Tag Archives: Big Sky Resort

Ziplining Just Like Real Housewives


Adventure Zip Big Sky, MT

High Thrill No Skill

I’m a stepmom. So when my step-daughter wants to go ziplining, I oblige. After all, that’s the beauty of being a stepmom. I get to have all the fun and not (as much) of the responsibility. I’m like a really close aunt to the very best 11 year old in the universe.

On a recent trip to Big Sky, Montana, Evelyn wasn’t the only one encouraging me to try the new Adventure Zip. The employees were proud of this new four line trip that included a traverse 200 feet high, a rappel and the chance for some great photo ops.

Ziplining is fun, but it isn’t scary. I’ve always thought it a bit pedestrian–a high thrill, no skill activity for people who don’t live and play in the outdoors. But still, I was game. Especially since my step-daughter really really wanted to zip with me. How could I refuse?

When our small group of clients and guides met to don our full-body harnesses and helmets, I was a little surprised by the fear rising from the group. At first I wondered if I had signed up for something else. But no, this was the Adventure Zip–four cable rides through the trees of the lower slopes of the ski area. How hard could it be?

If The Real Housewives Can Do It…

I’m inspired by people who face their fears. And when I met Laura and Janet–two sisters from New York City–I almost envied them their fear. Jacked up on adrenaline, these two women twittered nervously on the chairlift ride and short hike to the first line. Having grown up in the city, Laura only recently learned to drive a car. And ziplining was definitely not in her wheelhouse. She was afraid of heights.

Chairlift ride to the zipline

Chairlift ride to the zipline

“So why ziplining?” I ask Laura.

“Because I want to face my fears.” She says. “And if the Real Housewives of Orange County can do it, so can I.”

Apparently the Real Housewives–a reality show populated by privileged women who gossip and kvetch about the difficulties of being pampered–recently went to Costa Rica to try ziplining.

As I stood at the top of the first metal platform, prepared to launch into the trees, I tried to conjure up a little fear and adrenaline. Maybe because my step daughter has nerves of steel, or maybe because it just didn’t look that scary, I stepped off with an even heartbeat and dry palms. It was fun. It was fast. I liked it.

And at the bottom platform, I did feel a little dopamine boost.

Facing Fear

Then Laura stepped off the far platform and sailed through the trees. Her body was scrunched tight like the guides had instructed. The only skill involved in ziplining is grabbing the orange rope on the other side so you don’t slide back into the middle sag of the line.

This should be the cover of the brochure

This should be the cover of the brochure

Laura took that job seriously. She reached her open palm to the rope, her hands shaking like an aspen leaf in a windstorm, and grabbed it on the first try. She landed on the platform and started crying tears of joy.

I was impressed. Here was a woman facing her fears. As the morning progressed, Laura’s fear receded. She opened her eyes on the next line, and let out a little whoop of joy at the end of the final zip. She’d conquered her fear.

Me, I shared a fun morning with my step-daughter, impressed by her unflappable courage.

As we walked down from the final platform into the village I felt a part of that energy too. We can all push ourselves to try new adventures–whether ziplining, kite boarding (haven’t tried it yet, but I’m getting there), or doing live radio–facing our fears only makes us better people.

So I’m curious. What fears have you faced lately?

Weekly High Five Report: Kate Middleton, future ski patroller


Ski patroller vs. General Manager

Kate Middleton tearing it up at Big Sky

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of getting to know Kate Middleton, Big Sky local and ripping skier. Kate is 12 years old and she already knows what she wants to do for a living. She wants to be a ski patroller. When I had dinner with Kate and her dad Taylor Middleton, the GM at Big Sky, we played my favorite game: Ski Patrol vs. General Manager.

Kate patiently explained to her father all the ways in which ski patrolling was better than being a general manager. To Kate and me the advantages are obvious. But Taylor toyed the line for his job. So we played “the game” with him. He got to say one reason why he loved his job; then Kate and I got to respond with one reason that patrolling was better.

Of course Kate and I won. No matter how good the job of G.M. might seem, Taylor could never beat out our final response: “On patrol you get to save people’s lives.”

Even Taylor had to bow his head to that one.

Future Ski Patroller

Fortunately I had the chance to interview Kate. I wanted to know how a girl so young could be so jazzed about a mostly-male job. I see myself in Kate. I started patrolling when I was only a few years older than her. I also want to protect her a little–tell her which guys to steer clear of, which kinds of accidents to avoid, where to find the best powder and how to stay safe. But I have a feeling about Kate. She’s going to be fine. In fact, she will be better than fine. She rips, she knows what she wants, and she’s confident. She may share a name with a princess, but this Kate Middleton is a ripper chic; and the only kind of royalty she aligns with is of the Dirt Bag persuasion.

I admire this Kate Middleton, and you should too. Bravo Kate. Thanks for answering my questions. I especially like your answer to question #5 below. You kind of hit that nail on the head:

In her words

1) What interests you about ski patrolling?

Everything. I think everything a patroller does is amazing.

2) Do you have a role model in patrolling or something that first sparked your interest in the job?

I really want to train my puppy to be a ski patrol dog.  Then my dad said Bob Dixon (the head ski patroller) wanted to ski with me.

3) Can you tell me more about the day you spent with Bob Dixon and the other patrollers? You mentioned that you dug a pit. Did you find anything interested in the snow that day? Were there any scary layers you found?

We dug a snow pit and the snow conditions were good. Then we went and threw a bomb witch was super scary, ran an accident and finally swept CJ (Calamity Jane)

4) What did you think when Bob threw a bomb on the slope? Where was that? Did the snow slide due to the bomb? Did the noise surprise you?

I was scared when he threw it. On Crons the snow slid a little, but not too much. I was also scared when I heard it go off.

5) What do you think about patrollers? Are they interesting? Heroic? Exciting? Smelly? Weird?

Patrollers are exciting and interesting. When they aren’t working, they are really crazy. But when they are working they are serious.

6) What interests you most about the job? What scares you? What do you think would be the best part of the job? What would be the hardest part?

I think the hardest part would be helping the people that are wounded. I think the scariest part would be skiing lots of hard stuff to see if it is safe so you can get it open. I think the best part of the job would be doing your job, making sure people are safe and helping them when they are hurt.

7) Do you have any advice for other girls that might want to be ski patrollers or ski area employees someday? Why choose ski patrolling instead of some other job?

Patrollers get money to ski and have fun and at the same time save people. I think that makes it the coolest job in Big Sky.

8) Can you tell me a little bit about yourself that you would like to share? For example, how long have you lived at Big Sky? Do you like living at a resort? What are the pluses and minuses of it?

I’m 12 years old. I go to Ophir School. I’ve lived in Big Sky all my life. I love living at a resort because you can ski every single weekend and on Fridays with my school. There are no minuses.

She’s right. There really are no minuses. Bravo Kate. High five!