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Big Sky - Ski Resort and Snow Summary
Skiing in Big Sky
Big Sky - Ski Resort in American Rockies - 136km of Piste (2070m to 3410m)
A new tram into the top of Lone Peak gave Big Sky the biggest lift-served vertical in the USA in 1995 (a title since taken by Snowmass in 1997), and the area has won numerous awards for its uncrowded slopes and non-existant lift lines/queues. There's an average of less than two skiers per acre on the busiest days and the longest lift lines are reportedly to the free breakfast buffet at Huntley Lodge where up to 927 guests may be served. The resort still holds the world record as the place where the most vertical feet have been skied in one day, by local Rusty Squire who made 220 helicopter ascents to claim his title. There is skiing on two lift-linked mountains for all standards and good facilities for 'boarders and telemarkers. The steepest route down is Castro's shoulder, with a 50 degree pitch, whilst the Big Couloir run down from the tram has pitches of around 42 degrees nd is 2600 feet long. There are numerous accommodation options for all tastes and budgets, including the slopeside Huntly Lodge, Snoshore and Snowcrest Lodge condominiums. The resort's biggest project has been the construction of the 45 million dollar slopeside Summit Hotel. Big Sky is located close to Yellowstone National Park.
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Big Sky Ski Facts
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The American ski resort of Big Sky has direct access to 136km of downhill skiing, with 150 individual pistes, served by 18 ski lifts.
The ski resort itself is above 1500m, so skiing or boarding back to the resort is usually possible. With pistes above 2500 metres, skiing and snowboarding is assured throughout the season.
Ski Lift Capacity :- The 18 Ski Lifts of Big Sky are able to uplift 20,000 skiers / snowboarders per hour.
Skiing in Big Sky
Skiing is on two lift-linked mountains with 75 trails on more than 1,500 acres comprising 20% beginner, 50%intermediate and 30% expert. The addition of the Lone Peak Tram opened terrain that is tough, with pitches averaging 28 degrees. However if you get to the top and find that the chutes, couloirs and steeps are over your head then you can simply enjoy the 360º views of three states, Yellowstone National Park , the Grand Tetons and ride back down. The 15-person Dopplemayr tram ascends the 3,300 vertical feet at a rapid 4.5 minute pace to the summit. Prior to its installation, skiers and boarders had to hike for almost an hour to reach the summit.
Lone Peak provides the starting point for a multitude of white-knuckle descents including the Dictator Shutes, the Big Couloir and the Gullies. The lift also opened the Peak to advanced skiers, in the wide open alpine terrain of Liberty Bowl. Certain runs accessed by the Lone Peak Tram require skiers and snowboarders to sign out with ski patrol, ski with a partner and be equipped with a transceiver and shovel. The terrain available to visitors of Big Sky is unequalled by any resort in the States. The Lone Peak Tram is accessed by riding either of Big Sky's two gondolas, then taking the Lone Peak triple chairlift to the Upper Morning Star trail.
Having lift served access to above-treeline terrain is rare but to have the ability to begin a run from the very summit of a Matterhorn-like mountain is fully distinctive of Big Sky and its Lone Peak Tram. The Shedhorn double chairlift allows less advanced skiers to enjoy wide-cut runs into the trees on the lower elevation of the mountain's south side. Shedhorn can be accessed from either the tram or Gondola II. South Face skiers return to the main base area via a traverse to the top of Gondola II and down intermediate runs such as Lobo or Calamity Jane.
A favourite with children is alway the natural half-pipe on Lower Morning Star while the best intermediate cruising run is Elk Park Ridge. Above the trees skiing, Austrian run ski school and Dopplemayr lift all give Big Sky a distinct European flavour.
Snowboarding in Big Sky
A new Terrain Park opened on Andesite for the 98-99 season, Big Sky's 25th anniversary year. The park features a half-pipe with an inter-park rope tow and stereo system. The Olympic quality half-pipe is 400 feet long and 50 feet wide with walls 12 feet high. The inter-park rope tow will be 450 feet long allowing riders to make laps on the half-pipe. Snowmaking capabilities in the park will provide additional snow for hits, banked turns and kickers.
Big Sky's parent company, Boyne USA Resorts, has hired Dave Rogers to design the new area. According to Snowboarder Magazine (Oct. '98), Rogers is the Midwest's premier snowpark builder and manager. Rogers, who has 10 years' experience building terrain parks, also will be reconstructing and rearranging the parks at Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands in Michigan. When creating terrain parks, Rogers prefers to rely on his intuition and the riders' input. I prefer to examine the slope and observe how the snow is laying, then start pushing the snow around and feeling my way, Rogers said. I also ask for feedback from the locals - that's the key to a great terrain park. The resort has purchased a Pipe Dragon grooming machine, and Rogers plans to reshape the park each month. The park is located on North Ambush off the Ramcharger High Speed Quad. Events staged at the Park include the Thrash and Bash Cross Games - a combined boardercross, skiercross and telecross event.
Big Sky Aprés Ski
The hub of night activity is the Mountain Vilage. Happy hour kicks off in Chet's Bar in the Huntley Lodge, with the Crazy Austrian show (just go and see it). Chet's also has poker games - legal in Montana, and theres live music and electronic gaming. Other places to check out in the Mountain Village are Lolo's, Dante's and Scissorbills. The Meadow Village tends to be quieter but Rocco's and Allgoods Bar & Grill are likely to attract crowds at night. I
n the canyon, check out the Buck's T-4 game room, with pool tables, football and video games. Locals like the Corral and the Half Mon Saloon, with darts and pool. Both are roadhouse-style Western bars.
After the lifts close you could enjoy an old fashioned sleigh ride into Montana's past. Horse drawn sleighs ride through the pines to the North Fork Cabin where you can enjoy a feast prepared over a century-old woodburning stove and enjoy live entertainment before the lantern-lit ride back home.
For more details of apres-ski visit www.bigskychamber.com or check Big Sky's local newspaper, the Lone Peak Lookout which has entertainment listings.
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