It was closing weekend at Big Sky and that can only mean one thing: Pond Skim. The crew is packed up, ready to go and we got an early start making our way up to Big Sky. This year would be different than last because this year I was going to be one of those skimmers.
The mountain fills with speckles of people as they await the debauchery that they are about to see, and I head to the top to make my debut as the fastest 80's skier that ever skimmed a pond. To say I was excited was a complete understatement. In a matter of minutes, the announcer calls my name, I jolt over to the start and I am ripping down the icy entrance switch as I await the inevitable crash into the water. I almost want to not make it across so I can get out of this suit that my dad wore every day in the 80s - the smell follows that description as well. As I am about to hit the water, I start day dreaming about how big this day has been and how Big Sky Resort closing weekend is and has been one of the best weekends of my life. The skies are blue, the beers are cold, and the onsies are vibrant. Big Sky closing weekend is something that anyone who calls themselves a skier should experience.
My first and second times into the North Summit Snowfield happened these past two weeks. After two solid 5"+ snowfalls on Lone Peak the skiing off the Tram was phenomenal. And when the sun came out and everyone fled to the groomers, the skiing in the north-facing protected 4,150 vertical feet North Summit Snowfield was still amazing.
With a walk-on Tram and the wind circulating snow into Great Falls last week I could have skied my same line over and over again with fresh tracks every time.
The snowfield, like any big mountain skiing, is something to respect, but it's also something that gives a lot of fun and a lot of powder love. Not only was this April Sunday my first time with a walk-on Tram, but it was also only my second time in the snowfield. I tagged along with my friend Kevin and shredded Great Falls for the first time. Named appropriately after five sets of waterfalls in Great Falls, Montana, this run flows steep, deep, and fast with such billowy pockets of snow and only a few obstacles to maneuver. The run out back to Six Shooter Lift also holds soft snow, even pitches, and little jibs on the side of the runs.
Although I've only experienced a few runs in the North Summit Snowfield, I'm finding us to be old friends who are reuniting under the best of circumstances. Happy to have knowledgeable friends who have shown me the ropes, I now can more confidently go through that gate and shred one of the most unique runs in the Rocky Mountains.
Kevin at the bottom of Great Falls.
Photo: Lonnie Ball
The live music scene in Big Sky, Montana, is unexpected and fantastic. Not only does Big Sky Resort offer live après music nearly every day during the winter across three outlets, but Scissorbill's Saloon, Ousel & Spur Pizza, The Gallatin Riverhouse, and By Word of Mouth also offer a variety of live music weekly. For a town of 2,000 people the live music can't be beat.
Live music suggestions during a winter visit:
1. Whiskey Jack's. Easily the best après food (Nachos!), but also Whiskey Jack's has the best vibe for music having featured Big Sky locals the Driftwood Grinners to post-Pond Skim with Milton Menasco. Throughout the winter and summer seasons Whiskey Jack's also offers fantastic late night music with Pinky and the Floyd, Cure for the Common, or Jerry Joseph and the Jack Mormons.
2. Ousel & Spur Pizza Co. Located next to the movie theater in the meadow, Ousel & Spur has great late night live music with a lot of the same musicians Whiskey Jack's entertains, but in a more intimate setting.
3. Gallatin Riverhouse. The Riverhouse, as it's known locally, is a must-do for a more country music feel. Go get some fried chicken and check out Bottom of the Barrel.
4. Open Mic Night at By Word of Mouth. By Word of Mouth (BYWOM) has open mic night once a week all winter long. It's great for finding out just how talented ones friends are.
5. Carabiner Lounge. Carabiner's cozy fireplace, chairs, and excellent service makes for a great setting to listen to après or late night music every day during winter season. I love it for a late burger dinner with solo acts Mike Haring or Kevin Fabozzi.
Bill Payne and the Hooligans at Whiskey Jacks.
It's always unexpected. Those April powder days that come every year, yet we are always surprised by their mid-February feel. With only about a week into the month of April, it's been one for the books. Not only with fantastic events like the first ever ski mountaineering race, Shedhorn SkiMo, at Big Sky Resort, but also a whiskey tasting post-race to boot. It's days like April 6, 7, and 8, and events like these that make living in Big Sky a continual working vacation.
Video: Michael Jezak
My children are easily mesmerized by mountains so it didn't take much to convince them that a trip to Montana was a good idea. It's also no secret that I have a deep love affair with Big Sky Country.
This last trip we took a couple weeks ago had special meaning to me because it's where my boys mastered their very first black diamonds. My boys collect ski resort stickers and place them all over their helmets because each mountain we visit has a special place in our hearts. But when you have budding ski racers, you know you have to experience the Biggest Skiing in America - which is why we came to Big Sky Resort. And this place is designed for active families. We planned our trip with a few other spring break moms and kids, friends of the family, so that we could all enjoy a little getaway time.
Perhaps the best part of the trip for me was that Kids Ski Free when staying with their family at Big Sky Resort, which is a huge factor when booking my ski trips with the boys. I not only enjoyed the family value when staying at the resort, but also the proximity to Après-ski, which is done just right. Big Sky Resort caters to families by offering a Kids Club during après ski 4pm - 6pm so we could enjoy a hot buttered rum without boring our kids, plus Kids Club is free.
My Mom's Pick for Après-ski: When the boys did their last run my other mom-friends and I would hang out at Everett's 8800 Mountain Top Restaurant and in the base area on the patio of the Carabiner Lounge.
When we weren't skiing we were swimming in the outdoor pool amongst the beautiful snowy mountains. Big Sky knows my kids love to swim all year round, and also knows that the harder kids play the better they sleep. Our trip to Big Sky was one for the books. We'll never forget all the fun we had or how impressive it is to see my sons make their first black diamond turns at Big Sky Resort.
Kimberley Blaine is the producer of the web series, www.TheGoToMom.TV follow her on Instagram instagram.com/thegotomom/ or tweet her at @TheGoToMom and get the scoop on more of her travels as #ZenMomTravel #SkiMoms
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