The Traverses of Big Sky
The High Alpine
By Dan Egan and Ben Brosseau
“Turkey Traverse” is one of the more famous traverses at the resort. This is visible as you ride up the Powder Seeker lift across the top of the bowl. There are two ways to access the traverse: either by exiting to the left off of the lift, placing you on the highest track, or exiting to the right off of the lift and crossing under the lift to access the slightly lower track. These are well-traveled, and you should anticipate encountering all sorts of abilities on these routes as they lead to some of the best terrain within Big Sky Resort. The traverse’s tracks are often wavey and have wind drifts and or steep ramps and drops along the way. Keep in mind the higher tracks increase your access to the terrain on the far end of the bowl, however, skiers and riders can take a slightly lower trajectory and still access steep slopes.
As you exit the Lone Peak Tram at the summit, you will see the start of Liberty Traverse slightly off to your right at the top of a small rise. Skiers should put their skis on in the flat area just below the rise in the slope. Snowboarders will benefit from walking up the incline and gearing up on the slope just above the traverse entrance. There are no groomed slopes off of the tram — this is all advanced terrain. Skiers and riders should be skilled in side-country techniques with a mastery of slowing down on steep terrain, side-stepping, and skidding down the slope in varying conditions.
This traverse is well-marked and runs along a series of snow fences that run horizontally across the slope that leads to Liberty Bowl and the Yeti Traverse. The main track “zigs & zags” several times across the slopes and has a few 90-degree turns between the “zigs & zags”. It is best to stop either above or below these turns. Stopping in the middle of the turn often causes collisions. Keep in mind these are not ski trails, so linking turns in the track is not advised. Generally, your speed can be maintained and there are areas to pull off and look down the track for location references.
At the end of the “zigs & zags,” you will be above a few fences that are running vertically up the slope. The best way to navigate this section is to sidestep or power slide down along the fence. The fences hold more snow than the open slopes. From the top of these fences, you will be able to see the green dots that mark the easiest way down Liberty Bowl.
Yeti Traverse is marked by a fence only and is located to the left of the bottom of the vertical fences of the Liberty Traverse. It accesses advanced terrain with no easy way down. The Yeti Traverse provides access to both the double black diamond-rated Lenin and Marx. This traverse often has exposed rocks and wind drifts on it and crosses the steep entrance to Lenin and the Dictator Chutes. To access Marx, continue on to the next fence directly along the route.
The Gullies Traverse is located a third of the way down Marx on the left-hand side. It is clearly marked and there is a fence that winds around the corner of the mountain to the Gullies that are located above the Bowl. While riding up the Powder Seeker Lift, you can look above the Turkey Traverse and see the Gullies, which are steep narrow double-black diamond slopes. It should be noted that the Gullies are what is considered exposed terrain in that they are multiple cliffs and exposed rocks below. Extreme caution is the best way to approach the Gullies Traverse and move slowly as you exit the traverse onto the slope. Gully #1 is the furthest to the left and offers the widest descent.
Cron’s Traverse is located halfway down Gully #1 on the left, marked with a fence, it winds around the corner to the famous powder Cron’s slope that ends up above the top of the Powder Seeker Lift. It is a narrow traverse and comes to an abrupt end on the steep Cron’s slope.