Deep and Steep Diary: Big Sky, Montana

Over the next few months, I'll add some notes on past trips and experiences. Love finding old photos and writings to share. It's great to reflect and recognize how far I've come. Stay tuned for more entries of the past.

Big Sky, Montana - January, 2013 

What a different experience deep, mountain powder is than the midwest crunchy snow I am used to. After pressing through the night driving to the mountain house where we'd call home for 7 days, we decided to hike up the mountain and build some jumps just to get the cobwebs out before hitting the big resorts for the next few days. Holy shit! 3' of natural snow and an elevation of 9,000 feet above sea-level makes a difference. Just climbing to the launch area caused my legs to light on fire. My lungs felt like their capacity had reduced. How was I ever going to make it on the big runs? My body had not acclimated to the environment yet. What's worse is that powder riding is a different animal. I think of my friend, Marc, saying "just lean back and you'll be fine". Yeah, OK. Control is different. Absorbing the terrain is unpredictable. Stopping is just weird. Lean back wasn't going to cut it. I had to adjust, and adjust fast!

The Climb.JPG

Doing what I do, I play things cool. No one in the group needs to know I am having a panic attack. I glide off on my first approach toward our man-made boost and narrowly miss some trees. I completely miss the ramp because I haven't mastered control. Run 1 down. What a nightmare this trip is going to be. I am nowhere near skilled enough to tackle the big mountains. With a little coaching from Brady I get more comfortable. And on the second go at our ramp I send it as hard as I can - go big or go home. POOF! I land sideways in the gloriously fluffy white powder. No pain. Ahh, there is something good about this after all. At home, a landing like that would've done damage. After that, it was game on and I was able to really figure out the feel of the snow and gain confidence on approaching different features. 

Day 1 at Moonlight Basin was awesome! Despite spending the day in the limits of the resort, I saw some very challenging terrain. Shockingly challenging. I couldn't believe the difference in what classifies as a blue square in Montana than in Minnesota. Maybe it's my ego, but I was really ill-prepared for all of this. There was a few inches of fresh snow that coated all of the groomed-runs which made for a great time but I still wasn't ready for the speed that came with a much steeper and much longer run. I got by once the ego check was over and had a ball, but next time in the steeps I will be better prepared mentally and physically. Here are Steph and the girls at the base of the Headwaters, the roughest terrain at Moonlight. Next time they will be mine!

Moonlight, so much more to see and explore and I will conquer it with more skill and determination the next time we meet. 

-JG