If you’ve been to Big Sky, chances are it was intentional-it’s not on the way anywhere. You have to follow Highway 191 along the Gallatin River either out of Yellowstone National Park to the south or from Bozeman to the north. It’s tucked into a little valley with the mountain hogging most of the space. There are two resorts on Lone Peak: Big Sky and Moonlight Basin with 5,512 acres of freeriding terrain (that’s the biggest in North America).

Before I got strapped into my desk job at TWS five-ish years ago, I was strapping in at Big Sky every winter. It’s always cool to come home for Christmas and see which of my old snowboard friends are still at it and who has moved on; Jenny Ader is now running Silverton Mountain, Carsten Bahnsen is a pilot, Jason Schutz is a dad, and Chris Ankeny moved to Pemberton, B.C. to tackle even bigger mountains. Luckily there’s always a new crew to hook up with like the eight man park staff at Big Sky headed by Joe Pope.

This winter has been off to a slow start … something about a donut. But even with a 40 inch base, things have been fun at the mountain: it’s soft, the natural halfpipe is filled in (good for Baker Banked Slalom training), the Big Couloir is wide open, and the parks at both Moonlight Basin and Big Sky are open with fresh batches of rails.

What’ll really get your attention is the tram-accessed natural terrain. The mountain is A-shaped with a fifteen-passenger tram dangling up to the tippy-top. Instead of hiking every couloir and chute on the mountain like we used to have to, you can now ride up the lifts and down almost every part of the A with the exception of directly underneath the tram, which rolls over a Chamonix-esque hundred-plus footer.

Anyway, I put some time in on the mountain this week and it reminded me of how awesome it is. Enjoy the photos. Hope you’re getting some runs in, too.