Spring officially begun last week, but I feel like I’ve been spring riding since February (to the detriment of liver). I found my way into Bozeman early in the week with plans of skating and raging St Patty’s with droves of people drinking green beer and pretending to be Irish (once again, to the detriment of my liver).
My attempt to skate was like searching for a great white buffalo, walking miles to try and find a ramp that we had seen from the car in passing a week prior. I felt like I was searching for the Animal Chin ramp. When we got there, of course, it started raining just enough to make it unskateable (and enough to replenish the standing puddles in the flat bottom). Just like other adverse conditions I’ve encountered on this trip, I made the best of it. A friend and I took an old busted kids BMX bike (it came stock with handle bars ready to fall off and two flat tires) and attempted to ride around the adjacent BMX flow track. After toweling the flat bottom of the ramp and being continually teased by the on and off nature of the rain, we gave up and continued our journey, this time toward the night’s festivities.
Luckily, it was cold enough in higher elevations to snow overnight, leaving a nice little deposit of pow to shred at Bridger Bowl Wednesday. They only got about 4-6 inches, but it wasn’t hard to find fresh lines with the lack of crowds. It was a very “cascadian” as far as conditions went, with wet snow and a mix of flurries and sunshine. With limited operations on the mountain, I didn’t get to explore as much as I would have liked, but I can imagine how fun Bridger could be on a more bountiful powder day during a better season. One thing that I find really cool about Bridger, is that the resort is a non-profit run by the city of Bozeman. As you can imagine, it’s an affordable option for shredding in the area. I do think, however, that they could do without the weird conveyor belts at the bottom of their lifts. Maybe it’s just me, but I like to be moving of my own accord when I’m about to get on a chairlift.
The next day it was back to Big Sky Resort with some Oregon homies for bluebird conditions and some pow stashes. I may have skipped my highschool reunion (hearing about my classmates’ weight problems, meth addictions, kids, and/or divorces at a Southern Idahoan country club just didn’t seem appealing) , but there’s no way I was going to skip a Big Sky reunion with my two favorite shred buddies from Mt Hood. After watching one such buddy successfully jump (a “thread-the-needle-to-gaper-ski-tap,” if you will) between some gapers that had no business being on the turkey traverse, my stoke level was higher than most people in Oregon after our last election results. We took a slightly less common route off the traverse and found some cool little cliff lines with fresh landings, even with the surrounding area being fairly tracked out. From there we made our way to the Challenger lift (a gaper proof double chair with a steep ascent and “no easy way down”) and found even more freshness, complete with more fun size cliff drops and softish landings.
We made our way to the Moonlight Basin side of the resort after that, finding more stashes. I don’t necessarily condone ducking ropes, after all, that’s against the rules … but sometimes it pays off and you have some epic lines that may or may not land you in someone’s backyard, just saying. We rounded out the day in what I would consider one of the best ways possible, by playing polish horseshoes (which, if you don’t know, involves putting beer cans on ski poles and throwing frisbees at them, and each other).
Friday: Hot pow, come get your hot pow! The day was soft and slushy, just like my board and attitude. It was another day in paradise for me, as we started our day with an 18 pack and laps through the mini park off Pony Express. I would say it was a good way to start the day, and a good line to lap when you’re dirtbagging it up with a barley soda in hand for every run down and every lift ride up. I guess you’re doing something right when someone slows the lift down for you to make an emergency lift to lift beer toss a success.
I like to think of Friday as the PSAT, and Saturday as the SAT, with the Big Sky Dirtbag Day in full effect, followed by the Dirtbag Ball that night. The “unevent” has been a Big Sky tradition since 1979 (invented and sanctioned by Ski Patrol, yet another testament to the good vibes out here), and I’m glad to see that the corporate absorption of the resort by Boyne hasn’t sullied its integrity or abolished it altogether. For more “official” info, check out this article. My crew and I joined hundreds of dirtbags in costume with adult beverages in hand, and achieved our goal of looking stupid, silly, and ridiculous. I’ll take any excuse to dress up like a gaper and get weird on the hill, so naturally I donned a pretty greasy outfit and acted like a fool all day. My onesie was originally owned by my buddy’s grandpa, the late and great Jimmer Gillispie, who moved to Big Sky back in the early 70’s and helped make it what it is today. During an impromptu dance party in the base area with a small handful of the others, some snow flurries begun. I started yelling “we did it” over and over, and some cheering ensued. Even though the flurries turned out to be a tease, I gained just enough gumption to get another run in to one of the many shacks (I’ve seen about 7 so far, but there’s still plenty more to be seen) around the hill before getting mentally prepared for the Dirtbag Ball that night.
Sunday was nothing to brag about, just another day shredding and no complaints on my end. I woke up this morning (Monday) a bit perturbed by the fact that I could see the peak when I looked out the window (life’s hard, I know). But since I’ve been typing this, some flurries have sneakily rolled in and it has been snowing. Considering that a half inch has accumulated at the base area in the last 45 minutes, I do believe I made the right decision when I decided not to catch a ride westward this morning.