Chainsaws are buzzing at [R048R, Big Sky Resort] this fall. Crews are glading more than 20 acres of forest on Andesite Mountain to make five new ski runs by this winter.

The five runs, accessible from the Ramcharger Chairlift, will give skiers and riders new places to explore in two different zones on Andesite Mountain. Several of the new glades target intermediates. The steepest gladed run may challenge experts.

"We've got so much terrain at our fingertips," Spokesperson Greer Schott said. "Boyne owns the mountains at Big Sky rather than leasing terrain from the Forest Service. That means we don't have to wait to jump through hoops. We can really do what we want within being environmentally conscious."

Andesite Mtn

The five new gladed runs flank Andesite Mountain. Map courtesy of Big Sky Resort.

Three of the new runs are geared toward intermediates who may not have previous experience in the glades.

"The blues were cut with intermediate skiers in mind," Schott said. "They're pretty open and maintain about a 15-degree grade."

The Wolverine sidles through the Peru and Bolivia territory while Congo Line and Madagascar tour the trees below Congo. Each of the three intermediate glades stretches 1,000 to 2,000 feet long.

The new black diamond trail cuts through the forest between Mad Wolf and Elk Park Ridge. The Wolf Den, as it has been named, runs about 1,100 feet through the trees with an average grade of 19.8 degrees. As the pitch of the run grows steeper towards the bottom, the trees open up more.

The most-challenging new glade zips through the Peru and Bolivia territory. Shady Chute, deemed extreme double black diamond terrain, descends 2,500 feet in length. The route averages 19.8 degrees in pitch, but cants up to 40 degrees in sections. To add to the challenge, the trees squeeze tighter in the bottom third of the run.

The upper elevations of Big Sky consist of open bowls and chutes. The new gladed runs on Andesite Mountain will provide more options for inclement days when the upper bowls lack visibility. Trees can be good skiing in sun or snowstorms.

Challenger 11-26-09 by Chad Jones

The lower elevations of Big Sky offer loads of protected skiing in trees. Photo by Chad Jones/Big Sky Resort.