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FEBRUARY 2016

Y O U R G U I D E T O W I N T E R R E C R E AT I O N I N S O U T H W E S T M O N TA N A

BACKCOUNTRY BEHAVIOR

WWW.BOBWARDS.COM BOZEMAN - 3011 Max Ave.

NEW MSU SNOW SCIENCE RESEARCH TRACKS DECISION-MAKING PROCESS DURING BACKCOUNTRY SKI TRIPS

PLUS

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16 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

PARADISE FOUND: LONE MOUNTAIN RANCH AN EASY GETAWAY t CLASSIC LINE: GOING CUCKOO FOR CUCKOO’S NEST t ICE CAPADES: HANGING WITH BOZEMAN CLIMBER WHIT MAGRO

A S P E C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E B O Z E M A N D A I LY C H R O N I C L E


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GET BACK TO YOUR LIFE

CLASSIC LINE

When it comes time to hit the slopes, it might become time for you to seek orthopedic care. Trust the pros at Bridger Orthopedic to get you back to your active, pain free life.

CUCKOO’S NEST

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY JASON BACAJ

At Bridger Orthopedic we have the best team of doctors you can nd; each board certiied and sub-specialty trained to provide you with the best care. They are dedicated to getting you back to the Montana lifestyle you love! We strive to provide you with the best possible care so you can get back to your life— whether it’s on the slopes, on the job, or on the go. Dropping in ...

Find us on Facebook at Bridger Orthopedic and Sports Medicine

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FE BRUARY 12, 2016 15

... to the crux.

Few things are as important on a powder day as getting first tracks through a high visibility line. Ideally, those tracks are laid down at speed to maximize the powder porpoise effect and leave evidence of radness. One of a handful of lines at Bridger Bowl that meet these specifications is the Cuckoo’s Nest. It sits in prime view of the Bridger chairlift. A quality powder howl can alert bystanders on the cat-track above North Bowl so they can watch you scream out of the crux and into the open runout. To access the line, ski north from the top of the ridge hike. A little ways after the traverse begins its uphill path. Below, the very top of the large triangular rock that forms Cuckoo’s should be visible. Dip into the powder field below and ski toward the rock. An entrance to the top of the line emerges skiers left of the rock once the slope rolls over. From here you can assess the crux of Cuckoo’s; in low snow years there’s usually a small drop. Once you get the crux dialed in, take a turn along the fall line toward the rock to set yourself up and then point ‘em to glory. u


14 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

By Dr. Josh Klatt

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inter in the Bozeman area is a fun and exciting time for both children and adults, with numerous outdoor activities to offer. While the enjoyment and pleasure are on the forefront of our minds, it is important to remember that we need to ensure the safety of our children when we send them into the great outdoors. Skiing and snowboarding are common sports that are worth discussing in regard to their particular risks as well as those shared with all wintertime activities. Skiing and snowboarding account for 2 of the top 3 causes of snow and ice sport related injuries. While most studies report that skiing injuries are actually the most common among older skiers, children are not immune to injury and children who are beginners are the most likely to sustain injuries among young skiers, often on their first day. This is clearly not a great way to endear your child to picking up your love of the sport! Injuries among snowboarders tend overall to be more often found in adolescents, with young, inexperienced female snowboarders being the most likely to be injured. While it’s difficult to be a downer and quash your child’s excitement when they ask if they can go snowboarding for the first time with a group of their friends, keep in mind that even a half-day lesson with a trained instructor might avoid a lot of frustration and pain for all involved parties, and might keep your child interested and heading back up to the mountain for more. And the cost of a group lesson is sure to be much less expensive than a trip to the emergency department! Wrist splints from a sporting goods store are felt by many to help reduce the risk of injury in beginner snowboarders, too. Ski and snowboard safety start with providing your child with the right equipment, whether it is rented, borrowed or owned. Borrowing equipment certainly comes with it’s own inherent risks, but can be safely done if the equipment is checked by a knowledgeable person. This may or may not be your adolescent child’s best friend! While tables and charts are available online to calculate ski binding settings, certainly the safest way to handle this is take the gear to a reputable ski shop and have the equipment properly tuned and maintained. Knee sprains are the most common ski injury and a common cause is improperly set bindings, which don’t allow the boot to be released from the binding with a twisting type injury. Rental equipment can be found at many winter sports shops around town and at local resorts. If you own your own equipment it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking your gear each time you go out and it’s a great lesson to teach your children to do the same. There are still no major institutional recommendations regarding helmet use for skiing and snowboarding, including with children. This is likely due to the fact that in the past there has been conflicting evidence regarding their safety, as well as strong personal feelings among the pro- and the con- camps regarding their use. While we each have to come to terms with our own calculation and acceptance of our exposure to risk in life as adults, numerous recent studies show a 35% to 60% reduction in risk of head injury without an increase of neck injury when a properly

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fitting and applied helmet is used while skiing or snowboarding. Their use is therefore strongly recommended in children on the slopes, as head trauma accounts for up to 20% of injuries in both groups, including in children. Another suggestion is to make sure that your child can hear you or that oncoming skier through that hat stuffed tightly under their helmet on a colder day. Most helmets sold these days are warm enough to not require a thick hat and are made with vents or holes to improve hearing, but it’s worth a quick check. Dressing warmly doesn’t hardly seem worth mentioning given that we’re all quite familiar with the issue living in Bozeman. But it’s worth a quick mention of the general rule for small children and infants to dress them in one or more layers of clothing than an adult would wear. A quick look on your phone can give you a daily weather report, including at the mountain to help you out. Wind and water resistant layers certainly help keep us all warm and dry, but given children’s decreased ability to stay warm and especially adept capacity to get wet, whether it be jumping in puddles or rolling in the snow, this is especially important. And if you’re going out with small children remember that you’ll likely to be standing around a lot more often and so an extra layer for yourself won’t hurt. Leaving a pack in the lodge with an extra layer for everyone, as well as a place to shed one or two never hurts if you’re not into wearing a backpack, although they’re sure a nice place to store snacks and goodies for the lift rides. Mittens help keep little fingers warmer than gloves and remove them often to check just how warm (or cold!)

those little fingers are. Certainly fashion trends change quickly the world over, but even if you’re a parent that likes dark and reserved attire, it’s not only helpful to find a child dressed in brighter clothing, but it helps them to be seen by that less than vigilant teen-aged freight train careening down the mountain! During those cold, short winter days it’s also easy to forget that children’s skin is still being exposed to plenty of UV rays. My dermatologist friends frequently remind me that snow reflects up to 80% of the sun’s rays. The atmosphere is also less adept at blocking UV light at high elevations and so it’s a good idea to apply a layer of sunscreen to ourselves and our children a couple of times a day, even on very cloudy days, as they block only a very small amount of the UV light. Sunglasses or goggles not only block the glare of the sun, but also protect those fragile little eyes from blowing snow and tree branches. Probably most important of all is a reminder to keep a sense of humor and remember that we’re out there to have a good time and especially to share with our little ones just how much fun the great outdoors can be. Come in often for drinks and snacks, they’re part of the fun. I still remember getting hot cider at the old Deer Park Chalet just as much as I remember skiing down the mountain! u

CARVE YOUR GUIDE TO SOUTHWEST MONTANA SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING

EDITOR/DESIGN/PHOTOS Chris Kerr CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jason Bacaj, Doug Chabot, Terry Cunningham, Dr. Mike Ferrell, Melynda Harrison, Brian Hurlbut Karin Kirk and Dr. Josh Klatt

CARVE is published once a month from December to February by Big Sky Publishing. FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION contact the Bozeman Daily Chronicle at 587-4491.

EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS are welcome and can be submitted to Chris Kerr at 582-2643 or ckerr@dailychronicle.com

ON THE COVER: A snowboarder arcs a turn in The Bowl at Big Sky earlier this season.

Dr. Klatt is board certified in orthopedic surgery and fellowship trained with two fellowships in pediatric orthopedic surgery. He is the newest partner at Bridger Orthopedics and brings with him many years experience taking care of pediatric orthopedic conditions.

Correction: A story in the January issue about cross-country skiing near West Yellowstone should have reported that the foot bridge on the Bighorn Pass Trail has been removed. At this time it is unclear if the National Park Service will replace the footbridge.

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 3


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K I C K I N G A N D G L I D I N G AT

LONE MOUNTAIN RANCH STORY AND PHOTOS BY MELYNDA HARRISON

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nugged into the valley in Big Sky, Lone Mountain Ranch is both a step back in time and a different world. Historic cabins are tucked into the trees and along a little creek. From the well-appointed outdoor shop, 35 km of packed snowshoe trails and 85 km of professionally groomed cross-country trails wind up mountains, along creeks, and around meadows. It’s a serene Nordic world where visitors can relax and recharge their batteries just an hour from Bozeman. Whether it’s a week staying in a cabin, a moonlight sleigh ride to a rustic dinner, or a day trip to burn calories on the trail, LMR caters to every guest. The combination of its proximity to Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky Resort, being in the mountains, and the Nordic ski system make it a great home base for winter recreation,” said Paul Robertson, general manager of Lone Mountain Ranch. LMR celebrated its 100th birthday in 2015. Before snowshoers, skiers, and sleigh riders took over, The Clarence Lytle family worked cattle and horses, and cut hay. Over the decades, the ranch changed hands several times, most recently in 2013 when Makar Properties bought LMR out of a bank holding. “People have been coming here since 1915,” said Robertson. “It’s a time tested, authentic guest ranch experience.” Robertson said they were slowly updating the 100-year-old ranch while maintaining the historic character. It is the historic aspect, along with modern conveniences and luxuries, which make LMR such a special place. All the snow and trees don’t hurt, either. By the 1950s, LMR was a dude ranch, operating in the summer only. City slickers rode horses and packed into alpine lakes and nearby Yellowstone. Meals were served family style in the dining room, now called the B-K (pronounced B bar K), Today, families play board games around the fire in the B-K. While summer in Montana is fleeting and gorgeous, those early visitors missed out on the magical wonder that is winter at LMR. Part of the magic comes from the kilometers and kilometers of cross-country ski trails. A gruesome grind up Douglas-fir covered hills from the base takes skiers to the upper trails where they are likely to be skiing alone. With names like Siberia, Mongolia and Summit, it’s no surprise that these trails are far away and up high. At 8,242 feet, Summit tops out the trail system and provides excellent views before dropping down over 2,000 feet to the lower meadow loops. This Nordic center has more vertical feet than some alpine ski areas.

By Karin Kirk

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INSIDE VS. OUTSIDE TURNS

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t the end of most ski days, I wind down the highlights over a beer with my husband. He enjoys teasing me about my ski instructor jargon. “Did you have a strong inside half today?” he’ll ask jokingly. That’s a phrase that instructors love to use, yet it makes no sense to normal people. While I admit that we instructors can hardly resist delving into the abstractions of ski technique, the concept of the inside and outside parts of the body is one that is one worth exploring. So bear with me as we get down with some ski nerd conversation. What do we mean by inside and outside? Think of a ski turn as part of a circle. While turning left (counterclockwise), your right ski is on the outside of the curve and your left ski is on the inside. Stop reading this for a moment, imagine turning left, and think about what your skis are doing. During your imaginary left turn (which really rocks, by the way!), your right ski is on the outside of the curve, and it’s also the ski that is carrying most of your weight and dictating much of what’s happening throughout the turn. OK, are we solid on the basic concept? Let’s dig a little deeper into this. If you draw a line up the zipper of your jacket, you can imagine separating your body into two halves: the inside half and the outside half. In a left turn, the outside part of your body would be your right ski, foot, leg, hip, arm, and shoulder. The outside part of your body is what puts energy and drive into your turn. The inside part of your body stays balanced and disciplined, and basically just has to stay out of the way. What the inside part of your body should not do is lean in toward the hill or get twisted up in an effort to create rotation in your turn.

u Whole body leaning into the hill. Hips and shoulders tilted toward the inside of the turn. u Weight is being pulled onto inside foot (the skier’s left foot). u Because of the weight on the inside ski, it is turning more sharply than the outside ski. u More snow spraying off inside ski than outside ski. u Inside hand much lower than outside hand, inside pole dragging. u Facial expression uncertain. Lacks determination.

What should I do with the outside part of my body? Start at the ski. As you begin a turn, focus your weight onto your outside ski. Specifically, press on the big toe of your outside foot. That is a good place to direct your weight, because it keeps you forward and puts you over the edge of your ski. Everything else stacks up on top of that. Think of balancing over that outside ski all the way through the turn. It’s moving of course, so you need to move with it. The moment you stop moving with your ski, you end up in the back seat. The amount of power you’ll deliver to your outside ski depends on the snow and what kind of turn you want. In soft snow, you can ease gently onto the outside ski. In firm snow, steeps, or for shorter turns, crank on your outside ski with more effort and energy. Your outside arm and shoulder can reach down toward the snow too. This sounds weird, but it helps you commit your balance to the outside ski. It also helps you keep your shoulders level and prevents you from getting pulled to the inside of the turn. What about the inside part of my body? The inside part of your body is not just along for the ride. Ideally, it’s actively counterbalancing what’s going on with the outside part. Your job is to keep the inside half of your body engaged and stable. Again, starting at the ski: your inside ski carries much less weight than the outside one, but it’s still engaged all the way through the turn. Think of touching the snow with the pinky toe of your inside foot. Don’t press too hard, but do seek a connection underneath your little toe. To keep your inside foot light on the snow, your in-

UNBALANCED SKIER

d SKI TIPS

side hip almost feels like it’s lifting up. The result is that your hips stay level as the outside half pushes down and the inside half elevates. Lots of people crank out their turns by dipping their shoulders into the turn and reaching for the snow with their inside hand. Thanks to shaped skis and soft snow, it works. And it’s fun. Who am I to tell you to stop doing that? But if you want to ski with more precision, energy, and efficiency, you might not want to make a habit of that move. Instead, resist leaning into the hill and keep your inside arm and shoulder lifted up so that your shoulders can be horizontal instead of tilted into the hill. Here’s a quick barometer for you: as you ski through a series of turns, try not to drag your inside pole in the snow. This drill builds awareness more than anything. If you feel yourself needing that inside pole for support, you are likely sucking the power out of your skiing. Instead, engage your core and try to balance without leaning on your inside pole. Trust that outside ski, and go ahead and stand on it. When you do this you’ll find yourself stacked up more athletically. When everything aligns and you feel the outside half of your body applying power while the inside half stays agile and engaged, then you’ll know you’ve entered a whole new world of ski nerd nirvana. “Dude, check out my inside half,” you can say to your chairlift mates. They probably won’t know what the heck you’re talking about, but hopefully they’ll nod and smile anyway. u Karin Kirk is a Bridger Bowl ski instructor, staff trainer and Ridge guide. She and her husband love to talk ski nerdy to each other. Karin can be reached at karin@kirkframeworks.com.

BALANCED SKIER

u Stacked over outside foot (the skier’s right foot) and pressuring outside ski. u The skis are parallel. u Both skis have a similar edge angle. u Hips, hands, and shoulders are level. u Inside pole not dragging in the snow. u Six-pack abs (not shown) are helping to maintain balance and posture.


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By Doug Chabot

SNOW SAFETY

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ver the last 10 years the U.S. has averaged 27 avalanche fatalities a year. This season is on track to easily meet that. This January there were 11 fatalities in the West, one of the highest Januarys on record. Statistically, February is no better so brace yourself for more tragedy. Here in southwest Montana there have been two avalanche fatalities so far (as of Feb. 1) with an additional 32 close calls reported. Not getting caught in avalanches is the goal, yet people get unlucky or make poor decisions and get caught anyway. Many times there are no lasting consequences and soiled undies are the only reminder of poor judgment or bad luck. Other times people are traumatized or killed. Having a goal of safety and a plan for the worst is imperative. A rescue plan requires basic gear, training and practice. In 92 percent of fatal avalanches either the victim or someone in their party triggered the slide that killed them. 25 percent of victims died of trauma, the other 75 percent of suffocation. Unlike drowning in water where death occurs within minutes, avalanche victims have more time because snow contains air. A fully buried person dug up within 10 minutes has an 80 percent chance of survival. At 12 minutes those odds halve to 40 percent and halve again to 20 percent survival at 30 minutes. Rescue within this ever shortening window can only be done by partners since search and rescue teams are too far away. For rescue to be effective everyone must carry the proper gear. An avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe pole are minimum requirements. Avalanche airbags, Avalungs and other personal protection such as helmets can help push the odds in favor of the one buried. Without rescue gear or if your partner doesn’t know how use a transceiver, you cannot be found. If your partner panics and leaves the scene to get help, you will likely die. Only with practice can a person become proficient and confident with a transceiver to pinpoint their partner’s exact location and dig them up within a 10 minute window. Avalanche rescues are adrenaline filled, chaotic, emotional messes. Train-

A rescue party searches for a buried snowmobiler near Cooke City in this undated file photo.

ing, practice and planning for the worst is the only way to save a life under these pressures. If you are buried your future is in your partner’s hands, so choose partners wisely. How fast can they reach through all their jackets and flip the transceiver to “search”? Is their shovel handle stored next to the blade? Are they practiced at deploying a probe pole smoothly? These are a few of many questions that need answers before going out. Once an avalanche has occurred action must proceed methodically. Rescuing your partner, friend, sibling, spouse or child, requires a practiced response. First, before anyone goes out onto the slope it must be determined safe. Rescuers cannot get caught in adjacent slides. Next, from the top of the slope go to their last seen point and turn your beacon to “search.” At the bottom of the hill, start the beacon search at the toe of the debris. If one person is buried, one person will do the beacon search; if two people are

buried, two will search. All others will turn their beacons off so they do not interfere. More than one rescue has been delayed because someone kept transmitting a signal confusing the beacon searcher. All shovels get assembled and probe poles snapped in place. One person will shadow the beacon searcher ready to probe and dig while everyone else looks for clues in the debris: a hand or airbag sticking out of the snow. Probe around likely burial spots: near the toe of debris, around any gear, near a snowmobile, on the uphill sides of trees. As the beacon searcher gets closer they will switch from a fast-paced coarse search to a detailed fine search in order to pinpoint the victim. Once the beacon’s readings show the distance getting no closer, assume the victim is buried nearby. Probing in concentric circles 10” apart will lead to a strike. When that happens, leave the probe in as a marker and have everyone dig. Digging is efficient if rescuers are in an inverted “V” formation

GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST AVALANCHE CENTER

with one person at the probe pole and others flanked downhill to the sides. This allows the snow to be moved quickly, especially if the victim is buried deep. Rescue is a last-ditch effort to turn a bad situation around in a stressful race against time. Practice is the only way to get faster. Rescuers have been known to lose valuable minutes doing the beacon search, especially pin-pointing. At Beall Park the Friends of the Avalanche Center and the City of Bozeman installed a “Beacon Park” to help people get better with rescue. Six beacon simulators have been buried and a control panel allows a person to turn one or more on to search and probe for. It’s free and open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The Friends also offer six-hour Companion Rescue Clinics (www.mtavalanche.com/workshops/ calendar). Take advantage of these opportunities; your partner will be grateful, and so will you. u Doug Chabot is director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center in Bozeman.

For those more interested in screaming down the hills through meadows and forest, LMR offers a shuttle to the upper trails. Skiers are dropped off 2,000 feet above the outdoor shop and can ski the high trail loops before returning to the lodge area. All of the trails, including the mellower trails west of Big Sky’s Meadow Village Center are impeccably groomed for both skate and classic skiing. “It’s a big trail system, so it feels like a different trail every time you ski it,” said Denise Wade, director of guest operations. “We have great, consistent snow here and even when it isn’t, the grooming is really great.” The LMR staff groom half of the trail system each night, so the corduroy is never more than two days old. LMR isn’t just for Nordic skiers, though. Several packed snowshoe trails wind around the ranch. The snowshoe trails are packed by foot and shovel—no machines involved—so after each snowfall, ranch staff don snowshoes and hike the trails packing the snow for easy walking. In addition to skiers and snowshoers, four-legged critters visit the trails regularly; lynx, wolverines, ermines, pine martens, and deer have all been spotted by skiers and groomers. Moose are almost a hazard, there are so many of them. While most animals are busy hunting and grazing, the resident elk herd helps itself to the hay stash kept for Ranch horses. Yellow Mountain, which fills most of the view to the north of the trail system, is home to Big Horn sheep, and a great grey owl silently swoops through the trees around the Ranch lodge. For skiers who want to do more than relax and cruise the trails, the ski school hosts lessons in skating, striding, and telemarking, as well as backcountry tours around the LMR and in Yellowstone. Certified PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) ski instructors teach all the lessons, including women’s ski clinics, for those wishing to hone their skills or gain new ones. For Bozeman skiers and snowshoers, Lone Mountain is an easy day trip. A few hours on the trails, drinks and appetizers at the saloon or dinner in the lodge, make it feel like a real getaway. u

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 5

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BY TERRY CUNNINGHAM

Trail Ambassador Program: making connections on area trails

Hanging with Bozeman climber Whit Magro

BY TERRY CUNNINGHAM

On my third outing as a Trail Ambassador in the winter of 2014/15, I experienced first-hand the importance of proper trail etiquette and the potential for user group conflict. Patrolling on my Nordic skis on the Sourdough Canyon Trail, I was cruising downhill around a sharp bend when I saw a cute-as-a-button Beagle on the right side of the groomed trail and the Beagle’s owner to the far left. Neither the dog nor its owner were of particular note; I’d passed dozens of happy two-legged and four-legged hikers that day. What was noteworthy about this pair was that they were connected by a 15foot retractable leash stretched across the entire expanse of the trail, too high to hurdle and too low to limbo. Once I disentangled myself from the ensuing leash/ski/Beagle/ski pole/dog-owner jumble and removed a plug of snow from my ear, I was able to turn the event into a teachable moment,

Whit Magro climbs Hang Time in Hyalite Canyon.

climbing experience and favorable ice conditions — he would be the first climber to actually free-climb both routes; doing so within 10 days of one another. Here are the route descriptions. Alpha Blondy - M9: Located 200 feet to the right of the Kansas Cornfield route, Whit and Pat Wolfe named this route after the afro-Reggae artist Alpha Blondy whose music they listened to as they drove up the canyon on December 2005. In 2016, Whit Magro, Drew Smith and Kyle Rott cleaned, bolted and free-climbed this 70-meter two-pitch climb in one day. A series of ice daggers highlight the route that includes a steep ascent to a rock alcove that begins pitch #2. The crux move in pitch #2 is transitioning from rock to the teeny icicles at the base of the main free-hanging ice fang.

JASON THOMPSON

Hang Time - M11: Located 1,000 feet to the left of Kansas Cornfield, the route name reflects the amount of time the climber spends in an inverted positon hanging from the ceiling of a midroute cave. The first of three pitches ascends a wide stem chimney with petrified trees sprouting from the rock, leading to a ledge and then to the back of a cave. The second pitch traverses the cave ceiling festooned with delicate icicles seeping from unseen streams — and leads out of the cave’s mouth. The final 100-foot pitch features a transition to the giant hanging ice dagger, the top of which is the terminus of the route. Asked how he was able to freeclimb routes that had stymied he and his climbing peers in 2005, Magro says, “Experience changes what you believe is possible as a climber. What

seemed impossible 10 years ago appears entirely different today.” Whit also reports, “Checking the final items off a decade-long to-do list is a bittersweet feeling. Hopefully, by doing climbs like these in better style, it’s helped progress the sport. I’m hopeful that other climbers will get after these routes and have fun stretching themselves. As for me, it looks like I have to come up with a new hit list.” u DEFINITIONS: Free-Climbing: All climbing moves are made continuously with the use of ice tools and crampons on the rock and ice rather than relying on points of aid such as pitons or bolt ladders. M9, M11, etc. A scale used by climbers to rate the relative difficulty of a mixed (ice and rock) climbing route.

explaining to the dog owner that all users have a role to play in keeping our wonderful trail system safe and enjoyable for one another. The Trail Ambassador program is entering its second year in the Custer Gallatin National Forest and Bozeman’s in-town trail system and it has already generated some impressive statistics. Trail Ambassador volunteers went on 138 separate outings, logging over 350 hours on local trails, and had conversations with over 4,000 trail users including skiers, hikers, bikers, snowshoers, dog walkers, ice climbers and hunters. Trail Ambassadors don’t write citations or have enforcement roles, but they are tasked with informing the public about usage restrictions and trail conditions, providing trail etiquette tips and handing out materials — trail maps, first aid equipment, dog poo bags — as well as letting trail users know which local organizations plow key access roads and repair or groom their favorite trails. Our goal is to be an information resource — and a friendly face — for those who enjoy outdoor recreation. What I enjoy most about being a Trail Ambassador are the connections I make while at the trailhead parking lot or on the trail system — and that I can be of assistance to those I encounter. Whether it’s clearing a downed tree from the trail, reuniting a lost dog with its owner, helping Nordic skiers find a trail that matches their ability, directing a fatbiker to a sanctioned trail, answering questions about leash restrictions or

passing along snowpack stability information to backcountry skiers, every outing proves to be time well spent. While there are Trail Ambassador programs in other communities, the one serving the Bozeman area is unique for the number and variety of jurisdictional agencies and non-profit supporters/ user groups that fund the program including the Custer Gallatin National Forest, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, the City of Bozeman, Friends of Hyalite, Bridger Ski Foundation, Run Dog Run, the Big Sky Wind Drinkers and the Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club. All of these groups have a stake in promoting the proper use of our amazing local trail system while reducing user group conflict, so it’s only natural that they support the Trail Ambassador program. Each partner organization is encouraged to solicit potential Trail Ambassador candidates, but you needn’t be affiliated with any particular user group to join the program. Are you an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys interacting with fellow trail users to improve the winter trail experience? I invite you to consider becoming a Trail Ambassador. Here’s how I look at it: If I’m going to be using the trails in the Bozeman area anyway, why not perform a useful function? You can learn more about the Trail Ambassador program and its supporting partners - as well as find trail maps and receive trail condition updates -by visiting www.gallatinvalleytrails.org. See you on the trails! u Trail Ambassador volunteers have participated in 138 separate outings, logged more than 350 hours on local trails, and had conversations with over 4,000 trail users including skiers, hikers, bikers, snowshoers, dog walkers, ice climbers and hunters.

CHRIS KERR

As Bozeman climber Whit Magro prepared for the crux move on the mixed climbing route Alpha Blondy — springing from an overhanging rock wall onto the base of a massive ice dagger — he realized the move didn’t just span climbing substrates, it spanned geological eons. The soft rock beneath his crampon points — the remains of a pyroclastic lava flow that flash-fried still-visible trees into petrified evidence of nature’s volcanic fury — was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago. The yellow and green-streaked ice fang he stretched his ice tools toward was formed mere months ago by the thawing and freezing patterns of an unseen snowfield above him. Whit couldn’t help noting that another, more personal transition was also taking place that day, but to understand it, one needs to turn the clock back a decade. In 2007, when Magro free-climbed Winter Dance — which has been called one of the 10 most challenging mixed climbs in the world — local climbing historian Joe Josephson declared that it ushered in a new era of ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon. No one but Whit knew, however, that Winter Dance was just the first item on his personal hit-list of climbing challenges in the canyon that would take him a decade to accomplish. In January, Whit checked off the two final items on the to-do list in fine style by free-climbing two burly and aesthetically appealing routes called Alpha Blondy and Hang Time, both located on the east face of the Palace Butte climbing area. Both climbs feature distinctively-hued ice daggers, rock ledges, caves or alcoves and difficult transitions from rock to ice pillar. Magro — an alpinist sponsored by Mammut NA, Scarpa NA, Black Diamond and Big Sky Brewing — first discovered the two routes with climbing partner Pat Wolfe in 2005. They made the first ascents using bolt ladders and pitons (therefore rendering them “aid climbs”) but Whit noted in his published route descriptions at the time, “both of these routes could go free one day.” Little did he know that — with the benefit of 10 years of global

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 11


CARVE

CARVE

10 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

SIX COMMON BACKCOUNTRY BEHAVIOR TRAPS Researcher Ian McCammon analyzed avalanche accidents and found that decisionmaking mistakes commonly fell into six different categories. Have you experienced these yourself?

The app uses minimal battery power, automatically shuts off when your battery runs low, and doesn’t use data or require cell service. You’ll also get a share-worthy readout of stats for your day, including vertical feet skied, distance covered, maximum slope angle, and a map of your route. As avalanche research moves into the intriguing realm of human behavior,

consider taking part in this study and getting your friends onboard too. “We need as many different types of users as we can get,” says Hendrikx. By participating, you’re contributing to a growing body of data that seeks to help us make better decisions and keep us all safer. u Karin Kirk is a ski instructor and Ridge Guide at Bridger Bowl. She can be reached at karin@kirkframeworks.com.

FAMILIARITY: While it feels safer to play in terrain that we know well, sometimes this comfort level can contribute to greater risk-taking. Remember to treat the run you’ve skied dozens of times with the same respect as one you’ve never laid eyes on. ACCEPTANCE: Who doesn’t want to be the one to ride the brilliant line and garner social media accolades? The desire for social acceptance is a strong driver of risktaking behavior. The snowsports industry is caught on both sides of this one. On one hand we all applaud huge lines and insane risks. On the other hand, we know we need to be educating ourselves and making good decisions. CONSISTENCY: This factor reflects your commitment to the given route for the day and reluctance to change the plan. It’s always a good idea to evaluate conditions and options throughout the day rather than sticking to a pre-determined itinerary.

EXPERT HALO: Your friend just completed their basic avalanche class and feels compellingly confident, thus you can follow them anywhere, right? Not necessarily. Groups with a perceived leader take more risks than those without. This is particularly true when the leader has some training, but not much. When you find yourself deferring to a leader, ask yourself why that is. Is it because they are the most confident, the most charismatic, or the fittest? Or is it truly because they are well trained with a solid track record of safe, smart decisions? SOCIAL FACILITATION: This factor examines risks we take in the presence of others. When we’re feeling sure of ourselves, we tend to take bolder actions when we know others are watching. This effect is most pronounced among users with higher levels of training and experience. SCARCITY: We’ve all felt the siren’s call of that perfect slope of untracked powder. There’s scarcity of fresh snow, free time, or opportunities to ride with your besties. Don’t let the rareness of an opportunity lull you into doing something you otherwise wouldn’t.

20% OFF LASIK SURGERY UNTIL APRIL 1, 2016

LASIK

SEE LIFE CLEARLY

Celebrating 20 Years in Business! Call today to schedule your free initial screening 406-453-1613 or 1-800-541-2417 Mark F. Ozog M.D. | 1417 9th Street South #100 | Great Falls, MT 59405

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 7

THE LAST BEST BARS When it comes time to choose the best après ski bars in Montana, it isn’t rocket science. In fact, there are few requirements. Cold beer and hot toddies are mandatory, good food and a sense of history help, but most of all it’s about the atmosphere. Does it feel like a ski bar? A few years ago I traveled around Montana for a skiing book I was writing, and was lucky enough to sample all of the watering holes at the 15 public ski areas in the state. For research purposes, of course. Here are my top five, in no particular order, keeping in mind that I’m limiting the list to bars that are actually at the base of the ski areas — which means bars like the Snow Creek Saloon in Red Lodge, for example, are exempt. 1. THE LAST RUN INN, SNOWBOWL

When mentioning Snowbowl, many people bring up this classic après ski gathering spot more often than the skiing. At the end of the day, the place is jammed packed with skiers and boarders usually quaffing one of Missoula’s several excellent microbrews. The Bloody Marys are legendary, and so is the wood-fired pizza. Adding to it all is Snowbowl’s mom-and-pop feel and the mountain’s storied history, both of which permeate through the walls at the Last Run Inn. The only downside? The long, windy road back down to town. Ouch.

2. MULEY’S, BLACKTAIL MOUNTAIN

What Muley’s lacks in history— Blacktail opened in 1998—it makes up for in views. It’s the only après ski bar that I’ve been to that is located at the top of the mountain—the entire lodge is perched at the top, and you start your day with a run down and end your day with a chairlift ride up. What this means is incredible views overlooking Flathead Lake, the Mission Mountains and Glacier National Park. On a clear day, it might be the best view from any bar stool in the state. And in case you feel like celebrating, the skiing stoke is kept alive with a shotski hanging above the bar, ready for use.

3. WALDRON CREEK SALOON, TETON PASS

The small group of local die-hards

TEXT & PHOTO BY BRIAN HURLBUT

that ski the remote Teton Pass Ski Area on a regular basis rarely leave without stopping here for a cold one. The remodeled interior is comfortable and cool with a friendly vibe. The few old-timers that are usually bellied up are happy to share stories of powder days from yesteryear, and you’ll most likely leave with tales of your own. This hidden gem is one of the coolest ski areas in the state, with excellent snow conditions, easy backcountry access and no crowds. And if you’re hungry, the saloon easily has the best food within 100 miles.

4. WHITEFISH MOUNTAIN RESORT

I’m using the whole resort here, because quite frankly this Northwest Montana ski area has what could be the three best après ski bars in the state—all in one place. There’s the Hellroaring Creek Saloon, an historic chalet filled with vintage paraphernalia from the resort’s long history; the Bierstube, a rowdy local joint that could easily pass for the bar in Hot Dog: The Movie; and the Snug Bar, which is definitely the smallest establishment on this list. Located in the Kandahar Lodge, the Snug is perfect for an après ski cocktail and conversation—and at only about 350 square feet, there isn’t room for much more.

The Bierstube at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

AWARD WINNING

HANDCRAFTED

BEERS

5. MISSING LYNX SALOON, GREAT DIVIDE

The atmosphere here is always lively—with bands often playing on the weekends—and the large slopeside deck gets packed on sunny spring days. The bar can get especially rowdy on Friday nights when Great Divide offers night skiing throughout the season. A nice selection of early memorabilia—when the ski area was named Belmont—adorns the walls, and taps from several local microbrews are ready behind the bar. Top it off with a family-run and friendly vibe, and you have an après ski classic. u

Freelance writer Brian Hurlbut is the author of Montana: Skiing the Last Best Place, and his work appears regularly in publications around the region. He lives in Big Sky—where there are good après ski bars, but not great ones—with his wife and two children.

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101 MARCUS | HAMILTON, MT | 406.363.7468

W W W. B I T T E R R O O T B R E W I N G . C O M


CARVE

8 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 9

BY KARIN KIRK

BACKCOUNTRY DECISIONS:

YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN MSU SNOW SCIENCE RESEARCH

Document Version 1.0

SkiTracks_UserGuide_V1_3!

Ski Tracks v1.3 User Guide

I

f you’ve been paying attention to snow and avalanche discussions this winter, you’ve likely noticed two themes.

Learn more about the app and the research at: www.montana.edu/snowscience/tracks.html CHRIS KERR/PHOTO

The author tops out on a peak in the Yellowstone backcountry.

First, the snowpack got off to a shaky start, with depth hoar taking shape in November and forming a weak foundation for the rest of the season’s snowfall. Second, the rate of avalanche accidents and fatalities has been tragically high. During January alone, 11 lives were lost in avalanche accidents. This is the largest number of U.S. avalanche deaths in January in over 25 years. Sadly, some of those have hit close to home, such as the loss of a Yellowstone Club ski patroller who initiated a slide after spending the day assisting with MSU snow science researchers. Clearly these two factors are linked. An unstable snowpack yields more

avalanches, and a snowpack with deeplyburied instability is capable of producing particularly large and potentially deadly slides. But there are other factors at play. What shaped people’s decisions while out skiing and riding? While we’ve gained a fairly clear picture of the physics of snow stability, the arena of human decisionmaking in snow science remains largely unexplored. Jordy Hendrikx, the Director of MSU’s Snow and Avalanche Laboratory, feels that decision-making is an aspect of avalanche research where there is large potential for new insight. “This is an area where we’re on the cusp of learning a whole lot,” explains Hendrikx. “Because the field is so new, we may be able to make big progress relatively quickly, and that’s exciting.” While there are always lessons to be learned by examining what went wrong when avalanche accidents occur, Hendrikx points out the value of investigating

good behavior too. Thus, Hendrikx wants to get inside the minds of backcountry users and learn how the nature of their group and their decision-making process can affect their chosen routes for the day. He teamed up with MSU political science professor Jerry Johnson to create a research project that uses a smartphone app called SkiTracks. The app is simple: turn it on at the trailhead, toss your phone in your pack (or an inside pocket to keep it warm), and the app creates a file of your route for the day. At the end of the day, send your file to “tracks@montana.edu” and you’ll get an automatic email with a link to a follow-up survey. The survey is important, as it asks about the experience level, age, and gender of your group, your observations throughout the day, how you made decisions as a group, and your typical travel and safety protocols. The data is anonymized and grouped, and individual tracks are not shared or made public. The real value for researchers comes

with volume. When hundreds of tracks are analyzed, patterns of user behavior emerge. After two seasons of data collection, a few trends are becoming clear. Hendrikx notes, “One of the strongest trends we’ve found so far is the effect of gender. Under a given level of avalanche conditions, all-male groups consistently ski steeper slopes than mixed gender or all-female groups.” Now Hendrikx is looking forward to getting a larger data set so he can tease out more nuanced behavior patterns such as the role of experience, group composition, and familiarity with the area. So far the app has been used by skiers, snowboarders, climbers, and snowmobilers in all the western U.S. states, as well as in Canada and Europe. Hendrikx encourages anyone to download the app and make it part of their backcountry protocol. The app costs 99 cents and is available for iPhone and Android, and tracks your movement using GPS.


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10 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

SIX COMMON BACKCOUNTRY BEHAVIOR TRAPS Researcher Ian McCammon analyzed avalanche accidents and found that decisionmaking mistakes commonly fell into six different categories. Have you experienced these yourself?

The app uses minimal battery power, automatically shuts off when your battery runs low, and doesn’t use data or require cell service. You’ll also get a share-worthy readout of stats for your day, including vertical feet skied, distance covered, maximum slope angle, and a map of your route. As avalanche research moves into the intriguing realm of human behavior,

consider taking part in this study and getting your friends onboard too. “We need as many different types of users as we can get,” says Hendrikx. By participating, you’re contributing to a growing body of data that seeks to help us make better decisions and keep us all safer. u Karin Kirk is a ski instructor and Ridge Guide at Bridger Bowl. She can be reached at karin@kirkframeworks.com.

FAMILIARITY: While it feels safer to play in terrain that we know well, sometimes this comfort level can contribute to greater risk-taking. Remember to treat the run you’ve skied dozens of times with the same respect as one you’ve never laid eyes on. ACCEPTANCE: Who doesn’t want to be the one to ride the brilliant line and garner social media accolades? The desire for social acceptance is a strong driver of risktaking behavior. The snowsports industry is caught on both sides of this one. On one hand we all applaud huge lines and insane risks. On the other hand, we know we need to be educating ourselves and making good decisions. CONSISTENCY: This factor reflects your commitment to the given route for the day and reluctance to change the plan. It’s always a good idea to evaluate conditions and options throughout the day rather than sticking to a pre-determined itinerary.

EXPERT HALO: Your friend just completed their basic avalanche class and feels compellingly confident, thus you can follow them anywhere, right? Not necessarily. Groups with a perceived leader take more risks than those without. This is particularly true when the leader has some training, but not much. When you find yourself deferring to a leader, ask yourself why that is. Is it because they are the most confident, the most charismatic, or the fittest? Or is it truly because they are well trained with a solid track record of safe, smart decisions? SOCIAL FACILITATION: This factor examines risks we take in the presence of others. When we’re feeling sure of ourselves, we tend to take bolder actions when we know others are watching. This effect is most pronounced among users with higher levels of training and experience. SCARCITY: We’ve all felt the siren’s call of that perfect slope of untracked powder. There’s scarcity of fresh snow, free time, or opportunities to ride with your besties. Don’t let the rareness of an opportunity lull you into doing something you otherwise wouldn’t.

20% OFF LASIK SURGERY UNTIL APRIL 1, 2016

LASIK

SEE LIFE CLEARLY

Celebrating 20 Years in Business! Call today to schedule your free initial screening 406-453-1613 or 1-800-541-2417 Mark F. Ozog M.D. | 1417 9th Street South #100 | Great Falls, MT 59405

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 7

THE LAST BEST BARS When it comes time to choose the best après ski bars in Montana, it isn’t rocket science. In fact, there are few requirements. Cold beer and hot toddies are mandatory, good food and a sense of history help, but most of all it’s about the atmosphere. Does it feel like a ski bar? A few years ago I traveled around Montana for a skiing book I was writing, and was lucky enough to sample all of the watering holes at the 15 public ski areas in the state. For research purposes, of course. Here are my top five, in no particular order, keeping in mind that I’m limiting the list to bars that are actually at the base of the ski areas — which means bars like the Snow Creek Saloon in Red Lodge, for example, are exempt. 1. THE LAST RUN INN, SNOWBOWL

When mentioning Snowbowl, many people bring up this classic après ski gathering spot more often than the skiing. At the end of the day, the place is jammed packed with skiers and boarders usually quaffing one of Missoula’s several excellent microbrews. The Bloody Marys are legendary, and so is the wood-fired pizza. Adding to it all is Snowbowl’s mom-and-pop feel and the mountain’s storied history, both of which permeate through the walls at the Last Run Inn. The only downside? The long, windy road back down to town. Ouch.

2. MULEY’S, BLACKTAIL MOUNTAIN

What Muley’s lacks in history— Blacktail opened in 1998—it makes up for in views. It’s the only après ski bar that I’ve been to that is located at the top of the mountain—the entire lodge is perched at the top, and you start your day with a run down and end your day with a chairlift ride up. What this means is incredible views overlooking Flathead Lake, the Mission Mountains and Glacier National Park. On a clear day, it might be the best view from any bar stool in the state. And in case you feel like celebrating, the skiing stoke is kept alive with a shotski hanging above the bar, ready for use.

3. WALDRON CREEK SALOON, TETON PASS

The small group of local die-hards

TEXT & PHOTO BY BRIAN HURLBUT

that ski the remote Teton Pass Ski Area on a regular basis rarely leave without stopping here for a cold one. The remodeled interior is comfortable and cool with a friendly vibe. The few old-timers that are usually bellied up are happy to share stories of powder days from yesteryear, and you’ll most likely leave with tales of your own. This hidden gem is one of the coolest ski areas in the state, with excellent snow conditions, easy backcountry access and no crowds. And if you’re hungry, the saloon easily has the best food within 100 miles.

4. WHITEFISH MOUNTAIN RESORT

I’m using the whole resort here, because quite frankly this Northwest Montana ski area has what could be the three best après ski bars in the state—all in one place. There’s the Hellroaring Creek Saloon, an historic chalet filled with vintage paraphernalia from the resort’s long history; the Bierstube, a rowdy local joint that could easily pass for the bar in Hot Dog: The Movie; and the Snug Bar, which is definitely the smallest establishment on this list. Located in the Kandahar Lodge, the Snug is perfect for an après ski cocktail and conversation—and at only about 350 square feet, there isn’t room for much more.

The Bierstube at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

AWARD WINNING

HANDCRAFTED

BEERS

5. MISSING LYNX SALOON, GREAT DIVIDE

The atmosphere here is always lively—with bands often playing on the weekends—and the large slopeside deck gets packed on sunny spring days. The bar can get especially rowdy on Friday nights when Great Divide offers night skiing throughout the season. A nice selection of early memorabilia—when the ski area was named Belmont—adorns the walls, and taps from several local microbrews are ready behind the bar. Top it off with a family-run and friendly vibe, and you have an après ski classic. u

Freelance writer Brian Hurlbut is the author of Montana: Skiing the Last Best Place, and his work appears regularly in publications around the region. He lives in Big Sky—where there are good après ski bars, but not great ones—with his wife and two children.

P R O U D LY E S TA B L I S H E D 1 9 9 8

101 MARCUS | HAMILTON, MT | 406.363.7468

W W W. B I T T E R R O O T B R E W I N G . C O M


6 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

CARVE

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BY TERRY CUNNINGHAM

Trail Ambassador Program: making connections on area trails

Hanging with Bozeman climber Whit Magro

BY TERRY CUNNINGHAM

On my third outing as a Trail Ambassador in the winter of 2014/15, I experienced first-hand the importance of proper trail etiquette and the potential for user group conflict. Patrolling on my Nordic skis on the Sourdough Canyon Trail, I was cruising downhill around a sharp bend when I saw a cute-as-a-button Beagle on the right side of the groomed trail and the Beagle’s owner to the far left. Neither the dog nor its owner were of particular note; I’d passed dozens of happy two-legged and four-legged hikers that day. What was noteworthy about this pair was that they were connected by a 15foot retractable leash stretched across the entire expanse of the trail, too high to hurdle and too low to limbo. Once I disentangled myself from the ensuing leash/ski/Beagle/ski pole/dog-owner jumble and removed a plug of snow from my ear, I was able to turn the event into a teachable moment,

Whit Magro climbs Hang Time in Hyalite Canyon.

climbing experience and favorable ice conditions — he would be the first climber to actually free-climb both routes; doing so within 10 days of one another. Here are the route descriptions. Alpha Blondy - M9: Located 200 feet to the right of the Kansas Cornfield route, Whit and Pat Wolfe named this route after the afro-Reggae artist Alpha Blondy whose music they listened to as they drove up the canyon on December 2005. In 2016, Whit Magro, Drew Smith and Kyle Rott cleaned, bolted and free-climbed this 70-meter two-pitch climb in one day. A series of ice daggers highlight the route that includes a steep ascent to a rock alcove that begins pitch #2. The crux move in pitch #2 is transitioning from rock to the teeny icicles at the base of the main free-hanging ice fang.

JASON THOMPSON

Hang Time - M11: Located 1,000 feet to the left of Kansas Cornfield, the route name reflects the amount of time the climber spends in an inverted positon hanging from the ceiling of a midroute cave. The first of three pitches ascends a wide stem chimney with petrified trees sprouting from the rock, leading to a ledge and then to the back of a cave. The second pitch traverses the cave ceiling festooned with delicate icicles seeping from unseen streams — and leads out of the cave’s mouth. The final 100-foot pitch features a transition to the giant hanging ice dagger, the top of which is the terminus of the route. Asked how he was able to freeclimb routes that had stymied he and his climbing peers in 2005, Magro says, “Experience changes what you believe is possible as a climber. What

seemed impossible 10 years ago appears entirely different today.” Whit also reports, “Checking the final items off a decade-long to-do list is a bittersweet feeling. Hopefully, by doing climbs like these in better style, it’s helped progress the sport. I’m hopeful that other climbers will get after these routes and have fun stretching themselves. As for me, it looks like I have to come up with a new hit list.” u DEFINITIONS: Free-Climbing: All climbing moves are made continuously with the use of ice tools and crampons on the rock and ice rather than relying on points of aid such as pitons or bolt ladders. M9, M11, etc. A scale used by climbers to rate the relative difficulty of a mixed (ice and rock) climbing route.

explaining to the dog owner that all users have a role to play in keeping our wonderful trail system safe and enjoyable for one another. The Trail Ambassador program is entering its second year in the Custer Gallatin National Forest and Bozeman’s in-town trail system and it has already generated some impressive statistics. Trail Ambassador volunteers went on 138 separate outings, logging over 350 hours on local trails, and had conversations with over 4,000 trail users including skiers, hikers, bikers, snowshoers, dog walkers, ice climbers and hunters. Trail Ambassadors don’t write citations or have enforcement roles, but they are tasked with informing the public about usage restrictions and trail conditions, providing trail etiquette tips and handing out materials — trail maps, first aid equipment, dog poo bags — as well as letting trail users know which local organizations plow key access roads and repair or groom their favorite trails. Our goal is to be an information resource — and a friendly face — for those who enjoy outdoor recreation. What I enjoy most about being a Trail Ambassador are the connections I make while at the trailhead parking lot or on the trail system — and that I can be of assistance to those I encounter. Whether it’s clearing a downed tree from the trail, reuniting a lost dog with its owner, helping Nordic skiers find a trail that matches their ability, directing a fatbiker to a sanctioned trail, answering questions about leash restrictions or

passing along snowpack stability information to backcountry skiers, every outing proves to be time well spent. While there are Trail Ambassador programs in other communities, the one serving the Bozeman area is unique for the number and variety of jurisdictional agencies and non-profit supporters/ user groups that fund the program including the Custer Gallatin National Forest, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, the City of Bozeman, Friends of Hyalite, Bridger Ski Foundation, Run Dog Run, the Big Sky Wind Drinkers and the Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club. All of these groups have a stake in promoting the proper use of our amazing local trail system while reducing user group conflict, so it’s only natural that they support the Trail Ambassador program. Each partner organization is encouraged to solicit potential Trail Ambassador candidates, but you needn’t be affiliated with any particular user group to join the program. Are you an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys interacting with fellow trail users to improve the winter trail experience? I invite you to consider becoming a Trail Ambassador. Here’s how I look at it: If I’m going to be using the trails in the Bozeman area anyway, why not perform a useful function? You can learn more about the Trail Ambassador program and its supporting partners - as well as find trail maps and receive trail condition updates -by visiting www.gallatinvalleytrails.org. See you on the trails! u Trail Ambassador volunteers have participated in 138 separate outings, logged more than 350 hours on local trails, and had conversations with over 4,000 trail users including skiers, hikers, bikers, snowshoers, dog walkers, ice climbers and hunters.

CHRIS KERR

As Bozeman climber Whit Magro prepared for the crux move on the mixed climbing route Alpha Blondy — springing from an overhanging rock wall onto the base of a massive ice dagger — he realized the move didn’t just span climbing substrates, it spanned geological eons. The soft rock beneath his crampon points — the remains of a pyroclastic lava flow that flash-fried still-visible trees into petrified evidence of nature’s volcanic fury — was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago. The yellow and green-streaked ice fang he stretched his ice tools toward was formed mere months ago by the thawing and freezing patterns of an unseen snowfield above him. Whit couldn’t help noting that another, more personal transition was also taking place that day, but to understand it, one needs to turn the clock back a decade. In 2007, when Magro free-climbed Winter Dance — which has been called one of the 10 most challenging mixed climbs in the world — local climbing historian Joe Josephson declared that it ushered in a new era of ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon. No one but Whit knew, however, that Winter Dance was just the first item on his personal hit-list of climbing challenges in the canyon that would take him a decade to accomplish. In January, Whit checked off the two final items on the to-do list in fine style by free-climbing two burly and aesthetically appealing routes called Alpha Blondy and Hang Time, both located on the east face of the Palace Butte climbing area. Both climbs feature distinctively-hued ice daggers, rock ledges, caves or alcoves and difficult transitions from rock to ice pillar. Magro — an alpinist sponsored by Mammut NA, Scarpa NA, Black Diamond and Big Sky Brewing — first discovered the two routes with climbing partner Pat Wolfe in 2005. They made the first ascents using bolt ladders and pitons (therefore rendering them “aid climbs”) but Whit noted in his published route descriptions at the time, “both of these routes could go free one day.” Little did he know that — with the benefit of 10 years of global

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 11


d

12 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

By Doug Chabot

SNOW SAFETY

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NOT A SECOND TO WASTE

O

ver the last 10 years the U.S. has averaged 27 avalanche fatalities a year. This season is on track to easily meet that. This January there were 11 fatalities in the West, one of the highest Januarys on record. Statistically, February is no better so brace yourself for more tragedy. Here in southwest Montana there have been two avalanche fatalities so far (as of Feb. 1) with an additional 32 close calls reported. Not getting caught in avalanches is the goal, yet people get unlucky or make poor decisions and get caught anyway. Many times there are no lasting consequences and soiled undies are the only reminder of poor judgment or bad luck. Other times people are traumatized or killed. Having a goal of safety and a plan for the worst is imperative. A rescue plan requires basic gear, training and practice. In 92 percent of fatal avalanches either the victim or someone in their party triggered the slide that killed them. 25 percent of victims died of trauma, the other 75 percent of suffocation. Unlike drowning in water where death occurs within minutes, avalanche victims have more time because snow contains air. A fully buried person dug up within 10 minutes has an 80 percent chance of survival. At 12 minutes those odds halve to 40 percent and halve again to 20 percent survival at 30 minutes. Rescue within this ever shortening window can only be done by partners since search and rescue teams are too far away. For rescue to be effective everyone must carry the proper gear. An avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe pole are minimum requirements. Avalanche airbags, Avalungs and other personal protection such as helmets can help push the odds in favor of the one buried. Without rescue gear or if your partner doesn’t know how use a transceiver, you cannot be found. If your partner panics and leaves the scene to get help, you will likely die. Only with practice can a person become proficient and confident with a transceiver to pinpoint their partner’s exact location and dig them up within a 10 minute window. Avalanche rescues are adrenaline filled, chaotic, emotional messes. Train-

A rescue party searches for a buried snowmobiler near Cooke City in this undated file photo.

ing, practice and planning for the worst is the only way to save a life under these pressures. If you are buried your future is in your partner’s hands, so choose partners wisely. How fast can they reach through all their jackets and flip the transceiver to “search”? Is their shovel handle stored next to the blade? Are they practiced at deploying a probe pole smoothly? These are a few of many questions that need answers before going out. Once an avalanche has occurred action must proceed methodically. Rescuing your partner, friend, sibling, spouse or child, requires a practiced response. First, before anyone goes out onto the slope it must be determined safe. Rescuers cannot get caught in adjacent slides. Next, from the top of the slope go to their last seen point and turn your beacon to “search.” At the bottom of the hill, start the beacon search at the toe of the debris. If one person is buried, one person will do the beacon search; if two people are

buried, two will search. All others will turn their beacons off so they do not interfere. More than one rescue has been delayed because someone kept transmitting a signal confusing the beacon searcher. All shovels get assembled and probe poles snapped in place. One person will shadow the beacon searcher ready to probe and dig while everyone else looks for clues in the debris: a hand or airbag sticking out of the snow. Probe around likely burial spots: near the toe of debris, around any gear, near a snowmobile, on the uphill sides of trees. As the beacon searcher gets closer they will switch from a fast-paced coarse search to a detailed fine search in order to pinpoint the victim. Once the beacon’s readings show the distance getting no closer, assume the victim is buried nearby. Probing in concentric circles 10” apart will lead to a strike. When that happens, leave the probe in as a marker and have everyone dig. Digging is efficient if rescuers are in an inverted “V” formation

GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST AVALANCHE CENTER

with one person at the probe pole and others flanked downhill to the sides. This allows the snow to be moved quickly, especially if the victim is buried deep. Rescue is a last-ditch effort to turn a bad situation around in a stressful race against time. Practice is the only way to get faster. Rescuers have been known to lose valuable minutes doing the beacon search, especially pin-pointing. At Beall Park the Friends of the Avalanche Center and the City of Bozeman installed a “Beacon Park” to help people get better with rescue. Six beacon simulators have been buried and a control panel allows a person to turn one or more on to search and probe for. It’s free and open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The Friends also offer six-hour Companion Rescue Clinics (www.mtavalanche.com/workshops/ calendar). Take advantage of these opportunities; your partner will be grateful, and so will you. u Doug Chabot is director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center in Bozeman.

For those more interested in screaming down the hills through meadows and forest, LMR offers a shuttle to the upper trails. Skiers are dropped off 2,000 feet above the outdoor shop and can ski the high trail loops before returning to the lodge area. All of the trails, including the mellower trails west of Big Sky’s Meadow Village Center are impeccably groomed for both skate and classic skiing. “It’s a big trail system, so it feels like a different trail every time you ski it,” said Denise Wade, director of guest operations. “We have great, consistent snow here and even when it isn’t, the grooming is really great.” The LMR staff groom half of the trail system each night, so the corduroy is never more than two days old. LMR isn’t just for Nordic skiers, though. Several packed snowshoe trails wind around the ranch. The snowshoe trails are packed by foot and shovel—no machines involved—so after each snowfall, ranch staff don snowshoes and hike the trails packing the snow for easy walking. In addition to skiers and snowshoers, four-legged critters visit the trails regularly; lynx, wolverines, ermines, pine martens, and deer have all been spotted by skiers and groomers. Moose are almost a hazard, there are so many of them. While most animals are busy hunting and grazing, the resident elk herd helps itself to the hay stash kept for Ranch horses. Yellow Mountain, which fills most of the view to the north of the trail system, is home to Big Horn sheep, and a great grey owl silently swoops through the trees around the Ranch lodge. For skiers who want to do more than relax and cruise the trails, the ski school hosts lessons in skating, striding, and telemarking, as well as backcountry tours around the LMR and in Yellowstone. Certified PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) ski instructors teach all the lessons, including women’s ski clinics, for those wishing to hone their skills or gain new ones. For Bozeman skiers and snowshoers, Lone Mountain is an easy day trip. A few hours on the trails, drinks and appetizers at the saloon or dinner in the lodge, make it feel like a real getaway. u

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 5

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K I C K I N G A N D G L I D I N G AT

LONE MOUNTAIN RANCH STORY AND PHOTOS BY MELYNDA HARRISON

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nugged into the valley in Big Sky, Lone Mountain Ranch is both a step back in time and a different world. Historic cabins are tucked into the trees and along a little creek. From the well-appointed outdoor shop, 35 km of packed snowshoe trails and 85 km of professionally groomed cross-country trails wind up mountains, along creeks, and around meadows. It’s a serene Nordic world where visitors can relax and recharge their batteries just an hour from Bozeman. Whether it’s a week staying in a cabin, a moonlight sleigh ride to a rustic dinner, or a day trip to burn calories on the trail, LMR caters to every guest. The combination of its proximity to Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky Resort, being in the mountains, and the Nordic ski system make it a great home base for winter recreation,” said Paul Robertson, general manager of Lone Mountain Ranch. LMR celebrated its 100th birthday in 2015. Before snowshoers, skiers, and sleigh riders took over, The Clarence Lytle family worked cattle and horses, and cut hay. Over the decades, the ranch changed hands several times, most recently in 2013 when Makar Properties bought LMR out of a bank holding. “People have been coming here since 1915,” said Robertson. “It’s a time tested, authentic guest ranch experience.” Robertson said they were slowly updating the 100-year-old ranch while maintaining the historic character. It is the historic aspect, along with modern conveniences and luxuries, which make LMR such a special place. All the snow and trees don’t hurt, either. By the 1950s, LMR was a dude ranch, operating in the summer only. City slickers rode horses and packed into alpine lakes and nearby Yellowstone. Meals were served family style in the dining room, now called the B-K (pronounced B bar K), Today, families play board games around the fire in the B-K. While summer in Montana is fleeting and gorgeous, those early visitors missed out on the magical wonder that is winter at LMR. Part of the magic comes from the kilometers and kilometers of cross-country ski trails. A gruesome grind up Douglas-fir covered hills from the base takes skiers to the upper trails where they are likely to be skiing alone. With names like Siberia, Mongolia and Summit, it’s no surprise that these trails are far away and up high. At 8,242 feet, Summit tops out the trail system and provides excellent views before dropping down over 2,000 feet to the lower meadow loops. This Nordic center has more vertical feet than some alpine ski areas.

By Karin Kirk

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 13

INSIDE VS. OUTSIDE TURNS

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t the end of most ski days, I wind down the highlights over a beer with my husband. He enjoys teasing me about my ski instructor jargon. “Did you have a strong inside half today?” he’ll ask jokingly. That’s a phrase that instructors love to use, yet it makes no sense to normal people. While I admit that we instructors can hardly resist delving into the abstractions of ski technique, the concept of the inside and outside parts of the body is one that is one worth exploring. So bear with me as we get down with some ski nerd conversation. What do we mean by inside and outside? Think of a ski turn as part of a circle. While turning left (counterclockwise), your right ski is on the outside of the curve and your left ski is on the inside. Stop reading this for a moment, imagine turning left, and think about what your skis are doing. During your imaginary left turn (which really rocks, by the way!), your right ski is on the outside of the curve, and it’s also the ski that is carrying most of your weight and dictating much of what’s happening throughout the turn. OK, are we solid on the basic concept? Let’s dig a little deeper into this. If you draw a line up the zipper of your jacket, you can imagine separating your body into two halves: the inside half and the outside half. In a left turn, the outside part of your body would be your right ski, foot, leg, hip, arm, and shoulder. The outside part of your body is what puts energy and drive into your turn. The inside part of your body stays balanced and disciplined, and basically just has to stay out of the way. What the inside part of your body should not do is lean in toward the hill or get twisted up in an effort to create rotation in your turn.

u Whole body leaning into the hill. Hips and shoulders tilted toward the inside of the turn. u Weight is being pulled onto inside foot (the skier’s left foot). u Because of the weight on the inside ski, it is turning more sharply than the outside ski. u More snow spraying off inside ski than outside ski. u Inside hand much lower than outside hand, inside pole dragging. u Facial expression uncertain. Lacks determination.

What should I do with the outside part of my body? Start at the ski. As you begin a turn, focus your weight onto your outside ski. Specifically, press on the big toe of your outside foot. That is a good place to direct your weight, because it keeps you forward and puts you over the edge of your ski. Everything else stacks up on top of that. Think of balancing over that outside ski all the way through the turn. It’s moving of course, so you need to move with it. The moment you stop moving with your ski, you end up in the back seat. The amount of power you’ll deliver to your outside ski depends on the snow and what kind of turn you want. In soft snow, you can ease gently onto the outside ski. In firm snow, steeps, or for shorter turns, crank on your outside ski with more effort and energy. Your outside arm and shoulder can reach down toward the snow too. This sounds weird, but it helps you commit your balance to the outside ski. It also helps you keep your shoulders level and prevents you from getting pulled to the inside of the turn. What about the inside part of my body? The inside part of your body is not just along for the ride. Ideally, it’s actively counterbalancing what’s going on with the outside part. Your job is to keep the inside half of your body engaged and stable. Again, starting at the ski: your inside ski carries much less weight than the outside one, but it’s still engaged all the way through the turn. Think of touching the snow with the pinky toe of your inside foot. Don’t press too hard, but do seek a connection underneath your little toe. To keep your inside foot light on the snow, your in-

UNBALANCED SKIER

d SKI TIPS

side hip almost feels like it’s lifting up. The result is that your hips stay level as the outside half pushes down and the inside half elevates. Lots of people crank out their turns by dipping their shoulders into the turn and reaching for the snow with their inside hand. Thanks to shaped skis and soft snow, it works. And it’s fun. Who am I to tell you to stop doing that? But if you want to ski with more precision, energy, and efficiency, you might not want to make a habit of that move. Instead, resist leaning into the hill and keep your inside arm and shoulder lifted up so that your shoulders can be horizontal instead of tilted into the hill. Here’s a quick barometer for you: as you ski through a series of turns, try not to drag your inside pole in the snow. This drill builds awareness more than anything. If you feel yourself needing that inside pole for support, you are likely sucking the power out of your skiing. Instead, engage your core and try to balance without leaning on your inside pole. Trust that outside ski, and go ahead and stand on it. When you do this you’ll find yourself stacked up more athletically. When everything aligns and you feel the outside half of your body applying power while the inside half stays agile and engaged, then you’ll know you’ve entered a whole new world of ski nerd nirvana. “Dude, check out my inside half,” you can say to your chairlift mates. They probably won’t know what the heck you’re talking about, but hopefully they’ll nod and smile anyway. u Karin Kirk is a Bridger Bowl ski instructor, staff trainer and Ridge guide. She and her husband love to talk ski nerdy to each other. Karin can be reached at karin@kirkframeworks.com.

BALANCED SKIER

u Stacked over outside foot (the skier’s right foot) and pressuring outside ski. u The skis are parallel. u Both skis have a similar edge angle. u Hips, hands, and shoulders are level. u Inside pole not dragging in the snow. u Six-pack abs (not shown) are helping to maintain balance and posture.


14 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

By Dr. Josh Klatt

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inter in the Bozeman area is a fun and exciting time for both children and adults, with numerous outdoor activities to offer. While the enjoyment and pleasure are on the forefront of our minds, it is important to remember that we need to ensure the safety of our children when we send them into the great outdoors. Skiing and snowboarding are common sports that are worth discussing in regard to their particular risks as well as those shared with all wintertime activities. Skiing and snowboarding account for 2 of the top 3 causes of snow and ice sport related injuries. While most studies report that skiing injuries are actually the most common among older skiers, children are not immune to injury and children who are beginners are the most likely to sustain injuries among young skiers, often on their first day. This is clearly not a great way to endear your child to picking up your love of the sport! Injuries among snowboarders tend overall to be more often found in adolescents, with young, inexperienced female snowboarders being the most likely to be injured. While it’s difficult to be a downer and quash your child’s excitement when they ask if they can go snowboarding for the first time with a group of their friends, keep in mind that even a half-day lesson with a trained instructor might avoid a lot of frustration and pain for all involved parties, and might keep your child interested and heading back up to the mountain for more. And the cost of a group lesson is sure to be much less expensive than a trip to the emergency department! Wrist splints from a sporting goods store are felt by many to help reduce the risk of injury in beginner snowboarders, too. Ski and snowboard safety start with providing your child with the right equipment, whether it is rented, borrowed or owned. Borrowing equipment certainly comes with it’s own inherent risks, but can be safely done if the equipment is checked by a knowledgeable person. This may or may not be your adolescent child’s best friend! While tables and charts are available online to calculate ski binding settings, certainly the safest way to handle this is take the gear to a reputable ski shop and have the equipment properly tuned and maintained. Knee sprains are the most common ski injury and a common cause is improperly set bindings, which don’t allow the boot to be released from the binding with a twisting type injury. Rental equipment can be found at many winter sports shops around town and at local resorts. If you own your own equipment it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking your gear each time you go out and it’s a great lesson to teach your children to do the same. There are still no major institutional recommendations regarding helmet use for skiing and snowboarding, including with children. This is likely due to the fact that in the past there has been conflicting evidence regarding their safety, as well as strong personal feelings among the pro- and the con- camps regarding their use. While we each have to come to terms with our own calculation and acceptance of our exposure to risk in life as adults, numerous recent studies show a 35% to 60% reduction in risk of head injury without an increase of neck injury when a properly

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fitting and applied helmet is used while skiing or snowboarding. Their use is therefore strongly recommended in children on the slopes, as head trauma accounts for up to 20% of injuries in both groups, including in children. Another suggestion is to make sure that your child can hear you or that oncoming skier through that hat stuffed tightly under their helmet on a colder day. Most helmets sold these days are warm enough to not require a thick hat and are made with vents or holes to improve hearing, but it’s worth a quick check. Dressing warmly doesn’t hardly seem worth mentioning given that we’re all quite familiar with the issue living in Bozeman. But it’s worth a quick mention of the general rule for small children and infants to dress them in one or more layers of clothing than an adult would wear. A quick look on your phone can give you a daily weather report, including at the mountain to help you out. Wind and water resistant layers certainly help keep us all warm and dry, but given children’s decreased ability to stay warm and especially adept capacity to get wet, whether it be jumping in puddles or rolling in the snow, this is especially important. And if you’re going out with small children remember that you’ll likely to be standing around a lot more often and so an extra layer for yourself won’t hurt. Leaving a pack in the lodge with an extra layer for everyone, as well as a place to shed one or two never hurts if you’re not into wearing a backpack, although they’re sure a nice place to store snacks and goodies for the lift rides. Mittens help keep little fingers warmer than gloves and remove them often to check just how warm (or cold!)

those little fingers are. Certainly fashion trends change quickly the world over, but even if you’re a parent that likes dark and reserved attire, it’s not only helpful to find a child dressed in brighter clothing, but it helps them to be seen by that less than vigilant teen-aged freight train careening down the mountain! During those cold, short winter days it’s also easy to forget that children’s skin is still being exposed to plenty of UV rays. My dermatologist friends frequently remind me that snow reflects up to 80% of the sun’s rays. The atmosphere is also less adept at blocking UV light at high elevations and so it’s a good idea to apply a layer of sunscreen to ourselves and our children a couple of times a day, even on very cloudy days, as they block only a very small amount of the UV light. Sunglasses or goggles not only block the glare of the sun, but also protect those fragile little eyes from blowing snow and tree branches. Probably most important of all is a reminder to keep a sense of humor and remember that we’re out there to have a good time and especially to share with our little ones just how much fun the great outdoors can be. Come in often for drinks and snacks, they’re part of the fun. I still remember getting hot cider at the old Deer Park Chalet just as much as I remember skiing down the mountain! u

CARVE YOUR GUIDE TO SOUTHWEST MONTANA SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING

EDITOR/DESIGN/PHOTOS Chris Kerr CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jason Bacaj, Doug Chabot, Terry Cunningham, Dr. Mike Ferrell, Melynda Harrison, Brian Hurlbut Karin Kirk and Dr. Josh Klatt

CARVE is published once a month from December to February by Big Sky Publishing. FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION contact the Bozeman Daily Chronicle at 587-4491.

EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS are welcome and can be submitted to Chris Kerr at 582-2643 or ckerr@dailychronicle.com

ON THE COVER: A snowboarder arcs a turn in The Bowl at Big Sky earlier this season.

Dr. Klatt is board certified in orthopedic surgery and fellowship trained with two fellowships in pediatric orthopedic surgery. He is the newest partner at Bridger Orthopedics and brings with him many years experience taking care of pediatric orthopedic conditions.

Correction: A story in the January issue about cross-country skiing near West Yellowstone should have reported that the foot bridge on the Bighorn Pass Trail has been removed. At this time it is unclear if the National Park Service will replace the footbridge.

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 3


2 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

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GET BACK TO YOUR LIFE

CLASSIC LINE

When it comes time to hit the slopes, it might become time for you to seek orthopedic care. Trust the pros at Bridger Orthopedic to get you back to your active, pain free life.

CUCKOO’S NEST

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY JASON BACAJ

At Bridger Orthopedic we have the best team of doctors you can nd; each board certiied and sub-specialty trained to provide you with the best care. They are dedicated to getting you back to the Montana lifestyle you love! We strive to provide you with the best possible care so you can get back to your life— whether it’s on the slopes, on the job, or on the go. Dropping in ...

Find us on Facebook at Bridger Orthopedic and Sports Medicine

BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FE BRUARY 12, 2016 15

... to the crux.

Few things are as important on a powder day as getting first tracks through a high visibility line. Ideally, those tracks are laid down at speed to maximize the powder porpoise effect and leave evidence of radness. One of a handful of lines at Bridger Bowl that meet these specifications is the Cuckoo’s Nest. It sits in prime view of the Bridger chairlift. A quality powder howl can alert bystanders on the cat-track above North Bowl so they can watch you scream out of the crux and into the open runout. To access the line, ski north from the top of the ridge hike. A little ways after the traverse begins its uphill path. Below, the very top of the large triangular rock that forms Cuckoo’s should be visible. Dip into the powder field below and ski toward the rock. An entrance to the top of the line emerges skiers left of the rock once the slope rolls over. From here you can assess the crux of Cuckoo’s; in low snow years there’s usually a small drop. Once you get the crux dialed in, take a turn along the fall line toward the rock to set yourself up and then point ‘em to glory. u


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Y O U R G U I D E T O W I N T E R R E C R E AT I O N I N S O U T H W E S T M O N TA N A

BACKCOUNTRY BEHAVIOR

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16 BIG SK Y PUBLISHING, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

PARADISE FOUND: LONE MOUNTAIN RANCH AN EASY GETAWAY t CLASSIC LINE: GOING CUCKOO FOR CUCKOO’S NEST t ICE CAPADES: HANGING WITH BOZEMAN CLIMBER WHIT MAGRO

A S P E C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E B O Z E M A N D A I LY C H R O N I C L E

Carve - February 2016  

Featuring new research by MSU to track decision-making on backcountry trips, Lone Mountain Ranch, Bozeman ice climber Whit Magro and the cla...

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