By Sheila Chapman
Big Sky Resort PR Manager
BIG SKY – Skiing through the trees was an objective of Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Operations Department as they expanded the resort’s skiable acres from 5,750 to 5,804 this summer.
Extensive glading will enhance the tree skiing experience this winter and will bring new runs and more fun for intermediate to expert skiers.
The Southern Comfort chair lift area on the south side of Andesite Mountain saw the most improvement with two new intermediate runs, named Lizette and Pomp after Sacajawea’s children. Lizette is located between Deep South and Sacajawea, and Pomp is located between Sacajawea and El Dorado. A section of Ponderosa was also widened.
Another new intermediate, gladed run called Lois Lane can be found between Lower Morning Star and Mr. K, and a new black diamond trail named Soul Hole was developed between Lobo and Calamity Jane. Both of these new runs are accessed via the Swift Current chair lift on Lone Mountain.
The mountain operations crew also improved Tango Trees, a tree run below the Lone Peak Triple lift, through selected thinning and removal of standing dead trees.
“Another goal, beyond improving the tree skiing experience, was to continue to promote healthy forest and improve wildlife habitat,” said Mike Unruh, mountain operations director at Big Sky Resort. “Thinning allows the remaining trees to get the resources they need and also can encourage new growth, promoting diversity in age class and species.”
On the southern exposure of Lone Peak, the crew did careful thinning of select trees on Dakota Gully. The trails will now be regularly groomed, changing its designation to intermediate, and allowing more skiers and riders to enjoy the Dakota chair lift.
In addition to the four new ski runs and expanded skiable terrain, a new trail map will be revealed this winter, rendering the majority of Big Sky Resort’s terrain in one primary view, with two additional insets of Lone Peak. One inset will focus on the bowl and the other on the southern face of the Shedhorn and Dakota area.
“The new trail map image breaks the mountain into three very distinct areas, and the transition from one section to the other is easily followed,” said James Niehues, famed resort illustrator who designed the new map. “The most important element of a trail map is to show the trail system in the clearest and simplest way.”