Solid-gold Guiding: A Day with the Mountain Sports School

Written by Dave G Reuss on at

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 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 |

Winter Events: Highlights from a fun season ahead

Written by Anna Husted on at

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.

Video: December Powder Days

Written by Anna Husted & Chris Kamman on at

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

Glading Update: Coniferous stashes

Written by Anna Husted on at

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.


Video: Winter, then and now

Written by Anna Husted & Michael Jezak on at

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

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