Ski Big Sky Like a Local

by Dan Giesin | November 27, 2018

Big is the operative word at Big Sky resort.
With 5,850 skiable acres and 4,350 feet of vertical it is among the top five in both categories in North America. Throw in 400 inches annually of prime Rocky Mountain powder and you’ve got a ski hill that deserves more than respect.
Big Sky deserves a visit.
But a hill this big and so varied can be a bit intimidating even for an occasional visitor, let alone a first-timer. Many people simply stand in awe in the Mountain Village, gazing up at the 11,166-foot summit of  Lone Mountain, and think, “Where do I begin?”
Glad you asked.

Starting Out Right

Start off your day with a ride up the Ramcharger, the only 8-passenger high-speed chair in America. From the top take a lap or two — Elk Park Ridge is a good option — down  to the Thunder Wolf quad.
Return to the base area via Ambush or Tippy’s Tumble and head for the Swift Current quad, which will take you the base of the Lone Peak Tram and the Powder Seeker 6 lift. If the tram’s not open — or even if it is — take a lap or two off Powder Seeker 6 for some warmup runs on steep terrain.
Hop aboard the tram — What an amazing ride! Don’t look down if you’re afraid of heights — and then make your way to Marx, a long, steep, but not too intimidating bowl run. Exit via the Duckwalk cat track and head for the Challenger chair, where you can make a couple of fun and generally uncrowded laps; Highway is highly recommended.
Next, head north at the top of the Challenger chair into terrain served by the Headwaters chair; some short steep chutes here with quality snow. After a lap or two, make your way down to the Madison base area, where you can rest your legs and partake in some quality cafeteria-style food.

Work Off Lunch

After lunch, hop aboard the Six Shooter lift to connect to the Lone Tree 4 lift. This two lift shuttle will give you access to long, tree-line mostly black runs that don’t see much traffic all day; Double Jack, off Lookout Ridge run, is a great option.
Now, it’s getting late in the day, and you’re looking to ease back on the throttle. Take the Six Shooter lift, ext left and head, via the Fast Lane, to the main base area for a snack or something to drink. Then hop aboard the Ramcharger again and at the top head for the Southern Comfort chair for an hour or so of fast, easy, ego cruisers, such as El Dorado, Deep South or Ponderosa. A great return run to the base, from the top of Southern Comfort, is Congo.
There, you’re done for the day. You’ve explored just about all that Big Sky has to offer; after that you’re on your own.

Further Recommendations

And to make your exploring a little easier, here are some suggestions.

  • Groomers: Elk Park Ridge, Big Horn and Mr. K.
  • Bumps: Africa, Mad Wolf and Moonlight.
  • Glades: Congo, Blackfoot and Bear’s Lair.
  • Steeps: Marx, Alder Gulch and Big Couloir (Ski Patrol permission and transceiver, probe and shovel a must for the latter).
  • Apres: Carabiner (upscale lounge), Chet’s Bar (Old West motif) and Montana Jack  (beer, pub food and music).

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