I went up to Big Sky last week for a Wilderness Medicine Conference. 3 of the 5 days had a lunch break from 9 to 4, so I figurued I might do a little snowboarding (the real reason I went to the conference).
When we got there, we were disapointed to find out that it hadn't snowed in over a week. But out on the groomers we were surprised to find that the conditions were still pretty good with plenty of fine, loose snow on top of hardpack:
For the first 2 days we spent most of our time on the groomers but did a few runs each day in the big bowl that is right off their low-speed triple lift. The first day that bowl was still in good shape, but the 2nd day it was a little too icy for my tastes on terrain that steep. We spent a lot of time on a blue groomer called "Big Horn" over on Andesite Mountain, which was just loads of fun with varied, rolling terrain.
Then the morning of our third day dawned to reveal 9 inches of fresh. Unfortunately the conference went a little late that morning, so we didn't get on the slopes until about 10. By 11 we were at the top of the tram and shocked to find that there were still untracked lines.
I was also completely intimidated by my surroundings. We chose the Dictator Chutes as they are the least scary of the runs from the top of Big Sky, but I was still terrified. I strapped into my board and actually started hyperventilating as I looked around at my surroundings:
But I managed to calm myself enough to point the board down into the abyss... And found that it was no steeper than the Imperial Bowl at Breck, which I've ridden tons of times. It just looks scarier because it is so exposed and narrower (though still certainly not narrow enough to be dangerous).
Here's my friend Russ making Tellie Turns down the Dictator Chutes:
And here you can see the whole run from near the top of the mountain:
At the end of the dictator chutes it flattens out (to a blueish angle) and then you drop down into that bowl you see that drops off to skier's left. From there you can do some standard blacks or ski the trees all the way down to complete a run that is 4,000' vertical feet.
We did that lloonngg run a couple times and then decided that our legs were too tired to do it again (it was our 3rd day in a row and 4,000' is quite a lot of riding/skiing) so we went off to do our favorite blue groomer to cap the day. We got over there at about 2:30 and could still get untracked lines... On a blue groomer. At 2:30. With only one lift from the mountain base area. Unbelievable!!
Then the next day we drove back to Denver (11 hours on a good day) in a full-on blizzard! Fun!
Big version of the panorama available here: