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Big Sky, February 2016

THE SKIING: BRILLIANT!

Two dozen enthusiastic Ski Club members set out for Big Sky Montana on February 5. The trip turned out to be a great week to visit this colossal ski area with its 5,800 skiable acres. The varied terrain includes plenty of long steep cruisers, powder bowls, tree runs and chutes at the 11,161’ summit of Lone Peak. Club members got to experience it all!

We arrived on Saturday, had a good warm – up day on Sunday, and were rewarded with fresh powder on Monday. 5 inches of new snow fell overnight, ushering in a beautiful sunny bluebird day. We got another 6 inches on Tuesday, when snow continued to fall until we closed the lifts. Wednesday was another perfect bluebird day. We got a bit more snow during the week, with only our last day presenting more classic spring skiing conditions.

Big Sky is known for having no lift lines, and this was the case all week. So nothing slowed down Club members from racking up prodigious amounts vertical on this mountain with 4,400’ drop. Some were overhead bragging about their accomplishments during apres ski brandishing their ‘Ski Tracks’ phone app as proof.

THE FOOD: EXCELLENT

There were many nice restaurants in the Mountain Village that Club members sampled. Most would agree their favorite lunchtime meal was at Everett’s, a restaurant  at the  8800’ summit of Andesite Mountain serving up tasty food with a postcard view of Lone Peak.   We had a nice group dinner at the historic Buck’s T-4 ranch in the town of Big Sky. Many other excellent restaurants hosted us for small group gatherings, but the culinary highlight for most was the tiny restaurant Lotus Pad in the nearby town of Big Sky. It wowed the group with some of the most memorable Vietnamese cuisine any of us have experienced—other than those recalling their missions to Hanoi of course!

The wildlife was not afraid of us, despite our snow suits that looked like we were equipped for a moon landing. Nor did they seem in the least bothered, or even interested in “black beasts” we rode. These new snowmobiles are much quieter than the last ones that some members had experienced–and also less polluting.

THE END of BIG SKY:

but hopefully NOT our last trip together!

A convivial group of ski lovers, we enjoyed each other’s company on– as well as off the slopes. As our trip and the 2016 ski season both wound to an end, members were already talking about where they could go next year to ski together again.  They will be bound to find their ski buddies on one of the Club’s 2016/2017 trips to Vail, Taos, Telluride or Ischgl, Austria.

The best news was that everyone had a chance to experience the best of what Big Sky offers—and no one was injured during this trip—just all tuckered out!

For those not ready to brave the chutes down, we could still take the tram up the summit of Lone Peak and enjoy the most spectacular panoramas imaginable.

One of the great features of Big Sky is its Mountain Guides, which provide free daily tours for very small groups showcasing the different ski areas that are on offer. Many members took advantage of this to explore new areas each day with these knowledgeable local guides. Some also took advantage of the excellent ski school which provides small group lessons. One member enjoyed a ‘group lesson’ of one!

Some Club members enjoyed a day of cross country skiing at a nearby ranch, and other members hiked the Porcupine trail, seeing lots of Montana critters along the way.

THE LODGING: SUMMIT HOTEL

The Summit Hotel was a fabulous place to stay in the Mountain Village. Rooms were very nice and many had lovely views of Lone Peak. The Summit’s location, service and amenities made for an exceptional lodging experience. Sitting at the base of the two main quads used to access the mountain, the Summit has an enviable location for sure. Breakfast that was included in the package was such a feast that no lunch was needed. The fact didn’t stop some of us from experiencing the great lunches anyway!

The group gathered most evenings under the ‘big sky’ in the huge indoor/outdoor pool. There was also a great spa and fitness center—though few needed more exercise!  There was also a nice lounge with live music for apres ski gathering.  The complementary ski valet outside the hotel was so accommodating that they would carry your skis to the lift—or over to the ski school next door for those headed that way.

THE MID-WEEK BREAK: YELLOWSTONE PARK

The mid week break on Wednesday was also a perfect day for the dozen Club members that signed up for the optional snowmobiling in nearby Yellowstone National Park. After a 45 minute ride to the park, we were greeted with fresh snow on a beautiful landscape pockmarked with geysers and thermal features ‘where the buffalo roam’. We patiently idled our snowmobiles as the bison took their own sweet time to cross our paths. They ‘own the roads’ in Yellowstone and we had to keep our distance as the Park mandates.  We also met with  a herd of elk grazing for food in the frozen landscape

No one had to file a claim for insurance on their snowmobile–and only one member decided to go off-piste and needed a rescue tow back.