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Big Sky, Montana

Date: March 12-19, 2022
Trip Leader: Alex Karger
Trip Assistants: Dennis Herman, Dennis McCann
(click pictures to see high resolution image)

Our Big Sky trip was attended by 50 people, 35 were on our group Southwest flight from LaGuardia to Bozeman (connecting in Denver), and the remaining 15 met us in Bozeman Airport or the Huntley hotel. Southwest allowed 2 free bags, including a ski bag, as luggage per person. Most of the members took advantage of that perk.

The group met at LGA airport for the Saturday flight around 7:00 AM but the plane's departure was delayed three hours due to weather. Luckily, we had no problem making our connecting flight in Denver because that flight was held, waiting for the LGA flight. We arrived in Bozeman at 5:50 PM, meeting eight people at the airport. We had a short delay with loading the bus for our 1-hour drive via windy switchback roads to the mountain village of Big Sky. When we arrived at the Huntley Hotel, we took our luggage to our rooms (with some help from porters). Our skis and boot bags were stored in our rooms. Within a few minutes, we were all in our rooms, relaxing from a long travel day. Everyone received a welcome bag from the hotel. Due to our late arrival, we didnít have the usual hotel sponsored orientation meeting in the conference room.

The Huntley Hotel was a very good choice. The rooms were nicely sized. All breakfast food and beverages were included and the quality and variety of the breakfast buffet was very good. About 4 people rented skis, mostly at the hotel (about $60 per day). The hotel didnít have an official ski room with individual lockers, however, they had valet storage for skis near the closest lift chair.

Sunday morning began the 6-days (for some) of great skiing. Big Sky resort is a truly ski-in, ski-out resort. It is a large resort with several trails ranging from gentle greens to fun groomed blues and challenging black diamonds. There are even double and triple black diamonds for the more adventurous, mainly accessed by a tram which this year required a separate fee of about $80 per day.

Big Sky skiing includes a variety of groomed and ungroomed runs. The off-piste cover was mostly packed with a lot of untouched areas of powder. The weather presented some challenges with low clouds, some wind, colder than expected temperatures, and flat light for a couple of hours in the first 2 days. We had access to a complementary mountain tour at 10:45 and 1:00 pm. Some people took advantage of it and liked it.

Sauna rooms, two outside jacuzzies, and the heated pool were available and enjoyed by most of our members. We had a great apres ski time together. On Monday night we had a Club get-together party at a local pizzeria, where many toasts and accompanied laughter filled the evening.

For dinners, we had a choice of using a hotel restaurant or the few available village restaurants. Some people traveled via shuttle or taxi to the nearby town of Big Sky, which was about 10 min away.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Twenty members took a one day break from skiing and embarked on a tour of the Iconic UNESCO site and oldest National Park in the United States Ė Yellowstone. We got very positive responses from the participants to this very successful excursion. We were privileged to be able to enjoy the wildlife and unique geological features during this 150th anniversary year in winter, a time when the crowds are the smallest and the snow cover provides a unique and dramatic backdrop to all these features. Old Faithful put on its show for us pretty much on time and the hundreds of Bison we saw were very amenable to our picture taking.
A small herd of Buffalo ran by our vehicle; What an incredible experience!!! We also saw many trumpeter swans and other fowls, but the Elk were not around. We did see a herd of them on the bus ride back to the hotel later. We learned that after the re-introduction of wolves into the park, the Elk tend to stay outside it. This was the last day the tour into the park was available before the NPS closes the park for three weeks of snow removal from the roads. The vendor we used, after vetting the few companies given contracts by the National Park Service, was Back Country Adventure. They were recommended by the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce as their Snow Coaches would provide absolute comfort and security expected by our participants. We were restricted to 20 as only 10 could fit into each of the 2 available coaches comfortably. Happily, we were able to eliminate all National Park admission fees by identifying 6 holders of senior passes. Our guides told us that after a record visitation to the park of 4.5 million 2021 it is anticipated that 2022 would have approximately 5.8 million! However, only 20,000 visit in the winter (~0.3%). This enabled us to enjoy the wonders of Yellowstone without summer time crowds. The weather was perfect. It was partly cloudy and not too cold. We had great visibility to see the wildlife and to take lots of wonderful pictures. We were treated to a beautiful snowfall after the last time we needed to exit the vehicles. Our guides, Darren and Lindsey, were pleasant and informative.

   

Saturday morning was the departure day for most club members. It was again imperative that each of our memberís bags had our Club's colorful luggage tags so that we could differentiate our bags from other groups of travelers. By 9:45 am we were on our way to Bozeman. We arrived at the Bozeman airport around 11 AM.


CLUB MEMBERS ON THE SLOPES

               

   


CLUB MEMBERS AT THE HUNTLEY LODGE

               


THANK YOU FROM YOUR TRIP LEADERS - Alex and the two Dennises

     
 

 

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