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
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.
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
Although we boast a plethora of evergreen trees in and around Big Sky, the fall foliage is still not to be missed in the mountains. Check out any of these hikes for an adventure into the Big Sky wild this autumn.
Storm Castle. Hike to the amazing Storm Castle rock formation for a bird's eye view of fall colors in the Gallatin Canyon. The Storm Castle hike is well worth the incline as the reward offers incredible views in every direction.
Lava Lake. Mystique best describes how Lava Lake looks in the autumn. A fantastic hike any time of year, Lava Lake's crisp aesthetic stands out in the fall air.
Cinnamon Lookout. Just down Highway 191 from Big Sky Resort is a 4.4 mile (one way for a total of 9 miles to the lookout and back) forested trail to a beautiful lookout in 360 degrees of the Gallatin Canyon and Taylor-Hilgard Basin.
Sphinx. Just a Paul Bunyan stone's throw from Lone Peak, Sphinx Mountain is the only peak in the Madison Range Crest that consists of a conglomerate from the post-Mesozoic era. Sphinx is also one of the most fantastic fall hikes with a decent chance of seeing a bear gather the last of the season's calories before hibernation.
Porcupine Creek Trail. Climb nine miles up to the headwaters of Onion Basin for views of Lone Mountain on this fun high meadow hike. The colors of fall may not be the bright purples and pinks of wild flower season, but the earth tones and hues of red, brown, and orange are not to be missed.
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.
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