Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Romping Through the Beartooths

Until recently, I thought the main attractions of Montana were guns, alcohol, and bears. Well it turns out you can ski there too! Last month I went on a short mission into the Beartooth mountains with Jay Beyer, Carston Oliver, and Ben Nobel to snow camp and ski some big lines. We had a secondary objective of riding bears while drinking alcohol and shooting guns.

From Cooke City, we snowmobiled our selves and gear into a nearby drainage and set up camp. From our tents, we stared up at massive, steep, 3000 faces with Alaska-like spines and brooding cornices. I still consider myself a novice at "big mountain" skiing, so going on this trip with some experienced friends was a huge learning opportunity for me. It takes a lot of know-how to even find where you want to drop amidst a ridge full of cornices. It takes a whole other set of skills to navigate your line down while avoiding the rivers of sluff rushing by you. Most of the time, you can't even see your line from up top; the slope just rolls out of vision.

Our friend Ben was washed away by his sluff on a big line and barely regained control before going over some mean cliffs. It gave us all a bit of a scare and reminded us how humbling mountains can be.

Here's a shot of my first line of the trip: a small ridge/spine with a clean cliff at the bottom. On my first turn, I triggered a decent-sized shallow wind slab.

I was able to keep it together and send the biggest back flip I've ever done. I ended up landing around Jay's water mark.

Each day we were out, we got shut down by clouds and weren't able to ski everything we wanted. Now that we know what's out there, it's only a matter of time before we go get redemption. Big thanks to Ben Nobel for acting as our guide and to Jay Beyer for the photos.

1 comment:

  1. wow nice work balkin! montana does have a lot of sick terrain. have you seen the lines mark did just outside of bozeman? they are pretty sick too. keep killin daughter!