could take the walk of shame back up, but . .
Skidrew provides some good advice and that walk back to the tram dock isn't easy in ski boots when the summit is wind scoured. Since Liberty Bowl faces south the snow on "good visibility days" can be sun scorched mank while other lines are still fluffy but a bit steeper.
 

Tony S

thread drift a specialty
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Meh. You guys are exercising an abundance of caution. The OP knows it's the internet. Once he gets up to the vicinity of the tram base he'll have a good dose of "oh crap" just looking up there. If he still wants to try it after that, and has moral and practical support, I say go for it. Otherwise every time he thinks back on that trip he'll wish he had.

Y'all did bring up good points about a) sun affect and b) working up to it on location.

Asking patrol about conditions should handle a).

My suggestion for exposure vetting would be doing one of the close-in Headwaters chutes. Plenty steep and long enough to get a sense, but slightly less commitment.
 

Talisman

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Gallatin County
My suggestion for exposure vetting would be doing one of the close-in Headwaters chutes. Plenty steep and long enough to get a sense, but slightly less commitment.
The Headwaters area faces north, do you mean the A-Z chutes, Pinnacles, etc?
 
Thread Starter
TS
FD Tennessee

FD Tennessee

Booting up
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Location
Tennessee
Whether I can ski the peak is definitely a recurring thought. Everyone has provided helpful advice.

Do I want to ski it? Absolutely, and I have read a lot about it because it is something I have been thinking about. But, I don’t need to ski it to have a good time. When I was younger, I would have been completely focused on the peak. The wiser me is far more concerned with skiing within my ability. I can’t imagine anything worse than being stupid, getting hurt, and then not being able to ski on our February trip.
 
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skidrew

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Whether I can ski the peak is definitely a recurring thought. Everyone has provided helpful advice.

Do I want to ski it? Absolutely, and I have read a lot about it because it is something I have been thinking about. But, I don’t need to ski it to have a good time. When I was younger, I would have been completely focused on the peak. The wiser me is far more concerned with skiing within my ability. I can’t imagine anything worse than being stupid, getting hurt, and then not being able to ski on our February trip.
That's some very sound thinking!

While it's nice to say you've done it, and there's a feeling of accomplishment, there is a TON of good skiing without coming down from the Peak, and skiing that will challenge all but the most expert of skiers. Plus, in the time you'd wait in line to go up the Tram on a nice day you could lap Challenger 3-4 times and PowderSeeker twice that.
 

Talisman

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Gallatin County
Not exposure like "aspect." I mean exposure like, "How scary is this gonna be?"
Reflecting on your comment the "Headwaters Bowl" off of either Challenger or Headwaters is a pretty good analog (though shorter) for the Liberty Bowl in terms of steepness. The Headwaters Bowl even has the scree infested traverse in with snow fences. Since the Headwaters right goes right over the Headwaters Bowl a careful examination can be made of that part of the mountain before trying it.
 

milkman

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Mid South and Big Sky
While it's nice to say you've done it, and there's a feeling of accomplishment, there is a TON of good skiing without coming down from the Peak, and skiing that will challenge all but the most expert of skiers. Plus, in the time you'd wait in line to go up the Tram on a nice day you could lap Challenger 3-4 times and PowderSeeker twice that.
Good advice.Here's my extended advice on testing your skills for Liberty.
Ride up Powder Seeker. Go left off the chair as far as you can, way past the bowl, at least 75% of the way around. Ski down. If you're comfortable with that and could have handled 2-3 times more of the same without a flat place to stop your'e ready for Liberty. Remember snow conditions on the far left of the bowl area are almost always better than the snow on the peak because it's so protected and gets refilled from above.
Other ways to test your skill are the Challenger Chair or the Headwaters Chair. The only problem with those two is there is a limited view of the terrain before you're committed and no way to ride down.
The visibility component in the high alpine may be a new challenge and hard to overstate. Light can be bright but flat. Clouds can appear out of nowhere so you start up powder seeker in bright sun. You stand in the tram line as a few clouds blow in and when you get to the top it's snow'n and blow'n. Also snow conditions can be significantly better or worse than front side conditions.
While you're back there follow the signs to the base area which take you to "Screaming Left" and the yurt under the Shedhorn quad for a burger or a beer. Best views of the backcountry available.Then after your legs are recharged, ski down to Shedhorn chair. If you're feeling good take a lap on Shedhorn under the chair or left of the chair. If tired just take the road around the to the top of the Swift Current Chair. You can also get to Shedhorn from the top of Swift Current via Cow Flats and get a taste of the backside without the wind or tram ride. Lots of locals ski the back from the middle down just to avoid the tram line.
One last thought. If you do get in trouble anywhere on the mountain call Ski Patrol on your cell phone. I've done it on Green, Blue and Black runs for guests in trouble. The ski patrol is glad to give you a courtesy ride down, not necessarily because they're nice folks, which they are, it's just easier for everyone to get you down in a sled while you're healthy instead of needing to stabilize a broken leg on the side of a mountain and then carefully transport you to the clinic
All that said, Do go up after 2:30 on a sunny day for sight seeing. Take your poles with you. It's usually windblown so you will be able to get around easier with your poles for support. You will enjoy looking down on the Yellowstone club, Wyoming, Idaho and the Headwaters of the Missouri river.
 

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