Big Sky, MT Report: The Big Couloir

Martin Kuprianowicz | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
The Big Couloir. See the skier? Photo by SnowBrains.

Report from 11th March 2020

We got to Big Sky, Montana from Whitewater, BC late last night the day after it had snowed 13″ in Montana.

We were just a day late.

But when we got to Big Sky Resort in the morning, we were happy with the snow conditions.

High winds were gusting up high and depositing wind drift over much of the south-facing portions of the mountain.

If you found the right spot that was getting hit with the wind in just the right way you could strike gold.

Here’s what Big Sky reported this morning for snow conditions:

Good Morning Skiers and Snowboarders, this is Mario with your Big Sky Snow Report for Wednesday March 11th, 2020. After the warm stretch in the beginning of March, we have now seen 11-20” of fresh fall on Lone Mountain in the past 4 days. Conditions on The North Side of the mountain have been the best with cooler temps keeping all this new snow nice and soft.

Temperatures today should range between 16°F and 38°F under mostly cloudy skies. Winds are expected to pick up today to about 15-25 mph, with stronger gusts possible. So keep an eye out for places where all this fresh snow might be piling up.

With a 68” mid-mountain base, runs are long and there are endless lines to choose from. It should be another great day out on the slopes. As always stay safe and have fun out there.

Coming up on Swift Current from the Mountain Village, Lone Peak was staring us in the face the whole chair ride up.

We had to get up there and ski it.

So we beelined straight for the Lone Peak Tram.

The Lone Peak Tram with the Big Couloir to its right. Photo by SnowBrains.

When we got off the little beer can on to the top of Lone Peak the wind was howling.

It hurt getting out of the tram and face masks had to come on immediately.

Go time.

Navigating through the wind like lost sailors, we made it down to the southwest side of Lone Peak where much of the wind drifted snow was getting deposited.

We found a soft, wind-buffed line called ‘Marx’ and ripped it as hard as we could despite the poor vis.

The line was long and wide-open, feeling powdery in spots and variable in others.

Not a bad way to start the day.

Top of the Big Couloir. Photo by SnowBrains.

At the bottom of the line we decided we had to go back and grab our avy gear to go and ski the Big Couloir.

Big Couloir is the big couloir that stares you right in the face as you take the tram up the peak.

It’s the first major chute to the lookers right of the tram and it is HUGE.

It’s steep, wide, and super long. 

We were only in Big Sky for a day and the conditions in the couloir looked good so naturally, we had to ski this thing.

We grabbed our gear and a quick snack and went right back to the Lone Peak Tram.

At the top, we signed ski-patrol issued waivers in a humble hut with quite the vistas surrounding it that served as the check-in station for a lot of the gnarly stuff up here.

We reserved a time slot for 2 pm, which I thought was funny but also very clever as I’ve never put my name on a waitlist to ski a line.

Signing our lives away today at Big Sky Resort, and getting beta from patrol. Photo by SnowBrains.

It’s a wise move by ski patrol which keeps too many people from dropping in on this this gorgeous thing all at once.

Ski patrol gave us the run down of descending the Big Couloir, and come 2 o clock we exited through the gate heading towards its entry. 

The traverse to the couloir was almost scarier than the chute itself as it was steep, narrow, and icy with cliffs on either side of the small track.

Then we came face to face with a beauty.

Or perhaps a beast.

The Big Couloir is wide as hell and pretty damn steep.

You can make some really fast, playful turns in this thing, especially when the snow was as good as it was today.

I dropped in first and skied down to a set of chains a little ways off to the right of the couloir.

One-at-a-time descents were required here.

Skier Devin Keefe ripping Big Couloir. Photo by SnowBrains.

It skied like left-over powder.

The snow much softer than I expected, and much of it was buffed-out from the wind. 

My partner skied to where I was, and from there I hauled ass through the remainder of the couloir.

The shaded-bottom was straight powder skiing and made for some sensational turns.

And then it ended.

We were charged.

After that, the remainder of the day consisted of mellow shredding with good company and scavenging the mountain for wind-buffed terrain.

The sun came out in the afternoon, raising the temperature and our dispositions.

Challenger had some creamy lines, and there was fun mogul skiing in the tight trees towards the lower-elevation lift, Six-shooter.

We wrapped up the day with some groomer-cruisers and some tasty burgers at Montana Jack in the Mountain Village base area.

I don’t think we could have had a better day.

Thanks, Big Sky, and until next time. 

Tomorrow, Grand Targhee, Wyo.!

Finding some post-storm goods at Big Sky today. Photo by SnowBrains.

Snow Numbers


Credit: Big Sky Resort 03/11/20




Credit: NOAA 03/11/20



Photo by SnowBrains.


The inside of the ski patrol hut on Lone Peak. Photo by SnowBrains.


Bubbles. Photo by SnowBrains.


From the top of Lone Peak. Photo by Snowbrains.


Photo by SnowBrains.


Après. Photo by SnowBrains.


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