Luv2ski

At the base lodge
Skier
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Posts
11
I'm going to be in Big Sky next week. I have a couple of people in my group insisting on taking the gondola up to Lone peak. I see that there are some black runs off the backside. I'm an intermediate skier at best and can usually handle groomed black runs in Aspen with no problems if I take it slow. Do you guys think I'll be biting off more than I can chew by going up top?
 

James

Out There
Instructor
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
11,792
Well how do you feel about ungroomed?
I take it you've never skied Highlands Bowl?
The top of Lone Peak is an odd place. Unless things have changed in the last 5 years. I can't get off it fast enough. An unsettling place.
 
Thread Starter
TS
L

Luv2ski

At the base lodge
Skier
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Posts
11
Nope, I haven't been able to work up the courage to go to highlands bowl......I'm not a fan of ungroomed stuff unless it's powder......that being said I don't want to be a sissy if it's something I can handle.....
 

SKI-3PO

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
823
Location
PA
Have someone you trust go up first to get an accurate current report of conditions. That kind of place, conditions change all the time.
 

Dave Marshak

All Time World Champion
Skier
Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Posts
660
IIRC the easiest route is the snow fields, which is wide open and the longest steepest thing I've ever seen. I wouldn't ski it in flat light or any kind of poor conditions. I don't think the rest of Lone Peak is safe for intermediates.

If you are confident you can self arrest and don't freak out over steepness and conditions are good, go for it. OTOH there's plenty of other stuff at Big Sky to terrify most people, so maybe work up to it.

FWIW I passed on it this year for a variety of reasons.

dm
 

Dave Marshak

All Time World Champion
Skier
Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Posts
660
Nope, I haven't been able to work up the courage to go to highlands bowl......I'm not a fan of ungroomed stuff unless it's powder......that being said I don't want to be a sissy if it's something I can handle.....
Maybe you should pass on it this year.

dm
 

DanoT

RVer-Skier
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,796
Location
Sun Peaks B.C. in winter, Victoria B.C. in summer
If you have ever been on the Tram at Jackson Hole, you will recallt the spiel as the tram docks "If you don't know, DON'T GO". While at JH they are talking about going into the out of bounds side country, a similar phrase might apply to BS in bounds off the tram.

My suggestion: instead of relying on your buddy's opinion or some random internet person, take a lesson and then ask the ski instructor what he/she thinks.
 

SShore

Resident Curmudgeon
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
507
I have a season pass that does not include the tram and to be honest with you, I have no desire to ski up there. Seems like more that half the time I've been this year Lone Peak is fully or partly covered by clouds. Some of the lower runs not on the peak but above the tree line are disorienting enough in those conditions, I can't imaging what it's like up there.

Liberty Bowl is the only route down that I have ever heard anyone recommend an intermediate take and it's conditions vary greatly due to its exposure, but it is never groomed. There is a TON of intermediate and skiable expert runs on the rest of the mountain to keep you occupied for a week.

After they close the peak for skiing at 3, you can still take the tram up to look around until 3:30. That may be worth doing your first day so at least you see what it is like up there and make a more informed decision.
 

Beartown

Chasing the dragon
Skier
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Posts
273
Visibility/light is frequently really bad, and when it's bad it is probably dangerous unless you really know the area. As above, Liberty Bowl is the only real "intermediate" way down. You can find it in bad light by following the snow fence catwalk to an open bowl which (depending on recent snowfall and especially local wind patterns) can be wide open or full of nasty jagged rocks. I've been up there in summer, and if you saw what you're skiing on, you might think twice. There are no trees or anything to help with flat light. It can be really fun up there and there are a bunch of great runs, just not so much for an intermediate. Also, the tram line can get pretty long, wasting a bunch of time you could be skiing all of Big Sky's other gems.
 

Dave Marshak

All Time World Champion
Skier
Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Posts
660
... take a lesson and then ask the ski instructor what he/she thinks.
That's good advice, but instructors will never tell you to go to the steepest terrain. The questions you should ask an instructor are "what tactical skills do I need to ski there safely?" and "which three or four trails will help me work up to the expected level of difficulty?" Those are questions an instructor can answer without putting himself (or the company) at risk.

It comes down to your own risk tolerance and confidence. My ski skills have deteriorated significantly, but I have Highlands Bowl, Tuckermans, the Slides, Cleavage and more in my mental database, so I'm not easily intimidated. I also still have pretty good tactical skills, so I will still ski those places when conditions are right. YMMV. You are the only one who can really know how you react to new and possibly dangerous situations, and finding that out is really the point of exploring those places.

dm
 

Beartown

Chasing the dragon
Skier
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Posts
273
I had a group lesson at Big Sky in January where we went up the tram. I got put in level 9 after a ski-off among the (self described) level 6-9 folks, and there were only two of us. it was a pow day and it was pretty good skiing (though really crummy viz).
 

Crank

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Dec 19, 2015
Posts
1,410
I was only up there once. Judging from what you say in your OP I would say no. Maybe ski over at Headwaters first and if you can handle the steeps there you should be OK. The easiest way down from Lone Peak can be a little tricky where you get into Liberty Bowl. Otherwise it's just an exposed, fairly steep, ungroomed black. Easily as steep if not steeper than any Aspen black. You can always ride the tram up and back down.

Being later season than I was there more is probably filled in and there should be less rock dodging on the top and maybe the entrance will be easier but It's hard to say.
 

gwasson

Mid Atlantic banana belt dweller
Skier
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Posts
106
I'm going to be in Big Sky next week. I have a couple of people in my group insisting on taking the gondola up to Lone peak. I see that there are some black runs off the backside. I'm an intermediate skier at best and can usually handle groomed black runs in Aspen with no problems if I take it slow. Do you guys think I'll be biting off more than I can chew by going up top?
I will be there next week also, perhaps I will run into you.

I wouldn't recommend going up the tram if you are an intermediate. Liberty is the easiest way down, and I would say it's a stretch to call it an intermediate run. I don't think there is much grooming up there, if at all. When I skied Liberty it was pretty steep and bumpy.

Also, the tram only holds 15 people, so you might be waiting a while in line to go up, I don't think it would be worth riding up to just ride back down.
 

James

Out There
Instructor
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
11,792
Skiing with an instructor is a good idea. There are simple ways to assess weather you're ready. Skill wise tou're probably fine. However applying those skills in that situation up there is a different matter. How do you do in thise situations in an environment where you can much more easily bailout is the key. Snow conditions are a huge factor.
Whatever that slope is called as you get off the Challenger lift, as you're sliding off, to the left. It's wide then narrows into some short chutes. If you can do that in the conditions of the time, you're fine. I'd imagine that area could have pretty bad conditions if it bakes, melts, freezes. I doubt it would be that way up top. But choppy, cruddy pow or whatever that's similar to up top. If you can do that you're totally fine to ski up there.
Unless I'm totally off in my memory.
 

SShore

Resident Curmudgeon
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
507
That's good advice, but instructors will never tell you to go to the steepest terrain. The questions you should ask an instructor are "what tactical skills do I need to ski there safely?" and "which three or four trails will help me work up to the expected level of difficulty?" Those are questions an instructor can answer without putting himself (or the company) at risk.
My wife took a lesson from one of the better instructors at Big Sky earlier this winter. She told a story of a client she had that wanted to learn to "carve" Marx. She asked several times and ways what he meant by that and he stuck to he wanted to "carve" Marx like his friends did. She knew he had the skills to ski Marx so she took him up there, had him ski down a ways and wait for her. She then proceeded to "carve" giant GS turns down and blew past him at Mach Schnell. She stopped below him and said he was so terrified after that demonstration he could barely get down to where she was. She told him that THAT was CARVING down Marx and was that what he wanted to learn. He replied no F*&$&*(G way and that was the end of that conversation.
 

tch

What do I know; I'm just some guy on the internet.
Skier
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
Posts
747
Location
New England
I had the same question this year when I went. I consider myself a level 7-8 skier. I was by myself, and I always ski more conservatively when alone. Went up on a bright day with good visibility and pretty good snow: it had snowed two days before and the tram had only been open for one day. Liberty was bumped fresh crud at a pretty steep gradient -- completely do-able for a strong intermediate/advanced skier. It reminded me of black runs at Alta, but much more exposed, which was a bit spooky. I skied deliberately, loved the experience, and even went back for more and explored one of the easier chutes.
But those were really pretty good conditions.

If it were white-out, frozen, used-up snow, or otherwise contrary conditions I would definitely skip it and advise strongly against. You want to maximize your chances of having a good time. Sunny, soft snow: yes. Anything else: not worth it.
Pics enclosed if that helps (remember pics minimize steepness).
IMG_1975.JPG IMG_1976.JPG
 
Last edited:

jimmy

Mixmaster
Moderator
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
507
Location
West Virginia
Well how do you feel about ungroomed?
I take it you've never skied Highlands Bowl?
The top of Lone Peak is an odd place. Unless things have changed in the last 5 years. I can't get off it fast enough. An unsettling place.
Like trying to click into your bindings while standing on a medicine ball unsettling. It scared me just bending over to put my skis on the snow. I don't think there is a flat spot up there.
 

James

Out There
Instructor
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
11,792
Like trying to click into your bindings while standing on a medicine ball unsettling. It scared me just bending over to put my skis on the snow. I don't think there is a flat spot up there.
Hah. Yes. Just bizarre. I don't even like thinking about it. Take the tram up there and get out, in ski boots without cat tracks? Then wait for 15 minutes?? No way. Hellish.
I'd climb Highlands Bowl, or East Ridge at Abasin in a snow storm before doing that.
 
Top