No ode to expert skiing would be complete without Bridger. This is Montana after all, derived from the Spanish word for mountain. The State has been called the “Land of the Shining Mountains.” Bridger Bowl is operated by a non-profit and offers remarkably low-cost skiing. On powder days, it’s where Bozeman locals and Montana State students play hooky.
Until the early 2000’s, lift accessible terrain were gentle slopes lying in the shadows of a massive headwall. The headwall known as the Nose was like the Norther Wall from the Game of Thrones. An ominous face that often-had mysterious tracks. The tracks were laid by the ski giant Doug Combs, and then Scott Schmidt. The terrain is extreme and actually required Schmidt to develop techniques for Bridger’s narrow chutes and jumps. A great book discussing this is availabe here (See http://www.stepping-up.net/ ). With tracks staring down at them, thrill seeking Montana skiers found a way to ski the headwall and adjacent extreme areas. They hiked. This is Montana after all.
Perhaps no philosopher is better suited to “extreme” skiing than Frederick Nietzsche. He conceived of themes to Thus Spoke Zarathruster in the Alps, not far from St. Moritz. He struggled famously with man’s rational and irrational compulsions, extreme skiing’s core. For anyone that survived an extreme line that could have ended in the alternative, you may have thought of his famous statement, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Bridger does that for expert skiers.
Guess what. Apparently Bridger’s lawyers are Nietzsche fans. That headwall and adjacent extreme areas where so many extreme skiers honed their trade is now in bounds and lift accessible. In the mid 2000’s Bridger opened up the South Bowl and the extreme area know as Schlasmans.
I need to say something else about Bridger Bowl. Of all the resorts I visited on my GNASA, no locals were more badass than these locals. They weren’t badass in an arrogant way either. They were badass because that’s what Bridger demands.
Bridger Bowl Expert Skier Experience
Bring your backcountry equipment and your big boy pants and head to Bridger for a true backcountry experience. The extremes at Bridger are generally now as the “Ridge Terrain” and made up of Slushman and The Nose. At a minimum, you’ll need your beacon, but full gear is recommended.
Schlasman’s chair accesses ridge areas known as Slushman’s Terrain. The names both come from P.B. Schlasman, who died in an avalanche. Slushman is the phonetic equivalent and the spelling the locals used over time. This area is a pretty complex area with ribs splitting runs and blocking certain areas from easy access. You can head South or North.
South Slushman’s main routes are Mundy’s Bowl South and North. Ironically both slopes face a more Easterly direction. If you stay high along the ridge and head toward the Southern Boundary you’ll find a playground of steep glades, rock faces, gullies, and chutes. Runs include the Bitter End, The Drain and Alimony.
Southern Boundary / Bitter End
North Slushamn’s & Below The Chair. Cutting back under the Chair you can find K9, Pat’s Chute and Jess’s.
Jess’s to Pat’s Chute https://youtu.be/6xHchwbwRo4
If you stay along the ridgeline and head North you can find the dreaded Jaws and the mellower Slushman’s Ravine, and Boundary Chute.
The Nose. This is the Headwall at Bridger. It’s a massive area that can be accessed by hiking along the ridge line or traversing in across a number of paths. Bridger Ridge maps mark them A, B, C and D. These traverses are the only sane way to access most of the extreme terrain if your not competition worthy.
If you think of Bridger as an upside down triangle, the Nose is the top. Cliff faces, rock faces, gullies and chutes predominate. This was where extreme skiers like Doug Coombs and Scott Schmidt honed their trade. There are survivable ways down. Even some fun ways down where you can’t get cliffed out. Find a local, patroller or guide to ensure that you find one.
Schlasman’s Map here.
Bridger Gully https://youtu.be/ewrWS99B39Q
Bridger Bowl doesn’t have a lot of North facing slopes. Its not that well positioned and this means the snow can deteriorate quickly. When its good, get there. If its been warm and snow deprived you need to head for the few North Facing areas. These include Flippers, the Fingers, and areas off the Apron.
In poor snow conditions, you’ll seek out gullies and chutes, preferably opening onto something North facing. Generally, the expert skiing at Bridger requires good snow. Much of the expert terrain lies in multi-aspect ridgelines. The melt and freeze cycle can quickly turn this terrain treacherous. Bridger also has some of the most gnarly traversers into expert terrain, Traverses can also become treacherous in bad conditions.
Guide to the nose. It can change your ski life. http://www.stepping-up.net/beta.html