This image is what I consider to be Big Bear’s first zone. This zone is characterized by a very modest pitch and for most of it, it is narrow, but you really do not need any sort of room here. The zone does start to open up at the end as it leads into zone 2.
Zone two is characterized as widening and increased in pitch. Anothe commonr characteristic is exposed ice in the center of the run, due to nervous skiers and snowboarders pushing the softer snow to the sides. I usually keep to the right side and take a tight line or I will take wide traverses across this section. Often times you will find people stopped at the bottom of this section, waiting for people to clear off of the headwall or gathering courage to push off.
One year at the transition from this zone to the headwall zone, it was easy to catch air and I had done so a number of times, but have not experienced that in some time.
What you are looking at here is a heavily processed photo of Big Bear’s headwall from the top. I had to crank up the contrast and turn down the brightness to have a chance to give you an idea of what Big Bear’s Third Zone is about. Big Bear’s Third Zone is Brule’s most challenging steep, the combination of pitch and length make it a challenging run (mind you, I am talking in terms of Wisconsin and Michigan). The photo fails to convey the nature of the run.
Usually, I work the run on the right side staying close to the fall line and occasionally I will lay in traversing carves. Again, if you are going to run into exposed ice it will be in the center of the run. Usually the headwall is in good shape and will not cause you any surprise, but from time to time there will be raises and bumps that you may use to launch yourself or provide a good point to change edges. Most often, you can easily carry enough speed to run back up to the lodge. Often times I will veer to the far left and come around parallel to the lodge. This is also a good run to ski when the end of the day is near, you can get plenty of eyeball on the chairlift to determine if it is closed or not thereby allowing you to ski to the chair if still open, or zoom to the lodge if the chair is closed.
Some years ago a fellow was at the bottom of this run with a radar gun and he measured my speed and reported back to me a speed in the 40mph region.