"Grab the orange rope." These are the words that were said over and over again by Big Sky Resort Zipline Guides Molly, Ross and Max on our Marketing Team Adventure Zipline outing on June 17. "The orange rope used to be black, but orange stands out better."
What exactly does the orange rope do? It's essentially the break. And it exists to make less work for the guides. Instead of having to grab us and pull us into the platform at the end of every line, the orange rope is connected to a black rope that pulls us in. Welcome to the world of ziplining. All four Adventure Ziplines go 35-45 mph and traverse treetops, valleys, and part of the Mountain Village Base Area, and a lot of time would be taken if the guides had to go out on the line and grab us every time.
On Tuesday morning, we left the base area around 10 and walked to Explorer Chairlift, which took us about a football field's distance from the first zipline, Swifty 3.0. Swifty 3.0 is the second longest line at 1,200 feet, and takes each zipliner over the run Crazy Horse. As well as the Marketing Team knows Lone Mountain in winter-quickly orienting ourselves via runs and chairlifts-I had no idea we were looking over Crazy Horse when I zipped across it. How strange and marvelous this mountain looks coated in green.
After establishing our bearings we zipped over to line two, Jerry's Terror. Eight hundred feet long, Jerry's Terror feels faster than Swifty 3.0 because it is shorter, but also because it is the highest of all four lines. I push off of Jerry's Terror Platform backwards and wave to the team as they become smaller and smaller. I feel at peace when I'm ziplining. Each Adventure Zipline takes only about 16-20 seconds to cross, but each time I zip that 16 seconds lasts long enough to clear my brain and think of nothing but the ecosystem surrounding me. Sixteen seconds is long enough to marvel at the beauty of the mountains, the trees, and possibly a moose. Ziplining is unique because it unionizes technology and nature to create adrenaline and then peace.
We repel 15 feet down off the landing platform for Jerry's Terror and walk to the third zipline, The Kessel Run. Named for the route Han Solo boasts he can take the Millennium Falcon in less than 12 parsecs in A New Hope, The Kessel Run zipline swoops low between the trees, simulating how riding a speeder through the Endor woods must feel in The Return of the Jedi or how Han must feel taking on The Kessel Run.
The final zipline on the Adventure tour is the Twin Zip where I raced (and defeated) my friend and coworker Michael Tallichet by a mere half a second. Ziplining next to someone is the most fun as the experience becomes shared.
We step off the final platform and walk back to the base area. We deposit our gear in the same pile where we picked it up two hours earlier and linger near our guides. There's a feeling of satisfaction from a great ziplining trip and we linger there because we want to hold on to that feeling as long as possible. It's a fairly simple activity, ziplining, but it's uniquely bonding, creating memories that will last a lot longer than 16 seconds.
The view from Jerry's Terror.
End platform on Twin Zip.
If someone told me I would find five blouses, a sweater, and bracelets that were trendy in Big Sky I would have said: Ok maybe, but how much money am I going to spend? Turns out, not too much at all. With new shops and new renovations popping up around Big Sky's Town Center I walked and shopped last Saturday and found quite the mother-load of cute clothes.
At first appearance The Rhinestone Cowgirl looks exactly like its name sounds: Rodeo Queen Attire. However, The Rhinestone Cowgirl carries Mystree, a Vernon, Calif., brand with western simplicity in mind, and a number of not strictly western-looking clothes. Rhinestone also had an excellent sale rack collection with a number of winter items available for under $30. They also carry leggings and tights (something that's hard to find in Big Sky), and they have a variety of cute boots. The best part: My mom and I both found things we liked. In general not many stores cater to the 50-something and the 20-something.
Without an extensive fashion knowledge (beyond what I see on Pinterest and what my sister tells me what part of my wardrobe is out of fashion) I rely on local boutiques and buyers to help with my style. Mountain Maven and Big Sky Shirt Co. are no strangers to cute style. Big Sky Shirt Co. supplies the casual and cute, while Mountain Maven has the I-need-a-dress-for-a-wedding-this-summer pieces. The great thing about Maven is that the dresses I could buy for a wedding also work for business attire. These are the sort of versatile pieces missing from my wardrobe, but were found right here in Big Sky.
All three boutiques also have a plethora of gift ideas from soaps and hand creams at Rhinestone, to bow ponytail holders and rings at Maven, and hand-made fair trade African bracelets at Big Sky Shirt Co.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. A few shops I failed to mention that also have great winter and summer options are the new Signature Burton Store in the Mountain Village, Grizzly Outfitters in Town Center, a few dad-like options at East Slope Outdoors, and more.
Big Sky has a lot to offer for a town of 2,000, and I couldn't be more content with a town that prioritizes the outdoors, but doesn't forget other fun things in life like fashion.
Shirts from The Rhinestone Cowgirl, Big Sky Shirt Co, and Mountain Maven.
A new style for me, off the shoulder blouse from Mountain Maven.
A long sleeve black shirt, touch of western shirt from Mystree, and the sweater my mom purchased. All from The Rhinestone Cowgirl.
Big Sky Resort is home to some of the most extreme downhill mountain biking in the area, yet I have never been downhill mountain biking. That doesn't mean I don't recognize impressive riding when I see it. Check out some epic mountain biking in the following video to get pumped for opening day of downhill riding June 21. Newly added at Big Sky Resort this year are intermediate trails off Explorer Lift. Maybe I'll find inspiration to get out there after all...
My first day of the year on the Golf Course at Big Sky Resort was for a friend's birthday scramble. Scrambles are the way to play when it's one's first day out or when playing like a first day out.
The day started with a fantastic Bloody Mary Bar at The Bunker Bar and Grill and smoothly transitioned into my favorite kind of golf tournament: One where individual scores do not count, team camaraderie prevails, and the biggest concern is: "when will the beverage cart come back around?" Even though I drove the ball terribly and had a sub-par putting game; my irons and I agreed tremendously hitting two balls from 100 yards out within a foot or two of the hole.
Golf is a game of refined skill where even the slightest movement of the club face changes the next lie. My inability to hit a ball out of the bunker on the first swing puts me in camp practice-does-not-make-perfect. Golf is the one sport where practice doesn't even make ok (although it might make you luckier). As Bob Hope said, "If you watch a game, it's fun. If you play it, it's recreation. If you work at it, it's golf." So I'll keep working at the game of golf by attending Women's Golf Clinics, going to the driving range, and partaking in as many birthday scrambles as possible. After all is said and done, whether scrambling or not, the achievement of golf lies in getting back out on the course, bad round after bad round. Much like skiing, golf is a lifetime sport that gives back in more subtle ways over time. I just can't let the game beat me before I find out what all those are.
**Better Ball 2 Player Spring Draw Golf Tournament is June 7 at Big Sky Resort Golf Course. Sign up!
With record breaking skier visitation at 473,000, up seven and a half percent year over year combining Moonlight Basin, the mantra, Better Together, rings true. However, Better Together doesn't stand alone as a symbol of one resort or a symbol of how pulling together results in a record-breaking season, with it comes individual stories and personal reflection on the community of Big Sky and the love of Lone Mountain. Long-time local and Big Sky Resort employee Victor Deleo shares his perspective on what Better Together means from someone who cares for the community and the mountain. To read the full story, check out the latest issue of Live Big Magazine coming Summer 2014 to Big Sky Resort.
In 2003, I was like most young men in Big Sky, Montana. Skiing ruled my life. Big Sky Resort boasted over 4000 vertical feet, 400 inches of snow, and averaged 2 acres per skier. There was no better place for the skier to be. Then suddenly it got better.
That summer, more lifts were erected, more lodges were built, and for the first time in 20 years, a new destination ski resort was opened in the USA: Moonlight Basin. And conveniently, this resort was attached to our already-enormous and beloved mountain. We had more ski runs, more jobs, and more beds for guests. The skiable acres would be so huge, I was sure I'd never have to cross another ski track. But at the same time, things were changing for us that I wasn't expecting. Moonlight Basin brought another base area lodge, a new logo, and another lift system. Skiers began choosing one resort and not the other. While we were all gaining more opportunity, we were becoming slightly divided as a community at the same time. That's how it was for the folks that skied here. This was one mountain, and yet, every skier had to choose a side when he purchased his lift ticket or season pass. Even Aspen had four mountains that were a drive apart, and yet, they had one lift ticket. Then in 2005, with the collaboration of both ski resorts, came a combined option, The Lone Peak Pass. Skiers could finally ski the whole mountain on one, single purchase which was, as Christopher Solomon of the New York Times wrote in 2006, "the most you can ride in the United States without clicking out of your bindings."
Years later, the Lone Peak Pass was appropriately renamed The Biggest Skiing in America Pass because no other ski area had more acres. While this integration was a monumental accomplishment, it was still two resorts, one mountain, and three lift ticket options. Finally, in October 2013, ten years after the creation of Moonlight Basin, both resorts integrated under one name and one lift ticket. Big Sky Resort could claim with certainty, "The Biggest Skiing in America. Period." So now, guests purchase one ticket and have access to the whole thing.
Big Sky Resort's General Manager, Taylor Middleton said it best. "The integration has fueled record-breaking visitation which helps businesses and residents in our community." The integration has given Big Sky Resort the edge in the marketplace as the largest single ski resort in the US. It is now easier to book a vacation here. Our community is no longer divided. And for me, I'm still not crossing ski tracks.
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