Sometimes I wonder why I travel outside of Colorado to ski. I mean, there’s an absurd number of ski areas within about 2 hours of home, not to mention my parents’ place right near Winter Park for free lodging. Then I go to somewhere like Big Sky, and it’s immediately obvious: this kind of terrain just doesn’t exist in Colorado. Period.
That’s Big Couloir, and it is big. About 1300 feet of vertical big. JB and I skied it in two pitches and my legs were still smoked at the end. The crazy thing about that run? It wasn’t even close to the hardest run of the weekend. Justin and I skied one run on the A-Z chutes that was maybe a ski length and a half wide – sweet jump turns unless you’re crazy enough to straight line it – and a couple pitches on Tips Up (affectionately known as “Tits Up”) that were no-kidding no-fall zones. All four of us skied a line in Headwaters that was a sketchy hike followed by a sketchy entry into some of the best snow of the weekend, and there was a lot of good snow. In 25+ years of skiing in Colorado, I’ve never seen these big, technical, almost-mountaineering lines. (Don’t yell at me, I know some technical lines exist at Silverton and, maybe, Telluride. None of those have the same sustained pitch.)
For those of you itching to ski these, bring your avy gear. To ski Big Couloir and Tits Up, you’ll need to sign up for a time with ski patrol at the top of the tram. They make sure you have a buddy and your gear. I think this practice keeps the runs better for a longer period of time. I remember skiing Corbett’s at Jackson Hole, and the run was simply a mess because of the number of people who ski it. They only allow 2 people every 15 minutes on Big Couloir, and the snow was amazing even at noon.