By: Blythe Beaubien March 10th, 2014
Big Sky Resort, located in Big Sky, Mont., is infamous for its miles of expert terrain and 400+ inches of snowfall each winter season. But, our majestic mountain in the Rockies has a lot more to offer than what meets the eye. As a Midwest native who learned to “ski” on snow covered trash dumps that had reached their max, and after moving to Big Sky two years ago from San Francisco, a city that sits at 50 feet above sea level, Lone Mountain (elevation 11,166 at the top) was daunting the first time I saw it. I strapped on my skis, followed my anxious ski buddies up to the ski lift, which sat in the luminous shadow of the peak of Lone Mountain, and thought, “I have to ski down THAT?! I might die.” Much to my relief, I quickly learned that there are plenty of green and blue ski runs at Big Sky Resort that would help me earn my ski legs before I tackled the mountain from the top.
Here, I will highlight the top five ski runs at Big Sky (for beginners, intermediates, and the brave expert skiers) to help you plan your mountain vacation.
Beginner/Green Run – Mr. K., Accessed from the Swift Current Lift
The Swift Current lift, located in the Base Area of the Big Sky Mountain Village, or as us locals call it “Swifty” is the beginning of the journey to the top of Lone Mountain, accessed via the Lone Peak Tram. But for those of you who are new to skiing, or want to start off with a warm up lap, the most popular green run at Big Sky Resort is Mr. K. It’s a long, smooth, always groomed, ride down from the top of Swifty. At the end of the run, skiers return to the base area and can ride up Swifty again or if they’re ready to step it up, head over to the Ramcharger lift, also located in the Mountain Village base area. For the super newbies, or those who really want to take it easy, the resort offers a “beginners” lift ticket for $35, which gives access only to the Explorer lift, which services numerous green runs that are family friendly.
Intermediate/Blue Run – Elk Park Ridge, Accessed from the Ramcharger Lift
Personally, this is my favorite run at Big Sky Resort. It’s a long run that has a good pitch and big arcing turns. The view from the middle of the run is beautiful and a good place to stop and take a rest. This is the longest intermediate run, often groomed, on the Andesite portion of Big Sky Resort. The run follows the east ridge of Andesite and at the bottom skiers can ride the Thunder Wolf High Speed Quad back to the top of Andesite.
Intermediate/Blue Run – Lookout Ridge (on the Moonlight Basin side of the resort), Accessed from the Lone Tree Quad at Moonlight
This run doesn’t get its name for nothing. Be sure to stop along the way to snap a photo of Fan Mountain, which is easily visible from this run on a clear day. It’s a beautiful run surrounded by trees and brings skiers to the Madison Base Area at Moonlight. Be sure to stop for a hot toddy at the Headwaters Grille before heading back up the mountain, after all it’s winter in Big Sky.
Advanced/Black Run – Moonlight Run, Accessed from the Challenger Lift
Appropriately named, the Challenger lift is a locals’ favorite, especially on a powder day. (But you didn’t read that here.) The Moonlight Run offers some epic skiing and is a long run that will have you screaming uncle by the time you get to the bottom. Head back up Challenger for more or ski over to Moonlight and hit the lodge for a snack or après cocktail.
Expert/Double Black – Marx, Accessed from the Lone Peak Tram
Say your prayers on the ride up the Lone Peak Tram. Just like the dictator himself, this run is unforgiving and not for the faint of heart. This run features 1200+ vertical feet of slope that is in the upper 40° range. A slight mistake or fall could be catastrophic. But if you make it, the adrenaline rush is worth the risk! Let’s just say this Midwesterner hasn’t faced the dictator. But go for it, and let me know how it goes.
So, you see, at Big Sky Resort all levels are welcome and encouraged. Just be sure to explore all aspects of the mountain. Big Sky Resort now offers the “Biggest Skiing in America” with the recent acquisition of Moonlight Basin Resort. Ski safe, and stay classy.