Archive for May, 2014

Dave touring into the shadows of the Jackson Hole periphery

Dave touring into the shadows of the Jackson Hole periphery

Ski-bum, dirt-bag, ticket-flapper, paid-time-off, career. Those words don’t often run side by side in the lexicon of sking lore. But I’m also somewhat of your a-typical ski-bummer. I remember going to grad-school, working two part time jobs, and working my way through what would be my third 100 plus day ski season in a row since returning to skiing 5 years before. “Sometime I forget you’re going to school too…” a ski partner said one night, as I packed it in to go write another paper. It’s been tough at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So when the opportunity to take a week of PTO comes up in March, I take it. Some people think you have to sacrifice a career for skiing, or skiing for a career. Those same people might tell you that the ski-vacation, or skication is expensive. They are wrong of both accounts. 10 days off, 10 days of skiing. It takes dedication, perseverance, diligence, stupidity, and friends. That and thighs of steel and brains of mush.

Big Sky gave way to Jackson, which gave way to the Grand Targhee, which gave way to the Teton Pass. Firm snow gave way to high pressure warm temps, which gave way to spring conditions, which gave way to stable conditions, which gave way to big dumps, which gave way to cliffed out lines and easily triggered slabs. Through it all I rode. 10 days, 170,380 feet of lifts, 12,423 feet of self-propelled. Off the front, back, and side of Jackson Hole, from rowdy trees, to steep chutes, to mellow glades. D-chute, and B-chute. Spacewalk and M&M. Broken Branch and Steve Baugh. Shovel Slide and 1st Turn. Ski cuts and face shots. Thru it all I rode…I crashed on floors, and pull-out couches. I traded for vouchers and bought beers and pizzas for all…and through it all I rode. I punched my virtual check and checked my phone when the direct deposit from the “job” I was “working” went through, I answered a few emails, and let a few co-workers know I was alive…and thru it all I rode.

Life has a way of passing you by if you don’t take stock of it. 81 days into my season I was digging every turn of it. I’m like a dog with a stick sometimes. Sure there might have been bigger sticks, better sticks, but as long as you throw this stick…this one here, today, right now…well then I’m happy. Some people spend their whole lives chasing a dream, working everyday to pay for it. Some people spend their whole lives living a dream, never knowing it’s true cost. Me? I’m working my second year at a full time job in a career I’ve struggled to get. I’m 34 years old, and I’ve skied harder, longer and better this year than I ever have before in my life. I live the dream, and it’s costs.

Thanks to Tele-Dave, who regrettably isn’t pictured in the video, for the vouchers, the crash pad, the laughs, the pb&j’s, and the tour. Thanks to Craig 1 for the vouchers, the crash pad, the laughs, and for being one of the ones who was willing to wait for me those few short years ago. Thanks to Johnney for the crash pad, the laughs, and for being one of the ones from way back who still gets after “it.” Thanks to Jay B. for the vouchers and the talk, and for giving so many “dirt-bags” a shot at it.




This year marked a new moment in my (ski)  life. It was the first time I had lived in Billings Montana and not owned a Red Lodge Mountain Resort season pass. In years gone by since I began skiing again for real the winter of 2006/07 I have always owned one. There were the fabled years of 2008/09 where I owned a pass at both Grand Targhee and RLM. I tried this again last year with the Big Sky Resort gold pass and the RLM pass. Dual citizenship as I call it. Last year it did not play out well for me. I logged too few day at Red Lodge to pay for the pass, or justify the purchase again this year. So it was with a heavy heart (ok not that heavy) that I pulled the plug on my Red Lodge season on Thanksgiving Day, 2013. I was destined to retrun, sure, only after the bullwheel ceased spinning.

Mother nature would have other plans for me. With two weeks left on my Big Sky pass winter was becoming hit or miss. Firm chalky conditions on the north slope of Big Sky resort still called my name. But the siren song of Red Lodge’s snow report called louder… A full 5″ in the afternoon with 9″ overnight. NOAA’s website stated “The snow will be heavy at times.” Yeah, sounds like it. I packed up the gear and pulled out the phone. I hadn’t played for a lift ticket yet this year (despite skiing Snowbasin, Snowbird, Traghee, and 5 days at Jackson Hole) so the hunt for a voucher was on. Before I entered the canyon to drive out of Big Sky I re-affirmed my decision. Red Lodge’s facebook had posted a snowfall of 11″ by 7:30pm. It. was. ON!