I started snowboarding in 2003, but my love for the sport developed in 2006 when I got my hands on David Benedek's 16mm film 91 Words for Snow.
My world revolved around urban and park riding, inspired by the likes of Darrell Mathes, Justin Bennee, and Nicolas Muller. I craved every moment that my board was touching a fresh groomed pipe or sliding down a rail. I hurt inside knowing that the nearest ski hill was at least five hours away from my home in central Illinois, and that the "fun" hills were even further into Wisconsin or Minnesota; the passion was real, the fire burned inside.
As time went on I became more aware of big mountain riding and became increasingly aware of the people pushing the sport to new limits. This was what I needed, to explore these most majestic, most improbable mountainous landscapes with a board under my feet. It would be all too perfect to experience. But the idea of ever riding on real snow, on a real mountain larger than 300 feet, could not exist in my mind, no matter how badly I wanted them to exist.
My dreams were to only be further repressed: finding out my family would be relocated to the state of Kansas. It wasn't until I came to Bozeman in the fall of 2009 to see Montana State University that I began to allow my dreams to grow. The idea that I could explore the snow-covered high peaks was now not only a possibility - I would make it my reality.
Over the last few years here in Montana, I have realized my dreams through Lone Peak starting with Moonlight Basin and now Big Sky Resort. Lone Peak has been a place for me to learn, and to shed my skin and transform from a Midwest park rat into a big mountain snowboarder.
Even as I skin up the peaks in Hyalite Canyon, Beehive Basin, or Cooke City, I continually return to the resort as a place for personal progression. Lone Peak grounds me in my quest to climb higher, and ride more challenging terrain. For me, the true essence of riding at the resort means giving 100 percent, something you can do regardless of how hard the terrain that you ride is. Some of the most inspiring skiers and riders I know project the same run over and over until they have mastered it. They might not be skiing the steepest, most technical lines, but their motivation is pure and they love what they're doing. In the end, it's all about having a good time with your friends, being in a beautiful place, and doing a little riding.
Photo: Erik Morrison
Photo: Chris Kamman
When my officemate Michel and friend Candis asked me to go snowshoeing I was skeptical. What I knew about snowshoeing came from National Geographic Alaska TV specials and Jack London novels. What I didn't know, or expect, was how much I would learn about Lone Mountain, the Spanish Peaks and snowshoeing from our Basecamp guide Bea.
Bea taught us about the flora and fauna around Big Sky, such as the Indian Paint Brush wildflower grows at different colors at different elevations or that the Spanish Peaks are one of the only ranges in the Rocky Mountains that run east to west and are the oldest peaks in the Madison Range. Bea was a wealth of knowledge, keeping us on our snowshoe toes with funny quick-fire quizzes of what we'd learned so far.
We hiked up Moose Tracks, the trees near Middle Road, and then went even a little further to an open area with spectacular views of Lone Peak and the Spanish Peaks, the tallest of which, Gallatin Peak, stood prominently out overlooking both Madison and Gallatin Counties.
Breaking our own trail from time-to-time, I found snowshoeing essentially to be winter hiking. I love hiking and had no idea what I had been missing out on all these winters by not taking up snowshoeing.
Not only is snowshoeing great exercise, but it put me out into nature in a different way than skiing does. I don't stop to look around enough while I'm skiing because I'm continually in search for that great line, but snowshoeing forced me to pause and listen to the beauty that surrounds me every day.
For more information on snowshoe tours at Big Sky Resort check out bigskyresort.com/activities
Video: Michael Jezak
Like many people around here, I moved west in search of big mountains and deep, cold, soft snow; when I moved to Montana five years ago from Kansas I had never skied on a real mountain, or real snow for that matter, and my transition from a Midwest park-rat to a big mountain rider had quite the steep learning curve. Today, I live to ride Headwaters, Big Couloir, or back in Beehive Basin, so it should come as no surprise that I tended to get frustrated when the Tram, Triple or Shedhorn would be on wind hold. That is until the other day, when my buddy Jonathan called me up and wanted to just cruise around and ski all the terrain lower on the mountain that we always pass over on our way to the peak. Something clicked in my head that day that reminded me why I do this: because it's fun, because friends are awesome, and because life shouldn't be taken too seriously.
Old man winter brings us great snow year in and year out, I am thankful for what we have each season, remember not to take it too seriously, and remember that it could always be worse, trying to ski ice covered mole-hills back in Kansas.
Photo: Patrick Larson
Photo: Erik Morrison
The best part of a typical Winter Tuesday is going skiing. The best part of this particular Tuesday in February was being invited by Peaks Restaurant manager to the Peaks Lunch Buffet. The Peaks Buffet offers a wide variety of delicious food from lighter soups and salads to chicken fried steak and fish and chips and is ski-in-ski-out, my favorite feature.
I started the buffet with a sampling of soups, salads, and appetizers: Potato Salad with Bacon; Bacon Mushroom salad; Green Salad; Grandma's Turkey Vegetable soup; Mixed Game Chili, which was perfectly spiced; fruit; and Risotto Balls. Although this sounds like a lot for lunch, I wanted to taste everything taking small sample sizes in order to do so.
Venturing on to the comfort foods I tried the Chicken Fried Steak, which was tender, juicy, and exactly how my grandma used to make it. The fish and chips were my favorite because the fish was flaky and fresh, not overly breaded, and came with a side of chipotle tartar sauce that made me want to quit buying tartar sauce and find this recipe. After my second course I glanced at the dessert table, thinking I would forego dessert for one more Risotto Ball, but the Mousse and dark chocolate truffles called out like Lady Godiva on a spring morning. Thus I indulged in chocolate for the first time in three months and it was well worth the wait.
If the truffles, risotto, and fish and chips aren't enough incentive to check out Peaks Lunch Buffet the quick ski-in-ski-out feature should be. Offering a soup and salad only option also makes for a lighter and quicker lunch so we can all get back on the slopes.
It's a great lunch deal with a great location, and the best part is it's all ready to go; all I have to do is choose.
"What surprised me most was the diversity and variety in the Peaks Buffet. I tried almost everything they had from the tender meats, to the delicious appetizers. While the Chicken Fried Steak was incredible the Flank Steak was even more so. Everything was laid out well, and I was able to get in and out in moments."-Michael S.
"When lunch is delicious and fast it is more than satisfying...it's amazing. The buffet offered so many options from Ahi tuna, gravlax, fish and chips, salads, sandwiches, soups and hearty meats and chili. It gave me more time to do what I came here to do.... ski the Biggest Skiing in America."-Lyndsey O.
"There were a plethora of different kinds of foods to choose from, all tasted incredibly delicious!"-Nicole H.
Soup, salad, and appetizer buffet.
Photos: Michel Tallichet
My lunches on Lone Mountain usually consists of pizza, salad or chicken strips from the Lone Peak Café, a delicious and fast option that I've just gotten used to. However, this week I wanted something different, but that was still a quick meal. Look no further than the MT Smokehouse right in the middle of the base area.
I went with three friends from work, Michel, Michael, and Lyndsey. As much as we all get along in so many ways, our tastes in food couldn't be more different, which was perfect because the Smokehouse has a variety of BBQ and non-BBQ options.
I ordered the Wagyu Beef burger with Swiss and a hint of BBQ sauce. The best part about ordering anything from the Smokehouse is that all the beef comes straight from Montana. In fact, the Montana Wagyu Cattle Company, less than an hour drive from Big Sky, instills pride in its beef's diverse flavor profile that is dry-aged for 10 days in a cooler. Although ordering a burger at a BBQ shack is often frowned upon by the BBQ elite, it was delicious and exactly what I wanted. That said, my friends had a word or two to say about their brisket and pulled pork orders:
"I tried the BBQ Chopped Beef with the Root Beer BBQ ‘Down Home Sauce.' It was cooked to perfection with the usual toppings: sliced onions and a few sweet pickles. The mixture of flavors blended into something incredible, something that can only be fully explained and understood when you try one yourself."-Michael S.
"Thick slabs of brisket topped with pickles, onion, and tangy Carolina BBQ sauce on toast-a BBQ classic done right at the MT Smokehouse."-Michel T.
"A generous stack of tender and flavorful pulled pork tossed with the Carolina BBQ sauce was quite satisfying. The sauce was just the right amount of tang and spice with not too much sweet. I will be back and look forward to trying the Montana Huckleberry BBQ sauce. The price was right too hitting under $10 for a big portion." -Lyndsey O.
The shortest distance from the lifts with access to all amenities while not waiting too long, the MT Smokehouse is a great lunch spot with a plethora of delicious sandwich, chips, and drink options.
Photo: Michel Tallichet
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