Challenger Lift Suspended for Duration of Season

It's been confirmed. The Challenger lift has seen the last of its days and will be closed indefinitely, according to Member Services at Moonlight Basin.

The mountain had already planned to replace Challenger, but this event has catalyzed that effort. Challenger will be replaced during the summer of 2016 with a brand new Doppelmayr lift, which will be fully operational for the 2016 - 2017 season.

In the meantime, all Challenger terrain will be accessible via the Headwaters lift from the Moonlight side.

Catching up with the Mountain Manager

A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of skiing Moonlight early in the morning with the Mountain Manager. He was full of fun facts and cool happenings on the mountain and we thought we'd share some highlights of our conversation here. 

MB: We hit a few of the lower mountain blacks much earlier in the season this year. It was great!

MM: Yeah, we actually acquired a tool called a masticator last season and over the summer we used it to clean up a bunch of runs on both the Moonlight and Big Sky sides. It really made a difference when it came to the early season conditions. 

MB: What is a masticator?

MM: It's a machine that essentially churns up everything under 3 feet tall. It basically saws tree stumps and other brush down to the nub to make for better skiing and nicer runs.

MB: Wow that sounds great. What runs did you take it on?

MM: We cleaned up Single Jack, Double Jack, Marshall, and plenty of others. A ski run, depending on the size and steepness usually takes several days with the masticator. For the steepest parts of the runs, where the masticator can't go, we had chainsaw crews out.

MB: We thought the Jacks had been cleaned up! So it's a super efficient way to significantly improve the runs?

MM: Absolutely, it also allows the mountain to open those runs much earlier in the season, because we're not waiting for snow to cover a bunch of shrubs on the ground.

MB: Fantastic! What else is happening on the mountain?

MM: Also, over the summer, we replaced the diesel motor on the Lone Tree lift with an electric lift that is now more efficient, quieter, and better for the planet.

MB: That's really great - thanks for all the work your team does.


Overall, we're really appreciative of the work the team did over the summer to get the mountain ready.

Note: we didn't bring pen and paper on the lift with us for the interview, so this is a paraphrasing of the conversation!

Skiing on a Deserted Mountain

The first time we ventured onto what we now know is called Marshall, we thought we were lost in what must have been a taste of the "back country" in the middle of Moonlight. It was like a dream cresting over the many steep bumps and not knowing what lay beyond, other than beautiful, untouched powder and quietly swaying snow-covered trees.

The complete serenity of taking the run slowly, pausing to take in the striking scenery of what I think is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, was truly remarkable. Spanish Peaks, with their raw beauty, sat poised calmly across from us, Beehive Basin poking out through a light dusting of clouds around its base. It’s always amazing to see part of the Beehive trail covered in snow, when only a few months earlier it was doused in sun warming our bare arms as we hiked to the ice cold lakes at the top in the summer.

Back to winter, it was a beautiful sunny day and the run seemed to last forever. We carved tight turns, weaving through the trees, hugging the shape of the mountain below us as we wandered from place to place. The lack of definition of the run was something that we loved and keeps us coming back. You feel like a member of an expedition, exploring each area anew every time. To top it all of, we didn’t see a single other person the entire time, which to us felt like hours.

For those of you who enjoy skiing through manageable trees, powder, and breathtaking views, Marshall is a must try. Let me know if you want a buddy! I’d be more than happy to join anytime for a trip up Lone Tree.

Why Big Sky Needs a Community (we already have one!)

Welcome to the Big Sky Community. We're a tight knit group of people who have been drawn to Montana and are here to share our experiences together. Our community includes people who live here, friends, family, people who come to visit, and anyone who loves Big Sky. The aim of this online community is to provide a place where we can interact, lend a hand, and share with each other. We can share our stories, needs, and tips to get the most out of our time here so we can enjoy this beautiful place.

This is the start of something real and it's up to all of us to create value. Discover a new great hiking trail? Need a lift to the airport? Have an amazing experience at the restaurant up the road? Share it! See how the community can interact.

You can share posts on the Community Board. We currently have channels specific to Airport RidesItems for SalePhotos, and Real Estate & Rentals so you can find what you're looking for easier. Feel free to post to General if your topic doesn't fit a channel. Remember, Big Sky is a family place so please be courteous to other members of the community and only post appropriate content.

We'll also regularly update this blog with community news and topics we find particularly interesting.

Now let's make the most of it and start sharing!

Meeting New Friends on the Lift

One of my favorite parts of winter in Big Sky is meeting new people on the lifts. It amazes me where people come from, what they do, and why they come to Big Sky. Six Shooter is the best lift for meeting someone new, being the largest and longest lift on the mountain. Last week I rode the lifts with an independent young girl tackling the "back country", an ex-CIA agent, a couple of reckless teens, a family from Germany, and a veteran Mountain Manager, who all had amazing stories to share.

Next time your on the lift - say hi to the people you're with!