Radventure Part 7: Mantana Written by Alex Thornburg on March 16th, 2015

When I left you guys on Monday, I had made the last minute decision to take a trip to Red Lodge Mountain. I was a little late to the bus stop on this one, with the storm already having passed through (the storm that completely skipped Big Sky), but the trip did not disappoint. We rolled into town with no real plan, and sauntered into a flea bag motel called the Lupine Inn. Lucky for us, the guy who runs it lives there so we had no problem tracking him down and grabbing a room. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that we were the only hotel guests in the place, especially judging by the days old items included in the continental breakfast and the murky “warm” tub. The place had character for days, a relaxed on-grounds beverage policy, a cheap price tag (the only place I’ve paid to stay on my trip thus far), and most importantly: it was warm inside.

Mantana Country

Red Lodge Mountain turned out to be everything I had hoped. A good chunk of the access road is dirt, and needless to say, so is the parking lot. Their ski racks aren’t the kind you see everywhere else. In fact, I’m pretty sure that no one rack is like the other. I don’t know why I was so stoked on their “custom” shop class style ski racks, but I was. They’re like a metaphor for the awesome vibe that engulfs the resort. Red Lodge isn’t the type of place the Griswolds are taking a family vacation. It isn’t the type of place that runs gaper train shuttles from the parking lot to the base. It’s “Montana skiing, pure and simple. No lift lines, no attitude, no big prices.” That’s a direct quote from their about page. It’s the kind of place that fits in with the ski bum lifestyle. It’s the kind of place you want to go if you care about skiing/snowboarding for the sake of skiing/snowboarding, the kind of place where you’ll fit in just fine as the type of person who washes their snowboard socks in the sink or dries their gloves in a toaster oven.

The shredding we got in at Red Lodge was characterized by sun and fairly warm temps, but it didn’t get too sloppy. We started our day by going straight to the Headwaters, which yielded some nice leftover freshies in the trees and for the most part everything had stayed cool and soft. Headwaters is steep and tight with no gaper traffic to worry about. To be perfectly honest, the whole resort is pretty light on gaper traffic. I’ve got to give a special thanks to Paul Otsu, Red Lodge marketing coordinator, for showing us a traverse that led us to my favorite line of the day. We found some good freshies above the Mines. As the day progressed, we explored more of the mountain (complete with their janky but super fun park) and took in some scenic views. I had never heard of Red Lodge before this trip, and would have never thought about going there, but I’m glad I did. It’s just on the eastern edge of the Rockies, southwest of Billings, MT. If you’re ever anywhere close enough to do so, I highly recommend making an excuse to check it out. Be ready for some tight trees and chairs that won’t buy you flowers before nudging you up the hill, all part of the flavor. And once you’re done shredding, The Blue Ribbon in downtown Red Lodge has dollar PBR tall cans daily to quench your thirst.

After Red Lodge I got dropped off in Bozeman, and the following day did a hike into Hyalite Canyon with some buddies. To be honest, we had fun, but it kind of sucked. We set up a couple fun features with some mediocre corn snow, and popped a few tricks off. Call me a weirdo, but I think my favorite thing I did was a long tail press across a large dirt patch. After working up a hefty appetite and a greasy amount of sweat, I decided it wasn’t a bad idea to do a bit of bathing in a mountain stream that most likely originated from one of the park’s many (some frozen) waterfalls.

That night consisted of raging in Bozeman, trying to climb on a variety of roofs downtown, and making bad late night dietary decisions. Waking up face down, shoes on, in a bed between 2 other people, in a room with 10 other people, was just about how I expected to wake up. Good thing The Cat’s Paw was in walking distance. I highly suggest going there to cure your hangover if you’re in the area, but only if you like dirt cheap pitchers of Montana beer, fat plates of decadently greasy pub food, and an adjacent liquor store that’s always running specials (we picked up about 100 beers from Goose Island at $2.00 per sixpack).

I “accidentally” raged again Wednesday night, this time back in Big Sky, and the only cure this time was some sloppy spring snowboarding. I was literally snoring on one of the lift rides up (sleeping on the lift is the only use I see for those silly safety bars). You’ve already heard plenty about me doing euro carves, mud presses, and mashed potato sliding so I won’t bore with more of that, as that’s what the next couple days had in store. I did make my way around Big Sky Resort fairly thoroughly, getting in some skate style hits on both Moonlight Basin and Andesite Mountain.  Spring was in full effect, and though I would have rather been snowboarding the whole time in in waist deep powder, I had some fun off-mountain trudging around mud and crusty snow disc golfing in the Big Sky meadow and skateboarding in a parking lot near the base of Big Sky Resort.

Today had some more sloppy shredding and possibly a session in the only dry part of the Big Sky skatepark in store, and soon I’m off to possibly skate in Bozeman. Stay tuned for next time!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.