Curiosity is on the rise during the fall season as we all get excited for the announcement of Big Sky Resort's signature events such as Dummy Jump, Headwaters Spring Runoff, Snobar, and Pond Skim. Questions begin circulating: What will the shape of the pond look like this year? Will the Headwaters' venue change? How much bigger and better can I make my Dummy? Time for the questions to continue as the calendar takes its final shape and dates are set. It is about time for another great winter at Big Sky Resort.
I have my favorite winter events, but I can't help but be excited about each event that gets me out on the hill, meeting with guests and competitors, or watching Special Olympians take the snowshoe course head on.
Smash Life Banked Slalom comes back for its fourth year in a row and this time in a two-day best-of format on Jan. 10-11. The two-day fundraiser for A-Rob's Plant-a-Seed Foundation displays some of the best snowboarders in the Northwest and puts them on a banked course. After raising funds for a good cause and banking turns, January in Big Sky means one thing: Snobar. Snobar 2015 promises to be full of new surprises with a possible location and shape change. Check it out Jan. 17 and 24.
February brings with it a lot of snow, but also the best bluegrass festival around. On Feb. 4-8 don't miss Big Sky Big Grass with Leftover Salmon, The Travelin' McCourys, Della Mae, J2B2, Pert' Near Sandstone, John Jorgenson, Billy Strings & Don Julin, Two Bit Franks, and much more. It'll be another year to remember.
Ski or snowboard during President's Day weekend and then join us on Feb. 21 for Dummy Jump. I was sad to see that not every dummy made it off the jump last year (Ballerina Tatiana, r.i.p.), but 2015 is their chance to fly.
March is the month for events with four major competitions, four Sunset Saturdays, and one furry friend fundraiser. Special Olympics of Montana comes back this March and spectators are more than welcome. Bring a cowbell, skis, sack lunch and cheer on some of the best athletes around. Then come back two weeks later, cowbell in tow, and participate or rally behind Juniors and Adults as they descend the Headwaters in the 10th annual Headwaters Spring Runoff March 13-15. The following weekend, March 21, Big Sky Resort hosts the Smokin' Aces Slopestyle Tour finals. Although the venue is still to be determined, it's fair to say it will be one of the best spectator events in the state. Subaru Freeride Series also returns this year for big mountain riding. On March 25-30 come check out pros and pro-ams from Big Sky and around the world and explore Subaru Winter Fest sponsor village in the Mountain Base Area.
When almost all the Sunset Saturdays have been skied, dummies have been destroyed, prizes have been won, and fun-loving dogs have been adopted at the Heart of the Valley Snowshoe Shuffle, there's still Pond Skim. Pond Skim is the second-to-last day of the season, and brings with it a whole new perspective on winter fun. Pond Skim is one of the most entertaining events. Period. But it's also one of the most communal at Big Sky Resort. Where bonds are formed, over nearly-freezing cold water, and not forgotten. Just like winter 2014-15.
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
Regular readers of Living Big blog know I regularly write about my favorite tree runs at Big Sky Resort. My heart longs for the trees where five to seven turns are carved out like a racecar driver on a canyon road with perfect line of sight. And today it's like Christmas in October.
Big Sky Resort's Mountain Operations spent summer 2014 carving out even more perfect turns in some of my favorite trees: Southern Comfort, Soul Hole, Tango Trees, and Mr. K. Specifically: Two new runs between Sacajawea and El Dorado named Lizette and Pomp after Sacajawea's children; one new run between Mr. K and Lower Morning Star named Lois Lane; better line-of-sight in Soul Hole (one of the most wonderful tree runs at the resort); and more glading in Tango Trees below the triple chair for a total of 54 more acres bringing Big Sky Resort to an epic 5,804 acres.
The perks of glading go beyond my own ski self-indulgence. Forest health, improved wildlife habitat, line-of-sight for riding, and forest fire prevention are just a few of the advantages to glading, but the first thing that comes to mind for me is: more tree skiing.
Not only is glading key to forest health because dead and downed trees are removed, but it's also beneficial for skiers and snowboarders because runs are improved. This is something I will always love about the ski industry, and something I respect about my home mountain, Big Sky.
When it comes down to it I just can't wait to explore fresh glades this winter.
What does it mean to be in this place and time? Why are we here in Big Sky and not anywhere else? The following video asks these questions, and takes winter stoke to a whole new level. Enjoy it, absorb it, and tune into what the winter season will bring.
Edited by Michael Jezak
Although we boast a plethora of evergreen trees in and around Big Sky, the fall foliage is still not to be missed in the mountains. Check out any of these hikes for an adventure into the Big Sky wild this autumn.
Storm Castle. Hike to the amazing Storm Castle rock formation for a bird's eye view of fall colors in the Gallatin Canyon. The Storm Castle hike is well worth the incline as the reward offers incredible views in every direction.
Lava Lake. Mystique best describes how Lava Lake looks in the autumn. A fantastic hike any time of year, Lava Lake's crisp aesthetic stands out in the fall air.
Cinnamon Lookout. Just down Highway 191 from Big Sky Resort is a 4.4 mile (one way for a total of 9 miles to the lookout and back) forested trail to a beautiful lookout in 360 degrees of the Gallatin Canyon and Taylor-Hilgard Basin.
Sphinx. Just a Paul Bunyan stone's throw from Lone Peak, Sphinx Mountain is the only peak in the Madison Range Crest that consists of a conglomerate from the post-Mesozoic era. Sphinx is also one of the most fantastic fall hikes with a decent chance of seeing a bear gather the last of the season's calories before hibernation.
Porcupine Creek Trail. Climb nine miles up to the headwaters of Onion Basin for views of Lone Mountain on this fun high meadow hike. The colors of fall may not be the bright purples and pinks of wild flower season, but the earth tones and hues of red, brown, and orange are not to be missed.
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