On the last Sunday in February I skied up to the Tram right behind Lonnie and Mary Ball. Lonnie, who is famous for being the first skier down Corbet's Couloir in Jackson Hole, greeted me with a smile and asked how my day of skiing had been.
"Amazing," I responded without hesitation. Big Sky Resort had received 16" the day before, making Sunday an epic powder day. I'd stuck mostly to the Shedhorn trees, I told Lonnie, but I needed to get at least one good Tram lap before the day was out. Lonnie then asked if I was with anyone and if I was interested in making that one Tram lap Dakota Bowl. Dakota Bowl lies on the South Face just beyond the Liberty Bowl Gate, new territory I was stoked to explore, albeit a little nervous. I had been skiing all day with my snowboarder friend Kevin, and he quickly interjected that he loves Dakota Bowl and was thinking that's the run we should do too. Between Lonnie, Mary and Kevin, fate won.
I'd only ever skied with Lonnie and Mary once before, but the key to skiing with Lonnie is: Ski for the camera.
We had just entered Dakota and scoped out some lines. Lonnie charged first to set up for some photos as Kevin followed, popping a wheelie for most of the first face, his powdery wake leaving a trail behind him.
Through Dakota Bowl we went through part of Hanging Valley (so much powder!) and cut over to the Badlands for light tree skiing with blower face shots all the way down.
I love meeting up with new people and skiing where they like to ski because I learn about new favored spots around the mountain. Obviously Dakota Bowl isn't new for a lot of people, however, I couldn't have found three better riders to introduce me to that awesome terrain.
Skier: Mary Ball Photo: Lonnie Ball
Skier: Anna Husted Photo: Lonnie Ball
Often big mountain skiing is seen through the point of view of the camera operator from distant peaks or looking up from below, capturing the rider in a perfect line. Videographer Michael Jezak worked with a team of great riders, GoPros in hand, to capture the mountain's point of view, so to speak. Shot entirely with GoPro cameras, the latest video from Big Sky Powder Networks takes viewers into the trees, down steep Lone Peak runs, tapping rails in Swifty Terrain Park, and captures the vibe of how it feels when February brings great snow storms to epic mountains. Riding Big Sky Resort has been fantastic since February 4 storm and only forecasts for more fun to come.
Video: Michael Jezak
Before my son and I arrived at Big Sky, one thing was clear. We weren't going to be able to ski it all.
Big Sky is an enormous resort with 5,800 acres, 30 chairlifts, and terrain draped across four distinct mountain peaks.
And while we weren't even sure we'd make it to each lift, we pledged to get up early, ski all day and explore as much of this Montana mountain as possible.
And for two days, we did just that.
Led by a friend, and inspired by the trail map, we spent our first day doing everything from skiing untracked corduroy on Andesite Mountain to hiking the Headwaters boot pack to the A-Z Chutes. We made at least one run on each of the resort's mountains, and rode about half the lifts, including the Lone Peak Tram with its breathtaking "don't miss" views.
By evening we were beat.
Waking up to fresh snow on the ground and more falling from the sky revives even the most tired legs, and day two found us repeating some of our favorites, while continuing the exploration on Lone Mountain's South Side.
And while we certainly saw a lot, we didn't even come close to seeing it all.
Here's why we'll be back and why your family should definitely plan a trip to Big Sky.
Whether you've got two days or a week, or (even better!) two weeks, you don't want to miss "America's Biggest Skiing."
Check out more stories from The Brave Ski Mom here.
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
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