By: Dan Egan
Late one afternoon, I was standing at the top of Africa, one of my favorite mogul runs here at the resort, and gazing up at Lone Peak while the low angle afternoon sunlight was creating a shadow in the dark blue sky. The south-facing slope was smooth, barely a track on it; I was adrift in my thoughts.
My skiing companion pierced my contemplation with a question, “What are you looking at?” And in that moment, I was pulled back into reality and fumbled after my words and finally just said, “The summit, it draws you in.”
It is impossible to visit Big Sky Resort and not notice Lone Peak. Even in snowstorms or on cloudy days when you can’t see it, it still consumes the conversation on and off the lifts. It is just a fact that seeing this majestic peak is worth the trip.
Once you turn off of the main highway, you see Lone Peak rise above the mountain trails. The view grows as you ascend the mountain road. Lone Peak has a vast and complex personality: sometimes it is a beacon silhouetted by the moonlight or lit up by the sunrise. Other times, it’s a signal of things to come with a cloud-covered cap and swirling snow blowing off of the summit. More often, it is the backdrop for memories immortalized in photos of family friends and kindred spirits.
And then there is the Lone Peak Tram, providing direct access to the summit for adventure seekers and sightseers looking to experience the view, terrain, and conditions of the high alpine. The Lone Peak Tram goes right to the summit, with the top station perched and notched into the rugged peak. The entire ride up, passengers are suspended above the spectacular landscape, and many are treated to the spotting of mountain goats on the ridge, skiers and riders descending the Big Couloir, and the view of the distant landscape and resort that lays below.
All are invited to ride the Tram and it is worth it. The view is breathtaking and the ride is memorable. Often the tension and the chatter amongst passengers are both entertaining and colorful. It’s a real treat to stand on top of Lone Peak, a special and impactful way to experience this part of Montana.
If your skiing and riding skills are best suited for groomed trails, leave your skis and snowboard at the bottom and embrace the journey with family and friends. Beware that weather conditions on the summit are often vastly different from the base of the Tram, strong winds, pelleting snow, and cold temps are the norm. Calm, clear days on the summit are a treat. Outside of the Tram top terminal, there is the “Titanic deck” for sightseeing and picture taking. Or, you can take a walk around the top patrol building to the true summit and experience a 360-degree view of Montana, Wyoming, and parts of Idaho, as well as Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Take your time on the top. You will get to experience the view and conditions the peak has to offer, as well as chat with the skiers and riders who are heading off down the mountain. I promise these conversations will be enlightening, entertaining, and memorable as each tram car delivers a vast array of winter enthusiasts from seasoned locals, nervous first-timers, and confident skiers and riders seeking adventure.
The ride back down is often even more memorable, starting with the conversation with the top station tram operators who have seen and heard it all, to the near-empty Tram cabin descending down the steep rocky slope. As you step out onto the bottom station, you will always look up upon Lone Peak, knowing you have been there, and the memory will swirl around like the wind whenever you think of Big Sky Resort.