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TR Grand Targhee, Big Sky, Bridger, March 2024

marzNC

Angel Diva
I chose to ski solo in the morning on Wed, March 6. It was going to be a short day since I took @teppaz and her friend from CA to the airport/airport motel in the afternoon.

Here's what I skied just before lunch. In general, the double-blue terrain on Andesite has been loads of fun. The temperatures have been cold so any ungroomed fresh snow stayed nice. With the blue skies, the advanced skiers were busy doing terrain off the tram.

Big Sky Day 3 06Mar2024 Congo - 1.jpegBig Sky Day 3 06Mar2024 Congo - 2.jpeg
 

SkiBam

Angel Diva
Thanks for the great report, marzNC. I so well remember our trip back in (can't even remember the year) to GT, Bridger, Big Sky and the Alta. Wonderful memories indeed.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Thanks for the great report, marzNC. I so well remember our trip back in (can't even remember the year) to GT, Bridger, Big Sky and the Alta. Wonderful memories indeed.
You're welcome.

That trip was in March 2013, a bit later than my recent trips to GT and Big Sky. It was the only time I've seen the three peaks.

March 2013 at Grand Targhee - Bill, G-Force, MarzNC; SkiBam
SkiBam GT 2013 - 1.jpegSkiBam GT 2013 - 2.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
One of the reasons I chose to head back to Big Sky in 2024 after being there in 2023 was to ride the new tram. It’s completely different from the old “can tram.” The new tram is more like the trams at JH or Snowbird. The scale of the engineering required to make it work and the speed is amazing.

The tram holds 75 people, but the number of skiers/riders for each tram is limited. On Wed, March 6, I skied solo in the morning. One reason was to do a Scenic ride (not bringing up skis), which was $10 with no wait. When I went up about 11:00, the ride for skiing down was $35. The wait was listed as 15-20 minutes.

I learned from the tram operator on the way down that it was the first time the count was 30 for skiers/riders. When they were prepping to load, the liftie was counting . . . 27, 28, 29, "are you a single?" Since the next people in line was a couple, he asked for the next single in the line to get to 30.

There will be more construction around the tram docks to add viewing decks on top and a restaurant at the base. Also the new gondola from the base will connect with the tram.

Bill and I rode the tram to ski Liberty after lunch on Thu, March 7. The price was $35 and there was no waiting. Probably because the new snow was tracked out the day before.

Big Sky Day 3 tram 06Mar2024 - 1.jpegBig Sky Day 3 tram 06Mar2024 - 2.jpegBig Sky Day 3 tram 06Mar2024 - 3.jpegBig Sky Day 3 tram 06Mar2024 - 4.jpegBig Sky Day 3 tram 06Mar2024 - 5.jpegBig Sky Day 4 tram 07Mar2024 - 1.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
After finishing Liberty, Bill and I decided to head all the way over to Moonlight aka the Madison area to get a run down Marshall. He'd been there earlier in the week, but I hadn't skied it yet this trip. It took about an hour to get from the Shedhorn Grill over to Marshall, which requires riding Shedhorn, taking the Duck Walk cat track to the top of Swift Current where the cat track to Madison starts, then riding the Iron Horse, Six Shooter, and the Lone Tree lifts. We knew it was going to warm up starting the next day, so it was worth the effort to get some more soft powder turns.

Marshall is one of the black tree/bump runs off Lookout Ridge. There was plenty of "cold snow" left. :smile:

Bill heading towards Madison area
Big Sky Day 4 07Mar2024 Marshall  - 1.jpeg

Top of Marshall
Big Sky Day 4 07Mar2024 Marshall  - 2.jpeg

View from Six Shooter, around 3:15pm
Big Sky Day 4 07Mar2024 Marshall  - 3.jpeg

Areas I covered on Madison side this trip, including Marshall
Big Sky Day 6 09Mar2024 Madison map - 1.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
On Day 5, March 8, my condo had three skiers left, myself, Bill, and @BReeves215 . The others couldn't stay as long. We started out heading over to the Madison area together. We met up for a quick early lunch at the Madison Grill. By the time we were getting together to head out, it was around 4:00 and the resort-sponsored party was in full swing.

BReeves, March 8
Big Sky Day 5 08Mar2024  - 1.jpeg

Jaws (blue), off Cinnabar (green) on the way to Six Shooter
I heard Jaws was good from a local who was sitting next to me on the parking lot shuttle
Big Sky Day 5 08Mar2024 Jaws - 1.jpeg

Lower section of Broken Heart (black) off Meriweather Cutoff
Big Sky Day 5 08Mar2024  - 2.jpeg

New double magic carpet in beginner, teaching area near Mountain Village base
Big Sky Day 5 08Mar2024  - 3.jpeg
Big Sky Day 5 08Mar2024  - 4.jpeg

Party time at Mountain Village, Friday afternoon, 3-5pm
Big Sky Day 5 08Mar2024  - 5.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The last day at Big Sky was a Saturday. However, it wasn't as crowded as might be expected for a few reasons. Low snow and warm weather was probably a big factor. Although there were plenty of travelers from out of Montana skiing for the first time who were trying to figure out to get around Big Sky. I learned from a local woman in the locker room that this week was spring break not only for Montana State University in Bozeman, the Bozeman and Belgrade K-12 schools were also on break. Having lived in a college town, I'm used to the place being relatively empty during school breaks because college students either go home or take a fun trip with friends. Some families with parents take a trip during spring break, even if it's only a long weekend.

For Day 6, March 9, the three of us headed to the Shedhorn lift for the morning. Dakota opened too. Bill and I went exploring and gave Rock Valley a try. We didn't find good snow because it had been too warm in the last couple days.

We met up for a great lunch outdoors at the Shedhorn Grill aka "the yurt." We got in line in time for the 11:30 opening. That meant I could fine three places to sit together while the others stayed in the line for ordering food. When it's a nice day for eating outside, the yurt is a popular lunch spot. The food is good and I gather the beer selection is too.

Rock Valley entrance. The area thru the gate is under a cliff band, which can mean closures when there is danger of avalanches. Badlands is the only blue in the Dakota area.
Big Sky Day 6 09Mar2024 Dakota Rock Valley - 1.jpeg

View looking up Rock Valley, perhaps half way down
There were a couple men (in purple) who got to the gate about the same time but opted to let us go exploring first. One followed our route (right side in photo), while the other went father out. They went back towards Shedhorn after this run. Everything was windblown and then baked by the sun.
Big Sky Day 6 09Mar2024 Dakota Rock Valley - 2.jpeg

Looking up from bottom of Rock Valley
Big Sky Day 6 09Mar2024 Dakota Rock Valley - 3.jpeg

For my last run, I chose to finish with Congo bumps, which were still soft
Big Sky Day 6 09Mar2024 MarzNC last run - 1.jpeg
 

lisamamot

Angel Diva
Oooh, I'm so wishing I had been there! Last time there I skied with Skisailor - so I have bittersweet memories of Big Sky!
Same...especially when I take the tram up and ski down Liberty Bowl I remember her wonderful guidance.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Made it home late last night. Will post a bit about the two ski days at Bridger soon.

Made use of a couple new features for Southwest. Checked in my boot suitcase and ski bag online before going to the Bozeman airport. Since there are only two check-in kiosks, it probably helps to keep the line moving a bit faster.

What was more useful was using the SW App to track my checked bags. Happened to sit where I could see the loading conveyor and watched my ski bag get loaded. I'd put enough unique stuff on the handle to spot it.

Ready to close up: Sportube Ski Shield double ski bag (1 pair of skis), Transpack boot suitcase (no longer available)
BZN Southwest notes Mar2024 - 1.jpeg

Check-in screen when bags are checked in online beforehand
BZN Southwest notes Mar2024 - 2.jpeg

Tracking check baggage
BZN Southwest notes Mar2024 - C.jpegBZN Southwest notes Mar2024 - B.jpeg

Ski bag being loaded in Denver, saw update on the SW App immediately after it was scanned
BZN Southwest notes Mar2024 - A.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Every time I'm in Montana to ski Big Sky, I also ski a few days at Bridger. The drive from Bozeman is 20-25 minutes. There are buses from town for locals, which is good for students at Montana State Univ.

Part of the reason is that I started working with an instructor at Bridger in 2012 when I attended Diva West at Big Sky. He's semi-retired but still available for previous clients. Bill and I were lucky he was available for a Monday morning lesson. Given that off-piste terrain wasn't particularly good, we worked on a fundamental skill on green/blue groomers that's hard to achieve consistently for skiers who learned on straight skis long ago.

Bridger is a non-profit, 501(c) (4), managed by a well organized Board that's been successful since the 1950s. It has 2000 skiable acres with 2600 ft vertical. There is terrain for all ability levels from beginners to experts willing to hike to ski very steep chutes. Lift tickets and lessons are priced reasonably.

Snow levels this season at Bridger are unusually low. Even worse than Big Sky, which doesn't happen often. However, the groomers were in good shape. We also figured out where the shade from trees or cliffs meant it was possible to find cold snow that hadn't gone through a thaw/freeze since the last snowstorm. Learned one nice route at the end of our lesson.

My lift tickets were $77 per day when bought online. Bill's tickets were $45 since he's over 70. Folks 80 and over ski for free. We used the RFID cards we got last season. When I called to set up the lesson, the ski school rep had no trouble finding our records for emailing waivers and adding a lift ticket.

With low snow, arriving by 8:30 on Sunday meant parking in Lot C. On Monday at 8;30, we parked in Lot B. Lot A is next to the base buildings and is good for families with little kids because it's a short walk to the dedicated beginner teaching area. Can be slow to exit Lot A if leaving about the same time as other people.

There are three cafeterias, two at the base and one a mid-mountain. Also a small cafe at mid-mountain in the area with mostly green/blue groomers.

Some stairs required to get to the base lifts. Can take an elevator inside the base building (on the left) that has the ticket windows and ski school office.
Bridger Mar 2024 - 9.jpeg

Ski school office in building to the right, cafeteria, bar & grill, rentals, and ski shop in building to the left
Bridger Mar 2024 - 3.jpeg

Mid-mountain lodge, closes by 3:00
Note rack for hanging backpacks. Lots of signs about keeping gear off the ground.
Bridger Mar 2024 - 4.jpeg

Examples provided in the main cafeteria for what can be recycled
Bridger Mar 2024 - 7.jpeg

Ski and bag check, either for the day or overnight
Bridger Mar 2024 - 8.jpeg

New for 2023-24 are a few free storage lockers near the ski school office
Every floor of this building has a large restroom, with seasonal lockers on the ground floor and middle floor
Bridger Mar 2024 - 11.jpeg
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
It's amazing the difference a week makes! When I skied at Bridger Saturday 3/2 before heading to Big Sky they had just had a bunch of snow and it also snowed that day. We found so much untracked snow in the trees and all around the Pierre's Knob lift area. We couldn't believe our good luck, on a Saturday especially.

I liked the new bag check, very reasonably priced.

Bridger is such a special place!!

IMG_0455.jpeg
IMG_0458.jpeg
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
Pictures from Sunday-Monday, March 10-11.

Powder Puff lift goes up to the Bridger lift to the top, as well as Pierre's
Bridger snow Mar 2024 - 2.jpeg

Teaching terrain for beginners, lesson meeting spot on the left
Bridger snow Mar 2024 - 1.jpeg

Second magic carpet (above the teaching terrain near the base buildings)
The kids in this lesson were clearly in a seasonal program, the instructor had five girls and one boy
From the top of this magic carpet, can get to a quad chairlift for a beginner trail that even has some trees and bumps on the left side, there is nothing above the trail so no worries about any fast skiers whizzing by

Bridger snow Mar 2024 - 6.jpeg

On Sunday morning there was a competition for juniors
Bridger snow Mar 2024 - 5.jpeg

Overlooking the base of the Bridger lift and magic carpet transportation lift (used to be a rope tow)
The trail below is a blue groomer
Bridger snow Mar 2024 - 10.jpeg

We did an "adventure run" the first afternoon on the steeper section of North Bowl, from the top of the Bridger lift, where there was still cold snow. Just as we were getting there, a mother with two young kids were obviously going to drop in. The older daughter went down first, while the mother got her son to go a little farther down before dropping in. I went where the mother skied (no pictures). There are plenty of kids under age 8 who ski this type of terrain at Bridger.

For those who know Taos, would be a black although the steepest section could be as steep as some Taos double-blacks. It was bump skiing, but they weren't huge.
Bridger Mar 2024 North Bowl - 1.jpeg
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Big Sky posted a blog entry with trail maps that start in 1973. It's a condensed history of the resort's first 50 years.

March 21, 2024
 

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