A fork in the Road
We’re heading south The last few weeks of snowboarding have been so great that we had been making plans to circle back after our day with Baylie and Dave in Calgary to hit a few more days at our favorites and also to visit a few more resorts that aren't a part of our mountain collective pass, which is whats driving this whole trip for the most part. We’ve heard such good things about the other smaller resorts, Fernie, Red, Castle Mountain, Kicking Horse…that when you add in the current conversion rate it just seemed impossible to not take an extra week or two to hit some or all of them.
But…as we’ve stated countless times - we suck at making plans. The last several days we’ve been watching snow reports with it dumping at resorts in MT, WY and UT…all while they have temps in the 20s. Where we are in Canada however; currently has no snow forecast for the foreseeable future and temps are in the negative teems and 20 and still dropping. Yikes!
This conversation continued as we drove south and pulled into Fernie. We drove around and found a place to overnight, mostly mesmerized by the fact that there is an RV resort that basically provides ski in-ski out access to the resort at Fernie. Were it not for it being -16F outside, we probably would have gone RV to RV and converted school bus to converted school bus to talk with the owners/residents about the lifestyle and how long they've been here.
Instead, we stayed cozy inside the van except for when i bundled up to take karma for a sunrise walk in the morning. This place is epic beautiful…theres no question, and i could see us settling into that resort for a while under different conditions, but we already knew that without a foot of fresh powder to lure us onto the lifts (they actually haven't had new snow all week), theres no way we were riding in the crazy cold conditions today. Jen, as it turns out never even got out of the van during our 12-15hours in Fernie. We're getting better at cold...but that tipped things. We decided to call an audible and point the Van south. We could always circle back to these resorts later in the trip or even in the spring, but there's no way we were going to pay for lift tickets in the freezing cold when resorts we already hold free tickets to were getting dumped just south of us.
I guess “just south” is a bit strong, but that was our opinion/outlook at decision time.
Turns out we drove over 10 hours to get to Big Sky. Not sure why really…our plans started as not leaving at all…then even when we departed we planned on only getting as far as the halfway point of Missoula, MT, but the beautiful roads and the prospect of good snow kept us enjoying the drive and moving forward.
We found a lot to camp on the mountain at Big Sky and woke to another 5” of snow outside the van. Yes!!!!
This would be the first time we purchased a ticket this season thanks to our Mountain Collective pass, and by our math, the pass paid for itself after our first 3 days out. We figure, buying a few full price passes at resorts we want to experience and when conditions are good is a no brainer (apparently much lie turning south for the ability to get a 30+ degree temperature improvement after one days drive)!
Big Sky, as it turns out was well worth the stop and the lift ticket. This mountain isn't big…it HUGE. And the 5” of fresh (30” in the last 3 days) made the conditions perfect. Lots of fresh tracks and powder, lots of crazy epic fun tree runs and lots of giggling from the two of us, despite dealing with some work emergencies in between runs.
We also took the tram up to the top of the mountain (at 11,166’) for the view, though the wind blasting over the top made sure the run back down wasn't our favorite of the day. We also started finding some early-season obstacle later in the day. A few run-ins with rocks and a somewhat intimate encounter with a tree and we decided to call it a day despite having the desire to keep making more runs.
We would happily come back to this mountain, and I'm sure we will, but we have free passes at resorts with new snow not far away…so the journey continues onward.