After nearly four years of planning, with a break in the middle due to Covid, the 2022 ULLR Big Sky Ski Trip actually happened! Compared to the attempted 2020 trip, Co-Chairs Nancy S. and Sharon M. saw smiles on the faces of 42 ULLRs who came on the 2022 trip to Big Sky. Thirty-two ULLRs flew, and ten drove.
Travel weather and conditions allowed everyone to arrive safely and get back home again. Our week began with a pizza party the evening of our arrival on March 13. Big Sky Resort greeted us with gift bags of treats and beverages. ULLR Mick G. told the group about his experiences in 1970 helping build Huntley Lodge, and Dave S. talked about skiing at Big Sky in the mid 1970’s.
Chet Huntley was born in Cardwell, Montana. He envisioned the original ski resort that opened in 1973. Big Sky is now the second largest ski area in the US and third largest in North America. Today Big Sky has 36 main lifts with over 300 runs that cover 5,850 acres with a 4,350-foot vertical drop. It is huge, and our ULLRs did their best to ski all of it – except the double and triple blacks!
We stayed at Huntley Lodge which is at the Mountain Village base – steps from ski lifts, shopping, and restaurants. The giant bronze bear was a favorite place to meet in the main lobby before going somewhere. Several of our ULLR skiers took advantage of storing their skis overnight at the ski valet. The free Skyline Bus took us to the Big Sky Town Center and Madison Base.
Mostly sunny skies, a day of light snow, plus warm temps provided five good ski days with a few icy patches on some of the slopes. ULLR skiers were excited to try the new blue bubble lifts with heated seats. On the first day, Nancy S. guided a large group onto the moving carpet to the 6-pack Swift Current lift and down the popular well-known Mr. K green run. Others boarded the less busy 8-pack Ramcharger bubble lift or the Explorer lift. Based on previous trips to Big Sky, Nancy offered some recommendations for what ski runs to try and how to get to them.
Over our five days of skiing, ULLRs explored the lifts and mountain runs – sometimes stopping just to admire the views and absorb the surrounding beauty. By mid-to-late afternoons, ULLRs were gathered around hotel lobby fireplaces and mountain village restaurants to share stories. In addition to skiing, ULLRs shopped, hiked in the snow, x-country skied, celebrated birthdays, and basked in the hotel pool and hot tubs. Wherever we were and whatever we were doing, photos were taken to document our time at Big Sky. Lone Mountain peak was definitely the most photographed view!
Towards the end of our week, we all met again for a group dinner at Chet’s Bar and Grill in our hotel. We gathered for a group photo and recognized those for whom it was their first “completed” ULLR western ski trip. For the eight ULLRs who had March birthdays, we presented them with birthday candles on their desserts and sang “Happy Birthday” to them.
After our disappointing 2020 Big Sky trip and the ensuing two years of Covid precautions, ULLRs were definitely ready to experience Big Sky in 2022! Yay – We actually made it this time!