February 24, 2012 | Posted in:Uncategorized
Here at Big Sky, lift lines simply do not exist. It is a wonder how this place manages to stay in business because unlike most resorts, it is seldom crowded. Last weekend was an exception. It was Presidents Day and had been snowing off an on for a few days. Pretty much the perfect combination for a crowd up here. So, when Brian texted me Friday night asking if I wanted to take a tour out in Beehive Basin, it sounded like a great idea and I was definitely in.
There were a few problems with the plan. First, I had broken my trekking poles on a previous tour and still waiting for new ones to come in the mail. Simple enough to fix, I grabbed two pieces of kindling and a roll of duct tape. Instant splint for my pole. It almost made me re-think getting new ones. Almost. But, it would do the trick for a day. The second problem wasn’t as simple to solve. Right after I had agreed to wake up early so that we could get a full day of touring in, a few lifties showed up at our place donning not one but two 30-bombs of Bush. I haven’t figured out who thought Bush was a good idea, not to mention why we needed such a large quantity of the terrible stuff. Since my bed is right in the middle of our living room, I have the pleasure of attending any social gathering that occurs in our house, whether I want to or not. Accepting that there was no way out, I opted to take the easy route. Stay up late, drink way too much, and hike off my hangover on little to no sleep, with of course my non-collapsable poles made mostly of duct tape.
After a grueling mile or so, the hangover had finally disappeared and I was able to fully appreciate the spectacular beauty of where we were. Beehive Basin is just north of Lone Peak (the mountain Big Sky and Moonlight are one). When you get to the top, you are rewarded with spectacular views of Lone Peak and Fan Mountain. We opted to drop in to the east face of the ridge into middle basin. It was a steep face with a couple of clearings separated by some nice glades. All in all, it was about 1000 vertical ft of terrain to ride. The snowpack was really stable and allowed us to have some awesome turns. We ended up taking three laps on Middle Basin, getting fresh tracks each time, even finding a few cliffs and some gnarly cornices to drop.
It had snowed pretty steadily on us throughout the day and on our last lap it had really started to dump. When we made it up to the top of the ridge for the last time, it was snowing hard and visibility was dropping quickly. We dropped in the west face, back in to Beehive Basin for our last spectacular run on the way out to the car.
All in all, it was an awesome and exhausting trip. For those of you counting, including the hike from the car up to the ridge (about 2300 vertical ft) we climbed roughly 5300 ft in elevation. While those numbers are rough estimates, we hovered right around having hiked a vertical mile.
Unfortunately since then, the snowpack out here has gone to shit. It has snowed a ton (which is awesome), loading a weak layer that was buried about 6 inches down when we went out. This added weight has made all of the slopes unstable and a lot of slopes are sliding. In fact, a lot of slopes are breaking on the top weak layer and the slides are then reacting all the way down to the ground where we still have a bunch of depth hoar buried. Basically, it might be a while before I can take another tour in the backcountry.