Exploring Life & Land in Southwest Montana
photo by eric berger
Great White Open murder at boiling river featured town: west yellowstone
theperfect spot explorebigsky.com
advice // â€œSkiing will be good tomorrow. You should call in sick.â€?
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Have you ever driven home as the evening sunlight washes over the vast valley below while noticing a heard of grazing elk on the ridge just above? Or simply watch your kids wrestle with their first pair of snowshoes? As Montana’s premier real estate brokerage, we not only introduce clients to a new home, but a whole new lifestyle. Maybe it’s time for you to close your eyes and plan on opening them here.
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28 pa g e
22 return to lost trail
Skiing Lost Trail has been a breath of fresh air.
24 montana style surf & turf Combining multiple passions into a blissful and adventurous vacation.
26 Ice climbing
44 Murder at Boiling River
A true tale of mystery told by legendary Paul Miller
52 The Perfect Spot
Lone View Ridge - A unique development between The Yellowstone Club and Big Sky Resort. How about A Backyard with 8200 acres of lift access?
Climbers battle early season hazards to access one of Southwest Montana’s best winter playgrounds - Hyalite Canyon.
38 G-M Ranch
The Leffingwells have passed their family’s Bracket Creek ranching tradition down five generations.
62 Music Q&A
Brandon Hale—the voice of the Dirty Shame
alternative: renewable energies
my First Hunt
48 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps 56
West Yellowstone: from trappers to tourists
58 Snowmobiling hot spots 60
Better with Butter
health for your hips
Outlaw: Butch Cassidy
Real estate profile: chalet 504
months later, I named my dog Cedar after that special place. Residents of Southwest Montana witness Mother Nature’s magic and beauty daily. Visitors take home memories of a lifetime.
In the winter of 1998, I received a phone call from legendary ski filmmaker, Warren Miller. “Eric, I don’t care what it costs,” he said. “Get on a plane to Montana tomorrow. I just had the best ski day of my life, and you need to see this place.”
Eric and Brandy Ladd at the base of Cedar Falls in the Lee Metcalf WIlderness.
We’ve designed Mountain Outlaw magazine to share the ‘life and land’ in this amazing place. Through a diverse mix of stories we’ll cover the culture, history and landscape here. My hope is this magazine will capture a bit of the Southwest Montana spirit and act as a small reminder of how fortunate we are to be here.
I flew to Bozeman the next day. After all, who would ignore a direction like that from Warren? I arrived in Big Sky after dark. The next morning, I opened the curtains to a dead-on view of Lone Mountain. I never went back to Colorado.
Please enjoy this publication and feel free to drop us a line. See you around town,
The following summer, I took a pack trip to Cedar Mountain in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. As I looked up at a 1000’ waterfall pouring from a hanging garden lake, I knew I was home. A few
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My ski edges scraped against rock as I sidestepped to a safe spot between Jack and Rock Creek. Out of avalanche danger, I waved up to my patrol partner. He cut across hanging snow patches purposely knocking down loose snow, then moved into the main chute and dropped into powerful telemark turns. His jacket was striking red against the snow and rock. Beyond him, over the shoulder of Lone Peak, the Madison Valley’s dry, brown fields spread toward the Tobacco Root Mountains. The past five years, working as a Moonlight Basin ski patroller, I spent winter mornings watching daybreak over the Gallatin Range, the Spanish Peaks, Southern Madisons, and the Tobacco Roots. Some days the prevailing northwest wind blowing across the Headwaters ridge knocked me to my knees, and
some days I went home with a purple strip of frostbite on my right cheek. Now, from an editor’s desk at Mountain Outlaw magazine, I have a different perspective on Southwest Montana and Yellowstone. The stories and people behind this winter’s issue have broadened my interest in the region. A few particularly struck me: the Leffingwell family’s century-old ranching story; historian Josh Howe’s take on the group of 19th century black soldiers who rode bicycles from Montana to Saint Louis; and Orion Thornton’s piece about Independent Power Systems’ recent solar installation on the Northern Cheyenne tribal lands. Thanks for picking up Mountain Outlaw magazine – please let me know what you think. Emily Stifler firstname.lastname@example.org
featuredcontributors cialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy working in Montana. John lives in Big Sky with his wife and two daughters.
On skis by age three, Ali Havig grew up in Wisdom, Montana, and the slopes of Lost Trail. She earned a Masters in architecture from MSU in Bozeman and has been living in the Big Hole Valley for the past year. She is counting on another epic ski season.
Joshua Howe is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the John Tyndall Correspondence Project in the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion at Montana State University. He teaches Environmental History and the History of Science, and he is currently writing a book about the political history of global warming.
Brandy Ladd was born, raised and educated in southwest Montana. Time is not calibrated by day or month, but by season for her. Ski season melts into kayak season which dries into bike and horse season leading to hunting season. Gravity is her favorite force.
Paul Miller’s soul belongs to the mountains and rivers he spent his life exploring. He resides on his family’s property along the Yellowstone River near Gardiner. Serving over 30 years as a ranger in Yellowstone National Park, Paul played an integral role in preserving and protecting the YNP wilderness and wildlife people enjoy today.
Luke Rice was born and raised in the Shields Valley and graduated from Park High School in Livingston. After graduating from Colorado College with a degree in environmental science, Luke moved back to southwest Montana. He now resides in Bozeman and is a professional ski patroller at Bridger Bowl.
John Boersma earned his Masters in Physical Therapy from Chapman University in 1998, and is a Fellow of Applied Functional Science. He is one of only a few board certfied Clinical Spe-
Orion Thornton was born and raised in an off-grid home in a remote area of Northwest Montana. After completing an AAS Degree in Renewable Energy from San Juan College in 2006, Orion was hired on at Independent Power Systems, where he is currently project manager. With a strong passion for sustainability, he lives in a zero fossil fuel home and is a committed bike commuter—he especially enjoys cutting fresh bike tracks in the snow while being honked at by loud, jacked up trucks.
A native of eastern Washington, Taylor Woodward has been a professional ski patroller at Moonlight Basin since 2006. His exploits have taken him from Denali’s summit, to a ski descent from 24,000 feet on Shishapangma, Tibet. Recently, Taylor wrote a feature for Frequency Snowboard Journal about a sailboat-accessed ski mountaineering expedition to Alaska, in which he skied from 12,000 feet on Mount St. Elias to the ocean. He claims southwest Montana as home, but plans to return to British Columbia’s Coast Range using boat approach.
Mountain Winter 2011
CEO, PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Eric Ladd COO & SENIOR EDITOR Megan Paulson
VIDEOGRAPHER Brian Niles
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Mike Martins
GRAPHIC DESIGNER Kelsey Dzintars
MANAGING EDITOR Emily Stifler
ASSISTANT EDITOR Abigail Digel
SALES DIRECTOR Hunter Rothwell
DISTRIBUTION Danielle Chamberlain
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Eric Berger, John Boersma, Ali Havig, Joshua P. Howe, Brian Hurlbut, Brian Ladd, Brandy Ladd, Paul Miller, Luke Rice, Hunter Rothwell, Orion Thornton, Pat Wolfe, John Marshall, Kene Sperry, Scot Livingstone, John Layshock and Taylor Woodward EDITORIAL POLICY Outlaw Partners LLC is the sole owner of Mountain Outlaw magazine and the Big Sky Weekly. No part of this publication may be reprinted without written permission from the publisher. Mountain Outlaw magazine reserves the right to edit all submitted material for content, corrections or length. Printed material reflects the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the opinion of Outlaw Partners or the editors of this publication. No advertisements, columns, letters to the editor or other information will be published that contain discrimination based on sex, age, race, religion, creed, nationality, sexual preference, or are in bad taste. For editorial queries or submissions, please contact email@example.com.
DISTRIBUTION Distributed twice a year in towns across Southwest Montana, including Big Sky, Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Three Forks, Livingston and Ennis. We also distribute nationally through direct mail. Mountain Outlaw can also be found at explorebigsky.com.
OUTLAW PARTNERS, MOUNTAIN OUTLAW & THE BIG SKY WEEKLY (406) 995-2055 PO Box 160250 5 Center Lane, Suite B Big Sky, MT 59716 ExploreBigSky.com firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright ÂŠ 2010 Outlaw Partners, LLC Unauthorized reproduction prohibited 8
species of game animals: Mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, mountain lion, black bear, woodland caribou, grizzly bear and wild bison
species of migratory game birds: Ducks, geese, brant, swans, sandhill crane, coots, common (Wilson’s) snipe, tundra swan, and mourning doves
estimated population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming
species nongame wildlife According to state law these are: “Any wild mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, fish, mollusk, crustacean or other animal not otherwise legally classified by statute or regulation of this state.”
1,225 Montana kids with good or improving grades used Moonlight Basin’s M-Bar-T program last winter to earn affordable skiing.
square miles in Gallatin, Park, Madison, Sweetgrass, Jefferson, Silver Bow, Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Granite and Ravalli counties, combined.
people live in this area.
skiers visited Big Sky, Bridger Bowl and Moonlight Basin last year, combined.
billion dollars spent annually in Montana.
miles the Nez Perce tribe walked in 1877, pursued by U.S. Army. The Nez Perce (Nimíipuu or NeeMe-Poo) National Historic Trail winds from Wallowa Lake, Oregon, to the Bear Paw Battlefield near Chinook, Montana.
Something of the past
“As technology thrusts us relentlessly into the future, I find myself, perversely, more interested in the past. We seem to have lost something—something vital, something of individuality and passion. That may be why we tend to view the Western outlaw, rightly or not, as a romantic figure.” - Robert Redford, who portrayed the Sundance Kid in the 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. view story, Page 72
Selected Old West Slang from A Writer’s Guide to the Old West A Hog-Killin’ Time ~ a real good time. “We went to the New Year’s Eve dance and had us a hog-killin’ time.” Bosh ~ Nonsense Boss ~ the best, top. “The Alhambra Saloon sells the boss whiskey in town.”
Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center
“Skiing will be good tomorrow. You should call in sick.” (GNFAC director Doug Chabot)
Based in Bozeman, the GNFAC covers approximately 10,000 square km, including the Bridger, Gallatin, Madison, and Washburn Ranges, the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone, and the mountains around Cooke City. In the winter, 3,534 people a day receive avalanche advisories. Last year, avi center experts gave 65 avalanche talks to 4,900 people. They offer these classes at little or no cost across the advisory area. mtavalanche.com
Fish ~ a cowboy’s rain slicker, from a rain gear manufacturer whose trademark was a fish logo. “We told him it looked like rain, but left his fish in the wagon anyhow.” Flannel Mouth ~ an overly smooth or fancy talker, especially politicians or salesmen. “I swear that man is a flannelmouthed liar.” Bazoo ~ mouth. “Shut your big bazoo.” Get A Wiggle On ~ hurry
Take The Rag Off ~ surpass, beat all. “Well, if that don’t take the rag off the bush.”
Take French Leave ~ to desert, sneak off without permission
Available from Western Eye Press at (800) 333-5178, email@example.com or on Amazon $15.95
The Perfect Turn
Dick Dorworth is an icon of Western skiing and an architect of its lifestyle. The low-key Ketchum, Idaho/Bozeman, Montana resident “learned to ski as a boy in the post WWII years in the hills above the south shores of Lake Tahoe.” His newest book, the Perfect Turn: and other tales of skiing and skiers, is a collection of fiction, nonfiction and photos based on the author’s travels in the U.S. and abroad. With a thoughtful mind and conversational tone, Dorworth brings readers into over 50 years of adventure, history and great characters.
Big Sky Nordic Ski Festival
The first annual Big Sky Nordic Ski Festival will be March 6-13, 2011. The week’s lineup includes: the Glide and Gorge (skiers visit gourmet restaurants in tents on trails), the 18k Gallatin Glissade race, The Mad Wolf Classic downhill race from the top of Andesite Mountain to the Lone Mountain Ranch Outdoor Shop, clinics for all abilities, family events, dog-friendly programs and a terrain park. Proceeds from the festival help fund the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation Nordic programs. bigskynordicfestival.org
clyde park, MT
In 1887, John Harvey became postmaster of Sunnyside, a bustling town 15 miles north on the railroad from Livingston. At Harvey’s ranch (now also the post office) Harvey and Tom Tregloan bred Clydesdales from a stallion they imported from England. Sunnyside became Clyde Park, named after the draft horses and the dramatic open parkland of the Shields Valley.
AUTHENTIC THAI & ASIAN CUISINE Open 7 Days a Week Come try our NEW MENU and celebrate the winter season
3090 Pine Drive #2, Big Sky 406-995-2728
by hunter rothwell
In 2010, a group of businesses, landowners and organizations from the Big Sky area formed the Big Sky Natural Resource Council (BSNRC). The group came together in response to the growing damage caused by the mountain pine beetle and the spruce bugworm in white pine and lodgepole pine forests in the Big Sky region. With an eye toward increasing forest health, the council hopes to establish community goals and objectives based around: • wildland fire protection • wildlife habitat preservation • landowner responsibility • watershed protection • community development, tourism, and recreation This winter, the BSNRC will begin its first project, the healthy forest initiative. The project’s initial phase, the ‘Big Sky forest stewardship plan’, aims to develop comprehensive pro-
cedures promoting forest health, longevity, and sustainability on private land in Big Sky. The council is designing the plan as an educational resource for landowners and as a guideline for local forestry businesses. Council member Scott Brown hopes it “will act as a road map to a healthy forest here in Big Sky and as a model for communities scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain and western states.” The council has 11 voting members and over 50 non-voting members and advisors. Professional technical advisors come from agencies and organizations specializing in Southwest Montana’s natural resource issues. The BSNRC will schedule these advisors to give educational workshops teaching the community about the plan and how to utilize it. Advisors will also be available to assist landowners with implementation.
Healthy Forests Community members help form the Big Sky Natural Resource Council
As a subsidiary of the Rocky Mountain Resource Conservation and Developments Natural Resource Committee, the BSNRC operates under this larger committee’s bylaws and 501C3 status. A recent $30,000 donation from Merrill Lynch will help support development of the Big Sky Forest Stewardship Plan. “We encourage anyone who is interested to participate, provide public comment, and feel free to address any natural resource issues you feel are important,” says Crystal Hagerman, the program’s coordinator. For more information on the Healthy Forest Initiative:
foresthealth.wikispaces.com contact Crystal Hagerman at (406) 209-0344 firstname.lastname@example.org
T H E W E S T M AY B E W I L D , but it’s not uncivilized
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BUYER 102 LOOKING FOR SKI-IN SKI-OUT DIAMOND HITCH HOME. Older couple from Florida, who have come to Big Sky multiple times and are looking for a family vacation home at a great price BUYERS 304 & 305 LOOKING FOR GLACIER / YELLOWSTONE / SILVERBOW CONDO. 2 couples, one from WI now have kids in the area and another from SD looking to relocate to Big Sky. NEGOTIATIONS PENDING
RYAN & TALLIE A TEAM WITHIN A TEAM BUYER 146 LOOKING FOR MEADOW HOME. Couple that currently owns a condo in Big Sky and is looking for a larger property. BUYER 198 IN AN INVESTOR SEEKING HIGHLY MOTIVATED SKI-IN SKI-OUT BUILT PRODUCT. Cash buyer looking for Powder Ridge, Moonlight Mountain Home or Chalet. Quick closing. ** NEW BUYERS ARE REGISTERING OFTEN, SO LOOK FOR UPDATES IN THE BIG SKY WEEKLY PUBLICATION.
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Dancing among giants in the Bridger Range after the perfect snowstorm ryankruegerphotography.com
Scotlivingstone Avi control - chose your weapon: classic ski cutting or a visit to the â€˜boom roomâ€™
outbound 18 Mountain
kenesperry Chad Robbs gets the goods while taking in the last few rays of sunshine. eyeintheskyphotography.com
Lunch, Apres Ski & Fine Dining
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It must have been a Thursday. The temperature was brisk, the powder deep. I remember the crispness of the air and how the chill tickled my nose. My breath was visible as I lingered on the crest of Thunder for a moment. The trees looked like ghosts, every branch “At LT, it doesn’t matter and needle enveloped by ice crystals. The cold had turned what you ski, where the snow to the consistency you’re from, or who you of sugar. Off in the distance, the view was familiar: a snowy know. Coming back to road wound its way into Idaho. the Big Hole Valley and The mountains, layer upon skiing Lost Trail has been layer to the horizon, met a perfect blue sky. Montana to a breath of fresh air.” the left and Idaho to the right. I gave myself a little pep talk as I watched my mom, my partner in crime that day, fly past. One last deep breath, and I was off, moving through the snow, turn by turn, without effort. Untouched powder underfoot, I was suspended; nothing held me back, a feather on a breeze. In my periphery, I caught a glimpse of my mom, poaching powder in the trees - her favorite place to ski. “Woohoo!” she shouted, carefree. I felt infected by her lighthearted spirit. This was the beginning of another transcendent day at Lost Trail Powder Mountain. I grew up skiing Lost Trail. From snowplow
A Lost trail native returns home to ski by Ali havig
A familiar View
to ski instructor, it has always been, and will always be, my home mountain. For eight weeks, beginning in kindergarten and continuing through eighth grade, the Wisdom Elementary PE program gave us Friday afternoons to ski at Lost Trail. In high school I worked as a ski instructor, which meant I was on the mountain every weekend all season. College took me to Bozeman, five hours from home. I majored in architecture and skied Bridger Bowl, Big Sky and Moonlight Basin. After receiving my Masters degree in architecture, I was ready for a new experience, something far from the familiar. Ambition for something new took me to the east coast, and Washington, D.C. A new city with new people was exciting and different, and I remember the exhilaration of the metro and finding my way around the city. In time, the mountains of Montana and the slopes of Lost Trail called me back home just in time for ski season to start. In my 22 years on skis, I have been fortunate to ski Montana, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, but I still call Lost Trail my mountain. I love the terrain and the incredible snow conditions. I always feel welcome here. At LT, it doesn’t matter what you ski, where you’re from, or who you know. Coming back to the Big Hole Valley and skiing Lost Trail has been a breath of fresh air. Knowing I can always come back gives me confidence to let life take me where it will. I love this place.
Cast & Blast
Steelhead, chuckar hunting and fall rafting:
a sublime vacation By Brian Ladd Photos by Matty mccain
When Matty uttered the word “chuckar,” the canyon erupted with the metallic sounds of shotguns being assembled and chambers being loaded. As the diminishing echoes of the chamber pump reverberated through the rock walls, a loaded silence settled over the 10 members of our group. I knew then I was north, far north, of an ordinary raft trip. I’d heard of ‘cast and blast,’ but my raft trips usually involved white water or fishing, and the ‘blast’ portion had never interested me. They came together this fall when I joined an otherwise all-Montanan group on the Lower Salmon River. While most of us had rafted various upper stretches of this magnificent river as it flowed from the jagged heart of Idaho, we didn’t know what to expect from this section.
Over 90 miles and five days, we floated from open, warm high desert into dark, intimidating schist canyons. The river held clear, consistent, if not giant, whitewater. The setting and scale of the place reminded me of the Grand Canyon, which we’d all floated together that spring. We shared camaraderie in exploring a new place that far exceeded our expectations. In the last few years, I have become a steelhead fanatic, and the Lower Salmon has a fall run of these magnificent fish. Genetically, steelhead are rainbow trout. After one to three years in the river, they swim a thousand-plus miles to the Pacific Ocean. During their years at sea, they can travel as far as the Arctic Circle. They then return as eight-pound beasts and spawn at their location of birth. On that risky journey, the fish pass hydroelectric dams. Unlike salmon, steelhead repeat this feat more than once. I hooked and landed a few steelhead,
but paid my penance as the casts between fish were in the hundreds. For me, just knowing these creatures were there added to the river’s power and mystique. When the Montana armada loaded up for the covey of chuckar partridge hiding in a side canyon, I was one of few unarmed. Six loaded guns surrounded me, all with multiple rounds ready to go. Troy, nominated as the flushing dog with gun in hand, hopped out of the raft and disappeared up a narrow, rocky side canyon. This is a Montana accountant on vacation, I thought. He flushed the birds, and they flew directly over the river and our waiting
rafts. The silence broke. Hunters, dressed in shorts and life jackets, took their shots from the rafts. I felt the gunfire reverberate within the rock walls as much as I heard it. The quiet of the canyon returned, and we watched one bird fall into the river. I laughed at the absurdity, the poor shooting display, and because I was having so much damn fun. Brian Ladd, husband and father of two, resides in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. You’d be hard pressed to convince him to give away the exact location of this story.
Author Brian Ladd and dog Luna with prize steelhead
The author climbing in Hyalite Canyon
Ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon By Emily Stifler In mid-November 2009, Pat Wolfe and I went to Flanders, a chilly side drainage of Hyalite Canyon that often holds early-season ice. We parked by Whit Magroâ€™s car and crossed the creek on slippery rocks. After a half hour of walking on a packed trail through the snow, we looked up through the trees to the impressive freestanding Killer Pillar, a route Jack Tackle first climbed in 1982. Next in view was the exquisite hanging drip The Big Sleep, a 400-foot test piece suited for the strongest climbers. A climber in a red jacket was visible on rock between the approach ice and the massive main flow on The Big Sleep. We hooted.
Pat Wolfe on thin ice
“WhoooHoUoUoUooooo,” echoed back Sam Magro’s classic loon call. “I bet Narcolepsy’s in,” said Pat. “Wanna check? It hasn’t formed in three years.” We walked another 10 minutes, crossing huge moose tracks. We could barely see the ice through the forest. “It looks thin,” I said. We turned off the trail, and post holed across a creek and up a treed hillside.
Raised in Bozeman, Pat is a blacksmith and a dedicated bowhunter. He’s climbed throughout the U.S. and in Patagonia, but couldn’t imagine living anywhere other than here. We skirted the base of the cliff and kicked out a snow platform near Narcolepsy. I knew this was a cool find; established in 1995 by Doug Chabot and the late Alex Lowe, this ephemeral line doesn’t form often and melts out quickly.
I organized the ropes and then settled in to belay, wearing both of our down coats. A sheet of ice, three feet wide and three inches thick, was starting to peel from the rock. Pat was careful before committing to the steep ice flow. Finally, he stemmed his feet between the rock and the ice, moving upward methodically. The protection was thin, and Pat placed short screws in the ice and tiny gear in the rock, when possible. Spindrift blew hard from above, and he turned his head away and waited, then gunned through a rotten bit, disappearing onto lower-angled ice. My pitch was a rolling, three-foot wide ribbon in a U-shaped chimney. Spindrift continued, turning the world white, black and gray. The sound of metal on rock scraped in my ears as my crampons scratched against the rock beside the ice. At the top, I folded myself into a cave and built an anchor of ice screws and a cam placed
“Did you see how big those tracks were?” Pat asked. “I’d like to put in for a moose tag next fall.”
between curious, smooth rock cobbles. I piled the ropes on the ice in the tiny cave, and sat down on them to stay warm. Joining the handful of people who’d done this rare route seemed like a moment to remember, and I realized I’d begun to feel in tune with the climbing mediums of ice and winter. 2009 was my sixth winter in Montana. By nature of the geography, people often live far apart here, and the size of the place sometimes feels isolating to me. In the winter though, Hyalite Canyon and its plethora of natural ice brings the ice climbing community together. Three years ago, with leadership from the Southwest Montana Climbers’ Coalition, this sometimes scattered community of independent spirits rallied together in a battle to preserve Hyalite’s road access against seasonal closure. The road is now plowed all winter. This essay was adapted from a longer piece first published in Rock and Ice magazine. rockandice.com Mountain
b y Tay l o r W o o d w a r d photos by luke rice
Earning a skierâ€™s r i g h t o f pa ss ag e in t h e M a d i s o n Ra n ge
“This is it,” he said. “Check out that east couloir!” Mount Dudley holds a handful of skiable lines, only obvious when viewed from Dudley Creek to the east. From the beginning, Kapes had a plan. I had just met him a few weeks ago, but today he promised powder skiing off the top of Dudley. He rattled off peaks in the surrounding area. “That’s Wilson across the way, and there’s Jumbo and Gallatin Peak—you gotta ski the Southeast face of Gallatin.” “What’s with that range to the south?” I asked. “That’s still the Madisons. The big stuff.” These mountains seemed to hold endless possibilities for adventure. I shook myself from a stupor, remembering going down was pertinent. We skied deliberately, leaving deep turns to the valley floor as the high country lingered in the evening. I wondered why it took me so long to move here. My excitement became insatiable. Moving from a temporary existence in Boulder, Colorado to Big Sky a month earlier, in January 2006, couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’d been stagnating in the big city and felt like I was in a rut. I packed my ski gear and everything else that fit into my 1984 Honda Civic, and then
headed north, puttering up dark state highways. I’d scored a job as a ski patroller at Moonlight Basin and moved there mid-season.
The ridge seemed to go forever. Weaving past giant cornices, we skinned higher until snow gave way to rock under a prominent summit. I felt relieved when, ahead of me, Ryan Kapes stopped moving.
A week after our Dudley tour, Kapes and I went to Beehive Basin, Big Sky’s best access into the Spanish Peaks’ high alpine zones. Kapes talked as we skinned over a ridge toward Bear Basin. “You can’t just go anywhere you want,” he advised. “This isn’t Mount Baker. The snow here is different from Washington, and we’re way back here.”
Excited and perplexed, I appreciated Kapes’ continuous tidbits of advice. He pointed out Bear Basin’s prominent ski lines: The Hoo Haas, Bat Ears, The Giver and other obscure gems spilling towards Spanish Creek. No matter the punchy conditions, we had the place to ourselves. “That pass takes you to Hellroaring Creek.” Kapes pointed. “The other one leads into Spanish Creek.” The names were familiar from highway signposts, but I had no idea how big the drainages really were. How far back could we ski in a day? This question only fueled my fire. I was determined to know everything about the Spanish Peaks. Every day off from work, I went back for more. On each outing, I found new terrain. Couloirs, traverses, open bowls and white bark tree runs satisfied my powder craze. Then, later in the spring, while skiing Beehive’s tight, steep and rocky lines, I discovered Montana ski mountaineering.
e skied deliberately, leaving deep turns to the valley floor as the high country lingered in the evening. I wondered why it took me so long to move here. Mountain
The Madison Range is a sizeable and relatively unbroken span of wilderness in Southwest Montana. Running north to south from the Gallatin Valley to Hebgen Lake, these mountains span over 50 miles, and boast some of Montana’s highest continuous alpine terrain, writes Thomas Turiano in 50 Select Peaks of the Greater Yellowstone. After nearly a century of exploitation between government land swaps, railroad misuse and logging blunders in this spectacular area, Montana Congressman Lee Metcalf proposed a wilderness area of over 600,000 acres in the 1970s. A conflicting bill by Sentator John Melcher won however, appeasing recreation interests and logging industry giants. In 1983, Congress protected 261,000 acres in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. For sake of explanation, the range can be split into three sections: the Spanish Peaks, the West Fork Peaks and the Taylor-Hilgards. Big Sky Resort and the surrounding
community—which split the northern and southern half of the wilderness—exemplify land use compromises introduced by Melcher’s bill. Jack Creek and the Middle Fork of the Gallatin River isolate the Spanish Peaks as the northernmost part of the Madisons. Northwest weather patterns rising out of the Madison River Valley favor these mountains, and as a result, they receive similar snowfall as nearby Big Sky. The rock here, 1.6 billion year old gneiss, began crystallizing during the Precambrian Age and has eroded away to sculpt buttresses, fins and walls. In turn, these rock formations give way to clean couloirs and featured summits. At over 8,000 feet, Beehive Basin provides ski access into this area from early October turns to late-season mega tours deep into the backcountry. South of Sphinx Mountain, a geological division line called a thrust fault sepa-
Surfing, Montana style
rates the northern section of the Madisons from the Taylor-Hilgards. The area between holds the West Fork Peaks: Cedar, Lone Peak (home to Big Sky and Moonlight Basin), Pioneer (Yellowstone Club) and Fan Mountains. These dramatic massifs are anomalies, formed independently into masses of folded sandstone, limestone and shale. About 70 million years ago, magma worked its way into sedimentary formations leaving dacite porphyry, which bears a mistaken resemblance to volcanoes of the Cascade Range. Cedar and Fan are visible from the ski resorts on Lone Peak and the Yellowstone Club, but backcountry ski objectives on those mountains are large-scale and remote, with difficult access due to private land.
A skier stops to take in the ominous mood of Lone Peak
The Taylor-Hilgard mountains make up the southern half of the greater Madison Range. In 1959, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake here caused a massive landslide that killed 28 people and blocked the Madison River, creating Quake Lake. Geologically, the Hilgards consist of three billion year old metamorphic rock, massive glacial moraines and lofty rock horns. This remote sub-range runs about 25 miles north-south and has limited winter access due to long and diffi Mountain
i just found the next twenty years of my life...
Looking south from Imp Peak, Hilgard and Echo Peaks dominate the skyline of the southern Madison Range
cult approaches. The allure to skiing here is the concentration of 11,000-foot peaks like Koch, Imp, Echo and Hilgard. At 11,316 feet, Hilgard Peak stands proud as the highest point in Montana outside the Beartooth Range. We lifted our feet unloading the Headwaters chairlift, plowing through giant drifts on our way to morning avalanche control work in Moonlight Basin’s alpine terrain. It was March 2008, and we’d received two feet of snow overnight. After 18 inches the previous day, Lone Peak’s alpine terrain was powder heaven. I wallowed up Country Club in disbelief of the waist deep snow. Switching leads with other ski patrollers, we broke trail in a fitful fashion. En route to Three Forks, we skirted the start zones of the chutes Firehole, Hellroaring and Jack Creek, which were choked with snow. 32 Mountain
“Hurry up! We gotta open soon!” Matt Weiland, my route partner, prodded and chastised me for breaking trail so slowly. “You try. I’ll hang back and bother you,” I said. My agitation felt bittersweet. Wieland sunk to his neck, flailing. As we rested at the top of Rock Creek, the sun breached the horizon behind Ramshorn Peak and grazed the highest peaks around us with a fiery hue. South, in the Hilgards, Imp Peak ignited in flames of red.
away from their avalanche run-outs was essential. My radio crackled continuously, as patrollers called in shots. “Fire in the hole!” Explosives broke through the cold morning air. Fire on Lone Peak, I thought, watching the sunrise fade into memory.
Every detail of Lone Peak consumed me as if I’d never seen the mountain before. Kapes and Weiland stood beside me as the day unveiled, broken by the infantry of Moonlight Basin ski patrol.
March 2009 5:00 a.m. Two degrees Fahrenheit couldn’t convince my frozen fingers to hitch the snowmobile trailer. We grabbed coffee and junk food at the Conoco, fuel for a big push up Imp Peak in the Hilgards. It was still dark as we pulled onto 191 South. In the moonlight I saw the Gallatin River, locked in icy grips.
Part of a coordinated siege of the Headwaters cirque, Weiland and I moved down Three Forks, throwing explosives, ski cutting and watching each other from safe spots. We communicated with patrollers in neighboring chutes, because staying
The weather was clear and cold, with no storms predicted for days. The truck hopped between ruts down the Taylor Fork road. We parked at the ranch and began blindly foraging for gear in the darkness.
“This is going to be a cold ride for you,” Kapes said. “Enjoy it.” He preferred to tow me behind his snowmobile rather than destroy his suspension by riding tandem. We counted six moose in the creek, stoically posed in willow groves. As we closed in on the trailhead, Woodward Peak caught the sunrise above us through low clouds. We left the snowmobile and made good time skinning up the drainage on supportable crust. Barely speaking a word the first four miles, we moved upwards through the cold morning. We took a break at the first sunny spot along the creek. I looked back at the crazy rock striations of Woodward Peak and thought of my friend Troy, who had told me about that mountain. “Some day you’ll ski your namesake!” he’d said. I’d taken his advice in fall of 2007, climbing and skiing Woodward’s north couloir above the Taylor Fork. When we reached the elevation where White Bark pines gave way to meadows, a castle-like peak grazed the horizon. Another north couloir split the gothic rock horns on Imp Peak’s north face for 2,000 vertical feet. We wove through an endless maze of terminal moraine, ending the nine-mile approach.
Ryan Kapes gets some love from in Bear Basin
“The wind beat us to it,” I said, looking up at the scalloped and drifted snow on Imp’s north face. The slope above had taken a beating and was stripped of recent new snow. We booted up toward the notch below Imp’s summit and arrived at the ridge. Goats scattered from the knife-edge in a frenzy. To the south, the Henrys Lake Mountains snaked toward Island Park. Beyond that, we could see the Tetons. The Gravelly, Centennial and Pintler ranges wandered west in the distance. To the east, the Gallatins and Absarokas. North, the spine of the Madisons continued unobstructed until spilling out of sight into the Gallatin Valley. “I just found the next twenty years of my life,” I said. Kapes agreed with a casual smile, as he stripped the climbing skins from his skis. “Let’s go skiing,” he said. Mountains mean something different to each person. For me, skiing is an outlet. It is my way of life and a tool of exploration. I find freedom one summit at a time—meeting a sunrise or finding a white bark tree alley that unfolds in front of every ski turn. In Montana, I’ve found unnamed couloirs, mountain traverses I dream to complete, and salvation in perfect powder days. The will for adventure keeps me human. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 33 Mountain The author in Beehive Basin
The Word is out about Solar Independent Power Systems’ installation on tribal lands is a landmark for renewable energy. By Orion Thornton photos courtesy of ips
On a clear, sub zero day last February, the installation crew from Bozeman’s Independent Power Systems (IPS) began work on a monumental project for renewable energy and community involvement on Northern Cheyenne tribal lands in Southeast Montana. The day started in Colstrip, home to one of the largest coal fired power plants in the West. The presence of the giant coal cloud reaching into the sky that morning was motivation enough to start work on what would become the largest single metered solar electric system in the state, and by far the largest solar project on Montana Native American lands. At 49,980 watts, the system is just 20 watts shy of the state’s net metering limit. Working closely with 34 Mountain
the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Housing Authority and Tongue River Electric Co-Op, it took the eight man installation crew two weeks to complete the project. The solar installation was part of a larger renovation of the Wendel Turkey “Shoulder Blade Complex” in Lame Deer, Montana. The building is a 35-unit apartment complex for elderly tribal members. The renovation also included removing and replacing all interior building materials, as well as asbestos abatement. The Northern Cheyenne Tribal Housing Authority funded the overall renovation project with an award of $485,705 in low-income housing tax credits from the Montana Board of Housing. The project closed with an investor in 2009 and soon generated $3.4 million toward the rehabilitation. The total project cost was about $4.7 million. The total cost of the solar electric system was $322,000. Travois, Inc., a housing and economic de-
velopment consulting firm that works with American Indian tribes, helped with the tax credit application, and Travois Design & Construction Services acted as the design consultant and worked with the tribe to determine the scope of work for rehabilitation. In celebration of the Shoulder Blade renovation’s completion, the tribe held an open house rededication ceremony in September 2010. “A flood of those anxious attendees rushed in to see the new apartments, kitchen, dining room, pavilion, sauna,
Independent Power Systems (IPS) has been designing and installing renewable energy power systems in the Northern Rockies since 1996. With branch operations in Bozeman, Montana and Boulder, Colorado, IPS has installed over four megawatts of solar energy globally. A company philosophy that centers around a high level of installation quality and service ensures that each system will produce a maximum amount of energy while attaining a maximum lifetime of operation, backed by a ten-year installation warranty. solarips.com
library, conference room, Elderly program office space and laundry rooms,” the Northern Cheyenne . Tribal Housing Authority reported. “One of the main attractions for the day was the solar system.” As the U.S. solar industry continues on a path of rapid growth and system sizes reach well into the 100 megawatt range, a 50 kW system in remote Montana may seem insignificant. But this project is very important for the residents of the Shoulder Blade Complex and for Montana’s solar industry as a whole. For the residents of the Shoulder Blade Complex, who are mainly elderly tribal
members, it is a step toward self-sufficiency. For the Montana solar industry, it means the word is finally getting out that renewable energy is a valued commodity, and that there is still a chance to make renewable energy a major player in our energy sector. With a minimum lifetime expectancy of 30 years, the solar system on the Shoulder Blade Complex is quietly producing up to 62,630 Kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy a year. The system will offset 47 tons of CO2 annually—equivalent to planting 235 trees every year. This project opens a glimpse into what is possible for Montana’s energy future. As the coal cloud just 24 miles down the road slowly drifts
away with its finite supply of fuel, the significance of the Shoulder Blade solar system becomes more apparent. Independent Power Systems is set to finish another large commercial solar project on Native Lands this December, with the completion of a 23kW system on a new building for the Blackfeet Community College in Browning, Montana. IPS looks forward to collaborating with indigenous peoples throughout the nation in the future. By focusing efforts toward renewable sources of fuel, our communities can ensure a healthy environment for all citizens, provide much needed jobs in our most remote communities, and leave clear skies for future generations.
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nelson, british columbia
backcountry snowcat skiing & boarding
B A L D FA C E . N E T I N F O @ B A L D FA C E . N E T 250-352-0006
Rider Mikey LeBlanc PHOTO BY ASHLEY BARKER
a c e n t u ry on the
Arial view of G-M Ranch
The Leffingwe ll s have passed t heir fami ly’s Bracke t C reek ranching
tradi t ion down five generat ions
Mike Leffingwell in the G-M horse barn
Mike Leffingwell opens the heavy wooden sliding door and walks into the shadows of the horse barn. “This is like my second home,” he says. “I usually keep about 35 head of good, broke saddle horses.” Today, the small barn is quiet—it’s November, and all the horses are out to winter pasture. “We raise some foals, and we’ve got yearlings, two year olds and three year olds, so we run about 55 head of horses.” The old wood walls muffle his voice. Bits of hay are scattered between open stalls. Lengths of dusty tack hang from the rafters. “My great grandfather Leffingwell was a harness maker. That’s all old harness he built.” Mike walks over to another harness hanging from hooks on the ground floor. “If I’m feeding [cattle] in the winter time with a team of horses, I still use this set, which he built as well.” Mike walks through an open doorway into a side room, stops, props his hand on a saddle horn, and looks around. He pushes back the ball cap he’s wearing over his thinning red hair. The room, which smells like leather, saddle soap and dust, is lined on four walls with more than 30 saddles. “I can find a saddle for just about anybody,” he says. Mike, 42, is a fourth generation rancher. His family has been running a livestock opera-
tion on Brackett Creek for more than 100 years. In 1934, his grandparents, George and Mary Leffingwell, started a guest and dude ranch the family continues today. He walks outside, through his horseshoeing shed, and out onto the dirt road. “When I’m working cattle, weaning calves or colts, or if we have to put something through the squeeze chute, we use these pens next to the barn.” To the south, Mike’s parents George and Patricia’s house is barely visible, a quarter mile up Miles Creek. Beyond that, aspen groves are bare of leaves, and snow speckles the higher elevations of the Bangtail Divide. North of the barn, across Brackett Creek and past a grove of cottonwoods, are generations of log buildings dating back to 1941. Among them is the G-M guest lodge, as well the house where Mike lives with his wife Maria and his daughter, Mary. The hills across the road to the north are brown from the dry Indian summer. 30 minutes on horseback into those hills from the barn is Section 5, a hilltop with views of the Castle Mountains and the Crazies, the Bridger Range, the Absaroka-Beartooth and the Gallatins.
Montana’s economy has been tied to cattle ranching for 150 years. With the growing mining industry in the 1860s, demand for beef increased. In 1866, Nelson Story and a group of cowboys drove 3,000 Texas longhorns from Texas to Montana. Story started a cattle ranch in the Gallatin Valley; as the state’s largest cattle and horse breeder, his nickname was the “cattle king.” During the 1870s, the last of the Plains Indians were corralled into reservations, and the American Bison population was nearly eliminated. Huge regions of the West were left unoccupied, and the great cattle drives from Texas moved over 10 million cattle and one million range horses through this open range land. By 1895, barbed wire, railroads and settlement ended the large-scale drives, but in the next 15 years, small ranches established themselves across Montana’s range country. In spring of 1898, Mike Leffingwell’s great grandfather, Charles Bridgman, left Zainesville, Ohio and rode the train as far west as he could go on $100. He landed in Big Timber, Montana and took a sheep-herding job up the Boulder River valley. After four years, he set off to find his own homestead. By this time though, professional homesteaders had already claimed and proved up on most of the country.
Bridgman bought an established homestead on Brackett Creek, built a cabin, started a sheep farm and married the local schoolteacher, Dorothy Crichton. In its best day, Charley Bridgman’s operation ran 6,000 head of sheep, which he summered in the Bangtails and at the base of the Bridger Mountains. Once, during the depression, he shipped three carloads of steers to sell in Chicago, expecting to make a profit. Instead, he got a bill for the freight. Then in 1939, to boost passenger train business, the railroad company encouraged ranches to add guest lodging. The Bridgman’s daughter Mary had recently married a “fun-loving, good looking cowboy” named George Leffingwell. Together, they opened the guest business and called it the G-M, after their own first names. The business thrived. The Leffingwells had two sons, Georgie and Hank. In Mary’s book, Trails I Have Chosen, she remembers leaving the boys with a list of chores while she and George went to town. The boys dispatched the chores and moved onto mischief: George kept cases of dynamite in the old root cellar that he used to make ditches, move boulders, and other such jobs, as we didn’t have machinery like
we do now…When we returned from Livingston, George noticed a cloud of dust hanging over the wood house and called to the boys for an explanation… They had secretly been working on [a trap door and a] tunnel for weeks in their spare time. When the neighbor boys showed up, our boys decided to hurry the digging with the help of a little dynamite… When the dynamite exploded, the blast lifted the wood shed about four feet in the air, disintegrating the rotten bottom logs…They were all pretty shook up, scared, and willing to confess by the time we got home. Years later, George Jr. met his future wife, Patricia, when she was visiting the guest lodge with her father. Before Mike, George and Patricia’s son, took over running the ranch, he “cowboyed and buckarooed around” the country for a few years. When he returned to Brackett Creek, he met Maria. Originally from Honduras, she’d come to the ranch to clean houses. “I was a mail order bride for somebody else,” she says. “It’s a long story.” Mike and Maria fell in love and married, and he took a job managing a neighboring ranch a mile down the road—his family’s original homestead. After living 20 years in Brackett Creek, Maria loves everything about ranching, particularly
g-m ranch collection
g-m ranch collection
ing each day at 6:30 a.m. Mike packed a GPS in his saddle bags, and calculates they averaged 25 miles a day. “We saw most everything and got all the cows back. Those folks were pretty sore by the time they left, but that’s what they came for.”
George and Patricia Leffingwell in the G-M guest lodge
cooking, which she learned from Mary Leffingwell, Mike’s grandmother.
horseback chores. He also teaches riding, roping and other ranching skills.
The G-M runs mostly Angus cattle, which are well adapted to the environment and seasons in Montana. In summer, the Leffingwells graze their cattle on the 60,000 acres of Forest Service land on the Bangtail Mountains south of the ranch. Mike keeps about 150 head of mother cows and runs a strong breeding program. Working through a cyber stockyard on ebay, he sells calves in June with an October delivery date. The last three years he sold stock to a buyer in Eastern Montana.
“We get in situations where we need to rope a cow to doctor it, but most of [the guests] don’t understand how to lay a cow down or how to handle one when it’s on the ground,” Mike says. He keeps horned cattle called TK for teaching skills like these. “It’s not like you see in the rodeo, where you run one down.” Instead, he teaches people to move slowly: “We’ll slip in there and I’ll head one, then I’ll get somebody I’m teaching to ride in and heel ‘em. Then we’ll stretch ‘em out and lay ‘em down. As soon as we get ‘em on the ground I’ll step down and put both front feet in the rope. It’s one of those little cowboy tricks we’re losing.”
“It’s the go go go world now, and this is not the real world here,” George says. He smiles. “I couldn’t live in the real world.” Guest lodge visitors accompany Mike to check fence lines, move cows and do
Some guests have returned to the G-M for 20 years. George says the typical guest has changed. Instead of staying a month, many families now come for only three days. “It’s the go go go world now, and this is not the real world here,” George says. He smiles. “I couldn’t live in the real world.” This fall, a couple from England helped Mike bring cattle down from summer pasture. They rode for two weeks, start-
In fall, the G-M houses hunters for Elk Creek Outfitters and Adventure Outfitters. Financially, the Leffingwells have to take opportunities like these. For 25 years, George spent winters building log homes in Big Sky, a business his second son, Steve, took over and now runs in Wilsall. Now, Mike buys, sells and trades horses, shoes horses, and leases and manages nearby property and livestock. In spring, he helps five other ranches with cattle breeding. The Leffingwells seldom hire ranch hands, though occasionally mentor a young person looking for experience in agriculture or ranching. “This is pretty much a family deal,” Mike says. The ranch isn’t big enough to justify hiring full time help. “It’s different than going to town and earning a paycheck. There’s a lot of thinking and planning that goes into what we do.” Whether building a barn or cutting and splitting a semi-load of wood, everyone pitches in to get the work done. But the sacrifice is worth it, Patricia says, “to be able to get on our horses and ride out into what we think is God’s country. To be with our family, to share in hardships, to have good neighbors and be good neighbors.”
As Gallatin and Park Counties have grown, ranchers have had to adjust to changes in Forest Service grazing regulations, nearby development and higher cost of living. The number of family owned operations like the Leffingwell’s is dwindling. Mountain
“I can probably count on two hands the number of ranchers in Park County that are still making a living solely on cows,” Mike says. “The old time rancher is becoming extinct. The rancher we’re seeing today has made their money someplace else. Cows and ranching are a hobby for them.”
In the past 10 years, the Leffingwells and their neighbors have established conservation easements along Brackett Creek east from the Park County line, almost to Clyde Park. “We’ve built a community of stewards,” Mike says. “We’re concerned about the elk herds and the grazing, the watershed and the view sheds. We’re so lucky to be a part of that.”
Because she moved to ranching from the outside, Patricia has perspective: “I see tradition that comes from generations of tradition. We live our every day lives, but we still live with the thought of George’s mother Mary, and what she worked for on the ranch, of Mike’s great-grandfather and how he started the ranch. It wasn’t an easy life at all.”
Patricia says when she moved to Montana in 1988, the old-time ranchers lived by a certain etiquette. “There was an unspoken politeness and a respect for each other’s land and cattle and way of life.” Neighbors depended on each other to help with branding, calving, or if machinery broke down. “Nowadays,” she says, “people are more independent.”
Mary Leffingwell and Carmen
Patricia’s granddaughters, Stephanie and Mary, are fifth generation. Mary, 15, lives and works on the ranch and attends tiny Clyde Park High School, where she sings in the choir. Mary is competitive in reining, a precision-based style of Western horseback riding similar to dressage. She’s also learning to train horses from her father, and this summer, she raised an orphan filly named Carmen, bottle-feeding with goat’s milk every two hours day and night for several months. Mary has Carmen halter broke and weaned, but she still sucks on Mary’s fingers as if she’s bottlefeeding. For Mary, meeting summer guests is a way to “learn about different cultures and ideas.” Other ranches, she says, have pools and TVs—but at G-M, the guests are involved with the operations of the ranch. “We choose whether we’re going to live like this or not,” Mike says. “But
“...we still live with the thought of George’s mother Mary, and what she worked for on the ranch, of Mike’s great-grandfather and how he started the ranch. It wasn’t an easy life at all.” what other job can you work with your family? What better place to raise kids? Mary can saddle a horse and be gone half the day. This legacy that we live is part of what we do. In my eyes though, it’s a small part. It’s a choice we make. But after a long tough spring, seeing
those cows spread out in front of you in the hills, it’s healthy. It’s a good place to be.” Emily Stifler is managing editor of Mountain Outlaw and the Big Sky Weekly.
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Murder at Boiling River
A true tale of murder, drugs and alcohol in Yellowstone National Park
By Paul Miller as told to Megan Paulson A young man staggered down the road, clad in Levis and a t-shirt. He tried desperately to flag down a vehicle. I stopped my car by the Boiling River turnout and walked up to him. Blood dripped from his mouth and stained his shirt. He collapsed into my arms. I lowered him onto the ground and then called for backup on my radio. As a ranger for Yellowstone National Park, I was in full uniform on my way to a night shift at my duty station in Mammoth. During that time in the mid1970s, the Boiling River recreational area between Mammoth and Gardiner had become an area of crime fueled by illegal drugs and alcohol. The Park Service ignored the alcohol consumption and nudity that was commonplace. “Who did this?” I asked the wounded man. “My best friend,” he said. Then he died. After performing several rounds of CPR, I brought
him back around. When he came to, he threw up in my face. It was obvious he had been eating Doritos. Ranger Marc arrived with the patrol car, and together, we loaded the man into the back seat while I continued tending to him. Looking closer, I saw what appeared to be two bullet holes: one in the front of his neck and one in the back of his chest. The drive to the clinic at Mammoth only took a couple minutes. Who would have shot their best friend, and why? I wondered. We left the injured man at the clinic after getting his California ID and called in on the radio to further alert the rest of the Park. Our next goal was to go back down to Boiling River to see if we could find a shooting suspect. As we neared the area, we saw two men who appeared to be hiding something. Marc covered me while I approached the men. It appeared they were doing cocaine, so I asked for their IDs and then searched them and the area. While interviewing the rest of the people at Boiling River, a bulletin
alert came across the radio: a vehicle with California plates had gone off the road; single individual running through the trees away from the car. By radio we alerted the ranger handling the situation that the man shot in the Boiling River area had also been from California. We suspected the man running from the car accident was a likely perpetrator. Shortly after we concluded gathering information at Boiling River we heard another radio call-in. The individual who’d crashed his car had been arrested. A follow-up investigation concluded the two men had stolen a vehicle from California and driven it to Yellowstone. High on illegal drugs, they were sitting in the parking lot arguing about whether to use their drugs themselves or sell the drugs to get money for food and gas. The passenger got out and came around to the driver’s side, where the driver had his window down. The driver shot the passenger under the chin with a 22-caliber pistol. As the passenger
turned and ran, the driver shot him again. I found him shortly after. The driver had headed toward Norris, speeding. When he crashed the vehicle, he got out and ran, throwing his pistol into a swampy area to get rid of it. Rangers arrested him. He confessed to murdering his best friend. After this murder in the 70s, the Park implemented new regulations to get the Boiling River recreational area under control, and rangers stringently patrolled there. Now it is a place where families can go without being bothered by illegal activities. After 30 years, I am now retired from my work as a ranger. I still enjoy going for a warm soak in Boiling River – usually once a week. But to this day, I don’t eat Doritos.
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my first Hunt
Brandy and Bullet with Electric Peak in the background
story and photos By Brandy Ladd
When I was a young girl, I’d wake on fall mornings, stumble groggily into the cold autumn air, and hug my father and grandfather before they set off on a hunt. I wanted to wish them good luck, but more than anything, I wanted to hunt with them. My grandfather always reminded my grandma not to worry unless they hadn’t returned by lunch the following day. Since her husband and son were heavily armed, riding feisty 1200-pound horses, and silently stalking elk through dark, bear-infested woods, Grandma fretted anyway. To ease her mind, she baked pies. In the warmth of our Paradise Valley home, Grandma and I filled flaky piecrusts with freshly peeled cinnamon apples and other recently harvested fruits and berries. As a warm bite of pie melted in my mouth, I daydreamed of rugged hunting adventures. Though I didn’t really know what hunting was all about, I was inspired. When I was eight, I decided to start working on the skills I figured I’d need to hunt: endurance, riding, hiking and an ability not to whine. Bullet, my black Welsh/Shetland pony trained me well. For the first mile of a trail, he’d crow hop, rear and charge. After he cooled off, he was reliable and wonderful. I also knew I’d need to stay warm for 46 Mountain
hunting, and I really wanted a down coat. Since I was in the same weight class as the hostile members of our gaggle of geese, I carried a large stick to protect myself from them. During one confrontation, I hit a gander in the head with the stick as he knocked me to the ground. Ultimately, he ended up as one of our delicious dinners, and his feathers filled the warm, durable down coat my mom tailored for me, with love. Armed with these developing skills and a nine-year-old’s negotiation tactics, I convinced my father and grandfather to take me hunting the next fall. We woke at four a.m. and ate a hearty breakfast. Bullet proudly clomped into the horse trailer next to the other horses, which towered over him. In the truck, I sat between my father and grandfather. I felt excited, nervous, cold and sleepy. We arrived at the trailhead well before dawn. The horses’ breath made a ghostly fog as they huffed up the trail into the Absaroka Mountains. As soon as Bullet calmed to a walk, I tucked my hands under his thick mane, warming my numb fingers. The first glimmer of morning light gave me hope we’d soon feel the sun’s warm rays. Craggy peaks, deep valleys, trees and rocks materialized from early morning shadows. Completely absorbed into the surroundings, I was hooked.
Mid-morning, we spotted an elk herd grazing along the tree line of a distant meadow. The northern wind carried our scent away from the animals, so our best approach was a large southern arc. We lowered our binoculars and steered our horses into the thick forest, concealing ourselves. We ducked and wove through thick tree branches and navigated around rock outcroppings. I weighted my stirrups and leaned against the saddle horn as we scrambled up steep scree slopes. The horses’ hooves struck magnesium rocks, creating a mineral smell in the air. Finally, we unmounted in an area we estimated was directly across the meadow from the elk. I secured the horses to trees while my father and grandfather slid their rifles from the scabbards. My heart pounded as we crept to the top of the ridge and peered down over the other side. The herd was still grazing along the edge of the meadow and showed no signs of alerting. The afternoon sun was to our backs, and the light breeze blew our scent away from the elk. Everything was silent. My father and grandfather belly crawled into position, chambered their
cartridges and whispered to each other about which elk each had targeted. The nearly simultaneous rifle cracks ripped through the air and echoed off the surrounding cliff walls. Two animals jerked, staggered and collapsed. The rest of the herd bolted and disappeared in the timber. Silence returned. I lay in the dirt and squinted through my binoculars at the two forms on the ground. Stunned, I tried to fathom the reality of the situation. We were on our way to safely obtaining our goal, which was to provide meat for the family. I shared elation with my father and grandfather, but I also mourned the two magnificent elk that lay lifeless in the grass. At that moment, I learned a deep sense of respect for the life cycle. With a broadened understanding, I walked hand in hand with my father across the meadow to field dress his
elk. Our work consumed the remaining hours of the short, fall day, and we finished packing the horses as the sky turned pink with twilight. There was no room for me in the saddle—two hindquarters now sat atop my pony. A full moon lit our way as we carefully descended to the trailhead, unloaded the meat in the truck bed, loaded the horses in the trailer and started for home. I was sound asleep when we rolled into our driveway to greet my mother and grandma—well before lunch the next day.
As an adult, I still hunt. Leaves crunch under my heavy boots now, and I feel the cold in my toes. The temperature dropped well below freezing last night. There is a heavy frost on the trail and snow in the high peaks. My rifle is slung over my right shoulder alongside my backpack of provisions for the day’s
“I shared elation with my father and grandfather, but I also mourned the two magnificent elk that lay lifeless in the grass. At that moment, I learned a deep sense of respect for the life cycle.” hunt. I carry my grandpa’s hunting knife on my belt and my father’s maps in my pocket. The familiar smells of trees and dirt waft through the air. I track an elk through dense timber, and my heart pumps with the same exhilaration it did many years ago. I am honored to be surrounded by wilderness and a healthy ecosystem, and grateful to take part in a family tradition.
Brandy’s brother, Justin, and her father, Paul, in Paradise Valley with Justin’s first deer.
Ta k i n g H i s to r i c a l M o n ta n a o n i t s Ow n T e r m s
the story of
the 25th infantry
bicycle corps B y J o s h u a P. H ow e
It is an odd sight. On the wall of Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge, a black and white photograph portrays Missoula, Montana’s 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps. Eight men, dressed in the high-waisted woolen pants and flat-brimmed hats of 19th century U.S. Infantry, pose on nearby Minerva Terrace. The year is 1896, and the men stand alongside simple, elegant steel-framed, fixed-gear bicycles, loaded with gear. They are fit and strong. And all of them are black. Why were eight black soldiers riding fully loaded bikes around Yellowstone in
1896? They were following orders. Specifically, they followed orders from Lt. James A. Moss, the ranking officer and progenitor of the U.S. Army’s first officially sanctioned experimental bicycle unit. Moss’s orders were simple: Ride to Yellowstone. Hang out. Ride back. The advent of Missoula’s Bicycle Corps and the account of its two major tours the first to Yellowstone in 1896 and the second an epic slog to St. Louis, Missouri in the summer of 1897 - have become a familiar tale in Montana’s history. When Moss arrived in Missoula in 1894, 22 years old and fresh out of West Point, he found the place a little boring. The last
major skirmish between Army troops and the Nez Perce was over a decade old. The men had little to do but drink and drill, and the young lieutenant didn’t particularly like either one. So Moss turned to something he was good at: cycling. A “wheelman” himself, Moss had read manuals on military cycling from European bicycle units and from entrepreneurial American bicycle manufacturers looking to capture the military market. In April of 1896, he petitioned the Army to allow him to form a small bicycle corps to test the bicycle as a vehicle for American military use in Montana’s rugged, mountainous terrain.
top: “Bicyclists’ group on Minerva Terrace,” Yellowstone National Park [Lt. James A. Moss’s company of the 25th Infantry, U.S. Army Bicycle Corps, from Fort Missoula, Montana ] 1896 Photo by F. Jay Haynes. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives. RIGHT: “25th Infantry Bicycle Corps before riding from Montana to St. Louis, 1897.” Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, The University of Montana
In surprisingly short order, the Army approved. Military brass had only one condition: the Army would not buy the bikes. In place of Army issued machines, Moss secured modified ‘test’ versions of the ‘Spalding Racer’ and the ‘Spalding Special’ from Chicago-based A.G. Spalding and Brothers. By the fall of 1896, the 25th was rolling— first across Southwestern Montana and later, across the Eastern Rockies and the Great Plains to America’s Gateway to the West, St. Louis. The story of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps has been well told. In 2000, George Neils Sorenson published Iron Riders: Story of the 1890s For Missoula Buffalo Soldiers, and that same year PBS released a documentary, The Bicycle: America’s Black Army on Wheels. Over the past ten years, short pieces in newspapers and journals have periodically reminded Westerners of this unique moment in Montana history. A replica of one of the Corp’s original bicycles at the Fort Missoula Historical Museum ensures that it will not soon be forgotten.
At first, the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps appears as a startling anomaly in our image of Montana’s historical landscape. Black men in military garb riding bicycles across the rugged 19th century West strike us as interesting because we imagine that they must have been so completely out of place. But the contextual dissonance that makes these characters appealing to the modern eye comes as much from a blend of present assumptions and perhaps inaccurate historical imagination as it does from the singularities of the characters themselves. As the only officially sanctioned Army bicycle unit in the U.S.—and one operating in a rugged new state—the 25th does have a unique place in history. As a Buffalo Soldier unit, its demographic makes it more remarkable still. Upon reflection however, the 25th Infantry Corps is interesting and important in the context of the late 19th century American West because it was, in fact, hardly
out of place at all. Begin with the soldiers. The histories of the individuals of the 25th Infantry Corps remain, like the histories of many Buffalo Soldiers, is obscured behind a complex shroud of prejudice, illiteracy and time. But as a group, the black soldiers stationed at Fort Missoula reflected a constellation of national problems involving race, labor and westward expansion much larger than themselves. The Civil War had highlighted the West as an outlet for a glut of labor precipitated by European immigration and American emancipation. After the conflict, Americans white and black alike headed for the Great Plains. But the Plains were hardly a friendly place. The U.S. Army was soon engaged in a series of brutal conflicts with Plains Indians that lasted more than two decades. The vastness of Western geography soon required the Army to ship more soldiers west. Faced with racially-charged complaints
about stationing black regiments near cities and towns along the Eastern seaboard in the 1860s, the Army chose black soldiers—later called Buffalo Soldiers—as a fighting force in the Indian Wars. In the Missoula of the 1890s, with no Indians to left fight and with few other job prospects, the Buffalo Soldiers of the 25th Infantry were not anomalies so much as relics. They were relics of the national struggle over slavery, of the brutal Indian wars then drawing to a close, and of the larger problems of race and labor endemic to the East and increasingly important to the rest of the country in the late 19th century. Today’s demographics notwithstanding, black soldiers were not uncommon to Montana, and certainly not to the larger mountain West. Neither was the bicycle so strange a sight on the roads of Montana in the 1890s. Moss and the U.S. Army came to cycling at the end of a decade-long boom in cy-
As a historian, however, when I read these accounts of the Bicycle Corps and their epic Montana adventures, I feel a little uneasy. I often wonder if something important has been lost in translation. The characters seem out of place, somehow aloof from historical context. And in history, context matters.
cling and bicycle design that supported more than 300 bicycle manufacturing firms and produced more than a million bikes in 1896 alone. Touted as the ‘nag of the people,’ the so-called ‘safety bicycle’ was a chain driven machine with pneumatic tires. Affordable, it made bikes accessible as transportation and recreation across the rigid lines of race, class and gender characteristic of Victorian culture. Bicycles were a physical embodiment of a new, mechanistic age defined by efficiency, independence and a spirit of reform. They were wildly popular and widely used, and for a time, bicycle track racing was America’s most cherished sport—more popular even than baseball. So, when Moss first asked volunteers from the 25th for the Yellowstone trip, he expressed little surprise that 46 of the men in Missoula fancied themselves excellent riders. If the prevalence of black soldiers and bicycles in the American West reflects the particularities of the late 19th century, so too do the specific details of the 25th’s ventures help us to understand the Bicycle Corps as a uniquely 19th century story. For example, Moss chose his routes by following the path of the railroads, which were perhaps the defining symbol of the late 19th century West. The lieutenant relied on the rails for supplies and emergency transportation, and often the group actually rode along the tracks when roads became too poor or muddy to pass. The 25th’s first major destination, Yellowstone Park, also constituted an important touchstone of American politics and Western culture. Created by an Act of Congress in 1872, the Park characterized the Federal Government’s ambivalent approach to governance of Montana’s and Wyoming’s wild spaces. The Park’s growing popularity coincided 50 Mountain
dynamic and complex, and neither the experiences we draw on from modern American life, nor the stylized vision of history we construct from faded photographs and dusty letters necessarily helps us to understand its wrinkles.
James A. Moss’s Manual of Military Cycling, sponsored by the Spalding Company.
with the decline of a frontier lifestyle woven into Montana’s social fabric. By the 1890s, Yellowstone was a major American tourist destination. As David Herlihy notes in Bicycle: The History, tourists had even begun to show up on bicycles in the Park as early as 1884. When I recall my own first encounter with the 25th Infantry Corps—the old photograph on the wall at Mammoth Hot Springs, divorced from its historical context and displayed as an anomalous artifact of Montana history—it occurs to me that the story of the 25th is an object lesson in taking history on its own terms. As both a cyclist and a historian, I find the story fascinating. Like other authors who have written about the 25th, I am drawn to it because it contrasts so sharply with my vision of the Montana of the “Old West.” But the Montana of the Old West is not a real place; it is an imagined one. Moreover, it is one we tend to imagine rather poorly, in static and limited ways. As the history of the 25th reveals, the Montana of the 19th-century West was in fact
The story of the 25th Infantry Corps reminds us that Montana of the 1890s had as many quirks and contradictions as our society does today. It was, to paraphrase the novelist J.L. Hartley, like another country; they did things differently there. As historical travelers, our subjects are not out of place; we are. To find lessons, inspiration or even simple entertainment as travelers to Montana’s past through stories like that of Missoula’s black soldiers on bikes, perhaps we can work to learn historical Montana’s customs and speak its language. Historian Joshua Howe is a Postdoctoral Fellow at MSU Bozeman.
For more information about Missoula’s Montana’s 25th of Infantry Bicycle Corps: Read George Niels Sorensen’s Iron Riders: Story of the 1890s For Missoula Buffalo Soldiers. PBS released a documentary in 2000, The Bicycle: America’s Black Army on Wheels. The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula houses a variety of materials on the 25th, including one of the original bicycles. More recently, Cody, Wyoming resident Mike Higgins, compiled newspaper clippings from the two major tours—to create a source-based trip narrative on his 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps blog. bicyclecorps.blogspot.com
helping owners of rental properties enjoy a pleasant, hassle-free and rewarding second home ownership since 1999. East West considers the relationship with our Big Sky and Moonlight Basin homeowners a partnership. Weâ€™ll work together to maintain and improve the condition of your Big Sky/ Moonlight property and its rental performance.
e a s t w e s t bi g sk y. c o m | 8 7 7 . 5 1 2 . 9 7 9Mountain 4
Lone View Ridge A slice of Montana provides comfort, inspiration, and backdoor access to Yellowstone Club, Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin
View from Custom Residence 486
elevation7500 development24.41acres open space64.76acres gross88.17acres
snowfall400+inches ski access8200acres golf course18 holes designed by Tom Weiskopf
Direct ski access to: Yellowstone Club Big Sky Resort Moolnilight Basin
“Any day you can remember is a great day. There are many days where you follow a routine, and they seem to blend with all the others. We aspire to create experiences that can break through the routine and create amazing lifetime memories. At Lone View Ridge within Yellowstone Club, we’ve been able to do that.” - Developer, Lone View Ridge
The quintessential college ski road trip: Anticipating great fun. Praying for snow. Driving all night. Heading west from Dakota on I-94, following the plumes of dedicated snowplows. Watching the Badlands fly past in the moonlight. Buddies and ski gear synonymously stuffed into a Chevy Blazer. Thirteen hours later, the goal is achieved: arrival at Montana’s winter mountain playground – daunting, challenging, and fully rewarding. For a real estate developer from North Dakota, a love,
appreciation, and lure to Montana started generations before him. Although he didn’t know it at the time, summer getaways at his grandparents’ home in Helena, college road trips in the ’70s to ski Bridger Bowl, and “betting the farm” on a PC software company in the ’80s would shape the rest of his life. And bring him back to Big Sky Country years later to invest in and develop one of the foremost ski properties in the world: Lone View Ridge, which bridges Yellowstone Club and Big Sky Resort.
The Lone View Ridge developer’s maternal grandparents moved from Fargo, North Dakota to Helena, Montana in the mid-1930s. His grandfather, who was Fargo’s first public health doctor, received an offer to work as Director of Montana Public Health. An avid fly fisherman, the prospect of a Helena-based job in the field of his passion was impossible to resist. With grandparents in Helena, as well as a beloved uncle, aunt and seven cousins in Billings, the seeds of a life in Montana were planted early. “Family has always been very important,” he says. “The family vacations in Montana while growing up are full of amazing memories. As teenagers, we – my siblings and cousins – created many wonderful outdoor adventures, such as our own selfguided, white-water raft trips on the Yellowstone and Stillwater Rivers, backpacking in the Beartooths, or climbing on the Rimrocks above Billings.” Through his college years at North Dakota State University and in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, continued ski trips to Montana grew his appreciation for the state, its dynamic landscape, and its abundant outdoor pursuits. “My first taste of Big Sky was in the mid-70s, right when things were
just getting going. The first time I saw Lone Peak I was amazed – it’s such an incredible mountain. I dreamed of skiing off the top of it someday. Of course now, with Big Sky Tram access to the very top of Lone Peak, getting to the top of the mountain is no longer a dream. Big Sky quickly became an annual ski vacation spot.” After grad school and stints of traveling and working as a consultant in Chicago, the young businessman returned to North Dakota, and an old adage came to fruition. At a mere 26 years old, he mortgaged farmland he’d inherited from his father to create the seed capital for a PC software startup company – literally “betting the farm”. After 14 years of amazing teamwork and partnerships, the startup became a public company and was later acquired for $1.1 billion by a Fortune 500 company.
30 Years to Find “The Perfect Spot”
With three children now in the picture, a successful startup-to-public company, and a fulfilling executive leadership role, this North Dakotan continued to hold a keen attraction to Montana. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a breadth of skiing experience from my travels. I can honestly say that nothing compares to the Yellowstone
Yellowstone Club, Uniquely Big Sky
Club-Big Sky-Moonlight Basin interconnected ski opportunities. The quality is superior to any other place in North America: the powder, mountains, terrain and vistas. No matter where I go, it always draws me back. There is something for everyone. My kids learned to ski here, and there is always another challenge regardless of how advanced the skier.” The developer and his significant other, a fellow North Dakotan who also began her love of skiing at Big Sky, first began considering buying property in Montana after renting properties around the Big Sky and Moonlight Basin areas. They enjoy hosting groups of family and friends from across the U.S. to spend time skiing and being outdoors together. The kids grew to love the beauty and energy of the area.
“The most beautiful, pristine saddle with amazing views – looking right at Lone Peak.”
Skiing YC’s Private Powder™
Custom Residence 486
Locati Architects design, SBC Construction built
“For 30 years I dreamt about the perfect ski property but never purchased anything. And then I found Lone View Ridge. It was a natural fit.”
From Doorstep to Summit
complete with its own pre-built, YCoperated, private chairlift directly on the lot. One can leave Lot 480 at 8:45 a.m. and be the first in line for the 9:00 a.m. Swift Current chairlift at Big Sky Resort’s base area. Or, from the top of Lone Peak, one can ski directly down to Yellowstone Club’s private trails and Lone View Ridge – more than 3,500 vertical feet of skiing in one shot.
Lone View Ridge
He first skied onto Lone View Ridge before the access roads were even completed. “It was just the most beautiful, pristine saddle with amazing views – looking right at Lone Peak. The ski runs were ideal – one side led directly to Yellowstone Club, the other led directly to Big Sky.” Encompassing just under 90 acres, Lone View Ridge is located within Yellowstone Club, yet directly interconnects with Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin – providing direct access to more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain – the largest in the U.S. By working with Landscape Architect Mike Allmendinger, founder of Land Elements, and Steve Locati of Locati Architects, a design was created that reduces density, preserves view planes, and maximizes ski access. A total of 12 lots were re-plotted to nine thoughtfully crafted single-family home sites. Working with the team at Yellowstone Club, they maintained preservation of a full 65 acres of open space to ensure the unique home site views will be preserved forever. The vision for Lone View Ridge as its own neighborhood had emerged.
Today, the nine properties within Lone View Ridge range from 1.7 to 4.8 acres – a total lot area of just more than 23 acres. The 65 acres of open space remains a tranquil setting of wilderness, wildlife and end-of-the-road privacy. The views from these lots encompass five separate inspiring mountain vistas: Lone Mountain, Pioneer, Cedar, Sphinx and the Spanish Peaks. “The sheer ease of moving around multiple 10,000+ foot mountains so quickly from the Lone View Ridge community makes for unforgettable days. After a day of skiing, fly fishing, golfing or hiking with family and friends, there is nothing quite like relaxing on your deck near the warmth, crackle and smell of an outdoor fireplace while watching the alpenglow of a sunset on the peaks.” The first custom residence built for resale within Lone View Ridge was completed in 2010. This Locati Architects-designed, SBC Construction-built home is a refined 11,000+ square foot residence – constructed of historic reclaimed Montana timber and materials – situated near the top of the development. Every element of the home is specifically tailored to maximize functionality and enjoyment for active families and capture exceptional views of the Montana landscape. Another unique property in the Lone View Ridge community is Lot 480,
All the land within Lone View Ridge, including where Lot 480 sits, was only in recent years added to Yellowstone Club as part of the YC expansion. Situated on land formerly held by Big Sky, this saddle of land is truly oneof-a-kind and offers the best of both worlds: public and private amenities. “When I look back, everything that was important growing up is representative in what we’ve established at Lone View Ridge. It’s more than a property; it’s an experience –a small community with families at the center, who love to spend time together, making wonderful memories, enjoying the outdoors in any season, and appreciating the rustic, natural beauty of Montana.” --To view videos and learn more about Lone View Ridge properties, visit LoneViewRidge.com or YellowstoneClub.com. For direct questions or sales inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org This article was written by Megan Paulson, courtesy Lone View Ridge. Mountain
A RESILIENT t o w n b u i l t o n m i g r at o ry c y c l e s By Brandy Ladd
PHOTO COURTESY OF YELLOWSTONE HISTORIC CENTER
In the early 19th century, hunters and trappers followed animal herds along the Madison River up to the Yellowstone Plateau. By the 1860s, rumors of the area’s natural splendor that trickled back East enticed a handful of adventurous souls to visit the area that would become Yellowstone Park. These early tourists arrived in via jolting stagecoach rides on primitive trails. Their need for accommodations prompted the first development in what eventually became the town of West Yellowstone. As the number of people passing through the area increased, an industry grew around them. In 1908, the Union Pacific Railroad laid track from Ashton, Idaho, and although trains rumbled
photo courtesy of Yellowstone historic center
through only in summer, a year-round community grew. By the early 1900s, private entrepreneurs had opened hotels, lodges, dining facilities, dance and pool halls, a blacksmith shop and a veterinarian clinic. During prohibition, bootlegging and gambling became a part of the town’s economy. Paul Shea, former director of the Yellowstone Historic Center and West Yellowstone historian for 16 years, says, “There was a strong presence of Las Vegas people in the early days. They probably came to West Yellowstone during the summer before the advent of air conditioning.” Shills and cardsharps frequented gambling establishments, and one old timer commented, “There wasn’t a straight game in town.” In reverse, some West Yellowstone business owners escaped the freezing snows of winter to the sunny Nevada desert. Because West Yellowstone was built on National Forest Service land, government officials knew of the gaming activities. Some were concerned that unsavory
businesses would flourish if West separated from government lands. In 1919 however, after urging from community members, the Forest Service removed its control of the town’s 49 blocks. Residential numbers grew steadily, and school, churches and community centers were established. In 1966, West Yellowstone became an incorporated town. Today, like most gateway communities, West Yellowstone relies on tourism as its main source of income. Jan Stoddard, chamber of commerce marketing director, says, “Part of our success lies in an ability to put on events with minimal funds and a small group of dedicated volunteers. We are also fortunate to have strong partners in Yellowstone Park and the U.S. Forest Service.” Indeed, activity in Yellowstone Park directly affects the town. In 1996, when the federal government furloughed 800,000 employees, visitor numbers dropped drastically, devastating the local economy. More recently, when visitation increased during the recession, West Yellowstone benefited. In the past several years, the Park’s snowmobile access
photos courtesy of West Yellowstone Chamber OF COMMERCE
In 2010, on an average summer day, 15,000 visitors came through West— significant traffic for a community of 1,177. A 3% resort tax helps fund town parks, trails, roads, sewers, water, law enforcement, fire protection and maintenance of historic buildings. The town has also partnered with the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, Junior Smoke Jumper and
Ranger programs, and West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation to provide youth education programs. Clint Fowler, general manager of Three Bear Lodge, credits the tax for establishing West Yellowstone as a ‘real town’. He says the tax funds go toward creating “a more attractive town, [which causes] more people to visit.” The Yellowstone Historic Center and the town maintain a historic district. Built in the late 1800s by Union Pacific Railroad, it is the largest and most intact historic railroad complex of any gateway town built to serve national park visitors. Museum curator and manager Jennifer Cantu loves
seeing “the awe-struck faces of visitors as they marvel at the details of the historic structures.” As the busiest entrance to Yellowstone Park, West Yellowstone is entrenched in the migratory cycles of modern day tourism. Visitor numbers fluctuate with the seasons. Businesses work with the town’s marketing campaigns to provide a diverse range of year-round activities. The community is proud to share this continual cycle.
restrictions and changing rules have confused part of the winter tourism market.
A selection of
by Brandy Ladd photos by John layshock
BEAVERHEAD-DEERLODGE NATIONAL FOREST
Georgetown Lake Range: Pintler Mountains Contact: Pintler Ranger District (406) 859-3211 Club: Anaconda Snowmobile Club Features: Easy route around lake, great for families Distance: 56 miles, 52 miles are groomed Elevations: 6,400 - 9,000 feet
Wise River-Elkhorn Hot Springs (Pioneer Mtn Scenic Byway) Range: Pioneer Mountains Contact: Dillon Ranger District (406) 683-3900 Wise River Ranger District (406)832-3178 Club: Beaverhead Sno-Riders Features: Tour route between Wise River and Grasshopper Valley Distance: 23 miles of groomed trails Elevation: 5,100-7,800 feet Stewart Meadows Complex Range: Pioneer Mountains Contact: Wisdom Ranger District (406) 689-3243 Club: Big Hole Snowmobile Club Features: Winding trails through forest and meadows Distance: 39 miles groomed Elevations: 6,058-7,500 feet North Meadow Creek Range: Tobacco Root Mountains Contact: Madison Ranger District (406) 682-4253 Club: Vigilante Snowmobilers Features: Access to alpine lakes and mountain couloirs Distance: 12 miles groomed Elevations: 5,822-8,000 feet
Montana Snowmobile Association: m-s-a.org
GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST Shields Loop Range: Crazy Mountains Contact: Livingston Ranger District (406) 222-1892 Club: Big Sky Snowriders Features: Varied terrain occasionally groomed Distance: 6-20 miles Elevations: 4,489 - 7,800 feet Brackett-Fairy Lake and Olsen Creek- Bangtail Ridge Trails Range: Bridger Mountains Contact: Bozeman Ranger District (406) 522-2520 Club: Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association Features: Varying terrain, access to mountain couloirs Distance: 10-30 miles Elevations: 4,755-9,500 feet Daisy Pass and Lulu Pass Road Range: Beartooth Mountains Contact: Gardiner Ranger District (406) 848-7375 Club: Upper Yellowstone Snowmobile Club Features: Trails leading to vast valleys and ridges Distance: 60 miles Elevations: 7,600-10,000 feet
Boulder Canyon Range: Absaroka/Beartooth Mountains Contact: Big Timber Ranger District (406) 932-5155 Club: Sweet Grass County Recreation Association Features: Intermediate ride to Independence ghost town Distance: 35 mile round trip Elevations: 4,072-9,000 feet
Lionhead Mountain Range: Madison Mountains Contact: Hebgen Lake Ranger District (406) 823-6961 Club: West Yellowstone Grooming Committee Features: Steep climb to the summit, provides views of Yellowstone and Teton National Parks Distance: 16 miles of groomed trail Elevations: 6,666-10,000 feet
Rider Justin Miller, Thin Air Productions
The speed limit on all groomed Forest Service trails is 45 MPH. Snowmobilers must stay on designated trails while traveling through the restricted area. All litter must be packed out. The trails have two-way traffic, so riders must be aware of oncoming traffic and keep to the right. No drinking and driving is permitted. Riders must also be aware that
moose, elk, and bison may be on the trails. All snowmobiles must be registered. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks operates Montanaâ€™s Snowmobile Safety Education Program and regulations: (406) 444-7317 or fwp.mt.gov
Everything is Better with Butter
Homemade Pies from Bugaboo CafĂŠ By Abbie Digel
“Growing up in south Texas, I learned how to make pecan pie when I was six years old,” says Paul. Pecan is only one of many varieties of pie the Camerons make on request, or serve hot and fresh in their restaurant, Bugaboo Café. This holiday season, as owners and head chefs at the Bugaboo, Paul and Kim will be buried in homemade dough, rolling out pies to please customers. They pride themselves on the fruit, cream and nut based pies they bake in the kitchen of the restaurant they’ve owned and run for the past seven years. “We follow the recipes, but then build off of them,” says Kim. “I think this one will be better with a little more brown sugar here, or a little more white sugar there. They’re really very basic.” Kim can’t decide which pie is her favorite. “You can’t beat apple, or the chocolate coffee crunch,” she says. “That’s a pretty tasty one. It’s smooth and creamy, with the layer of baked crunchy coffee cookie. But the black bottom banana with its baked crust, chocolate ganache, fresh sliced bananas, pudding... ” “It’s also tossed with a whole bunch of whipped cream, and the crust is
butter,” adds Paul. His eyes twinkle. “Everything is better with butter.”
When Paul and Kim Cameron make pecan pie, a line forms at their door.
Bugaboo serves up hearty breakfast and lunch entrees to hungry skiers and locals. In summer, the café is a hot spot for tourists driving to Yellowstone Park. They’ve recently closed their dinner hours to focus on perfecting the morning menu. The Camerons started baking and selling pies in September, and the pies “just flew out of here,” Kim says. “Nobody else in Big Sky makes pies,” says Paul. “There was a niche that needed to be filled. It’s fun, and we both really enjoy doing it.”
draws you in, but the entire atmosphere, from the hardwood floors to the friendly staff behind the counter.
At Bugaboo, it’s not uncommon for customers to order a slice of peach pie, or an apple turnover, made from the same recipe, with a generous scoop of ice cream. “It’s more acceptable for breakfast than cake, and fruit pie is really not that bad for you,” Kim says. “The fruit provides natural sugars.”
“Customers appreciate when we remember specific things about their orders,” says Kim. “It’s part of my job to remember these things.” Abbie Digel is assistant editor of Mountain Outlaw magazine and the Big Sky Weekly.
Bugaboo is the kind of place you’ll come back to. Its not just the food that
cake breakfast than
Bugaboo Café // 47995 Gallatin Road, 100 yards north of the Big Sky turn off in the Bighorn // (406) 995-3350 // Call 24 hours in advance to order a homemade pie.
music Brandon Hale of the Dirty Shame
The Dirty Shameâ€™s
The man with the deep voice speaks out about country music and hot sauce. By Emily Stifler Photos by matt arkins
Brandon Hale, the voice of the Dirty Shame, has become a regular figure at Southwest Montana bars and events. Hale sings uncanny versions of Willie and Waylon, and also writes and performs his own songs. The Seattle native has roots in small Montana towns from Nashua to the Yaak. Tom Day, the band’s steel pedal guitarist, describes Hale as “a combination of an ideas man and an action man.” As a band, the Dirty Shame has been together in some iteration for over four years, and recently produced their first album. Hale wrote most of the songs on the self-titled cd, and his lyrics describe characters from a hard-living western life. In the thread of classic country, his bar-goers and modern highwaymen accept hardships with a mix of party, mourning and a touch of sweetness. In “Lonesome Highway,” Hale sings: Got this aching in my heart, got to get the hell out of here I don’t recognize the face staring back at me in the rear view mirror Nobody said it would be easy, nobody said it’d easy to be free I guess it’s just time to pick up the pieces, pick up the pieces of me Hey there bartender I’ll have one more beer and I’ll be on my way Before I take my first steps on this Lonesome Highway And you can’t find the will to continue, just take another look deep down inside Everything you hold dear, everything you bought and sold is gone Don’t worry brother this highway goes on and on and on and on 64 Mountain
Hey there momma, everything is gonna be ok I’ve found my path, it’s this Lonesome Highway
Q&A Where does the name ‘The Dirty Shame’ come from? My grandpa had a bar in Yaak, Montana called the Hellroaring Saloon. It’s on a stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere, right on a river with just mountains and forest. When I was kid, I spent summers there, and I learned the Willie and Waylon off his jukebox. I wanted to name the band after something from the Yaak, and there’s a bar up there called The Dirty Shame. It was my grandpa’s regular joint to go drink. When did you start playing music? When I was 14, I picked up the guitar and some songbooks and taught myself some chords. I was in Alaska working in my dad’s restaurant that summer. I was really into Neil Young. Do you ever sing duets?
Our next single release will be a duet. It’s a song I wrote, Lonesome Me Lonesome You. We recorded it with a gal from Nashville. Once in a while, if a girl wants to come up and sing with me at a bar, sure, we’ll usually do Jackson. How do you make your voice sound exactly like Waylon and Willie? I listened to Willie Nelson and Family live on the eight-track player in my mom’s old Volare. It was my favorite album when I was like 16, so I just tried to sing like him. I taught myself vibrato by imitating Willie.
Coe’s gear didn’t show up, so he called us back on stage and we played his whole slot. His semi finally came, and he played for a half hour. That jumpstarted us in the music scene. People saw that show and started booking us. What makes a show fun for you? The crowd’s energy, 100 percent. If they’re giving the energy, we give the energy back. Tell me about your special hot sauce. What’s it called?
What do you like most about country music? I like the simplicity and the rawness of country. I’m not a huge fan of new country. The stuff from the 60s through the 80s—Willie, Waylon, Johnny Cash, Coe, Hank Jr.—that’s my style. It’s mean and gritty and real. What other styles of music do you like? I like harder music. Being from Seattle, and being a teenager in the early 90s, I was a big fan of grunge – Pearl Jam, Soundgarden. I really like Chris Cornell’s other band Audio Slave, and I like Metallica and Black Sabbath. What’s your favorite show you’ve played? When we were first starting, we opened for David Allen Coe in Great Falls. I used to get really nervous on stage, and we played for 3 or 4,000 people, as the second of three opening bands. When we finished our set, we started drinking. Then David Allen
Brando’s Buffalo Sauce. I love Buffalo wings, but when I moved here, no place had good wings or a fresh tasting sauce. It took me years to devise this one, and now I’m making it for the Murray in Livingston. I go there on Mondays and have beers with people, rep the sauce and sometimes play music. You just produced your first cd. Tell me about that. We’re a live band, but usually when you record, you’re in a booth by yourself listening to what the other guys did. We checked out some recording studios, but nothing seemed right. Then we met Doc Wiley, a Grammywinning engineer who worked for Island Records before moving to Montana. We recorded our album live in Doc’s studio on Peach Street. The last track on the cd, “Into the Darkness,” is about my grandfather. I wrote it three days before we recorded the album, and none of the other band members had heard it. I started playing it, they joined in, and that’s the take on the cd. It wasn’t perfect, but it had emotion. That was awesome.
The Dirty Shame is available on thedirtyshame.com Mountain
hips: the knees best friend by John Boersma, MPT, OCS, FAFS As a physical therapist in a ski town, I am often asked two questions: What are the best exercises to prepare for ski season? What can be done to help prevent knee injuries? While the quad and hamstring muscles play a big role in performance on the hill, especially on what happens at the knee, our current training style tends to focus only on those muscles and often misses the mark for maximizing performance and minimizing injury. For optimal ski training we need to shift focus from the knee and take a closer look at the hip. During skiing, it can be more difficult to see exactly how the hip moves versus the more obvious motion at the knee and ankle. Also, many muscles around the hip joint are not well understood, and skiers usually experience less pain in the hips than they do in the knee or ankle. As a result, the hips tend to take a back seat in training. However, the hips may play the most important role in onsnow performance and knee injury prevention. Many people complain they turn better one way than the other while skiing, or they report their instructors hound them to stand tall and
keep their shoulders facing down the fall line when turning. I see clients who have been working on these issues for years without improvement. I believe this is because many skiers have limitations in hip range of motion or weakness of the hip stabilization musculature. Like the engine of a car, the hip is the power source of the body. When working correctly, it can be your best friend. Because the hip is such a big and powerful joint, dysfunction there can dramatically limit performance, cause pain or injury, and manifest in weaker areas of the body. The bony part of the hip is made up of a deep socket in the pelvis (the acetabulum) and a big ball known as the femoral head. 17 different muscles surround the joint and there are also several facial attachments (thick connective tissue) between the hip and the spine. Because the hip is a ball and socket joint, it is triaxial, meaning it is designed to move in all three planes of motion: sagittal (forward/backward), frontal(side to side) and transverse (rotational). The way we live and work has changed dramatically over the past several hundred years. Instead of hunting and gathering, many people are now fairly sedentary. With this lifestyle, movement in the sagittal (forward/backward) plane dominates, and normal motion and strength in the other two planes is lost. Over time, the hips tighten, limiting motion and creating weakness. With the dynamic nature of skiing, especially in the frontal (side to side) and transverse (rotational) planes, limited motion or weakness
in the hip can be devastating. Throw in sliding down a hill in an unstable environment, and it’s obvious why having good motion and strength in the hips is so important. When the hips are tight, it decreases turning efficiency; if limited enough, this can even pull the upper body out of position. Tightness in the hips also forces stress into other parts of the body not designed for it: the knees, the low back, the neck or the shoulders. This increased stress, in connection with the rigidity of ski gear, can cause knee injuries. In true function, and specifically skiing function, the hips work as much to control motion as they do to create it. Because of that, it’s important to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the hip as it moves through its range of motion. Gary Gray, renowned physical therapist and president of the Gray Institute, refers to this as having “mostability” in a joint— controlled strength throughout the entire available range of motion in a specific joint. Children tend to have more “mostability” due to their increased activity in all three planes of motion compared to most adults. That’s why kids tend to have fewer injuries while skiing than adults. However, even kids are becoming less active and more susceptible to injury. Creating “mostability” in the hip joint can be a complicated process influenced by an individual’s anatomy and lifestyle. Each of our bodies function differently, and we all live different lives. Both of these things affect our ability to move through our hips.
The following exercises are targeted toward helping skiers improve hip range of motion, while at the same time building strength. If you find after performing these exercises for several weeks you are still having trouble with your hip joints, see a qualified physical therapist or personal trainer for help advancing your program and addressing lingering issues.
Squat with rotations Stand with your feet hip width apart. Squat until your hips are level with your knees and reach out in front of your body with your arms at chest height. Bend at your hip joints and not in your spine. Your back should remain flat and your knees should be directly over your feet—not way out in front of your toes. From this position, turn your hips and trunk, first one direction and then the other. Return to the starting position. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 -15 repetitions.
Around the clock lunges Imagine you are standing in the center of a clock. Keep your left toes facing forward and step out and lunge with the right leg. First, lunge to the 12:00 position with your right toes pointing at the 12. Return to the center. Next, lunge out at the 2:00 position with your right toes pointing at the 2. Return to the center. Finish with lunging toward the 4:00 position with your right toes pointed at the 4, and return. Now, position your right foot in the center of the clock, toes pointing forward and then lunge toward the 12:00, 10:00 and 8:00 positions with your left leg. Perform 2-3 rounds of 10 on each leg.
Single leg balance with opposite leg sweep Balance on your right leg. Reach out with your left leg as far as you are able and lightly touch your toes to the floor. Sweep your left leg in front and behind your body in a circle while maintaining your balance on the right leg. Use ski poles for assistance if you are having difficulty maintaining your balance. Repeat 10 times, switch legs and repeat. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
Grapevine squats Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Cross your left foot in front of the right as far as you are able, place it on the ground, and squat as low as possible. Reach out in front of your chest with both arms as you squat. Stand up and uncross your legs. Now cross your left leg behind the right as far as you can, set your foot down and squat as low as you can. Repeat this sequence for 10 repetitions, then switch legs and now cross your right leg in front and behind the left. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions
Line hops (forward/back, side to side, rotational) Find a line on the floor (a seam between floor boards, line in the carpet pattern, etc). Start by jumping with both legs, and progress to one leg after a few weeks. First, jump over the line
forward and then backward. Next, jump over the line moving side to side. Finally, jump sideways over the line, but rotate your lower body to the left as you jump left and to the right as you jump right. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 jumps in each direction. Established in 2001, Lone Peak Physical Therapy has offices in Big Sky, Belgrade, Four Corners and West Yellowstone. Specializing in sports and orthopedics, LPPT uses an integrated approach; treating the entire body and focusing on the underlying cause of an individual’s problem instead of chasing symptoms. Lone Peak PT’s therapists also work with competitive and recreational athletes on performance enhancement and training. lonepeakpt.com
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Local Gear Review By Brian Hurlbut
This winter, local Montana companies have ramped up some of the latest and greatest gear. These three products—a sleeping pad, a splitboard binding and a ski pack—will make your winter more fun and keep the dollars right here at home.
Peak Oyl Elite Sleeping Pad If you still have that old Thermarest that’s flat when you wake up, it may be time to invest in a new sleeping pad from Pacific Outdoor Equipment. The employee-owned company, which started as a spin-off from Dana Design in 1999, also makes burly bike panniers, messenger bags, stuff sacks, duffel bags and camp chairs. Its ultra-cool sleeping pads are what really stand out. They’re comfortable, environmentally friendly and designed in Bozeman. If you spend any time camping in cold or winter weather, check out the fourseason Peak Oyl Elite, touted as the warmest self-inflating pad on the planet. User-friendly features for the 2011 version include insulated bermed side rails for stability and comfort, a 50 Denier
Ripstop fabric with a sticky graphic on the top to reduce slippage, and a DWR finish to keep the moisture out. Zeroloft Aerogel insulation which performs 2-3 times better than down or polyester for warmth. All this, at just over 26 ounces. Other pads in the series include the Peak Oyl Mtn, a superlight four-season pad that rolls up small, and the Peak Oyl Lite, designed more for three-season use. Women’s versions, called the Petite, are available for all styles, and include added hip support and more insulation in the foot area of the pad. Finally, all of the eco-friendly pads in this series feature a durable fabric made with recycled plastic bottles and recycled aluminum valves that are light and easy to replace. pacoutdodor.com
Blaze Splitboard Binding For snowboarders who want get deep in the backcountry, touring with a splitboard is mandatory. Bozemanbased Spark R&D has been the leader in splitboard specific bindings for a few years now, and this year they’ve stepped it up with the introduction of the Blaze binding. Weighing in at ~3.5 pounds per pair (yes, you read that right), the Blaze follows in the footsteps of last year’s Fuse binding, but with several updates that make it a must for backcountry boarders.
With a slimmed down baseplate machined from a solid piece of aluminum, the Blaze has 30 percent less material than the Fuse. The new baseplate is also built with more avenues for snow to escape, helping a rider avoid snow and ice buildup. The highbacks, now completely designed in-house, have several innovative features: a wider range of forward lean allows for unlimited possibilities for ascending and descending; vertical slots hold booster straps for a stiffer climbing setup, and a large hole in
the back lets the rider easily grab the board when perched on a harrowing drop-in. The Blaze also operates more smoothly than previous models, thanks in part to a slightly redesigned pin system. The pin is attached with a stainless steel cord instead of fabric, and the binding straps feature a webbing border to reduce wear and tear—more evidence of the attention to detail that makes these bindings especially bomber. sparkrandd.com
Mystery Ranch Fuze Backpack Design guru Dana Gleason and his team have been creating killer backpacks in Bozeman since the early Dana Design days of the 1980s. The latest packs from Gleason’s Mystery Ranch are among the best in the industry—intuitive designs with user-friendly features, bomber materials and a unique look. And best of all, you might just see the dude who put the thing together in the lift line at Bridger on a powder day. The Fuze is the most versatile of Mystery Ranch’s skiing and snowboarding packs, thanks to a healthy 1,500 cubic-inch capacity and a frame system that maintains comfort even with heavier loads. Slightly larger than the popular Saddle Peak pack, the Fuze handles inbounds terrain and backcountry tours with ease. When riding the lifts and not carrying as much gear, the Fuze compresses down to a manageable size. When you need the extra room, the pack expands to stash gear for your Beehive tour or trek into the Northern Bridgers. One of the pack’s best features is the separate compartment for shovel, probe and snow saw.
While this is not a new feature, the particular design on the Fuze (and the Saddle Peak and the smaller Nya Nuki, too) is clever: it’s on the outside of the pack and totally secure with incredibly fast access. Separate sleeves hold the tools, and a heavy duty weatherproof zipper keeps everything dry. The Fuze has straps for diagonal ski carry or a vertical snowboard carry. The ‘Futura Yoke’ frame system is adjustable to individual torso lengths, guaranteeing a perfect and comfortable fit. Other key features include small stash packets on each waist belt, an internal zippered pocket for goggles or smaller items, and a sleeve to secure a hydration reservoir. Mystery Ranch is also working to become an innovator in avalanche safety gear: a new backpack, on the market winter 2011/12, will integrate a fast-deploying airbag for flotation during an avalanche. A release mechanism located on the shoulder pad system sets off a compressed air cylinder in the top compartment of the pack, filling the airbag. The pack boasts many of the same features found in the Fuze, and the airbag can be deployed even when loaded with skis or a snowboard. If you’re looking to buy just one pack for your winter needs that doubles as a long summer day hiker, the Fuze is it. If you want a strictly inbounds or slack-country pack, try the Saddle Peak pack. For snowboarders and those with shorter torsos, go for the Nya Nuki—although you’ll give up quite a bit of volume. mysteryranch.com
Brian Hurlbut is the author of the Insider’s Guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (Globe-Pequot Press). His writing has appeared in the Oregonian, Montana Quarterly, Luxury Living, Big Sky Journal, Western Art and Architecture, and more. He lives in Big Sky, Montana.
b u t c h C a s s i d y Th e o u t l aw e v e ry o n e loved by hunter rothwell
“I steal their money just to hear them holler” -butch cassidy As the old 1886 story goes, a cowboy lent Butch Cassidy $25 to help him get to Butte, Montana. A year later the cowboy received $100 by mail. A note accompanying the money read: “If you don’t know how I got this, you will learn someday.” Twenty years earlier, the man we know as Butch Cassidy was born Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah. Son of a poor Morman couple and the eldest of 13 children, he was still in his early teens when he set out on his own. While working as a cowhand, he met a shady rancher named Mike Cassidy who taught the young man a variety of cowboy skills, including small-time rustling. A few years later, he took the name George Cassidy as an alias; a stint as a butcher in Rock Springs, Wyoming gave him the nickname Butch. When he was 16, Butch let himself into a closed shop, and took a pair of jeans and some pie. After a long journey, he’d found the shop closed, so Butch left an IOU promising to pay on his next visit. He was arrested and although acquitted after a jury trial, the experience left young Butch with little respect for authority. This experience taught him the law protected the interests of the rich, consequently prosecuting common folk. In 1894, a rustling job landed Cassidy an 18-month vacation at the Wyoming state prison in Laramie. After doing his time, he and Harry Longabaugh, aka ‘The Sundance Kid’, formed a gang called the Wild Bunch. The gang lived in hideouts up and down the Outlaw Trail that stretched between Canada and Mexico. Target-
ing the impersonal rich, Cassidy led them to rob trains, banks and cattle barons. “I steal their money just to hear them holler,” he wrote. “Then I pass it out among those that need it (sic).” Because he was so generous in sharing his loot with widows, children, and friends, the public adored him. This ‘Robin Hood of the West’ never committed murder, not once. The Wild Bunch pulled off some of the greatest heists of the Old West. In July 1901, they held up a Union Pacific train near Wagner, Montana and stole $60,000. After that, the law nearly caught Cassidy. The Wild Bunch disbanded, and he took off for Argentina. Cassidy’s death is a mystery. In a 1908 shootout in an Argentinean mine, two men, both fatally wounded, were identified as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. However, many respected historians believe Cassidy faked his death, returned to the United States under the name William Phillips, and died in Spokane, Washington in 1937. In American folklore, Butch Cassidy lives on as a hero of western adventure who embodied the spirit of a legendary wild land. D. Hunter Rothwell was born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia. A retired stockbroker, he moved to Big Sky in May 2010.
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Published on Jan 3, 2011
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