Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally a time to spend with family and friends, eat too much and watch football. If you were in Big Sky, Montana, this past weekend, however, you had the chance to ski powder until your legs ached.
Big Sky Resort opened Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day, with 780 acres of open terrain and coverage that looked more like January than November. By the time the long weekend was over, the resort’s mountain operations teams had opened 1,152 acres and 60 trails. The ability to ski this much terrain on opening weekend is nearly unprecedented, and included much of the Challenger terrain, The Bowl from Powder Seeker, and Liberty Bowl off the Lone Peak Tram.
According to Taylor Middleton, general manager and president of Big Sky Resort, the mountain saw “the best opening day conditions in many years.” Early season snowfall dropped more than 70 inches on Lone Mountain this fall, and it was snowing hard when eager skiers lined up for first chair on Thursday. This auspicious start to the season was only eclipsed by a snowstorm that began Friday night and dropped more than 12 inches of snow on the peak, according to Big Sky Ski Patrol.
Patrollers were also able to open Liberty Bowl for a couple of hours on Thursday, despite advertising scenic-only tram rides for the day. By Sunday, bluebird skies and deep powder on Liberty Bowl awaited skiers and snowboarders willing to tempt the early season conditions.
This week, ski patrol will be on the mountain trying to open as much terrain as they safely can, and more acreage should be opening daily, according to Stacie Mesuda, Big Sky Resort’s public relations manager. This is Mesuda’s first winter at Big Sky Resort after a stint working at Colorado’s Beaver Creek Resort, and she was floored by the conditions.
“The snow was amazing, and it was probably the best opening day of my four years in the ski industry,” she said. “We’ve just had so much snow and the coverage is great. The mountain operations teams have done a great job getting the mountain open and we’re opening up more terrain every day.”
While the resort did not release skier-day numbers for the weekend, Mesuda said that visitation numbers were record breaking for each day of the holiday weekend.
Big Sky Resort plans to open Ramcharger 8, a brand new eight-seater chairlift from the base area, in mid-December, and other chairlifts will be opening as conditions allow.