Early winter


Winter has been off to an interesting start this year. We had some good snow before Thanksgiving but then the dreaded basal facets appeared. This persistent weak layer has relegated me to sticking to low angle pow. Despite the frustrating snowpack I have had some good days meadow skipping with the dog and showing my cousin-in-law what is up with the backcountry scene in SW Montana.

Heading out for some exploration in the Northern Bridgers

Dudley Dog scoping the views from an early morning tour in the Northern Gallatin Mountains.

Cousin-in-law Tommy finding some good snow up at Bridger Bowl.

Tommy on the approach in the Northern Bridgers

Tommy reaping the benefits of all the hard work backcountry skiing requires

Dudley and his pal Weebo on the march in the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains

View of the Southern Gallatin Mountains in Yellowstone National Park

Tommy avoiding stumps above Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

This curious coyote was very interested in what we were doing.

Mission accomplished!

Winter is here!


It has been a cold start to the winter, but Ullr made up for the -20 degree temperatures by dropping 26″ of cold smoke at Bridger Bowl.

Unidentified skier enjoying first tracks down Schlassman’s

Perhaps it was worth waiting all morning for Schlassman’s to open?

2012-2013 Ski Season Edit


I know, I know, the ski season is far from over and for me it is really just beginning as the steeps stabilize and access roads melt out. Nonetheless, I figure I should share the footage I collected over the winter in addition to telling the story of how I blew my knee out over a year ago with everyone. So enjoy some helmet cam footage of powder skiing in Southwest Montana.

Music by David Bowie (duh!)

Some summer, some winter. Ah, springtime in Montana


Classic springtime in Southwest Montana this year, a little bit of sun, a little bit of snow and a whole bunch of fun. When the sun has been shining I’ve been getting out on the rock and starting to do a bit of climbing. This has been nice especially since we’ve been in the 60s a couple times this year.

Scotty Davidson climbing in Bear Canyon


Scotty being lowered after a nice lead.


Sarah Eshback going vertical in Bear Canyon.


Then it snowed… a lot. A dawn patrol up Bridger surprised all of us with nearly 2 feet of fresh having fallen, and us breaking trail up the mountain to get first tracks. Needless to say, it was a pleasant late April surprise.

Shawtann Whitson showing that even April can bring face shots.


Shawtann getting his powder pants on


Breakfast on April 29, 2010. Skier-Shawtann Whitson


Still gettin' the goods nearly a month after the ski area closed. Skier-Shawtann Whitson


We took a few laps, smiling the entire time about the great snow. Skier-Shawtan


The storm total was somewhere around 3 feet. Skier-Shawtan


And people complain about spring snow... weird. Skier-Shawtan

Prepping for Europe


I leave in a week for a long European excursion to do some skiing and traveling in the Alps. So I have been spending the majority of my time working, training and planning. In the process I found a really cool zone that, by Montana standards, is pretty easy access. So over the course of a few days I made 3 trips into the zone and summitted all 3 of the major peaks in the drainage, which resulted in nearly 30 miles and 20k of vert climbed and skied in 3 of 4 days. Not a bad way to start shaping up for the 20k vert a day in the Alps.

For skiing I’ve been trying to ski Bridger Bowl when I can, but without a pass it’s sometimes hard to get up there.

Ryan Walters sending it in Mundy's bowl at Bridger Bowl

Myself, airing out of Alabaster Chute in the Diagonals zone at Bridger Bowl

This tin was in my pocket during a pretty violent fall in Mundy's. Saved me from ending my season early, that's for sure.

As for touring and climbing, I’ve spent a lot of time on the easy approach and low angle of Mt Ellis, but I also found a drainage that I am going to keep secret for a little while. Skied off of 3 different summits over 4 days in this area.

Panorama of the Northern Absaroka mountains

The first of the three mountains climbed and skied during a summit binge in this drainage.

The fun thing about the 3 mountains in this zone is that they get progressively more difficult. The first day was on the easiest peak to get a feel for the snow and see what the terrain looked like.

Steve Geiger coming out of the inversion on the approach

Only one of many aesthetic and fun looking lines only a little more than 2 hours from the trailhead

Over the next two days I bagged both of these mountains

Shawtann Whitson climbs towards the summit of the first mountain climbed.

Rob Wudlick and Steve Geiger hike to our line

Shawtan Whitson enjoys the bottom half of 1200' of powder.

Steve Geiger on the approach for summit number 2

Steve Geiger nears the summit of peak number 2 after getting caught in an afternoon storm

Patrick Lawrence gears up at the trailhead in the wee hours of the morning for an attempt on the third peak.

Looking down my line from the top of the gnarliest peak in the zone

The last peak we climbed was the most difficult to climb and ski. I was up there with my good friend Patrick, who I ski and climb with frequently. After winning a round of ro-sham-bo for first tracks down what appeared to be one of the best runs of my life, Patrick staked out a cover worthy photo angle and waited for me to drop. I clicked into my skis on the pointy summit and looked down my line, one turn on a spine then straightline a little chute, lay a big slasher for the photo then race my slough out. I yelled to Patrick that I was dropping. I lightly skied onto the spine and made my first turn, this is when the mountain reached up and took one of my skis. I fell headfirst down a little chute, over some rocks then went through the washing machine as my slough pushed me down the hill. I fought my way out of the moving snow above another rock band, and with only one ski traversed to a “safe” spot. I yelled to Patrick I was ok, but I was missing a ski. Worried my ski was buried deep in slough at the bottom, I looked around and sure enough, my ski was poking straight-up still on the top of the mountain. Patrick recovered it and brought it to me. I gave him first tracks for the rest of the run because of my stupid fall.

Looking back up through the carnage after falling on my first turn. If you look at the very top of the mountain you can see my ski poking up.

Patrick Lawrence slashes after rescuing my ski.

Winter is back


Ski season has begun for me up in Bozeman. I’ve been skiing almost every chance I get. Sorry no action shots, but I have gotten a couple good scenic pics. Click on them to enlarge.

Gallatin Valley from the Bridger Ridge on a beautiful November afternoon.

Ross Peak looking sweet through the clouds.

For my Grandfather


Just a quick post for my granddad who passed away last weekend at the ripe old age of 89. I missed the funeral due to too much snow and my flight being canceled. I went and made some turns for him since the snow kept me from the funeral.

SGilsonCred

Yours truly doing some early season nighttime shredding up at Bridger. Mad photo props to Steve Gilson for this one.