The Traverses of Big Sky: The Underappreciated Avenues to Adventure
By Dan Egan and Ben Brosseau
The traverses of Big Sky are legendary: the Yeti Traverse off of Lone Peak, the Turkey Traverse in the Bowl, or the Alder Gulch and Cold Spring Traverse are just a few that hold the allure of mountain lore. Traveling these traverses, you will be transported from one adventure to another, and tapping into this horizontal network will expand your mountain experience.
There are a few traversing basics to keep in mind that will help you navigate the sometimes lumpy, wavey, and jagged routes around the resort. First, these are not trails, their purpose is for transportation, skiers and riders need to have the skills such as steering, coasting, edging, and braking without turning your skis or board sideways across the narrow track. Second, don’t stop on the track, if you need to stop, pull off the downhill side of the track. Third, these are horizontal routes, so typically you don’t accelerate, so take a deep breath, relax and go with the flow and enjoy the journey.
When you ride a traverse, it is better to be on the low side of the track rather than the uphill side of the track. This will provide more space for your skis or board to maneuver. Also, on the low side, there is more forgiving snow that will help you to slow down. Please keep in mind locals travel these routes regularly, so, pace yourself and time it so you can have space to travel at your own speed. If a faster skier or rider overtakes you, hold your course and allow them to pass. The faster skier will avoid you and not moving erratically will allow for a smooth pass.
It is not safe to remove your skis or board on a traverse. Ski and snowboard boots are not secure on rutted, steep slopes. The steel edges on your skis or snowboard are always safer than walking down and/or across slopes.
Most of these traverses are visible from the lift or the top of a run, some are through gates that are open or closed by Ski Patrol, others have fences on the downhill side and many are just well-worn paths across the slopes. Please consider going to most of these locations with a Big Sky Mountain Sports Guide.
In this series about the traverses of Big Sky, we’ll introduce the official and not-so-official traverses in the following zones: High Alpine Traverses and Challenger & North Side Traverses.