This post is from the first day of our mini-week vacation.
- Tuesday: this post
- Wednesday: Steep Powder Caches at Big Sky, Montana
- Thursday: Midweek Rest Day at Big Sky
- Friday: Revisiting the Best of Big Sky
We had big eyes the first day. The white bowls above tree line looked irresistible. When we woke, the outside temperature was -9F with a forecast high of 4F. Our plan was to stay close to a lodge so we could duck in between runs.
We dressed so warm we were sweating before we left the condo and toasty warm after hiking up to the lift. We took the Swift Current high speed quad up to our short green warm up run down to the Powder Seeker lift in the Bowl on Lone Peak. Mom spotted white on my nose, so I rearranged my balaclava and sunglasses on the ride up. Isaac was adamant he didn’t want to ski blacks — too hard. My Mom wasn’t too sure herself. So we skied down Upper Morningstar, a wide open blue. That was easy, so we went up again. My nose was warm, but my glasses had fogged, so I rearranged my layers again on the lift up. This time down we started on the blue and then veered off on a black — Never Sweat. Next ride up, Isaac was pointing out more of the black terrain in the bowl. We skied into the bowl and then through the small glade at the bottom. My balaclava and goggles were fog free and no one else was cold, so we stayed out until lunch.
Isaac rejected the Soup Kettle in the bowl. The Burrito Shack was back up the green run we had skied first. If we could traverse the bowl and hit Jay Walk at the bottom of a band of rocks, we would have a short herringbone up to the burrito shack. Most of the way we followed Turkey Traverse. Tyson broke trail across the last slope beside the rocks. Isaac tried to follow, but he tumbled off the track into the powder. He recovered after cartwheeling, then struggled to ski in the powder and repeatedly tumbled until he landed on the green trail far below us.
Tyson retrieved Isaac and towed him to the burrito shack. While ordering, I asked the cook whether it’s worth going to the top.
“Oh definitely. There’s no other ski area with anything like it” he said while scooping guacamole onto my plate. “If you skied The Bowl, you can ski down Liberty Bowl from the top.”
“Where is your favorite spot on the mountain?” I inquired.
“The south side has nice glades,” he walked over to point at the map near our stools. “Continue down below Liberty Bowl, but you’ll want to take the Shedhorn lift back up to Duckwalk on your way out. Don’t ski the Middle Road. It’s a dreadful catwalk. Big Sky used to advertise it as their longest trail. 6 miles. But it’s terrible.”
Tyson was all for skiing the top. His goal for the week was steeps and powder. Isaac, though, wasn’t sure he could ski blacks from the top. On the tram ride up, I pointed out Big Couloir.
“That looks hard,” I told Isaac. “We won’t ski that.”
“No that’s easy,” Isaac looked out the bottom of the tram window. “This looks hard.” He pointed at a two foot wide slot through the cliff in front of us. “I think snow slides down that.”
The top was blustery. Clouds obscured our views. The first part of the descent was confusing with avalanche fences all over the open slope. We carefully found the Liberty Bowl, avoiding the many double black diamond routes. A few switch backs and we were solidly into the bowl.
Liberty Bowl was steep but not terrifyingly so. Had it been a narrow gully I might have thought differently. The snow was rather solid, Styrofoam like. We worked our way down through the gentle moguls. At times, I found a nice rhythm for hundreds of feet. But then I would have to stop, panting from the altitude. The peak of Lone Mountain is 11,166′.
After the bowl, we wandered through the Dakota Glades, eventually landing on the first groomed blue slope we had seen in a while. Mom and Isaac both declared themselves too tired to continue mogul hopping and took the blue. Tyson and I met them at the bottom of the Dakota lift. Then we worked our way to the base lodge: up the Dakota triple, down Screaming Left, Sunlight, and Hippy Highway to the Shedhorn double; traverse Duckwalk to the top of the Swift Current lift and follow our noses down until Middle Road scooped us up.
Back at the base, we signed Isaac up for ski school with other kids. Tomorrow would be an adults only day.
Google made a panorama of Isaac skiing down Screaming Left
All the photos
South side ski area map:
The Bowl and summit: