This winter has been a rough one in Montana...our snow fall is well below what is needed and the lack of snow hasn't helped the economy either (Montana's number one industry is tourism). You see, Montana is extremely dry in the summer, even arid,and so we depend on the slow melt of high altitude snowpack to keep the water flowing. Unfortunately the mild winter combined with early warm weather all but melted the snow pack around here and left other high altitude areas in Montana and Idaho also in perilous positions.
Knowing all this, I was worried about the annual Big Sky Urology conference that took place last week down in Big Sky, Montana; Big Sky is about an hour south of Bozeman and 4 hours or so from Missoula. Even before I moved to Montana I came out to play at the conference because my friends (two of which are now my employers) attended the conference sessions in the morning and afternoon with skiing sandwiched between. Big Sky is a beautiful resort and about as close as Montana gets to a Colorado style resort with condos, swanky homes and restaurants and big elevation drops. Our friends Kevin & Heather also come out to the conference, from Michigan, so I was thinking they would be spending their time hanging out in hotel rooms instead of on the slopes. But the snow started falling...and kept falling all last week; by the time I left Missoula on Friday night to join in the fun, the snow between here and Big Sky was falling so hard at times I had to pull off the road because of the white out conditions. In a little over three days Big Sky received over 40 inches of snow.
I arrived pretty late on Friday but still had enough time to gab the ears off og Heather & Kevin and catch up on some pictures of their awesome kids. Saturday after breakfast, Kevin, Karl and I headed up the mountain to get some runs in before the Simmons' boys raced in the grand slalom event. The snow was fabulous...I couldn't believe just a few days earlier I was in short sleeves back in Missoula!
After watching Nick and Alex race, along with Ruby, the daughter of another Missoula friend, Kevin, Karl and I headed up the mountain to do a few quick shots through a tree line and down a nice bump run with great snow. Kevin and Karl were on their tele skis and I was on my board; it was the best snow I've played in all year! We broke for lunch and Karl switched to his board; Kevin took the afternoon off...after 4 days of skiing he felt like a break.
In the afternoon Karl switched to his board and we headed up the Challenger lift to get some big snow and steep runs (up here)...well, Karl got the mountain, the mountain got me; he is awesome on a board and looks like the guys you see in those extreme adventure movies, whereas I look like a duck out of water. I'll admit it, the first run I was scared as all get out...just the entry into the run was steeper than most anything I'd been on all year and we had to navigate a steep pitch full of trees to get to the nose. Karl showed me the way, but only after allowing me to make the mistake of thinking I could lead a line I'd never been down...resulting in me having to hop back up the mountainside to avoid heading down the wrong side of the ridge. We got two long runs in before m legs had enough and so headed back inside for a nice hot tub.
It was a short, sweet trip as we opted to leave Big sky, amidst another snow storm, yesterday morning. It was great to see Kevin & Heather and to play in the snow, even if it was just for a day.