The grownup's guide.
Ask any group of eight-year-olds what their favorite Bridger Bowl run is and you’ll likely get a unanimous answer: Hully Gully! And deservedly so, for it offers endless thrills, giggles, and mishap potential, all dished up in a kid-sized funnel of delight. The problem, of course, is when anyone born prior to 2003 attempts a trip down the famed gully. This becomes all the more acute when your own enthusiastic children are relentlessly begging you to take them down Hully Gully. What’s a parent to do? Usher them in at the top, then ski around to the exit, hoping they emerge intact? Or take the plunge yourself and face embarrassing and potentially injurious consequences while trying to negotiate the tight quarters? Well, I have good news. Grownups can ski Hully Gully. In fact, it’s a kick in the pants once you figure out how to manage it on full-sized skis. Try these simple tips to join the legion of Hully Gully fans.
Grownups go first.
More than likely, your natural cruising speed down the gully will be quicker than someone who weighs 55 pounds. So you go first, because if your kids go first you will almost certainly be forced to make panic-induced moves to avoid running them over. Being a responsible parent, I know you would rather ski into the shrubbery than take out your perfectly innocent child. But ideally it should never come to that. You ski first so you can manage yourself. The kids will be fine behind you, trust me. And besides, if they want to pass you, they will. To them, you're just another obstacle along the way.
Avoid the giant snowplow.
It may seem like a desperate braking wedge (aka, snowplow) is the only way to manage your speed inside the gully. Well, that's never a fun way to ski and the gully is no exception. Instead of a wedge, try a side-slipping move to keep your speed down. Use the walls and other flat-ish spots to get the skis sideways and smear off speed. The more you can keep the skis parallel, the more comfortable you’ll be and the more control you’ll have.
3. Take every opportunity to slow down.
At some places in the gully there is barely enough room to get your skis sideways, so be sure to use the open areas when you have them. Use the walls, tops of moguls, and the occasional wide spot to rein in your speed. Be proactive; slow down before the narrow sections, so that you can let it run where you need to.
Don’t ski right down the middle.
Bank up the walls and use the edges of the trail to give yourself more room and a smoother, less obstacle-strewn line. There are several sections of large, rhythmic bumps (notably at the exit of most gullies) that can often be avoided by skiing off to the side a bit. Unless you like to get frantic air, in which case you should most definitely aim right for them.
Don’t sweat the sticks, rocks, and other minor obstacles.
It’s Bridger Bowl, after all. You should be used to skiing over stuff like that. Don’t freak out, just ski over it and carry on.
Once you've mastered the basics of gully-skiing and no longer fear for your life, it’s actually fun. Swoop up the wall, turn at the top, swoop down into the trough, and up the other side. With some practice and trial and error, you too will be laughing your way down the gully and fist-bumping your kids at the end.
Karin Kirk (karinkirk.com) is a freelance writer and ski instructor at Bridger Bowl. She can often be found lapping Hully Gully, with or without eight-year-olds in tow.