As the first snowflakes fall from the sky the ski season ahead begins in the minds of all skiers and snowboarders. Powder seekers probe the same, "Where and how will I find the best snow experience?" Big dumps don't always mean better skiing and they can fall far and few between. Factors such as consistent snowfall, elevation, location, and aspect play a big role in a quality ski experience year after year. Tony Crocker, Princeton educated statistician and avid skier, wants to know and he takes the time to pencil the numbers.
Tony Crocker has been crunching data for 30 years and reports it all on his website bestsnow.net. Tony started first with statistics then found skiing in 1976 after college; from 1978 onward skiing has become his favorite avocation. Skier at heart and statistician by trade, snowfall accumulation naturally became his fascination and quality ski experiences his passion. He found sites that gathered snowfall data, which prompted him to start his own analysis. Not only does he keep track of snowfall he also factors in aspect, elevation and puts his own mathematical touch in determining snow quality as a very important factor when choosing a ski destination. Tony also keeps track of every place he has skied, how many days, vertical feet and the snow and weather conditions. As of July 2013 Tony has logged 1,169 skier days, 12% were powder days, 22,301,000 vertical ft. across four continents and 182 ski resorts. Big Sky Resort, home of America's Biggest Skiing, boasts 5,750 acres, 4,350 vertical drop, more than 250+ named trails, and something for everyone to enjoy. Including, according to Tony's number sleuthing, consistent and reliable snow. But why is the snow so reliable?
It's more than those stellar flakes stacking up on the windowsill. Factor in the elevation, Big Sky starts at 6,850 ft. and tops out at 11,166 ft.; the location, northern US at the 45th parallel; and the temperatures, an average daily temp of 25 degrees. All of these variables aid in snow preservation. Meaning: The cold smoke snow falls and stays cold maintaining a very pleasurable surface to edge or float on.
Tony's calculations also indicate that in a La Niña year Big Sky will see 112% of average snowfall, and 97% in an El Niño year. Big Sky Resort has eight automated weather sites on Lone Mountain. Three of the eight sites collect snowfall numbers: Lobo located at an elevation of 8,900 ft., Bavaria at 9,600 ft., and Look Out Ridge at 9,000 ft. These sites are complex in that they require a remote connection, constant attention, and an actual person to swipe the boards clean every day. Each site costs ~$7,000 initially and needs consistent maintenance. The sites are used daily to assess wind speed, wind direction, snowfall, snow water equivalent, and temperature. The automated weather site's information is available to anyone on bigskyresort.com/snow and also mtavalanche.com.
In the ski industry snow is our greatest asset. The snow brings with it morale and the hero ski trip stories that will be told and retold for years. At Big Sky Resort, the business is commonly referred to as snow farming. When the crop is good, people come to harvest it with sticks and smiles and whoops under the chairlift. According to Tony Crocker's calculation Big Sky Resort is the destination for a consistent and reliable harvest.
For the full story and more stats on Big Sky Resort's consistent and reliable snowfall pick up the Winter issue of Live Big Magazine at Big Sky Resort.
Oktoberfest began in Munich, Germany in 1810 as a festival to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, and has since transformed into the world's largest fair.
It wasn't until the 1880s that Oktoberfest added breweries as a way to draw more people to the festival. Today, more than 6.5 million people attend Oktoberfest, but only six breweries provide the beer. Beer must be brewed within the city limits of Munich and conform to the Reinheitsgebot ("German Beer Purity Law") to be an official Oktoberfest brew.
Although Big Sky Resort's Oktoberfest provides beer brewed outside of Munich and only lasts three days, instead of the traditional 17-day festival, it's a mighty great time with beer specials, food specials, golf tournaments, and a traditional Oktoberfest dinner. Dinner includes: Bratwursts with curried ketchup and whole grain mustard, braised red cabbage, German-style potato salad, apple strudel, and more!
"Mehr Bier, Bitte!"
When I graduated college a year ago, I never thought I would move back to Montana much less still be living in Montana, but I wouldn't have it any other way. All through college I was determined to end up in a big city with a fast-pace and a high-profile job, but that wasn't the calling for me.
I grew up outside of Bozeman where I was always hiking, skiing or camping with my parents. I enjoyed that lifestyle, but I also enjoyed traveling to those fast-paced cities I wanted to live in some day. When I graduated, like most people my age, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree. I came home and got a job at the closest faraway place I could think of: The Huntley Front Desk. Now that I am wrapping up my third season in Big Sky I couldn't ask for a better place to be than in this beautiful mountain community.
There is something great about living in a resort town like Big Sky. You get the hustle and bustle of a city from time to time with peak seasons of guests, but you can also get away from it all within 10 minutes and find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no one in sight. Having that balance in life is something that not many people can say they have. The locals here all say that "we live where others vacation" but it is so much more than that. The people here all have things in common, but the best and most important thing we have in common is that we all really want to be here.
When socializing with these great people, I love to enjoy the activities and things that motivated me to move here in the first place. Such as walking to Ousel Falls, hiking up Yellow Mule or just sitting on my back deck enjoying an evening, there's always something to enjoy or discover outside. I also love trying out new restaurants and revisiting old favorites, and going to Music in the Mountains on Thursdays in the summer. For such a small town, we sure do have some great food and music to share.
In my new position as the Owner Communication Manager, I work with the owners of our hotel rooms and condos. Basically, I get to work with people who love this place as much as I do. I can go on a new hike in the area and tell someone about it and they are just as excited to discover it as I am. But overall, it is the people who live here and vacation here, people who legitimately love what they do and where they get to do it, that are the reason this place is so great. While I had other big city plans for my life, I would not change where I am at right now for anything.
Ellie (left) on the Ousel Falls hike in Big Sky.
Stoked for winter? I am too. And what better way to sustain that stoke for the 65 days until Opening Day at Big Sky Resort than to catch as many ski and snowboard movies as possible this fall. Here's a look at my fall of 2014 favorites:
1) Matchstick Productions' Days of My Youth
Big Sky Resort will be at Days of My Youth premiere in Missoula Oct. 3 and Big Sky Oct. 18. Come say hi!
2) Jeremy Jones' Higher
Jeremy Jones has been blazing a snowboard documentary trail for five years now as he explores the limits of what big mountain freeride snowboarding means in Deeper (2010), Further (2012), and Higher (2014). Check out Higher in Bozeman on Oct. 9 and Missoula on Oct. 10.
3) Teton Gravity Research's Almost Ablaze
TGR continues to impress with film from athletes Angel Collinson, Dana Flahr, Ian McIntosh, and Sage Cattabriga Alosa. See it with Big Sky Resort Sept. 26 in Big Sky.
4) Warren Miller's No Turning Back
Anything Warren Miller produces hits close to home as he resides in Big Sky so much of the year. Just hearing that iconic voice of ski movies makes me want to ski. This year it's no different. Check out No Turning Back in Helena Oct. 24, Missoula Oct. 25, and Bozeman Oct. 26.
As fashion week comes to a close in New York City and Los Angeles and as ski season moves to the forefront of my mind, it's time to talk ski fashion. Ski fashion is far from my area of expertise as I have worn the same winter jacket and pants since 10th grade. Last year it was new pants and a new helmet, but this year it's new goggles and a new jacket.
What can I say about ski fashion?
1) Assess what is in my closet. Does any of my gear have duct tape keeping it together? Will this keep me warm? These are my top 2 questions for gear assessment because as much as I want to look fashionable, practicality comes first.
2) Grab The September Issue (aka: the gear guide issue) of a ski/snowboard magazine. Not only do these magazines know what's best for spending the majority of one's winter outside, but they also often have cute models to display this gear.
3) Shop ski swaps. Sure fashion week in New York doesn't parade around last year's mock turtle neck, but ski swaps are home to hidden gems.
4) Figure out what is necessary to buy and what can wait until next year. I try to balance my ski gear spending with apres and groceries needs and suggest everyone do the same. After all, what's the point of fashionable ski wear without the chance to apres with it?
5) No matter what any ski bum or grommet may say, everyone in the ski industry cares about what they look like on the hill. It's in our human ego DNA. That said, I try to care less and less every year because new ski gear is not cheap, and, because, when it comes down to it fashion + skiing = style, but style only gets me so far. I still have to ski fast, ski hard, and love what I do.
As summer season at Big Sky Resort comes to a close there are still some great deals at Big Sky Sports on last year's gear (highly recommend this), and The Burton Signature Store also can't be beat on style. Check those out and shred in style this winter.
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