The dream is always the same: ski every top resort in the American Rockies in a single season. In 2002, Scott Smith actually pulled it off. In between tech company start-ups, he began his quest sleeping on couches in Taos and Purgatory, then worked his way along Colorado’s I-70 corridor for a month. Utah’s famed Wasatch followed. Naturally he hit up Jackson Hole and Sun Valley. At the time, he didn’t know that he was saving the best for last, but after one run at Big Sky that thought had gelled in his mind.
“A buddy and I connected with some locals in the original gondola,” says Scott. “They took us out for a lap of Marx, to 1st Gully, to Cron’s. That one run revealed the quality of Big Sky to me. Nothing I’d skied compared to the accessibility you have off the Lone Peak Tram. To ski similar terrain at Jackson you have to commit to a day in the back-country. To ski powder like I found here at a mountain like Vail, it’s a 45 minute process just to get to your line. At Big Sky I can ski 360 degrees from the summit. Combined with the low-key vibe, I knew I’d found my home hill.” On a return trip, he and a friend spotted a cowboy cabin slopeside at Moonlight that was for sale for $369,000. They went in on it together and Smith has been skiing Big Sky every winter since 2005.
Later, his girlfriend joined him, they married and had kids and bought a house at Moonlight. Splitting time in Chicago, with their daughter in a $30,000 a year preschool, they came to their senses, and in 2015, made the full-time move to Big Sky. Today, the kids—Ella is nine and Jack is seven—attend the local schools and shred with their parents, and Scott skis in excess of 110 days a season while he and Amy work from home. In the summer, the Smiths float rivers, fly fish, hike, and ride mountain bikes on trails from their house. In other words, they’ve acclimated to Montana. “This is our home now,” says Scott. “Living on a mountain has been my dream since I was a kid and I convinced my parents to take me skiing at little areas in the Midwest. Now I can be at the top of Headwaters in 18 minutes from our front step. It still feels surreal at times.”