Archive for March, 2009


Keeping me in check!!!

Erin enjoys some turns in the trees Sunday.

Erin enjoys some turns in the trees Sunday.

As I sit here on this Monday in March and I try to recount all the highlights of last week only one thing comes to my mind. Powder. I almost feel guilty spending another Monday evening at my desk unfolding the days filled with first tram rides, epic powder days, face-shot turns and a the oodles of fun we had on the mountain all week. The 4th Annual Headwaters Spring Run-off Big Mountain competition at Moonlight was nothing less than extraordinary to watch. It snowed all week and every day brought legendary skiing. But I hesitate because eventually reading about this subject must become boring for some of you. So I sit debating on what to speak about when the past week has been one of the best skiing weeks all year, and Sunday must have been the deepest day of the year yet!

But just so I don’t make all of you flat-landers sneer in jealousy, non-belief or contempt; let me tell you a story about the trials and tribulations of a powder day.

Saturday night I dragged myself into bed and set my alarm knowing that it was going to be a big powder day Sunday, and that meant and early morning for me with aspirations of catching first chair at Big Sky. Let me preface this by saying, I have never been a morning person. I greatly admire all you early morning risers, who enjoy several cups of coffee, the newspaper and a healthy breakfast before work. I marvel at those who enjoy the sunrise. It is one of the most awe-inspiring sights, because I rarely ever see it. Even as a child my mother would sometimes have to drop cold water on me to invoke consciousness (generally around noon). My mornings usually consist of a painful awakening by my alarm just before 9 a.m., I fight myself rabidly applying every logical argument to rise, and my body fights back with extreme lethargy. Once risen, there are no showers (those are reserved for the night prior), there is also no breakfast, not even coffee. There is definitely no time for reading a newspaper. Instead I fumble through the clean clothes (or gently used pile) and find an outfit that I hope matches. But quite frankly at the un-godly hour of 10:00 a.m., who cares?

But when the snow falls my unadulterated excitement wakes me before the alarm which wakes me at 6:55 a.m. I leaped from my bed, dressed in my ski clothes and hurried out the door and caught the same friendly ski shop manager on his way to work. Once again I hitched a ride on his tailgate and was in line at 7:35 a.m. Goodness gracious I do love the early morning! Once I secured my place in line next to the other two early morning “regulars”. We chatted for the next hour and half until there was seventy people lined up behind us. We were deep into a discussion on Michael Jackson as the second hand moved steadily towards nine o’clock. I watched the lift operator like a hawk as he picked up the phone and spoke to somebody (presumably ski patrol) at the top of the lift. I could hear my own heartbeat. Slowly he lowered the phone to the receiver and looked slowly up to me. Eye contact was made. He blinked slowly and barely moved his head an inch. There was my sign! I dashed forward just as the chair came around and it blocked the other three men who were still debating the great artworks and bizarre atrocities of Michael Jackson. I looked back at their puzzled expressions and the lift operator chuckled at them. Yes, first chair on the biggest powder day of the year, had just been snaked from them by a girl. The quad scooped me up, and I had a leisurely ride up solo with three empty spaces. I laughed evilly to myself. “Whooo ha ha ha ha ha.”

Needless to say I won the race from the top of the Swift Current lift to the triple. I was very pleased with myself. I reveled quietly in my gratification. I gave myself several mental high-fives.

We loaded the triple a short while later, but this time I had the same two men with me that had met me at 7:35 a.m. As we unloaded we dashed in a tuck towards the tram. (Now, you must understand, there is no reason for me to even hurry at this point, I know I will be in first tram.) But the greed got to me. Suddenly a normally dormant streak of competitiveness rose in my blood as I stared at the back of my friend Ted. “I must get there first” I thought. My nose crinkled and my eyes became little slits of intensity. I lowered into a smaller tuck and gained speed, I started to pass him on his right side and just as I thought I was almost around him….

….I struck a thick, dense pile of snow and double ejected out of my skis into momentous forward somersaults. All the speed I had gained took me farther and farther away from my skis, which were still sitting uphill from me. I jumped off the ground and ran towards my skis; I grabbed the first one and then dug out the second. I set them in the snow and fumbled trying to put them on. The snow was too deep. My foot refused to click into the binding. Finally I realized I had to reset the binding. I vigorously picked up the ski as several other skiers passed. One after another, the tram line was filling and I was stupidly standing in the snow trying to fix my binding. I heard one skier yell as he passed “That is at least a one tram penalty.” It was actually a 2 tram penalty. When I finally entered the line the crowd cheered, partially because I had finally made it, and partially to revel in my defeat after being the only person on first chair that morning.

I re-learned a very important lesson; don’t get too greedy. This morning, I caught first chair for a great powder day, but I allowed the rest of the boys to come with me, I raced (and fell) but humbly and still made third triple chair and first tram…

I hope that you got some enjoyment out of this story, I promise not to gloat too much about the incredible skiing we experience here at Big Sky and Moonlight. You must promise to visit us out here, and experience it yourself. Looks like this upcoming week will be another great opportunity, check out the weather forecast below!

Respectfully yours,


Events for 3/31 – 4/6

Tuesday 3/31 – $3 bottled beers and $3 cocktails at Buck’s T-4.

Wednesday 4/1 – $10 Steak Night at Buck’s T-4. Don’t miss this weekly event; it is the best deal in town. 8 0z. Sirloin steak cooked to order, salad, steamed vegetables and a baked potato for only $10!

Saturday 4/4 – Ramcharger lift at Big Sky stays open until 5 p.m.

Saturday 4/4 & Sunday 4/5 – Military Appreciation and Educators Appreciation week at Big Sky Resort. Call (406) 995-5000 for details.

Monday 4/6 – The FREE ski week for Big Sky Frequent Sky card holders, mid-week pass holders and 15X pass holders begins!


Tues 3/31: Snow. (high 30)

Wed 4/1: Snow. (high 29)

Thurs 4/2: Snow. (high 35)

Fri 4/3: Snow. (high 29)

Sat 4/4: Snow. (high 31)

Sun 4/5: Partly Cloudy. (high 31)

Mon 4/6: Partly Cloudy. (high 37)


Spring into Big Sky!

Despite temperatures in the mid 40’s last week, the snowpack held strong at Big Sky and Moonlight Basin. The week started with a powder day on Tuesday. I sprung out of bed at 7:00 a.m. excited to see a blanket of fresh white snow covering my driveway, car and road. The wind had blown the snow so dense outside my door I could barely get out of my house. I gathered my ski gear and was out the door by 7:30 a.m. While walking uphill towards the base area I heard a truck coming up behind me, a fantastic opportunity to catch a ride and avoid getting all sweaty first thing in the morning. I stuck my thumb out and the truck rolled to a stop. I was greeted by a familiar face, the ski shop manager. A fellow skier, he understood the urgency of my need to get to the base area as fast as possible on that beautiful powder morning. I popped his tailgate down and sat on it holding my skis for the short drive to the base area. I made sure to thank him as I ran off towards the coffee shop in the mountain mall. I love to start my days with a latte before skiing.

Skiing that morning was remarkable; I waited for first tram, which turned out to be the longest wait of the year due to some early morning complications patrol had with avalanche control work.  As the tram operator pulled back the chain and finally allowed the first tram to load the crowd cheered. I took my old favorite, Marx as my first run. The snow was creamy and smooth. Although this was not light, fluffy, “face-shot” snow, it was still an immaculate run. Next we took a couple Liberty laps, getting fresh tracks each time.  The second run through Liberty I cut off into “Erica’s glade” and looked over an untouched and wide open meadow of snow. I made sure to make a perfect line on the right side all the way down to the cat track. I looked up to admire my turns as a sped down to Shedhorn so I could ride back up and do it all over again.

Because the snow was so wet and heavy, it stuck to the mountain and made for great conditions all week. The Big Couloir was skiing as easy as I have ever seen it. If you are a first timer; last week would have been a prime time to get in there.

After skiing on Thursday, I met up with some friends and we listened to some great après ski music and then stayed for one of our favorite local musicians; Kevin Fabozzi. Between sets, we ordered pizza, delivered to the bar.  It was after 11:00 p.m. when I finally wrenched my feet from my ski boots. Despite the cramping pains in my foot, it was a fabulous evening filled with great music, pizza and beers.

Jerry Joseph a popular musician in ski towns came through Big Sky this weekend. He played both Friday and Saturday nights at the Whiskey Jack. I attended the high energy and rockin’ Saturday show. We danced until he stopped playing at 2:00 a.m. and we were kicked out. Joseph started playing in Boulder, CO in the 80’s and became hugely popular in the rocky mountain area, in the 90’s he traveled outside of Colorado to Montana, Utah, Portland and New York. His music is a mix between rock, jam band and has a classic and catchy sound. He usually stops by Big Sky once a year, and never fails to impress.

Sunday night I attended the “Tastes of South America” Wine Dinner at Buck’s T-4. Like Joseph, Executive Chef Todd Christensen also never fails to impress. The dinner kicked off with one of my personal favorites; ceviche- squid, shrimp and scallops in fresh citrus juice with garlic, scallion, and jalapeno in a pancetta “cup” with a cilantro red pepper rouille. We enjoyed other fabulous courses including dark rum spiked morel-sweetbread sausage, bison tenderloin with a chimmichurri sauce, a wild boar and goat cheese empanada and a white chocolate ice cream on a cajeta cake with a honeyed and grilled pineapple pear salsa. The wines were also an impressive array of Argentinean and Chilean varietals. Everybody seemed to have a great time and once again we had a greatly successful wine dinner here at Buck’s T-4.

After such a busy week, I am looking forward to snuggling up on the couch and doing some relaxing this week. Winter weather has returned and the fireplace is looking awfully inviting. Better rest up because there is snow in the forecast!

Viva snow!




Headwaters Spring Runoff

March 28, 2009
Moonlight Basin
Moonlight Basin is hosting its 4th Headwaters Spring Runoff, an amateur hike and freeride competition.
Entry fees: TBD. * Lift Ticket required.
Compete for a chance to win big prizes or just come out to join the fun.
Categories Include: • Male Alpine Skier • Female Alpine Skier • Male Telemark Skier • Female Telemark Skier • Male Snowboarder • Female Snowboarder • Junior – 16 and under.


Sunset Saturdays at Big Sky Resort

March 28, 2009
Big Sky Resort
Starting March 14th on Saturdays, Ramcharger stays spinning until 5pm. As the days get longer hang out and rip Ramcharger Laps for an extra hour every Saturday for the rest of the season. DJ will be rockin the plaza as well. Come, hang out, ride, have a drink and work on your goggle tan. Only Saturdays, Only Ramcharger till 5pm




Tues. 3/24                           Chance of snow. High 36.

Wed. 3/25                           SNOW!!! High 32.

Thurs. 3/26                         Chance of snow. High 23.

Fri. 3/27                              Mostly cloudy. High 35.

Sat. 3/28                             Chance of snow. High 39

Sun. 3/29                            Chance of snow. High 38.

Mon. 3/30                           Mostly cloudy. High 39.



Spring Break in Big Sky – Weather and Events

The Big Sky area is being flooded with students and families this month as schools across the country have SPRING BREAK! Everybody loves a little fun in the spring and the folks down at Buck’s makes this possible for college students.  Buck’s T-4 offers a student discount at the hotel and in the Pub. Only $99 a night for single or double occupancy in the hotel. Two for one appetizers in the Buck’s Pub. And here is my little ‘tip of the day’ for all you college students; Look in the MSU Pocket Guide (a free publication) for coupons and you could stay in Big Sky for only $49 a night at Buck’s T-4!

This week we had fun in the spring sun out on the ski hill. The wind had smoothed out the snow and everything up high was skiing as if the snow-cats had somehow summited to groom the high alpine terrain. The wind is an incredible resource here in Big Sky. Although often it can be strong and feel a bit harsh against your face, the wind makes sure that moguls disappear on the peak and it leaves our slopes smooth and carvy for pristine GS turns. While other resorts collect giant Volkswagen sized moguls, we are enjoying speeding down steep and wide open runs. Now I am ready for some snow, and it looks as if my wish will be granted.

Friday night Big Sky Resort held a Big Air contest. Snowboarders, skiers and even telemarkers reached incredible heights showing the crowd what they were made of.

I had a couple girls from the University of Montana in for the weekend to visit me. As you may have guessed, they were on spring break. Considering the ideal conditions, we decided to try some new things to make our day a little more interesting. Jessica and I strapped on the telemark skis and Sarah pulled out a pair of new skis, much longer than her other ones. We fell and fumbled our way through the day, but by the end we all felt like we had made some progress and conquered the mountain. Luckily for us we were able to enjoy and extra hour of skiing on Saturday. Since Daylight Savings, the sun stays out longer, and Big Sky Resort now keeps the Ramcharger lift open until 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays. It’s called “Sunset Saturdays”, and I personally am a big fan.

This week was also a big week for Buck’s T-4. Buck’s has entered the wild world of FACEBOOK! In two days Buck’s acquired over 70 new friends. Want to be friends with Buck’s T-4? You can be the first to know about special events, deals and network with others in the Big Sky, Bozeman area and the restaurant and wine world. Buck’s T-4 is located in Big Sky, MT.

Since this blog is intended to report on happenings, conditions and activities in the Big Sky area, I have decided to include a weekly forecast (no promises on accuracy) and a list of upcoming events in Big Sky. I hope this helps anybody planning a vacation in the treasured Big Sky area.


Science on the Slopes

3/19 – Big Sky Resort (406) 995-5000

Want to learn about snow and avalanche science, the rock glaciers on Lone Mountain, or mountain ecosystems? The day includes a morning session (10am-12pm) and an afternoon session (1-3pm).


Jerry Joseph (Fantastic, high energy rock show. I highly recommend it.)

3/20 & 3/21 – The Whiskey Jack (406) 995-5000



“Tastes of South America” Wine Dinner (Check out the menu below….need I say more?)


Buck’s T-4 – Call (406) 993-5222 for reservations


Apaltagua Chardonnay  -Chile

Ceviche mixato- squid, shrimp and scallops in fresh citrus juice with garlic, scallion, jalapeno in a pancetta “cup” with a cilantro red pepper rouille

Penalolen Cabernet Sauvignon -Chile

Dark rum spiked morel-sweetbread sausage on grilled polenta with a creamy lemon-avocado aioli

Apaltagua Envero Carmenere  -Chile

Allspice, cumin, and pepita crusted bison tenderloin with chimmichurri sauce on a bed of green pepper, garlic, butternut squash, and roasted potato toss with grilled asparagus

Pargua 2 Super Chilean  -Chile

Beefsteak Milanese with black bean roasted garlic sauce and roasted gold tomato salsa on a pumpkin parsley rice with sweet onion salad

Ricardo Santos Malbec -Argentina

Wild boar, goat cheese, and scorched garlic stuffed in a dried apricot and almond empanada on a bed of small batch olive oil tossed frisee with a citronette

Perpetuum Torrontes -Argentina

White chocolate ice cream on a cajeta cake with a honeyed and grilled pineapple pear salsa




Looks like we are looking forward to a rather warm week, but a high chance of precipitation almost every day. Luckily we are high up, and it rarely rains.


Tues 3/17:       SNOW!!!! (And lots of it, from what I hear) High 37

Wed 3/18        SNOW!!!! High 41

Thurs. 3/19      Mostly Cloudy. High 45 (Spring is here)

Fri. 3/20:         Chance of SNOW!!! High 46

Sat. 3/21:         Chance of SNOW!!! High 45

Sun. 3/22:        Chance of SNOW!!! High 43

Mon. 3/23:      Chance of SNOW!!! High 35

Happy St. Patty’s Day,



In like a Lamb, out like a Lion!

It’s March in Big Sky, which means snowstorms, parties, spring skiing, powder and tons of fun. The first week in March encompassed it all. The week started out warm and ended with two big powder days, and a rockin’ spring party.

My dad and brother came to visit, which allowed me some time to explore parts of the mountain that I rarely made it to. Sunday was blue sky, great visibility and warm weather. My dad and I headed to Mr. K a long gentle groomed run which is loved by beginners and experts alike. After our warm up we hit some of my dad’s old time favorites such as Crazy Horse, Upper Morning Star and Lobo. Although Dad has been skiing Big Sky since 1991, he still likes to stick to the same groomed cruisers he loved back then. Big Sky offers fantastic terrain for intermediate skiers. Sometimes we get carried away talking just about the Tram and all our expert terrain. But most skiers that come on vacation are intermediate skiers and they are looking to enjoy their ski vacation and not go home with any injuries. Big Sky and Moonlight have plenty to offer in that department.

Although my dad has skied Big Sky for almost 20 years, he had never been to Moonlight Basin, which definitely deserves a couple days of exploration. Moonlight Basin’s groomed trails are long and meander through gorgeous woods, and offer breath-taking views of Fan Mountain, Beehive Basin and the Spanish Peaks. We explored all the blue square runs off both the Six-Shooter lift and the Lone Tree lift. We laughed as we loaded the high speed 6-person lift at Moonlight alone. “It sure is nice to have this great amenity here, but we don’t even need it.” I said. “The trails at Moonlight are as private as you need, pristine beauty, great skiing and a taste of what Montana skiing is all about.” My dad and I laughed and remembered what Big Sky was like 15 years ago, a lot like Moonlight.

I persuaded my dad into the trees for a run. We took Whiskey down from the Lone Tree Lift, it’s a gentle slope with trees spaced out to allow plenty of turns. Moonlight has a collection of idyllic tree runs. They are not too steep, not too tight, they are just right. I suggest exploring Whiskey, White Bark, Single and Double Jack.

To end the day, my dad, brother and I headed to Buck’s T-4 for dinner. My brother fancies himself somewhat of a food connoisseur and was wildly impressed with the cuisine. “It’s crazy that there is such a magnificent gem of a restaurant all the way out here” exclaimed my dad. I ordered the Field and Stream special which consisted of a veal chop with a caper demi-glace and cherry foie gras duck confit ravioli. My dad went for the Catch of the Day special which was a seafood bouillabaisse with scallops, salmon, muscles, shrimp and crab. My brother ordered the extremely tender Bison Tenderloin. For appetizers we had Trout Cakes and Fried Oysters. The meal was fabulous, but to end it right we had a double-decker brownie with fudge and wrapped in filo dough and served with homemade vanilla ice cream. We also couldn’t pass up the huckleberry cookie and pear sorbet. Buck’s is a reataurant that shouldn’t be missed if you are visiting Big Sky. Best known for wild game, Buck’s also offers prime grade hand-cut steaks and features an award-winning wine list. There is also a hotel that offers affordable lodging.

After that dinner we were in need of some calorie burning. Luckily for us the next night it started to dump. The snow came with a vengeance. The storm was so intense driving was nearly impossible. However we were determined to make it down to the Lotus Pad, Big Sky’s only Thai restaurant, and often called “the best Thai I have eaten anywhere” by travelers. After a fantastic dinner with friends I made the journey back up to the Mountain Village and dropped the boys off. “I will never make fun of your driving again” stated my brother, who isn’t used to what a Montana snow-storm can bring in. “Thanks for getting us back to the hotel alive.”

It was an early morning indeed the next couple days. Big Sky was hit by a storm that eventually brought what seemed to be about 30 inches of snow over two days. My Dad taught me well as a kid “No friends on a Powder day.” I raced to the Swifty line early and secured my place in line for another early morning tram line filled with oceans of un-touched powder. It was divine. I can’t say enough about skiing powder, but I will restrain myself and point you to my last blog entry if you crave expansion on the subject.

After a hard day of skiing we were rewarded by going to the Yurt dinner at Big Sky. We were picked up from the Summit hotel in a snow-cat that sat 25 of us, in a cabin or on the roof. We headed up middle road to a Yurt, where we enjoyed sledding, a bonfire and a delicious filet mignon dinner accompanied by french-onion soup, mashed potatoes and vegetables. The meal was finished with chocolate fondue, and then we headed back down the mountain. If you are visiting Big Sky, don’t miss this backcountry dining experience.

Saturday was Dirtbag day, our favorite holiday in Big Sky. I started my morning by visiting a punk band show at the Bambu Bar while I enjoyed breakfast and a Bloody Mary. Next, we gathered at the base of the Lone Peak Triple lift and lined up for the Dirtbag parade, where the Dirtbag King and Queen ski through a tunnel of ski poles and screaming Dirtbag ski bums, then we all headed down Crazy Horse. Next we rode back up the lifts to a stadium built from snow at the base of Crons. Powder 8 skiers, including myself hiking up Crons and lined up to see who could do the best powder 8’s. The snow had not been touched for a week and the wind had done some damage making it slab. Watching the pairs come down was riotously entertaining. After the awards ceremony at the Black Bear, we had a delicious home-cooked dinner and then dressed for the Dirtbag Ball, where all us ski bums partied until we were kicked out. The costumes all day consisted of neon ski gear, vintage clothing and the wildest, most outrageous attire one can find. The Dirty Shame played for us, and rocked the house.

The first week in March truly came in like a lamb and out like a lion.

Happy Dirtbag,


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