In preparation for the beginning of a new ski season I am participating in what I like to call the 25 Days of Winter leading up to Nov. 27.
The 25 Days of Winter follows the elements of Advent, but with more emphasis on exploration of nature, skiing, and the mountains. Advent from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming," is the word used to prepare us for a major event. Historically, in western civilization, it is used around Christmas time to look forward to the coming of the Holidays. But out West, where the earth runs deep and adventures come by just walking out one's door, I'm using it to look forward to the coming of winter ski season and all it will bring. Over the next 25 days I will be writing about the rituals surrounding what it takes to get ready for the next big adventure.
Gear inventory. A quick inventory of gear ensures I am properly ready to take on the 60+ days on the hill. I've noted the upgrades to my attire in two previous blogs this fall, thus I am ahead of schedule on the 25 Days of Winter.
Pray for Snow. This could be: Physical bend-in-knee prayer if one hails from that background, participating in Grizzly Outfitters Pray for Snow Party on December 6, or just thinking about snow on a daily basis from here through the end of winter. The latter is my preferred method of "praying for snow."
Reflection. Look back on previous winters at Big Sky Resort by perusing old photos, videos, texts sent via Lone Peak, and reflect on the great times that can only be had by being at home in the mountains.
Generosity. This one may seem out of place, but if one gives a little they get a lot in return. For example, the more snow we make in the off season, the more we will get from Mother Nature during the season. Generosity also means being generous to one's friends this winter season. Now, I'm not saying give them the best line of the century, but buy them a beer after snaking their line. Also, encourage friends to discover new trails and invent new lines.
Stoke. What better way to get stoked for the coming winter than to share that excitement with others? For me, getting stoked for ski season means the obligatory watching of the new Matchstick film, but also staying positive when I have to shovel my car out of two feet of snow before ski season is even here. Positivity is the key to stoke; exploration the key to adventure.
Check back in five days for days 20-16 and keep an eye on the skies.
Photo: Chris Kamman
Photo: Ryan Day Thompson
"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
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
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