Posts Tagged ‘airbag’

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!

 

Good things happen for those willing to wait. If you can stand (or in my case relish in) the agony of climbing something for hours at a time the joys of dropping into untracked powder over and over and over again will be yours. Conditions in the Gallatin and Madison Ranges of Montana continue to improve. Stability has risen, giving way to conditions which are low probability, and very high consequence. As the snow pack deepens skiers become way less likely to trigger slides. Still we move cautiously lines will always be there, powder too (if you know where to look). These clips represent a diligent series of moves in the backcountry, and some of them were pulled from days where it just wasn’t happening. The huge slide at the top of Beehive with fellow buzzards Arthur? Well we just turned around and skied back down our own ski track…very, very cautiously.

The buzzards keep reaching new highs for the winter of 2013/14. The snow piles up and the vertical keeps stacking up. While I close in on the 1 million foot mark in lift service I’m happy to take a breather from the lift service hustle and bustle to step out and step up with a few friends in the backcountry. As I crushed past my half way mark for the season in earned turns I’m feeling pretty good about things. 300,000 feet will be my biggest goal yet, all while making my way through the longest, deepest and most challenging (and rewarding) winter yet. This Go Pro edit, shot entirely with self-propelled “earned” turns in Beehive Basin and Lick Creek exemplify what it’s really all about…sometimes steep, sometimes deep, but always untracked….

The Winter of 2013/14 is just getting going. Stoke remains high while the buzzards continue to scrape the meat off the bones of hit and miss storms. I journeyed south to let the Zion Curtain envelope me once again. Conditions were miss, the big storm coming in just after I left, unlike the year before, when I timed it jusssssst right. Filmed on location in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, in Green’s Basin, Wolverine Cirque, The Birthday Chutes, and Mt. Kessler over two differing weekends. The seasons couldn’t have a more different flavor, but the smiles (like the bones) remain just as bright. Sometimes it may not be the “best we’ve ever had” but for the the buzzards, as long as we manage to earth below, sky above….well we always have a good time!

Arthur on the up.

Arthur on the up.