Thistlin-  I'm going to say that DV will be the first to drop IKON.  It doesn't fit their brand.  I don't understand why they added it, unless they are in severe financial trouble.  If you market as an exclusive family ski resort why would you try to get all the IKON passers in?  Not sure how the money works with IKON, but I can't say I understand this one unless DV is going to undergo a change.  Used to be the crowds weren't bad because they actually sold out, limited day passes.  Now the parking lot is full because of the IKON crowd.  

A-Basin dropped Epic, I get that one.  There's very little upside to their brand, they don't need the Epic crowd.  They don't sell $35 lunch at A-Basin, very little upside to attracting  huge crowds of non-paying skiers.

Redhawk- looking forward to hearing more detail about Big Sky.  Hope my guidance was helpful.  

Grossie,

Yes, your tips were useful.  Thanks!

 Where to start? 

 First of all, I have to say, Big Sky is now my number one ski mountain!  There are some caveats that bring others into the conversation as favorite resort, but there is no other ski area in North America that beats the broad range of inbounds terrain (and I’ve skied about 15 other major resorts in Western US & Canada).

We skied March 5-10.  Big Sky received about 4 feet of snow the previous week, and there were about 3 cold snowless days before we got there for everything to settle and get tracked out.  We had blue skies our first day, about 4” of fresh the second day, and about 3 “ overnight for day 4.  So, no epic powder, but coverage was good and off-piste was generally soft and skiable.

The first day, we reserved ahead of time a mountain guide through the ski school for myself and 4 kids, ages 13-21, all strong skiers.  He showed us around the mountain some, checking our skills to see if we were worthy of bigger stuff.  After a couple runs under Swiftie and Ramcharger, he took us into Wolf’s Den and Elk Park Meadows, then headed over to the Tram.  With the guide, you basically get to skip the line (which apparently was about 1hour pretty much the whole week we were there). We had to split our group, and there were some mechanical issues, so it took about half an hour for our group to reassemble at the top, which gave me time to get some great photos in the sunshine.  Also, in the time we had to wait, the North Summit Snowfields had been opened by patrol.  We signed in at the patrol shack, and had to wait our turn. Our group of 5 plus a guide was too big for the Snowfields, but the group ahead of us had room for an extra, so I sent my 18 year old son with them.  As it turned out, his guide was Dan Egan !!!  We took our time getting down through the Snowfields, as my daughter in particular was not used to the heavy inconsistent powder, and we were on day 1 at altitude so our lungs and legs weren’t quite ready.  But we made it down just fine and I was able to capture it all on my GoPro.  Just an awesome experience!  We headed back to the Summit Lodge for a very nice lunch buffet, then did a couple runs on Andesite before heading to Shedhorn.  From Shedhorn, we could see the snow looked particularly good in Lenin, so we headed back for another Tram ride.  The snow in Lenin was indeed better, but my legs were pretty much shot for the day.  Hiring the guide wasn’t cheap, but it was a great way to learn some of the nuances of the mountain quickly, get you into stuff you probably would not do on your own, and most importantly, skip about 2 hours worth of waiting in the Tram line.

The rest of the week, I chased my teenage sons around the mountain as much as my sorry weekend warrior body would allow.  We particularly enjoyed just feeling our way down through the trees off Shedhorn, Dakota, and Lookout Ridge.

My two youngest (8 and 11) were in ski school for most of the week, but I skied some with them—we particularly enjoyed Harbor’s Natural Halfpipe and Lois Lane along lower Morningstar, and Freemont Forest under the Southern Comfort chair.

We stayed in Beaverhead condos.  Our unit was “ski-in”, but it was a bit of a hike to “ski out”, as we were in one of the units farthest from the actual slope.  I’m glad we rented a car, as we went down the mountain to the Meadows area several times for groceries, dining, and bootfitting (Grizzly Outfitters HIGHLY recommended for boot fitting).  My boys and I rented from the Big Sky rental center in the mountain village.  Normally, I would rent demos, but I decided to go down a notch to the “High Performance “ skis because I was tipped off that they just bought a new fleet of 2019 Head Kore 93 skis, which are really excellent skis for the type of skiing we do.

Awesome trip, overall!  I learned a lot about the resort and mountain, but there’s so much more to learn, I will have to go back a few more times!

Awesome Redhawk!  Glad you enjoyed.  I love that mountain, there is so much to ski there for everyone.   Did you get to Everett's?

I'm sad because I don't think I'm going to get there next year, but I'll try to perhaps the year after.

It's funny that the locals have complained about the IKON crowd there this year, but I never waited in a line longer than about 3 minutes in my 4 days in January.  I can't imagine there ever being a Vail,  Park City or Whistler-like lift line.  (try waiting for the Blackcomb gondola on a Saturday morning in February!)

Grossie, I agree about IKON not fitting Deer Valley brand.  Deer Valley is a more exclusive high dollar ski resort.  The season pass for Deer Valley is well over $2,000 and people spend a lot of money to come and stay at St Regis, Montage or Stein lodges and ski.  They do not like having crowds and parking issues, which has happened this year.  Granted, some may have come due to great snow, but it is still well above what has happened in the past.

You can tell who is using an IKON pass as it is printed on the person's ticket and I have quite a few stories from people working at Deer Valley regarding these people, and they are not positive.  Most of the IKON people come and try to spend as little money as possible.  My understanding is that Deer Valley does not get much money from the IKON ski passes, so if these people aren't spending much money at the resort, then it is a losing proposition.

If Deer Valley is not careful, they could damage their reputation as a top tier resort which would lead to less people paying top dollar to ski there.

Park City is suffering a bit of the same problem, though they are not a top tier resort.  Parking is a real problem there however.  If you don't get to the parking lot before 9:00 am , you will not have a place to park.  There are little options for other parking except on weekends.

I have not skied Big Sky, though I have heard some good things.  Looking at their trail map online, it appears that the majority of runs are expert.  Is there enough skiing for a person who skis mostly blue runs to have fun for a week?

ThistlinTom,

IMO, Yes!  There is definitely enough terrain to keep a blue-square skier happy for a week or more.   Remember, Big Sky has a huge amount of acreage. Even though the upper mountain occupies a large chunk, there is still more terrain below treeline than most western resorts. 

 I think the biggest grumble at Big Sky regarding the IKON pass has to do with the Tram.    As you noted, a fairly large chunk of the mountain is the black diamond terrain above tree line, which is only served by the Tram.   When it is working properly, it delivers approximately 30 skiers (or sight-see-ers)  to the top every eight minutes, that’s not a lot.   This is a good thing, in that it allows some of that great terrain to stay fresh and powdery without getting tracked out too quickly.  However, more people means longer lines.  If the line for the tram is an hour or more, most people aren’t going to want to ride it more than once per day.  When I was there a couple weeks ago, the tramline appeared to be an hour or more every day, all day.

 Apart from the tram, the only lift that had any significant line was the Swift Current Lift.   At the worst, that line was only 5 to 8 minutes,  usually less.   I had worse lines the last time I was at Alta and Jackson Hole, and forget about Colorado.

Took advantage of the good weather yesterday to skiing at Mount Sutton in the eastern townships. My favourite ski  hill out there. Temperature in the high 30's, not a cloud in the sky, 60/60 runs open and excellent groomed, packed powder. Only negative was only 4/9 chairlifts open. First world problems.

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