Iron Horse – Big Sky Resort, MT

Enterprise model bottom terminal and lift line.
Looking down on the base terminal.
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Another view of the base.
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Riding up.
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Upper lift line.
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Top bullwheel and lift shack.
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Bottom terminal and line.
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Top bulwheel.
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Lower section of the line.

13 thoughts on “Iron Horse – Big Sky Resort, MT

  1. Philip Wensley October 18, 2019 / 3:08 am

    We are not coming back to big sky until this lift becomes an express. My wife loves moonlight, as do myself and our kids, but we can only access it on a painfully slow chairlift. We would also have skied the blacks and glades on this chair but not it is a fixed grip. Big sky is going to build an entire gondola that covers the same terrain and less than swift current when the most important connecting chair at big sky is slow so never gets used


    • Doppelmayr FTW October 18, 2019 / 9:47 am

      The entire lift layout on the moonlight side is poorly thought out and makes access to the best terrain slow and painful. there are many reasons for this but it for sure needs to be addressed. Big sky has said they plan to fix this however there aren’t many specifics out there. But seeing as Iron Horse is one of the worst offenders, some upgrade is likely in the cards.

      Liked by 1 person

    • skitheeast October 18, 2019 / 11:32 am

      This lift and Pony Express should be replaced with a single detachable lift from the base of Pony Express to the top of Six Shooter. This would allow beginner skiers to have an all green access trail to get from the main base to Madison and vastly improve the skier flow in the area.


      • Doppelmayr FTW October 18, 2019 / 1:17 pm

        That alignment is difficult because of the houses to the left of iron horse, ideally a new iron horse would go up all the way to six shooter and that moves the line left even more. The lift would likely need an angle station to avoid the houses and that could be problematic. plus, beginners can already get to iron horse via the moonlight lodge access trail.


        • Philip Wensley October 19, 2019 / 8:00 pm

          If adding an angle station to the lift is problematic and is expensive, then you could just make iron horse and express that goes to the top of the six shooter. Then you could simply make a tbar or poma that starts from the bottom of pony and reaches the bottom of iron horse. Pony express would obviously no longer be needed. This would mean no angle station and beginners can still reach the bottom of iron horse.

          But if you moved the starting point of iron horse to just beside where pony express is now, maybe you could make it to the top of six shooter with just the slightest swing in the line.


    • Collin Parsons October 18, 2019 / 12:18 pm

      I didn’t like this lift, or any of the Moonlight side lifts for that matter (although there’s great terrain over there) when I visited Big Sky. However, I feel it’s a stretch to say you’ll never return till this lift is replaced.

      Big Sky is so huge that one could ski a week there, never go to Moonlight, and still not hit all the other terrain. With the Biggest Skiing in America, there are so many options for what to ski, so either explore everything and enjoy it for what it is, or pick the sections you like best and lap them till your legs give out. No lift lines to hold anyone back either.

      Given the massive success of improving utilization of the Shedhorn/Dakota areas simply by replacing an old slow lift, I think Boyne will be looking to do similar projects with other underutilized areas of the resort.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Donald Reif October 18, 2019 / 1:09 pm

        The Moonlight part of the mountain needs the following improvements, in my book:

        * A high speed quad from the Madison base area up to the top of Lone Tree. (With Lone Tree being retained to allow Headwaters traffic to get to those trails without having to go all the way down to the base)

        * Increased capacity on Six Shooter

        * What skitheeast was suggesting about having a single high speed quad consolidate Iron Horse and Pony Express and run to the top of Six Shooter.


        • Collin Parsons October 18, 2019 / 1:32 pm

          The only way to consolidate Iron Horse and Pony Express would be to have an angle station where Iron Horse begins now. The problem with that is first the cost, and second the location of the mid load ramp. It works best to put it on the outside of the turn rather than the inside, but the outside is in a less convenient location for skier traffic. The top of Six Shooter is also space constrained, but there has to be a way to fit another lift up there.

          While relocating Swift Current to become a lift from the base to the top of Lone Tree makes sense, it would result in having two nearly 9000 foot lifts without bubbles on what is possibly the coldest part of the mountain.

          I agree with keeping the existing Lone Tree if a full length lift is built from the base. Removing it would defeat the purpose of Iron Horse ending at Six Shooter.

          Another thing on the 2025 plan is to replace Headwaters with a lift starting from the bottom of the existing Lone Tree.


        • skitheeast October 18, 2019 / 3:07 pm

          I don’t know precisely where the land borders are for the houses, but you can draw a straight line (no angle station) from the base of Pony Express to the top of Six Shooter without going over any of the houses. Worst case scenario, you may need to slightly angle the line (without a full angle station, look at Baldy at Snowbird or Six Shooter at Big Sky) to avoid land boundaries.

          For liftline reference, draw a line in Google Maps from (45.294652, -111.417174) to (45.288836, -111.434651)


        • Doppelmayr FTW October 18, 2019 / 5:53 pm

          @skitheeast you can see the lots on that development on this map: (might need to zoom in a bit) but to avoid the house property the lift would need a pretty significant turn.


        • Thomas Jett October 18, 2019 / 6:26 pm

          There acually isn’t a plan to run a lift from the base to the top of Lone Tree; their plans seem to indicate two lifts. One will run from the base to the top of Moonshine, and one will run from the junction of Meriwether and Ice House to Lone Tree’s top. That may be convenient enough for skiers coming from Iron Horse that Lone Tree will be unneeded.

          On the subject of an Iron Horse/Pony Express replacement, are we forgetting that we solved the problem of property rights two years ago with Supreme? They could just put in a mid-line turn where the Iron Horse drive terminal is, and forget about a mid-station.


        • Collin Parsons October 20, 2019 / 9:50 am

          The curve would be far sharper than the one on Supreme if you assume using the existing route of both lifts. I’m not sure it makes sense for skier flow purposes to send people to what is now the bottom of Pony every run.

          I like the idea of just starting the new lift at the current location and having a T-Bar or platter replace the lower section of Pony.

          Another option instead of replacing Iron Horse would be to simply extend the current lift to the top of Six Shooter and add a loading carpet. That could increase the speed to 485 fpm and I think it runs at 400 or less now. The loading carpet works great for Challenger, but I’m not sure if it would work as well at Iron Horse which serves green and blue terrain instead strictly of expert only.


  2. rebecca October 20, 2019 / 12:18 am

    Yeah they don’t need an entire mid station, because the bottom is only like 500 feet away


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