In preparation for the beginning of a new ski season at Big Sky Resort I am participating in what I like to call the 25 Days of Winter leading up to Nov. 27. Here's my take on days 16-20:
Day 20, 19, 18:
Luck. Being lucky as a skier means finding the perfect line, day after day; avoiding injury; and creating luck by seeking adventure. To make these three lucky things happen it's important to practice the following:
1) Befriend the right people. I like to know the people who beat me to the first tram on a powder day because they can tell me where the best powder is off the top of Lone Peak, and have no problem telling me if I buy them a beer at Whiskey Jack's later.
2) Get into good ski shape now. The best way to avoid injury is to be in good shape. Check out Fitness Fusion's Ski Conditioning class in Big Sky or one's local gym.
3) Know the trails and trust one's gut. Trusting my gut when I'm planning the next big adventure is important to being lucky. Whether I'm traversing to the Dirtbag Wall or the North Summit Snowfield, getting lucky with fresh tracks and fun can only happen if I'm going with my gut. That also means: Know the trails. Knowing the trail map is easier with an awesome brand new Big Sky Resort map (see below).
Create a playlist. Although taking in the solitude of nature is important, it's also key to have the right music when taking a few Andesite laps or just driving up the mountain for a day of shredding. My playlist this year starts with The White Stripes and Mos Def and ends with Reel Big Fish.
Make multiple plans for the winter. I ski Big Sky Resort almost every day during the winter season, but I also have my goals for skiing Big Sky, which include: Skiing the North Summit Snowfield, skiing the Big Couloir, and hitting the Headwaters. However, every year is a different snow year so I have Plans A, B, and C every time I go out just in case weather prevents A or B from happening that day. I'm always open to new things because this might lead to an unexpected adventure of a lifetime.
Check back in five days for days 15-11.
As part of my reflection for day 23 of the 25 Days of Winter I'm looking back over past year's videos. February and March 2014 videos stand out above the rest from the last year, but I'd seen those more times than I can count. After digging through the Big Sky Resort YouTube archives I found one from early last year that I missed. The following video recapitulates how I feel this time of year and how I wish snow came as quickly as it does here.
Video: Chris Kamman
"If I had a penny for every time I found myself craving a slightly smaller and rounder-than-average peak, I'd still be a penniless ski bum. Size matters, especially when it comes to mountains."
These are the opening lines of Drew Pogge's Skiing Magazine article "Size Matters" about Big Sky Resort. Pogge covers everything big about Big Sky: The Big Couloir, Big boards, big events, and why it's the Biggest Skiing in America to local and tourist alike. But even more than that, Pogge captures everything I've felt and wanted to express when talking about Big Sky, but was unable to capture in one sentence or one phrase. Conclusion: It's best captured in one run off Lone Peak.
Whether the one run is the Big Couloir, the North Summit Snowfield, Mr. K., or Buffalo Jump, it's all about finding what the Biggest Skiing in America means to each individual. Pogge delivers this theme through insight from a local bartender, schoolteacher, mountain guide, and naming Big Sky an "iconoclastic Frank Zappa mashup" all the while recognizing the underlying Montana culture that also influences the bigness of Big Sky.
"...the prevailing style is to go big, go fast, and don't stop."
We may have a style all our own out here in Big Sky, Montana, but what can one expect when we ski a peak as gnarly, fluffy, steep, and wondrous as Lone Peak?
Pogge's Montana-spirit captures how we feel. But don't just take my word for it, check out the full article in the November 2014 issue of Skiing Magazine and decide for yourself.
Somewhere around the seventh or eighth arcing turn through the untracked snow, it hit me: skiing deep powder is as close to flying as you can get. It was a bluebird day in February, and Big Sky was in prime condition-the temps were cold, all the lifts were open, and the snow had fallen every night for the last two weeks. I was on the south side of Lone Peak, weaving through tight trees, fluffy snow blowing up past my hips with each sharp turn. The powder was light, bouncing me weightlessly down the hill at top speed. Every tiny shift to my board floated me in a new direction. I edged hard, a wave of snow blasting over my head, and I sat down laughing. With endless blue skies above and miles of perfect snow under my board, it was hard not to smile.
As a Montana native, I'd been going to Big Sky since Clinton was in office. Lone Peak couldn't hold any more surprises-but in just 15 minutes, Ben proved me wrong. As my Mountain Sports guide, he found a secret forest covered in deep powder you might never find without a professional's help. He skied down and stopped next to me.
"Where do you want to go?" Ben asked, unfolding the trail map and tracing his finger over the run we'd
just done. For over ten years, Ben had spent every season on the snow, guiding guests, teaching people to ski, and sampling every one of the hundreds of runs that Big Sky has to offer. "No matter what you're in the mood for, I can make it happen." The first run we'd been on was incredible, but I wanted to stump him. Thanks to the recent integration with Moonlight Basin, Big Sky now stretched across more than 5,800 acres of powder-and there was no way he could show me it all.
"Show me everything," I said.
He laughed. "You know... I think we can do that."
By the end of the day, every muscle in my legs ached. From the top of Lone Peak to the bottom of Moonlight Basin, we'd covered untold miles of snow and thousands of feet of elevation. Part of me wanted just one more long, cruising groomer, but my quads wouldn't allow it. Ben laughed as I struggled to unclip my bindings at the base area. "You know, we didn't have to ski full-tilt all day long," he said. "But you did want to see all of Big Sky... I'd say we just about did it."
I glanced back at Lone Peak with a big smile on my face, and it was like looking at a brand new mountain.
"Thank you so much, Ben. Now... when can we go again?"
-Dave G Reuss
Contact the Mountain Village Snowsports School at (406) 995-5743, or at email@example.com to book a guided tour of Big Sky Resort. Also pick up the latest issue of Live Big Magazine at Big Sky Resort to read the full article on Dave's adventures.
Photo © Ryan Day Thompson, 2014 | www.ryandaythompson.com
Here's a video look back to mid-December 2012 when 60 inches fell in one week, and waist-deep powder was all we could find. If this doesn't inspire for the winter ahead, I don't know what will.
Filmed and edited by Chris Kamman
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