By Michael Somerby EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – On the beloved holiday of friendship and togetherness, a steady flow of Big Sky locals and visitors clamored through Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Village.
Skis and snowboards slung over shoulders, they talked among themselves, excited whispers on their tongues; that is until they arrived at the lines growing at the bottom of the Ramcharger 8 and Swift Current chair lifts.
There, shoulders dropped and smiles graced faces. They would soon be on the hill.
“[It’s] really exciting, stoked to be here,” said Big Sky local Dan Whitaker. “Just happy to call this place home. The mood’s high, belly is still full from Friendsgiving last night and it’s beautiful. We’re blessed.”
Such is the ritual of opening day at Big Sky Resort, which annually coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday. Today, a robust amount of terrain greeted ticket- and pass-holders—some 600-plus acres shared between five lifts: Swift Current, Ramcharger 8, Explorer, Powder Seeker and Challenger.
“The snow is better than I thought,” said local Tobin Ide, 13. “I’m just really happy to be out here.”
Whitaker and Ide’s perspectives were shared by everyone on the hill, where crowds carved through the soft snow with sheer glee. Hoots and hollers, the trademark call of the alpinist, were in abundance.
The terrain that the resort made available was near perfect thanks to above-average snowfall beginning earlier in the fall.
“Since Oct. 1, we’ve received 69 inches of snow, and that is about 117 percent of the average,” said Big Sky Resort Public Relations Manager Stacie Mesuda. “Our base depth mid-mountain is 18 inches and our base depth on the upper mountain, in the high alpine, is 27 inches.”
As of presstime, the resort has received 71 inches.
While much of the opening day experience was familiar for many, the start to the resort’s 46th season ushered in new amenities and infrastructure, most notably Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) passes, which allow for seamless access to the lifts while also keeping guests from pulling off gloves to fish around in their pockets for ski passes.
As the season progresses, new amenities such as those that can be found at The Exchange, formerly the Mountain Mall, will become available. Regulars can expect The Exchange to open in stages beginning Dec. 5.
For Mesuda, now in her second season at Big Sky Resort, there is an honest joy in seeing the facilities come to life, a feeling she shares with her coworkers.
“We’re just look forward to seeing our community get together, to seeing lots of smiles and high fives,” she said. “There is stoke and just general happiness that comes with another ski season. We’ve got about 100-plus days ahead … of good powder and good times.”
We all have much to be thankful for each Thanksgiving. In Big Sky, Montana, one such item stands tall at 11,167 feet.