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Ski Headwaters Traverse, Moonlight Basin

Listed under Skiing in Mountain States, United States.

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Ok so this is my local mountain and I am biased but this hike is hands down the most exposed trail leaving from a ski area in the lower 48. Accessed from either Moonlight Basin's Headwaters Lift or Big Sky's Challenger Lift this hike starts as a benign 20-minute step up. Once you reach the patrol sled you are walking along the Headwaters ridgeline that divides Big Sky's A-Z chutes and Moonlight Basin's Headwaters couloirs. Moonlight Basin is one of North America's newest resorts and before it opened the Headwaters terrain was open on a very limited basis. The terrain used to be named Nashville Bowl, the Gracelands, and the ELVIS couloirs, named so because each couloir resembles its respective letter. 1800 vertical feet of continuous 40 degree plus north facing dance floors, tight squeezes, spines and cliffs make this terrain the perfect venue for big mountain riding. The A-Z chutes and Pinnacles drop off the south side of the Lord of the Rings Traverse. This side tends to be more temperamental snow wise due to sun effect, however aesthetically the A-Z's are dreamy. With all the liability issues these days in North America it is amazing anyone can access The Lord of the Rings traverse. There are many sections of the traverse that are especially spicy and falling would entail bouncing off sharp andesite rock. There are no handrails or ropes to assist hikers besides one section that has metal chicken wire to keep rocks from tumbling out. And it is open 95% percent of the time! Moonlight Basin's patrol has done an exceptional job of getting this avalanche terrain open on a daily basis and letting people get ‘er done. With Lone Peak hovering above, walking along this traverse will make you feel like you are in Narnia. A plea to Lee Poole and Moonlight Basin, change the Headwaters traverse name back to the The Lord of the Rings traverse.

Written by  Dave Johnson.

Other expert and press reviews

“Big Sky”

The great thing about skiing in many North American resorts is that there is so much more space per skiier than in Europe and Big Sky feels like one of the most generous with the space. Statistically the resort has access to about 130kms worth of downh… Read more...

Written by  Paul Withereld.

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