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BenWhitno to thread-jack, but i'm going to Big Sky for a few days in February. would be great to get some input on the necessity of carrying BC gear (beacon, shovel, probe) at some areas of Big Sky. I ski primarily on the east, so I would be renting this gear while in Big Sky.
eheathBig Sky just has a couple of zones off the top of lone peak that require you carry a beacon, shovel, probe and have a partner. These areas aren't always open and if it has recently snowed, probably won't for a couple days, ie the North Summit Snowfield. The Big Couloir is the most likely area like this that will be open and its a pretty wide couloir but the top is pretty step and narrow at first.
There are other areas like the headwaters and a-z chutes, etc that are hike access and will require this equipment. Again, most of these runs aren't always open and they are pretty gnarly for the most part. Unless you are a very experienced skier, probably won't need to worry about bringing any avy gear and not judging you personally (just a generalization) but if you're from the east, you will likely have everything you want in-bounds at Big Sky. There are plenty of super steep, super narrow runs off of Lone Peak and Challenger/Headwater lifts that you will be stoked on and don't have to worry about avy gear.
To OP, Big Sky is a huge mountain with terrain that satisfies all skiers. If you wanna cruise groomers all day, good luck skiing every single one in a day, there so many epic cruising groomers at Big Sky. Of course there is a park, it seems to be doing pretty good these days, only one run I believe. Head up the mountain to the main bowl, lone peak, challenger, headwaters, lone pine to name a few. Upper mountain has plenty of steep terrain, lot of good tree skiing, etc you won't be disappointed.
BenWhitsweet, thanks for the input. I think you and I actually had a similar discussion last year when I made a thread about my trip to Tahoe.
we are doing whitefish, then travelling to Bozeman to do Big Sky & Bridger Bowl. I don't feel the need to duck gates, especially if I am only going to be there for a few days. I am much more comfortable getting into avy terrain in areas I am more familiar with. but, I am traveling with friends that may be so inclined to do so. especially at bridger.
eheathYeah you're not "ducking" anything, these areas have open/closed gates and are avy controlled by the resort. These areas are at a very high risk for avalanches, so they require you bring the equipment.
At Bridger, this is different, there is a lift called Schlasmens that you need a beacon to ride up. This lift basically takes you almost to the top of the south end of the ridge and you can hike up either way. The terrain off the lift is all super steep/tech that is really, really fun. So yes, bring your beacon at least for this reason. As for other hiking at bridger, I believe they require the same equipment as Big Sky, but "The Ridge" hike will be open on storm days and has some great terrain and gnarly terrain as well. If you're looking to do some hiking at Bridger, bring your gear for sure, but bridger definitely has a ton of great terrain too, but much less than Big Sky.
BenWhitthat makes sense. I was more so saying that I don't really intend to go outside of the boundary of the resorts. we all have taken our AIARE1 and have a handful of mellow bc tours between us, but I'm not really interested in getting into overly aggressive terrain. there is not a ton of skiing above the tree line back east, so I really just want to ski big, steep, open bowls. maybe get into some tighter, more technical chutes/stuff. everything on the backside of Lone Peak that feeds down to the Dakota Triple and the Shedhorn Double looks more than doable.
I have been reading up on Schlasman's and The Ridge. Found a few useful resources that mapped some of the lines out but it's obviously tough to tell what is/isn't logical or feasible until the terrain is in front of you. The Ridge looks like it has a decent amount of terrain that is accessible without getting cliffed out. definitely correct me if i'm wrong, I very much need to come back from my trip in one piece.
eheathAs for the Ridge, I'm sure some locals on here could give you some good details, I haven't hike the ridge in a long time and when I was in HS i didn't have a beacon until I was 18. But the ridge has a ton of lines, definitely come cliffs at the end of ones, so if its the middle of the day and a line is untracked, probably shouldn't ski it haha. Best bet is to find a local on here that is down to show you around the Ridge, it takes some time to learn that area.
Schlasmans is a completely different story though, the terrain you can access just skiing/traversing off the lift is unreal. You can hike north towards the ridge hike of bridger lift or south into what is consider true backcountry. Hiking south I would not recommend without someone who knows the area, my friends who lived there when they first opening the lift got cliffed out multiple times and one time with them we had to do the most sketchy billy goat traverse to get out of a cliffed out area. Definitely be careful on Schlasmans but don't be afraid to ski anything you can ski to/traverse easily to, hiking is where it gets uncertain. Best bet at bridger if you feel uncertain to to follow other tracks and try to learn the area as you ski down then take a new line the next run, etc.
BenWhitNot sure if this will work, but this is the "map" I am looking at of The Ridge.
Left of Schlasman's being "South", right being "North". Golden Triangle down into Lower Mundy's seems like the easiest way down, but obviously I don't know what this looks like in the dead of winter. From there it looks like there are plenty more technical lines that feed down into these.