Ski Blog... Been doing this since 2005!

June 02, 2018

The Day My Life Changed - 2017 Edition

On December 22nd, 2017, I was sitting in the Emergency Room at the Phoenix VA Hospital having yet another MRI for the sinus surgery in 2011 that almost killed me. I got poked in the brain, had a sinus leak, got meningitis, almost died, had to have brain surgery, and have had chronic migraines ever since. I have skied a total of 10 days plus or minus since. I sold my condo at Brian Head in 2013. Settled in to my post-ski life.

I had an epiphany sitting on that gurney wondering when the headaches will stop. What if they don't? What am I going to do? Am I going to waste my 40's living in the suburbs of Phoenix in a beautiful home in the desert or am I going to return to my roots, put on my boots and start taking turns again?

My wife said, When are you thinking? I said Tomorrow. She said, but it is three days before Christmas. I said, then we better hurry up. The next day, we started selling or giving away everything we owned.

I am now a resident of Big Sky, Montana. Wife, youngest two kids, and a flatlander old man who skipped lunch at work as a telecommuting Systems Engineer for a day in April to take turns for the first time in two years off the top of Ramcharger on a powder day with his 17 year old. Almost 6,000 acres just up the road. Gallatin River off my back porch.

It is time to make the next thing in my life happen.

I want to TRULY WRITE and I want to write about the ski industry, about my new home town as it transforms from sleepy ski town outside Bozeman into a playground for the rich, about the socioeconomic impact of this, about how the industry is creating a permanent underclass who can barely afford to exist on low wages, on the environmental impact of a thousand workers a day driving the canyon to get to work, on the need for quality transportation, on quality of life issues, on sustainability, and on how I am so totally not a smelly hippy about this but a business major who wants to make sure I am part of a town where families can afford to raise kids.

So I am going to be a citizen journalist AND A SKI BUM again... all while telecommuting making damned good money. I am even trying to get a teaching job doing a Computer Science class or two at MSU in Bozeman. Because Montana is home now. It is home AGAIN! First time since I left MEPS for the NAVY. Or maybe it has always been home, I just left home for a while and it has been waiting for me.

Welcome home to Big Sky. And I hope people still give a damn about blogs and I am not a completely worthless writer. I have to do some redesign work and expect some construction happening. Both on my site and in Big Sky. A lot in Big Sky.

And last thing I have to say is shout out to an ASU Journalism School student who was half talking shit about my cynicism of journalists, half having me rant and act crazy about how much I hated what the media has become and she basically asked me what I knew about the media. I called myself a "citizen journalist" and she scoffed. She is always polite and one of the most amazing people I have ever met who is going to do great things in life but it pissed me off. Because she is right. I am just some asshole on the Internet who hasn't updated his blog in five years and drops comments and trolls.

Posted by Justin at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2009

Yellowstone Club Sold for $115M

The Yellowstone Club is changing hands and this may halt the slide into bankruptcy:

BILLINGS, Mont. — Montana's ultra-posh Yellowstone Club is in new hands, following a $115 million deal that the new owner hopes will close the door on the resort's much publicized descent into bankruptcy.

Eight months ago, the millionaires-only club was on the verge of liquidation, a victim of its prior owners' excesses and the broader economic downturn that choked off the flow of money fueling the club's rise.

On Friday, CrossHarbor Capital Partners of Boston bought the 13,600-acre private ski resort about 50 miles south of Bozeman at what was considered a bargain-basement price.

The firm's managing partner, Sam Byrne, had offered to buy the club last year for $470 million and had already invested more than $200 million in club real estate over the last several years.

Byrne acknowledged Friday the club's once-sterling reputation will need some polishing.

"It's going to take time to win back the trust of members and the community and re-establish the brand," he said. "We're confident that the place has a bright future."

The resort was nearly pulled apart last year during the bitter and high-profile divorce of its founders, Edra and Tim Blixseth. Later came revelations that the pair had drained tens of millions of dollars from the resort, helping push it more than $400 million into debt.

The collapse was extraordinary for an enterprise that counts Microsoft Corp.'s Bill Gates and hotel magnate Barry Sternlicht as members.

Those who are allowed to join must buy real estate with price tags that can top $10 million, and pay a $300,000 deposit. The privacy members thought their money was buying was shattered when the club's rolls were made public as part of its bankruptcy case.

I only need another $300,000 so that I can join and another $10M so that I can buy a lot. I am working on it as we speak. =)

Posted by Justin at 04:46 PM

February 10, 2008

Jackson Trip Cancelled

The Idaho Dept. of Transportation closed Highway 26 into Jackson from Idaho Falls on Friday night, ending our plans to ski there on Saturday. Sucks because we had to cancel our hotel reservations and all. Drifting and blowing snow. Since I was travelling with the whole family, we didn't have the time to drive up on Saturday.

And my annual sinus infection returns. I am on antibiotics, pain killers, and steroids. Not even full blown bad yet, but I am already hurting.

Gonna try to get in a day at Big Sky and Alta on the way back.

Posted by Justin at 02:52 PM

December 20, 2007

Running the Numbers

I use Beaver Creek as an example, but in reality I am referring to any major megaresort--you know, the ones that the ski magazines drool about. This is more an illustration of the pros and cons of major destination skiing at a high end resort (Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breck, Keystone, Park City, Whistler, etc.) versus skiing at a smaller resort in the Rockies that costs half as much but also offers less. I am going to run down the resorts that I have skied and compare and contrast them:

Colorado - Wolf Creek, Beaver Creek, Loveland, and A-Basin
Arizona - Snowbowl, Sunrise
Montana - Red Lodge, Big Sky
Utah - Alta, Brian Head

What you find is that once you find a place that you really like, you tend to go there until you find a better deal, get bored, etc. So I am an Alta guy because I just like it so well because of the price, location, skiers only policy, snow quality, and experience that I never drive to the other resorts in the area. Now, I am probably going to have a tough time ever going to Vail because Beaver Creek is so awesome and I have yet to even scratch the surface of all that is there. I am not sure how to compare Beaver Creek to Vail to Keystone to Breck when you couldn't touch all the mountain on any of them in a week or solid skiing.

I am assuming that for folks with the Colorado Pass, they choose their resort based on snowfall numbers, location, or just plain familiarity. So since I haven't skied all the resorts, I leave it open for more comments and info. This is somewhat generic, but there are just too many resorts to know everything about. For the most part though, the mega resorts are that way for a reason--they have a lot to offer and all compare very favorably to the next tier or resorts.

In my mind, there are three categories of ski resorts. Megaresorts. Midsize resorts (and this is a broad category). And places that just plain blow. First, let's talk about the mega resorts. You are going to get a well developed base area, great restaurants, touristy bars, lots of high end shops, and a few high end hotels. Expect lots of folks that are crazy rich and have really nice stuff. Expect people in $1000 jackets riding $2000 worth of gear on groomers who look crazy pimped sipping lattes at the base area. Folks from the East Coast can't get this kind of snow or experience so expect most folks are destination skiers or locals that get really good pass deals or work at the resort. Lots of folks from Europe, etc. Just a different kind of guest. But folks don't come for just the base area. The mountains are massive, but you gotta have the skills to relly enjoy it. And the money to spend because it ain't cheap. EVEN WHEN YOU GET A GREAT DEAL.

The next category is the smaller Rocky Mountain resorts and most East coast resorts. Places like Wolf Creek or Bridger Bowl or Brian Head. Usually these resorts are smaller mountains and do not offer the same level of amenities as the big guys. Not as much vertical. Off the beaten path. Poor airport access. No development rights. Less snowfall. But far lower prices. So then it is a matter of what you are willing to sacrifice. All of these resorts are missing something and it is up to you to decide what you are willing to sacrifice. I am willing to sacrifice shopping, dining, amenities, and nightlife but not snow. I would rather ski powder at a small resort that offers nothing (i.e. Wolf Creek) than ski crap snow at a more developed resort.

I won't get into the third category of places that just plain suck, but they are out there. Usually they have a couple old doubles that some other resort took out 20 years ago.

Beaver Creek was the first place that I didn't have to worry about a sacrifice. I look at the things that I usually am willing to give up. First, I give up base area amenities. I like to stay in town where I can afford it anyway. Then I give up nightlife. Then I give up some of the massive areas and vertical. What I usually don't give up is snow.

I can't get over the $92 price tag. So now it really highlights how good the Colorado Pass is. Season pass at Key, Breck, A-basin, and then the free days at Vail and Beaver Creek. I am just hating that I don't live in Colorado. The Beav and the Colorado resorts are so affordable for locals due to VRI's passes. I can't help but sing their praises. If you want to ski these resorts, you just have to look for deals and I am able to ski Vail and the Beav for the same price as Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 09:40 AM | Comments (3)

September 30, 2007

Frequent Sky Cards

Every year, I post about great deals that are available to cut the cost of skiing for folks. Every year, I post about two things (and this year I will add a 3rd because it is almost time for me to stop my boycott against Sunrise). Here is the first:

The Big Sky, Montana, Frequent Sky Card for $75 ($125 after Halloween):

  • $20 off the regular season window rate (Adult $55, Senior $45, Junior/College $35)
  • $5 off when adult window prices are $50 or less
  • 14 free ski days ( Sunday, November 25-Saturday, December 1, 2007& Monday,April 7, 2008-Sunday, April 13, 2008.)
  • Wednesday, January 2-Sunday, January 6, 2008 half price of regular season rate (Adults $38, Senior $33, Juniors $28)
  • 50% discount on Huntley Lodging (opening- Jan. 6, 2008; April 7-13, 2008) Additional dates available, contact reservations; some restrictions apply
  • 10% discount on any retail items in any Big Sky Resort outlet.
  • 25% OFF adult group ski/snowboard lessons any Saturday, all season.
  • Purchase after October 31, 2007: $125. No cards sold during free ski week or after December 31, 2007.
  • Two for One Tube Park Tickets after 6pm. Tubing down the Mountain is always more fun with a friend. Stop by Big Sky Sports to learn more about this new fun activity.

The first day of the free week pays for the card right there.

Oh, yeah, and add in that Big Sky has 4,000 feet of vertical and close to 5,000 acres... well, it is just a smoking deal. I am planning a trip to Big Sky over Thanksgiving that I missed last year. I never pass up a free day of skiing.

Posted by Justin at 07:46 PM

September 14, 2007

WaPo Article About Big Sky (somewhat dated)

Big Sky is just sick. Verticle. Steeps. Snow (400+"). Acreage. Uncrowded. I cannot say enough how Big Sky has every single thing that makes a resort great. Lift tickets are $20 less than Vail or Aspen and the resort is growing with new condo developments and base area improvements every single year.

Folks like the Washington Post are noticing too:

When American skiers start talking about really big resorts, the conversation generally turns to huge mountain meccas such as Colorado's Vail, where the yawning back bowls offer endless powder; or Lake Tahoe's Heavenly, where some runs are so long they start in Nevada and finish in California; or those paired areas in Utah, Alta/Snowbird and Solitude/Brighton, where a single ticket gives you access to every lift on two connected ski hills.

But this winter, the biggest single ski site in the United States will be found far from those famous destinations, in a secluded corner of Montana barely a snowball's throw from Yellowstone National Park. Two resorts operating on opposite faces of 11,166-foot Lone Mountain -- the well-established Big Sky Resort and its perky young neighbor, Moonlight Basin -- are offering a combined lift ticket that provides access to 5,512 acres, with 23 lifts serving about 220 distinct runs.

All those Montana acres tend to be uncrowded as well. Big Sky and Moonlight Basin are so remote from the more familiar skiing centers of the Rocky Mountain West and so far from population centers (the nearest city, Bozeman, is a pleasant university town but nobody's idea of a metropolis) that they draw relatively few skiers. Vail reports about 1.5 million skier visits each season; the Montana twins total about 350,000. Big Sky, which has lift capacity of 32,000 skiers per hour, averages just 2,000 skiers per day.

The result is that lift lines are unusual at the Lone Mountain resorts, and untracked powder is easy to find.


Posted by Justin at 09:04 AM

August 19, 2007

More Reasons to Love Big Sky

Big Sky is adding more lift capacity and acres to the largest resort in the country. Not like there is ever a line at Big Sky but the place keeps getting bigger and better.

BIG SKY, Mont. — Big Sky continues to prove itself as an industry leader in providing the most lift accessible terrain and uncrowded slopes with the introduction of Dakota Lift. The triple chair will improve access to Bavarian Forest and the recently opened 212 acres of Dakota Territories adding more capacity to the biggest skiing in America.

Big Sky has long focused on keeping lift capacity comfortably higher than the demand, now boasting an uphill lift capacity of 25,000 riders per hour with an average of 2,000 skiers and riders per day. Big Sky will offer 3,812 acres of skiable terrain accessed by 21 lifts and Lone Peak Passholders have access to over 5,500 acres.

The Dakota lift is located on the south face of Lone Mountain below Liberty Bowl. The fixed-grip lift will load below the Hippy Highway and the top station is located near Gate 2 of Bavarian Forest. The Dakota lift is 3,100 feet long and has a vertical rise of 1,210 feet. The lift ride time will be eight minutes.

Dakota Territories is primarily open bowl skiing at an intermediate angle. The run out includes well-spaced, natural glades that border Bavarian Forest, which offers endless variations of black diamond glades through the trees that are both natural and thinned. Both runs contain plenty of natural rollers and kickers before reaching the bottom.

The lift is the first half of a two-lift system providing a second access point to terrain on Lone Peak, currently being serviced by the Lone Peak Tram. The second lift, planned for construction next year will take skiers up to the Yeti Traverse accessing Big Sky’s famous wide-open, steep, above tree-line runs like Marx, Lenin and the Dictator Chutes.

“This is a skier’s mountain first and foremost,” said Big Sky Resort General Manager, Taylor Middleton. “Skiers have flocked from across the world for the massive terrain off the Lone Peak Tram. Our new Dakota lift just makes America’s Biggest Skiing even bigger.”

Every year, I struggle when the ski magazines don't have Big Sky among the top resorts in the country. The place is massive, offers every single type of run there is including some of the best double black skiing in the country. Cliffs. Groomers. A tram. A Gondola.

If you have not been there or are sick of the outlandish prices at Vail and Aspen, take a trip to Montana. Big Sky would be my favorite place to ski if it wasn't so far from Arizona. I am a driver, not a flyer, so Big Sky is just out of range unless I am vacationing in Montana at my Mom's (which I am planning to do this winter).

Posted by Justin at 02:05 PM | Comments (1)

March 06, 2007

Great Article About Jackson and the Loss of the Tram

The Denver Post has an article about Jackson Hole and the loss of the tram:

By now, pretty much every self-respecting skier has at least some familiarity with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort because of its 40-year reputation as the king of big mountain skiing. From Corbet's to Coombs, its status among experts is as big as its 4,140-foot vertical rise, rivaled by only a rarified few on the continent.

Still, most of those skiers (and snowboarders) would be shocked to learn just how few people actually visit the famed mountain - fewer than 400,000 a year on average. And thanks to tradition, you can expect even less this season.

Last winter saw a record number of skiers and snowboarders at Jackson Hole, a whopping 450,000 (compared to more than a million each at Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and others that comprised Colorado's 2005-06 record of more than 12 million). After learning of the retirement of the fabled Jackson Hole tram, the tribe of traditionalists (and, yes, I was among them) flocked to the mountain to pay respects to the retiring war horse after 40 years of dedicated service...

The good news is that plans have been submitted for a new 100-passenger tram that will double the capacity of the former lift when it comes online in December 2008. The better news is that between the end of one tradition and the start of the next, the skiing remains as stellar as ever. The only real difference is that they're practically giving it away.

They might have taken away the tram, but they can't take away the terrain. And while some might lament the loss of the traditional ride up, the reality is that Jackson Hole remains - as it always has - all about the ride back down.

I rode the tram in summer when I was around 10 years old. The Tetons are magnificent and worth visiting Teton National Park any time of year. The town of Jackson is great, but I am biased because my birth certificate says Wyoming. Cody (just outside the east entrance to Yellowstone) is where my dad, aunts and uncles grew up. My mom's mother was born there. My other three grandparents grew up in Lovell, just across the Bighorn Basin. Wyoming has the most beautiful and the ugliest country in the US.

The article highlights a sad fact about the Rockies. Everyone loves Summit County or the areas surrounding Denver for skiing. But the Rockies are a big range. If not Denver, folks love Utah and the SLC area. But when it comes to big mountain skiing Big Sky, Montana and Jackson Hole, Wyoming will astound you. Vertical that is beyond belief and massive areas. No crowds. Both combined average around half the visitors that Breck, Keystone, or Vail get. And both are practically inside of either Teton or Yellowstone National Parks.

Posted by Justin at 11:12 AM

September 28, 2006

Ski Magazines Rankings in October Edition - Alta and Big Sky

Ski Magazine ranks Big Sky #24 and Alta #28 in this years Rankings. And both have similar knocks on them. Not enough night life. Not enough restaurants. Just not enough besides the skiing to do.

I just wonder what folks are looking for. I look first at the skiing. Then at the price. Then at the price of accomodations (usually off mountain). I might eat whatever crappy greasy burgers they serve for lunch and grab a Dew, but I don't look for five star dining when I ski. Just give me a Reese's with my grease burger for lunch so I have the juice to finish out the afternoon after a day of quad burning magic.

But then it kind of hit me, that is what skiing when you are poor is about. You look for a good deal and you bring your own lunches. You bargain hunt.

First, Alta is rated as the best bargain. No kidding. Duh! $52 for a lift ticket. Crazy cheap accomodations in SLC less than 20 minutes away. And so on. But Alta has no nightlife. And honestly, that is a huge knock against Utah for destination skiing. The Alcohol does not flow freely enough. Big Sky is too cold and does not have enough night life. Forget the 5k acres and Lone Peak. Discount 4,100 feet of vertical. They have bad on-mountain food.

I wonder sometimes if I am the strange one. I look at Alta and see small crowds, massive snowfall totals, tons of powder, great vertical, tons of terrain, and the Snowbird connect. I see SLC right next door, cheap accomodations, great food, and plenty to do in the evenings in SLC. Let's not forget the proximity to the Airport. Plus if you get bored, there is Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude, etc., right there. But there are no snowboarders, which may be the best part.

I look at Big Sky and see the doorstep of Yellowstone, INSANELY MASSIVE VERTICAL AND ACRES, a growing base area, an almost unspoiled old west town, cheap accomodations in Bozeman or in the local motel, and great conditions year round.

I don't take week long vacations at Aspen. I save the $10,000 that a week with a condo for my family would run, get season passes at Brian Head, and spend that money on gas and a condo that I own at a smaller resort off the beaten path. I eat on mountain for lunch most of the time, but it is a dog or a burger or some pizza then right back to the slopes. Dinner, we actually eat something more, but usually that is someplace cheap and something like pasta at home or maybe a couple of pizzas. It is not a "vacation" but rather a very frequent event, so we look for bargains so that it can be even more frequent. A vacation to me is taking a cruise or going to Disneyland. Skiing is not a vacation, but rather, part of my daily or at least weekly routine.

I think it is skewed to have rankings based almost solely on rich folks from the city that have money to burn and want to take their week in Aspen. But that is what the industry caters to. That is who Ski Magazine writes for. They don't write about e-Baying equipment. They don't write about season pass deals or Frequent Sky Cards. They write for destination skiers.

I don't knock folks that enjoy the sport this way or the fact that the ski media writes for these folks or the fact that our resorts market to these folks (and price for these folks). It is a fact of life. I just think that it is important to recognize that backwoods places like Wolf Creek, Brian Head, etc., exist and have a great value proposition for folks that are looking for a different experience than flashing more cash for a week in Aspen than most of the locals working at the restaurants and on the lifts make in an entire season working at the resort. Big Sky and Alta are places that may not appeal to folks that can drop $500 on a night of drinks and want the local nightlife, but since I am not one of those folks, I look for something different in a resort.

Posted by Justin at 01:22 PM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2006

Name Changes for Frequency at Big Sky--But Still Lots of Free Skiing

Dax from Big Sky e-mailed me today that I should be aware that the Frequency Pass is now called the "Frequent Sky Card". Names, Schmames. They could call it whatever they want. Here is what I call it--"two free weeks of skiing, discounts, $21 per day off of lift tickets, lodge discounts, etc., ALL FOR $69 PER YEAR". I suggested this to Dax, but they don't think it will fit on the card. I expect royalties if they use my suggestions...

Here is the link to the ***NEW FREQUENT SKY CARD*** and what the card does for the holder:

  • $21 off the regular season window rate (Adult $48, Junior/College $28)
  • $5 off when adult window prices are $50 or less
  • 14 free ski days (Sunday, November 26, 2006-Saturday, December 2, 2006 & Monday,April 9, 2007-Sunday, April 15, 2007.)
  • Tuesday, January 2-Sunday, January 7, 2007 half price of regular season rate (Adults $35, Juniors $25)
  • 50% discount on Huntley Lodging (Dec. 7-23, 2006; Jan. 2-8, 2007; April 8-15, 2007) Additional dates available, contact reservations; some restrictions apply
  • 10% discount on any retail items in any Big Sky Resort outlet.
  • 25% OFF adult grp ski/snowboard lessons any Saturday, all season.

These kind of deals make the sport affordable if you plan ahead. Maybe Big Sky is not right next door, but at $48 per day with a frequency pass (as opposed to $69 without), you can ski Big Sky for a little over half the price of somewhere like Aspen. If you are flying anyway, Bozeman has a major airport and direct flights from several big cities. And on top of it, even without the Pass, $69 a day is still a smokin' deal for a place as massive as Big Sky with awesome vertical. Big Sky/Moonlight has over 5,000 acres and 4,300 feet of vertical. Big Sky alone has 3,600 acres. And no crowds. It sounds too good to be true, but trust me, Big Sky is as good or better than any resort out there. Add in the price with the Frequent Sky Card, and the kids free skiing, and Big Sky has to be at the top of any family's list.

Lots of folks think top tier resorts like Big Sky are out of reach of their budget, but with the frequency card, you can cut a huge chunk out of the cost. Add in that Big Sky offers free skiing to up to two kids under 10 with a paying adult, and a family trip to Big Sky is well within reach. Lodging is reasonable in Big Sky and even cheaper in Bozeman.

I don't ski like a destination skier. I never rent condos, we usually stay 5-6 to a hotel room, all ride up together in a big SUV, and do things on the cheap. I need a hippie VW Van one of these days. I am planning with some friends for the free week in November at Big Sky. I know this much--say five of us go to Big Sky, stay in town at $100 per night for five nights, and split the cost. That is $100 each for the week. On top of that, we each buy a Frequent Sky Pass for $69. That is under $200 total each for a week of skiing plus lodging at a top tier resort. I take Jake and Jackson with me and they ski for free on top of that. It is just too good of a deal to skip.

Posted by Justin at 06:07 PM | Comments (2)

September 18, 2006

Winter is On Its Way at Big Sky

Dax at Big Sky took this awesome photo of Lone Peak this morning and sent it to me.

If you like resorts that offer 5,000 Acres of skiing and close to 4,000 feet of vertical, no lift lines (almost ever), and 400+ inches of snow each year, you might want to give Big Sky a try. I personally hate places like Big Sky though. I mean, once you have that kind of experience, you just don't even want to get out the skis and go anywhere else. It really just isn't fair.

Again, FREQUENCY PASS! Plain and simple. If you know you are going to go to Big Sky, the Frequency Pass is almost like stealing. It takes three-four days to make it worth the $69 because of the discounts. Or better yet, a day or two of the two weeks of free skiing, or of the half priced days for frequency pass holders. I am working out details of my trip up there this year.

Posted by Justin at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)

August 21, 2006

Speaking of Deals--Frequency at Big Sky Rocks

Speaking of deals, the Frequency Pass at Big Sky is perhaps the best deal out there. (Especially if they get good early season snow)

You pay $69 and for that you get a $21 discount every ski day at regular prices, plus you get two weeks of free skiing. Admittedly these are opening week and closing week, but like I said, it is a crap shoot as to whether they will get good early season snow. But it is free, so even bad skiing that is "free skiing" is a good thing. And I have never had a bad experience at Big Sky. There are other good deals too like lodging discounts and ski shop discounts, so check out the link.

I won't go into my love affair with my home state of Montana and how wonderful it is to ski there where a big crowd means a person or two in front of you in the lift line. Big Sky is as good as any luxury resort in the country and fewer people go there because it is not as easy to get to. But it keeps getting easier with direct flights into Bozeman.

If you have never been, Big Sky is probably my favorite resort. It is just too far from Arizona to ski there very often for me since I drive most places and take the family. I try to make it once or twice a year though. Lone Peak has some of the sickest lift served Extreme Terrain in the Country and just about every Warren Miller film has Big Sky featured.

Posted by Justin at 12:24 PM

July 21, 2006

Big Sky Records Most Skier Visits in History

I check in with Dax at Big Sky from time to time and as always, he has something interesting to say. But this (from an April Press Release) is incredible:

BIG SKY, Mont. — Big Sky attracted over 323,000 skier visits during the 2005-06 season, breaking the record set in the 2000-01 season. Many factors contributed to the record season, most notably over 500 inches of snow that fell on the upper mountain as well as the announcement of the biggest skiing in America with the partnership between Big Sky and Moonlight Basin, accessing 5,300 acres on one ticket.

The season started strong with three early opening days starting November 13, offering steep skiing from the Challenger chair. Big Sky’s upper mountain saw over 11 feet of snow fall on it by the end of November. The snowy season continued with the second deepest snowfall ever recorded at Big Sky Resort.

Dax let me know why it takes days instead of hours to send a response to an e-mail:

when living in the mountains where it snows 8 months of the year, I enjoy every piece of summer I can get

Don't we all. I assume that after an epic year like this one at Big Sky, Dax's legs needed some rest. Pow and more Pow will sap every ounce of energy out of you. The worst part of the year is April and May because with 500 inches of snow, you have to look at the peaks still covered and know that the lifts aren't running anymore.

This is the first time in several years I have not made it to Big Sky for my annual ski trip. I bought my frequency pass and all, but never used the thing. I spent most of the early season too busy at Brian Head to get north and the late season when the snow started coming at Brian Head, I actually tried to enjoy the condo.

This season, I am going to hit Big Sky when the whole place is open and spend a couple of days exploring their massive area. Huge vertical. 5300 Acres. No lines. No crowds. And Montana hospitality. I know that Colorado has tons of glitzy resorts, but Big Sky is second to none. From West Yellowstone, you can snowmobile all the way to Old Faithful Lodge and West Yellowstone is something like 60 miles away. I always hit Big Sky in the early season, so is usually not "fully open", but it would take a week to see all that the area has to offer.

The entire area is paradise and with 5300 Acres and drawing a less than 350,000 skier visits, you do the math on how busy the lines are.

Posted by Justin at 02:47 PM

December 02, 2005

Big Sky Gets Second Deepest November in 33 Year History

Dax at Big Sky reports the following:

Fresh powder and lots of it!! We'll see continual snow throughout the day.

Big Sky has already eclipsed the 100 inch snow mark this season, we had the second deepest November in our 33 year history.

The Tram is open, along with powder conditions off the Triple Chair and Challenger chair, we've been open since Nov. 13. Lifts and terrain continue to open early

Join us tomorrow, Friday, all lift tickets are only $10. With all this new snow, it is the deal of the century.

The Northern Rockies are stealing all my Southern Rocky Snow. That is a good thing though. Maybe the entire state of Montana won't burn in Forest Fires this year. Let's hope that this cures the drought woes.

Posted by Justin at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)

November 11, 2005

UPDATE--Early opening for Big Sky

I was just bagging on how bad conditions were in the Southern Rockies and Dax at Big Sky in Montana posts this nugget to the ski report:

So I'm sure you heard, we've gotten great early season snow, the word just came down we're going to open this Sunday, two week early.

I'm waiting to hear back for the details, which will be posted on this site, but in the mean time, I had better get my skis out of the closet in time to give a full report on Sunday afternoon.

We'll see you out there,


Trust me, Dax, we are waiting too...


Dax just e-mailed me with details:

BIG SKY, Mont. — Blessed with 44 inches of snow since October 22, Big Sky Resort announced today that it will open for an early season ski day on Sunday, November 13.

Big Sky plans on being the first resort in the area to open, it will operate three lifts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Swift Current High Speed Quad will access Mr. K, Lower Morning Star and Crazy Horse, the Explorer Chair will access beginner terrain while the Challenger Chair will access Moonlight and Midnight for black diamond powder turns. Big Sky is scheduled to open for daily operations on Thanksgiving Day, November 24.

Big Sky will offer access to over 3,000 vertical feet of skiing and approximately 350 acres for this early ski day.

Adult lift tickets will be an early season rate of $30. Juniors, College Students and Frequency Cardholders will ride for $25. Season passes will be honored and guest services will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I spent most of the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year on Challenger. They had tons of runs open and it was a blast. This year, my son Jake can ski it with me. I hit a rock or two last year, but they would not open the top unless the snow was deep enough. Two years ago, by Thanksgiving, they had barely opened Mr. K.

GET YOUR FREQUENCY PASSES and take the week after Thanksgiving off. Best deal out there and it appears that the snow is going to be awesome.

Posted by Justin at 03:40 PM

November 07, 2005

Last day for discounted Frequency Passes at Big Sky

Imagine showing up at a resort, scanning your frequency pass at the lift, avoiding any kind of lift line (since there rarely is one), having your credit card charged $20 bucks less than the schmucks are paying at the ticket counter, and rolling up on over 3,000 acres of the best skiing in the country. Sounds like an insanely good deal right? Then on top of that, add an entire week of ***FREE*** skiing, several weeks of half priced skiing, discounts at the lodge, and it sounds too good to be true.

From Big Sky's Website:

$59 ($80 after 11/7/05)

Instead of standing in line for ticket, your pass is scanned at the lifts and a charge is made to the credit card you have on file. You can still choose to pay at window if you wish.

AMAZING $20 PER DAY DISCOUNT! Adults with Frequency Card pay only $45, Junior/College $25

  • 7 Free ski days Sunday, 11/27/05 - Saturday, 12/03/05
  • Half-price every Wednesday, from Nov. 30, 2005 - Feb. 15, 2006 (Adult $33, Junior/College $23)
  • Half-price Jan. 2-8 and April 2-16, 2005
  • Receive $20 off the regular $65 day rate ($45 adult, $25 junior)
  • $5 off when window prices $50 or less
  • 25% discount on adult group ski/snowboard lessons any Saturday, all season
  • 50% discount on Huntley Lodging (some restrictions apply)
  • 10% discount on any retail items at any Big Sky outlet
  • Purchase by Nov. 7, 2005. No cards sold Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2005
This is my third season of buying a Big Sky Frequency pass that costs $59 through today. Tomorrow, the cost goes to $80, which is still incredible considering the free week of skiing. This is part of why I spend Thanksgiving in Montana at my mom's house. Free lodging and free skiing. Plus free Turkey.

Big Sky has everything you could ever ask for and is right outside Yellowstone National Park.

Posted by Justin at 11:13 AM

September 18, 2005

Early Season Travel Plans - Big Sky, Montana

The last couple of seasons, Big Sky has done something unique with their sky reports. They have a special entry at the bottom called "The Way I Ski It" that evolved out of a need by their PR Manager, Dax Schieffer, to convey some of the early season conditions that were not really reflected by the basic ski report. Dax writes a daily entry at the bottom of the report describing what the mountain is actually like, not simply New Snow, Base, Percent Open like most resorts.

Like a high school sophomore, I kinda stole Dax's idea. My English teacher warned me that "borrowing" from the hard work of others will get me an F, so first and foremost, shout out to Dax for having a great idea at Big Sky. I took your idea, much like my ex-girlfriend's high school chemistry notebook (a story that we won't go into for sake of ripping the scab off of a closed wound), and changed a line or two and called it my own. But let's talk about Big Sky because it is well worth talking about.

First off, Big Sky is about 45 minutes from Bozeman, the home of Montana State University. Big Sky has two other resorts that share the same general area--Moonlight Basin, that offers a combined ski pass opening up obscene acres and insane skiing, and the Yellowstone Club that is so exclusive, I should not even be allowed to write about it. Details about Moonlight and Big Sky now offering an interconnect and shared pass are still being worked out, but Lone Peak makes frequent appearances in Warren Miller movies and the area offers some of the best steeps and deeps in the country. 400" of snowfall does not hurt.

As Dax said, "TWISI" was written because the resort is massive and during the early season, you can miss some of the best parts of the resort if you don't know where you are headed. I have spent several days at Big Sky and still have only skied the Lone Peak runs. Now with Moonlight and the interconnect, the Big Sky-Moonlight area becomes one of the largest in the country.

I went to college in Billings, about 120 miles east of Bozeman, and go home to see Mom over Thanksgiving. Big Sky offers a "frequency pass" that let's you ski the entire week after Thanksgiving for the price of the pass or about $50. We usually spend at least 2-3 days at Big Sky when we go up and it is awesome. Last year they were only 40% open or so, but the 40% was spectacular.

Dax generously offered to let me "interview" him about "TWISI", which is my code for, "Let's spend a day finding the hidden powder stashes that only a local knows". Look for my series of articles about Big Sky and Moonlight coming in Late November or Early December. Forget turkey and family time with Mom. She figured out why I am suddenly so focused on spending time with family in the winter. If you have never skied Big Sky, you have no idea what you are missing.

Posted by Justin at 12:10 PM