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Skiing Alaska

photo by Paul O’Connor

escape: bali montana hot springs guide



brian schweitzer

speaks out


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Mountain Outlaw is published by

Mountain Winter 2013

PUBLISHER Eric Ladd Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year - 2011 3 TELLY Awards - 2012 15 Montana Newspaper Association Awards - 2011 & 2012 Ski Area Management Magazine “Best of Marketing” Recognition - 2011 Maggie Award Nomination - 2012

outside magazine 100 best places to work - 2012

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 media@theoutlawpartners.com. Join the ranks – submissions welcome The Mountain Outlaw editorial team wants you to know we accept well-written articles or photos for consideration in our magazine. Submissions should match the Yellowstone region style and Mountain Outlaw brand, and are accepted throughout the year for our summer and winter editions. Email submissions to media@theoutlawpartners.com or visit explorebigsky.com. OUTLAW PARTNERS, MOUNTAIN OUTLAW & THE BIG SKY WEEKLY (406) 995-2055 PO Box 160250 11 Lone Peak Drive #104 Big Sky, MT 59716 explorebigsky.com media@theoutlawpartners.com Copyright © 2013 Outlaw Partners, LLC Unauthorized reproduction prohibited Randy Evans sledding into the golden light at sunset in Cooke City, Montana. Photo by Patrick Orton




creative CREATIVE DIRECTOR Mike Martins

editorial Managing Editor Emily Stifler

Graphic Designer Kelsey Dzintars

editor Joseph T. O’Connor

Video Director Brian Niles

Staff writer/ distribution director Tyler Allen

Web Developer Sean Weas Videographer/ Photographer Chris Davis

Sales and Operations Chief operating officer Megan Paulson Operations Director Katie Morrison

Design Intern Taylor-Ann Smith Contributing Writers Bradley Bermont, Renae Counter, Victor DeLeo, Ryan Dorn, Felicia Ennis, Marcie Hahn-Knoff, Mike Mannelin, Erik Meridian, Forrest McCarthy, Corrie Francis Parks, Max Lowe Forrest McCarthy Contributing Photographers Tyler Busby, Jake Campos, Mike Coil, Nick Diamond , Lynne Donaldson, Beau Fredlund, Royce Gorsuch, Audrey Hall, Ken W. Hall, Kirsten Jacobsen, Matty McCain, Greg Mather, Gill Montgomery, Paul O’Connor, Patrick Orton, Kene Sperry, Paul Swenson, Ryan Turner, Mark Weber


25,000 copies published twice a year and distributed strategically around the Yellowstone region and the northern Rockies including 500+ locations throughout (MT) Big Sky, Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Livingston, Butte; (WY) Jackson Hole, Cody; (ID) Driggs, Victor, Pocatello, Ketchum; (OR) Bend; (Canada) British Columbia; and subscriptions mailed to 39 states.

For advertising or subscription inquiries, email media@theoutlawpartners.com explorebigsky


A cabin along the banks of the Madison River in Ennis Photo by Ken w. HAll bearfeather.com

On the cover: Architect Michael Reynolds stands next to a new building at Greater World Earthship community in Taos, New Mexico. Photographer Paul O’Connor used a 4x5 Toyo View camera and burned up five sheets of Type 54 Poloroid film to get this image. Read more about Reynolds and Earthships on p. 120.


34 Now: Profile of Brian Schweitzer Montana’s governor and his plan to change the world

44 Q+A: Sniper in the vines A winemaker in the vineyards of Afghanistan

59 region: man and beast How a grizzly attack in Big Sky reflects the health of a species

68 a legacy of conservation Saving the last pristine habitat of the Yellowstone Lake cutthroat

75 eight degrees south of the equator Finding paradise in Bali

84 gallery: Gary Lynn roberts

Montana artist finds inspiration in God and family

stories 10 Trailhead How many gallons of coffee does it take to run an avalanche forecast center? Plus: parties, an extreme ski comp, backcountry digs and a new Big Sky history book. 15 health Cutting edge medical research on Everest 17 community Blackfeet Community College: a symbol of hope 20 Outbound Gallery Stunning images from regional photographers 30 tales Helicopter skiing in Alaska 40 culture Between LA and Big Sky 52 explore Art and words from Alaska’s Chilkoot Trail

102 Adventure: the long, clean line

80 science Bozeman’s Microbion Corporation; Yellowstone Club Community Foundation partners with University of Montana 91 dining Rustic elegance at Rainbow Ranch; Dutch oven cooking with Jay Bentley’s Open Range 96 profile The art and passion of ski instruction 100 Guide Southwest Montana’s hot springs 106 history Big Sky Resort, 40 years later 110 gear Guide Ski and snowboard gear; pants party; and the outdoor athlete’s guide to office survival 118 Road trip Montana’s Sweet 16 120 Outlaw Earthships architect Michael Reynolds

Traversing the Gallatin Crest on skis




from the publisher

Be open to possibilities The mountains, oceans and rivers have amazing advice. Slow down. Breathe. Listen. Be present. In nature, I find the purest venue to connect the dots between life and business. On a recent backpacking journey through the Gallatin Mountains, it dawned on me: 3 miles an hour! This is the speed at which our species is meant to operate; more in tune with our surroundings and ourselves. Test this theory: Go for a walk, go float a river, go sit on a hillside and read a book or magazine.

it’s because our team stayed open to the possibility that perhaps print isn’t dead. It isn’t. For me, seeing Mountain Outlaw, a print publication, succeed in our virtual society is beyond rewarding. As we add another eight pages to accommodate growth, making it one of the largest in this region of the country, I’m proud. Supported by amazing advertisers, staff and 400,000-plus readers, this magazine is defying gravity.

As our society winds up and operates at a faster, more plugged-in pace, staying open to life becomes a challenge. We are becoming a culture that seeks daily affirmation from social media, versus living the mantra.

This issue features stories of people who have stayed open to the idea of possibilities: A governor who ran Montana and its government with a new approach; an architect who designed a new way of building a sustainable home; a local Montana charity that is making big impacts.

People often ask me how we make this print publication work. Looking back,

This collection of stories is meant to inspire our readers to create their own

Publisher Eric Ladd with dog Black Betty enjoying some time in the North Dakota fields together

adventures, to encourage us all to slow down, read, share and imagine. Thank you for your continued support. Enjoy this publication, and let’s all stay open to possibilities.

Eric Ladd Publisher eric@theoutlawpartners.com

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at Yellowstone Club • • • • •

Context is understanding

We ll de si gned, ready-to-build lots Inte rconne cted ac c ess to Ye llowsto ne Club, B ig Sky Resor t & Mo onli ght Basin 8,0 00+ ski able acres Wo rld-class family ac tivities Ye ar ro und recreation in the he art of Montana

Jackson, Wyoming-based freelancer Forrest McCarthy knew this when he wrote about a ski traverse of the Gallatin Crest. Tyler Allen couldn’t ignore it for his article on Yellowstone Lake cutthroat trout and the species that depend on them. Ecosystem health affects tourism, business and jobs. Writing about Bob Olson’s grizzly bear encounter kept me up at night. A bear climbed over the fence into Olson’s yard last spring in Big Sky, attacked his dogs and charged him. “It happened so fast, it boggles your mind,” he says. He wants people to learn from his encounter and encourages carrying bear spray close at hand. Camping under the stars this fall, I went to bed reading Scott McMillion’s Mark of the Grizzly.. Every sound made me jump. I spent October reading scientific papers on grizzly bears, reviewing text from a dozen interviews, and filling the space between with my own words. But the story wasn’t complete. I wanted to see a Yellowstone grizzly in the wild. For me, context means greater understanding.


Mountain explorebigsky.com LONEVIEWRIDG E.COM

Outgoing Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer understands context as well, speaking to it in an interview with Joseph O’Connor. In perhaps this issue’s most powerful story, a U.S. Army sniper working in Afghanistan recalls fishing in Yellowstone as a child. “Let’s face it: America isn’t perfect,” he says. “However, I’m willing to serve and sacrifice for the sake of that one perfect day and the dream that eventually another one will come along.” The Yellowstone region is less populated than the rest of the lower 48 – but even so, we’re all connected. That context gives us ground to stand on.

Emily Stifler Managing Editor emily@theoutlawpartners.com

featured contributors

Bradley Bermont writes in the gray area between freelance and unemployment, mostly around LA. Come winter, he’ll be skiing in Big Sky with his mother. He graduated from Roger Williams University in 2012.

Paul O’Connor has been making portraits of the Taos art scene for the past 24 years. His recent book, Taos Portraits, features 60 fullpage black and white photos of some of the town’s notorious and creative characters, accompanied by stories from friends and peers.

Max Lowe is a photographer and writer based in Bozeman. With a passion for adventure photography and documentary, Lowe has traveled to far corners of the world, played the field with high-level athletes, and photographed renowned musicians. Recently, his photos have been published in National Geographic and Backpacker. More at maxlowemedia.com.

Corrie Francis Parks is an animator and designer with a freelance studio in Big Sky. Her award-winning films have been exhibited at national and international film festivals on almost every continent (she’s still waiting for someone to organize an Antarctic Film Festival). Watch some animation on her website corriefrancis.com, and if you’re in the mountains, swing by the studio and say “hello!”

Mike Mannelin now lives in Alaska most of the year, calling Kodiak Island home. He looks forward to sharing more face shots with friends, whether it’s from the Lone Peak Tram or some backcountry stash.

Renae Counter is a Montana native who currently resides in Big Sky. A secondgeneration ski instructor, she taught skiing at Maverick Mountain for four winters as a side job while attending the University of Montana Western. Counter graduated in December 2012, and is now a full-time ski instructor.


Forrest McCarthy has been a professional mountain guide and adventurer for more than 20 years. Whether by foot, ski, mountain bike or packraft, McCarthy has a penchant for exploring and celebrating big, wild landscapes. He lives in Jackson, Wyoming with his wife Amy and their dog Fryxell.



Photo by Kene Sperry

Cold Smoke Awards

It began as a grassroots Bozeman film festival, then hit the road, touring the West. Now, it’s going viral. Starting in January, Cold Smoke Awards will offer worldwide viewing and voting at coldsmokeawards.com.

Freeride World Qualifier returns to Moonlight Basin

For two days in 2012, the Freeskiing World Tour blew up Moonlight Basin, bringing world-class rippers to the Headwaters cirque. “To see the Headwaters really get shredded, that’s awesome,” said local skier and competitor Pat Gannon.

“It’s an online winter mountain film festival,” said Brad Van Wert, one of four founders. “You can come to our website and see stuff you can’t anywhere else. No one else is really doing that.”

Returning March 15 – 16, the 2013 comp will be a four-star event, the highest qualifier for the championship series that now combines the Swatch Freeride World Tour, the Freeskiing World Tour and The North Face Masters of Snowboarding.

The crew will again visit select ski towns, showing trailers and short films, and of course, throwing parties. Don’t miss the academy awards-style finale in Bozeman this March.

“It’s a perfect venue,” said FWT operations manager Nathaniel “Pouch” Gauthier. “The amphitheater with the natural finish line – [Moonlight is] completely set up for it.” Check out footage from the 2012 event: vimeo.com/39292338

34th annual Dirtbag Day

Every year in March, Big Sky Resort celebrates Dirtbag Day, a holiday commemorating the belief that skiing comes above all responsibilities. Those who trust this have earned the honored title: Dirtbags. No one knows this lifestyle better than the Dirtbag King and Queen, locals elected for their dedication to the skier’s life. Every year, the coronation is preceded by a ski parade, the powder 8s and an evening ball. This wild affair is a fundraiser for ski patrol. Expect to see skiers sporting retro onepiece ski suits, football helmets, outfits made of duct tape, hula hoops and maybe a few whiskey-filled ski poles. There is one message here: Skiing comes first. All other things are meant for a laugh. Find the 2013 date on the events calendar at bigskyresort.com. -Victor Deleo

Compiled by the Editors

recommended reading Images of America: Big Sky Arcadia Publishing, 2012 The early white settlers in Big Sky were hardy and persistent, and a new book brings to life their trials and tribulations. Starting with the Hayden Expedition, which surveyed the region in the 1870s, Images of America: Big Sky, depicts 100 years of logging, mining, homesteading, ranching, recreation and tourism that followed. Co-authors Dr. Jeff Strickler and Anne Marie Mistretta included historic records, character sketches, anecdotes and more than 175 historic photos. “I think it’s going to open up a tremendous amount of interest in Big Sky history,” said Al Lockwood, chairman of the local Historic Crail Ranch Conservators. Available online at crailranch.org.

10 Mountain


Backcountry digs

New cabin and yurt open near Cooke City

The bay window of the Woody Creek Cabin looks southwest toward the Fin and Republic Peak, alpine ski objectives towering 2,300 feet above Cooke City. Set on a 22-acre mining claim and surrounded by National Forest land, this backcountry abode is within skinning distance of Woody Ridge, East Hayden Creek and Pilot and Index peaks, and also accesses miles of ski touring trails – all this, just a 2.5 mile hike from Cooke. Ben Zavora, of Beartooth Powder Guides, built the 20 by 24foot cabin by hand this past summer, felling all the timber for the structure on the property. It and his new Mount Zimmer Yurt are both available for rent this winter. Located near the base of its namesake peak, the Mount Zimmer Yurt is six miles north of town, next to Zimmer Creek and the wilderness boundary, providing access to alpine terrain in the heart of the Beartooth Mountains. Both sites are decked out with kitchen supplies, wood stoves, bunks and killer views. As well, they both have a mix of lowangle tree skiing for high hazard days, moderate and advanced backcountry terrain, and steep ski mountaineering, Zavora said. “Cooke is blessed with a pretty consistent snowfall, in general – it’s so reliable and so deep,” said Mark Staples, a Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center forecaster. “There’s tons of great low angle skiing, steep skiing, and extreme skiing for the right conditions.” Zavora, who has been involved with the avalanche center for six years, will guide backcountry skiing and snowboarding and also offers avalanche and ski mountaineering courses. “This is as good as it gets for ski touring in the Lower 48,” Zavora said. - E.S. beartoothpowder.com

Ben Zavora dropping in off Miller Mountain, with Wolverine and Abundance in the background. photo by beau fredlund















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14 Mountain



Everest: The Medical Mountain Why does one critically ill patient survive while another does not? Equally, why can one climber summit Everest while his partner must turn around? “The link may not appear obvious,” says Dr. Adam Sheperdigian, a research fellow at the UCL Centre of Altitude, Space, and Extreme Environment Medicine, “but both scenarios demonstrate a condition known as hypoxia, an inability to deliver enough oxygen to support the body’s vital organs.” As a climber ascends to extreme altitude, he has less oxygen with each breath. During a slow, calculated ascent, his body negates this by increasing breathing rate and producing red blood cells. For some this acclimatization occurs without fail, while others develop critical and even fatal conditions. Dr. Sheperdigian works with the Xtreme Everest Team, a specialist unit of medical providers and scientists using “the highest laboratory in the world,” Mount Everest, to learn more about hypoxia. The team started work in 2007, studying more than 200 healthy volunteers in Everest Base Camp. The scientists also performed exercise tests at the 25,938-foot South Col and collected arterial blood samples just below the 29,029-foot summit. Returning in spring 2013, Xtreme Everest will study a wider demographic, including children, identical twins and the indigenous Sherpa population. Learn more at xtreme-everest.co.uk.

Above: Xtreme Everest Team at the Hillary Step L: Lab at Everest Base Camp Photos courtesy of Xtreme Everest




16 Mountain


by katie morrison photos by chris davis


The Blackfeet Community College Living off the land with modern technology

The land northeast of Glacier National Park has a raw, striking beauty. Here, wildflowers form droplets of color amid tall grasses in summer, teal blue water refracts glacial sediment, and waterfalls pour over monumental cliffs. Winter storms replenish the mountains’ crisp white glaciers, and winds howl through dry plains surrounding the foothills. Such wildness makes it hard to imagine that an entire people has inhabited this region in great numbers since the early 1700s. The harsh climate requires strength to survive, and offers grand rewards for the accomplishment. This strength is a quality the Blackfeet Nation has demonstrated for more than 300 years.

Chief Mountain, elevation 9080 feet, sits between Glacier Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, near the Canadian border. It jets up from the surrounding foothills and is the first thing you see on the way to the reservation from Cut Bank. “That mountain is very important to our people,” says Terry Tatsey, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe. “It marks the northern area of our summer hunting grounds.” A sense of loss hangs in the air here, an unspoken knowledge that the

nomadic lifestyle of his tribe disappeared in the late 1800s, with the near extinction of the American bison which they hunted and relied on for their entire way of life.

ferently here. Unlike many other parts of the state, nearly all the plants are native on the reservation. With very few fences, the horses and cows graze together.

Following this loss, the Blackfeet culture’s lifestyle was hampered by immobility and dependency. The tribe suffered from widespread starvation and illness.

The clouds tend to linger on mountaintops, instead of being blown in by the gusty winds.

The land today speaks to the stewardship of thousands of years, the way its people have treated it dif-

Photo: A Blackfeet man plays a traditional drum in front of Chief Mountain.

Combined with the slow, even cadence of Tatsey’s voice, it’s enough to transport you to another time, another culture, another place.





The Blackfeet Community College is a beacon of hope among the dilapidated buildings. Its recently built, LEED Platinum-certified Southwind Lodge stands as a symbol of what is possible.

Blackfeet Community College’s Southwind Lodge is a LEED Platinum-certified building.

The reservation is headquartered in Browning, a town of 1,000. The tribe’s rich history and colorful past is not immediately evident here.


WWW.SEABA-HELI.COM Photo © Will Wissman


Poverty seeps through the main street, reflecting a near 70 percent unemployment rate and the substance abuse issues that mire the community.

Built as part of a 10-year master plan for the campus, the lodge also exemplifies BCC’s motto: “Remember our past, build our future.” The building embraces the historic Blackfeet tradition of living off the land – but does so through use of modern technology. The prospect of utilizing energy from the ground and sun are certainly not new ideas; rather, they are a return to what the Blackfeet people have always known.


“If you step back and think, they really have it right,” said Wayne Freeman, of CTA Architects, who is managing the project. “They know what is important to teach kids. Everything needs to have a green component to it – it’s part of their heritage to protect the land.” The master plan also addresses other issues that create roadblocks to higher education. Onsite student housing, childcare, a health and recreation center, and a common area will provide a supportive atmosphere and the resources that will allow students to finish their programs.

Students from the reservation who attend BCC before going on to a four-year university have a much higher success rate than those who go directly from high school, according to BCC President, Billie Jo Kipp. Future goals include constructing additional energy efficient buildings that emulate the Southwind Lodge. Planning for this expansion has included input from the tribe and the town of Browning on how to address community needs. Healthcare, unemployment, poverty, childcare and sustainable energy were considered, as well as education initiatives.

The vision: Upon graduation, students will have workforce skills immediately transferrable to growing industries in the region including green energy, ranching, land resource management, nursing and construction. Having an educated workforce will help individuals, Tatsey says, and contribute to a healthier community.

Katie Morrison loves the new perspective a different culture offers, and was excited to find such an adventure in the state she has always called home. Morrison is the Operations Director at Outlaw Partners.



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20 Mountain


patrick orton L: Taylor Lyman blasting deep in the Cooke City backcountry. R: Livingston local Matt Stott highmarking a pristine powder face in Cooke. patrickortonphotography.com


gill montgomery Celebrate winter

L-R: Dash Kamp, Jason Arens, Pete Arneson and Noah Curry gillmontgomeryphoto@gmail.com

22 Mountain


tyler busby “Forest and Corla, Eureka, MT.” from the series Warm Light on a Winter’s Day tylerbusbyphotography.com





greg mather The frozen landscape of Paradise Valley, Emigrant Peak on the right gregmather.com

24 Mountain






mark weber Sam Macke climbing a variation to The Double Pillar in the Mother Lode Area, Snake River Canyon, near Twin Falls, Idaho. markweberphoto.com

26 Mountain


audrey hall Classic beauty, powerful voice: Montana jazz musician Jeni Fleming audreyhall.com facebook.com/jenifleming




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The snow cloud settles on our gear pile as the helicopter disappears out of sight. The rotor chop fades over the next ridge, leaving us in silence on top of the mountain. Snow-covered peaks surround us. Every breath up here is sacred. I click into my skis, tighten my pack straps, and slide sideways for a second before pointing my skis toward the entrance. Then the earth falls away into an unknown specter of white. The face of the mountain is in full view below me. It’s hard to tell the difference between humility and masked fear. Perhaps they exist together. The first turn sends dry, grainy, surface hoar powder into my face. With all my being, I release myself to gravity. This is where I find myself. The consequences of letting go of my edges are nonexistent. The run-out negates any need for grasp or tight grip on life. There is no hint of confinement. My skis are enablers. I think about oxygen. I think about freedom. I think about why I’m here. Why me? How? It doesn’t make sense at this moment. The human brain is too complex – or maybe it’s just too simple. Gathering all the energy of my freefall, I turn my skis sideways and push against a cloud. The feeling under my feet couldn’t possibly be replicated by anything else. There is a perfect balance that comes from pure energy transfer, from deep within the soul, back to the universe. It leaves me charged and full of wonder. Finally, I come to rest in the valley. The faces of my friends around me share a knowing smile. They, too, have undergone transformations. We burst out laughing. This is life. We belong to something so precious, and at the same time, so heavy. It’s a great responsibility, and we must take this feeling into the rest of our lives. We can try to share it, but only indirectly, through positive vibrations and genuine smiles. We are skiers.

30 Mountain


The author shredding spines outside of Haines, Alaska.

Photo by Ryan Turner ryanturnerphotography.com

Describe your perfect ski This essay was adapted from an email Mike Mannelin wrote to custom ski builder Pete Wagner. “I was imagining what the perfect ski would be like on my feet; and then I dropped in,” Mannelin says. Based in Telluride, Colorado, Wagner Custom Skis are made to order, one pair at a time, using ultra high-quality materials in a shop powered entirely by wind and solar. Wagner’s process starts with mapping your personal skier DNA. Sound scientific? It is. Precisely matching your body metrics with your ski style, desired use and performance needs, allows him to truly customize a ski that fits your personality on the slopes. For Mannelin, the follow up phone call with Wagner was a thrill in itself. “I [spent] an hour and a half on the phone with another skier, talking about skiing powder. We came up with a perfect design for my skis, adding a little width here, a little rocker there, and bomb proofing the construction. He sent me an email with a drawing of the shape and a description, saying the boys in the shop were ‘stoked to build this ski’.” Get custom – wagnerskis.com - Megan Paulson

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Brian Schweitzer A g o v e r n o r a n d h i s p l a n to c h a n g e t h e wo r l d BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR | photos by brian niles

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Brian Schweitzer points to a fur hide lying next to a Native American headdress on his office table. “You ever held a skunk pelt before?” he asks. It’s October 2012, three months before the termlimited Montana governor will leave office. Holding the pelt in a calloused hand, he talks about special interest groups and how they’ve learned to steer clear of the Capitol building in Helena. Schweitzer says he removed all lobbyists from his commissions and boards once he took office in 2004. “I keep this skunk pelt in here so I don’t forget what they look and smell like.” During the 2012 election season, Montana was a focal point for the nation as voters sifted through political messages, numbed by tens of thousands of negative campaign ads. Millions in outside cash poured into the state, spinning the heads of anyone following the news. While Schweitzer kept a close eye on the issues this fall, the race wasn’t his to win. After eight years in the public eye, Montana term limits say he must go, but the governor won’t be cleaning everything out of his office. He’s leaving tracks. Schweitzer, 57, has amassed an unprecedented budget surplus, and signed bills for early education, renewable energy, tourism and jobs. He’s exercised his power to veto 130 times, taking down laws that would have shortchanged public schools and eliminated same-day voter registration. He is leaving office with a 61 percent approval rating. That’s the governor on paper. In person, he’s larger than life.

He’s 6’2”. He wears big boots and big belt buckles. He owns big ranches with big tractors. He dreams big. But Schweitzer is accessible. He tells stories that ground him in Montana, connecting him to its people and to a house on a dirt road, where he sees himself after his last day in office on Jan. 7 – at least temporarily. The rest of the country got its first taste of Governor Schweitzer at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, where he delivered a speech that catapulted him into the national spotlight. Adorned in his trademark bolo tie, Schweitzer told the convention his family story – how his grandparents immigrated to Montana “with nothing more than the shirts on their backs, high hopes and faith in God.” He spoke of how his parents had two things in their house he’ll never forget. The first was a crucifix. The second was a framed picture of John F. Kennedy on their kitchen wall. Schweitzer’s parents never graduated high school, but “President Kennedy’s idealism and spirit of the possibility inspired them to send all six of their children to college.” And when he said ‘We’re going to the moon,’” Schweitzer said, pointing skyward at the convention, “he showed us that no challenge was insurmountable.” The governor opened his address sounding like the down home rancher he is, an amiable neighbor you might invite to Sunday dinner. He closed by bringing the convention to its feet, calling for national energy independence and a collective belief that together we can change the world. He closed as a leader.





The governor in October 2012, on the grand staircase in the Capitol building.

Montana is traditionally a red state. Until 2004, it hadn’t elected a Democratic governor in two decades. The Treasure State has voted for just two Democratic presidential candidates since 1952. So, how did a Democrat get elected here the same year the state voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Republican President George W. Bush? Schweitzer tells a story about Bill Clinton’s path to politics, illustrating a difference between the two politicians. When the former president was 13, he knew networking would lead him to Washington. “He used to go to conferences and get every single person’s mailing address, and he’d send them a nice note,” Schweitzer said. “He’d check in with them a couple times a year because he knew what he wanted to do.” Schweitzer didn’t do this; he never expected to be governor. His path led to Libya the day after he defended his thesis in soil science at Montana State University in Bozeman. From there, he spent seven years in Saudi Arabia working on irrigation projects intended to boost the area’s agriculture. He’s now fluent in Arabic. “The people I was meeting were either Arabs or Europeans or Africans,” Schweitzer said. “And I don’t think any of them can vote for me here in Montana.” In 1986, he returned to Montana to raise cattle at his Whitefish ranch. 36 Mountain


“I never thought too much about politics,” said the husband and father of three. “I voted and read the newspaper like a lot of folks do, and once in a while I’d flip on the Sunday morning television programs to see what the heck was happening back there in Washington, D.C.” But if somebody would have suggested, ‘You’re someday gonna run for governor,’ I would have said, ‘Governor of what?’” Over the years, Schweitzer noticed trends and changes in the business climate, in education and in the greater community of Montana. He began asking questions. “You find out the people running this [government] stuff – they either aren’t very informed or they’re not very smart.” For a while, though, he said, he “was a complainer like everybody else.” Then someone asked him, if he was so smart, why didn’t he run for governor. “It sounded kind of crazy to me,” Schweitzer said. But he realized holding public office was something he had to do. “I thought, if regular people with a common sense background don’t step up, the same cast of characters will continue to run the state into the ground.”


two photographs stand out in the lobby of Schweitzer’s Helena office. In one, Schweitzer, in his usual jeans, boots and bolo tie, kneels next to his border collie, Jet. The other is Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger sporting a bow tie, the American flag in the background. These photos might have been opposite each other on a campaign ad, but here they’re mounted side-by-side. Schweitzer chose Bohlinger, a Republican, as his right-hand man in 2004. The partnership has worked, Schweitzer says, because both men were willing to challenge their bases in order to meet in the middle. Politics isn’t a popularity contest, Schweitzer says. “You’ve got to articulate what yer fer, and what yer against,” he said, in an exaggerated Montana accent. “And what yer fer – ya gotta be willin’ to fight for it.”

“I thought, if regular people with a common sense background don’t step up, the same cast of characters will continue to run the state into the ground.” He’ll reach across the aisle, but Schweitzer is no pushover. Three photos hanging near his office door show former president Lyndon B. Johnson talking with a congressman. Schweitzer narrates: “Here, LBJ is saying, ‘This is a good idea. I think we can both agree on this. The senator is saying, ‘Well, I’m not so sure.’” In the second photo, Johnson is face-to-face with the congressman, leaning in, angry. In the third, Johnson has a finger in the chest of the cowering congressman, who is bent backward over a desk.





Schweitzer jabs a finger at the photo. “LBJ is saying, ‘I’m not going to take no for an answer.’” That’s what you do,” Schweitzer says. “You first romance them, tell them how beautiful their wife is. You ask them if they’ve been working out. But at some point, you tell them, ‘Look here, you little son of a bitch, this is the way it’s gonna be.’ That’s how you get things done.” The governor pulls his four-foot “VETO” branding iron from behind his desk. “You ever hold a hot iron brand before?” he asks. On April 13, 2011, Schweitzer famously stood on the steps of the Capitol building and vetoed 17 bills with this iron, the paper catching fire with each brand. He called the bills “frivolous, unconstitutional, and just bad ideas,” and seven of them are now displayed on wooden planks in the statehouse lobby, their numbers and the word “VETO” seared into the wood. In total, Schweitzer vetoed 79 bills in 2011 - 60 more than any previous Montana governor had in a year. He’s never had one overridden by the state Congress. One veto had major significance for Montana travel destinations. House Bill 316, according to Schweitzer, would have cut state tourism funds and promotions by $6 million. “I vetoed that because tourism is such a big part of Montana’s industry,” he said, noting that the industry supports 25,000 small businesses in the state. And Montana, he says, is like a business itself: You have to promote the product. In April 2012, Schweitzer drove a semi truck through Times Square, New York City. He leaned out the window, speaking into a bullhorn, “like a political P.T. Barnum,” wrote The Denver Post. Schweitzer’s 18-wheeler was wrapped in a giant vinyl banner reading, “Montana: Gateway to Yellowstone.” Bozeman had a new direct flight from Newark, New Jersey, and the governor wanted to promote it. “Who better,” he said. “Nobody loves this state more than I do.”

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Schweitzer shows off his ‘veto’ branding iron.

Schweitzer will leave behind an estimated surplus of $457 million for the state. Alongside what he called “the greatest investments in new education and the greatest tax cuts in history,” it’s something he’s proud of. As part of his final budget submission to the 2013 legislature, the governor proposed using part of the surplus to freeze college tuition costs, his third such proposal. Schweitzer said his most important investment in education was for full-time, state-funded kindergarten. “Let’s say you [live with] your grandmother on an Indian reservation, and English isn’t her first language. What are the chances you’ll start first grade on an even keel with the rest of the first graders?” Early education, he says, is key to a child’s progression through higher education and ultimately to landing a good job. He maintains that if children don’t read at a first grade level by the end of first grade, they never catch up. “In 25 years, we won’t remember who was governor when these kids are changing the world, as 30-year-old adults with college degrees. We won’t know and we won’t care.” But Brian Schweitzer will know.


Upon leaving office, Schweitzer’s dream is to return to his roots and the tranquil life on his ranch. He has always lived at the end of a dirt road, except in college and during his eight years as governor. But he gets a gleam in his eye when discussing future political office. The last year has seen Schweitzer bounce from talk shows with Letterman and Bill Maher, to NYC and this year’s DNC. He’s basking in the media attention.

“nobody loves this state more than i do.”

His conversations with delegates from New Hampshire and Iowa in September 2012 drew national interest, because they help decide who receives presidential nominations. “Maybe I spoke to South Carolina, too,” Schweitzer said, grinning. “I might have even talked to Nevada. But I don’t know why that’s a collection of states one would care about.” Then he laughed. “I’m not gonna rule anything in, or anything out,” he said. “But I’m not looking to be elected [to national office] just to be elected. I would do it, but only if I thought we could change the world together.”

Joseph T. O’Connor is an editor of Mountain Outlaw.


Montana H I STORY







Your office is on wilshire, right?

Dual Citizens

By Bradley Bermont

It’s the last week of the Olympics and Colleen Williams, coanchor for NBC4 Los Angeles is driving to work. She’s been working for the past 28 days: an onslaught of Olympians and Olympiads, culminating in exhaustion. She wants to be in Big Sky with her husband Jon and their son. On the other side of the city, in the heart of West LA, an agent is calling Clay Lorinsky’s law office. His secretary answers and asks if the agent wouldn’t mind holding for a moment while she tracks him down. Since they’re dialing a 310 area code and a secretary on Wilshire is answering, “Mr. Lorinsky’s office,” his clients don’t realize that he’s picking up the phone from 406. His secretary calls, asks if he’s free, and tells him his client, an agent, is on the line. Lorinsky asks her to put him through then takes a sip of morning coffee in his home office under Yellow Mountain. He’s in his gym shorts with no shirt on, and it’s surprising how muscular this middle-aged lawyer is. Unlike Williams, Lorinsky isn’t dreaming of Montana, he’s living in it, and he’s been waiting for this call. There’s a TV deal in the works with one of the cable networks, and he may be

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pulling at what’s left of his hair if this doesn’t pan out. They’ve invested many hours in negotiation, not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars sunk into the pilot of this non-disclosable television show. They banter for nearly an hour before things start wrapping up. As they’re making a date for their next meeting, face-toface in Lorinsky’s office, the agent asks him, “Your office is on Wilshire, right?” Lorinsky has his feet up on the desk, leaning back in his chair. “Hasn’t moved since the last time.” “I go back to LA once every five weeks, give or take,” he says. During a week-long stint, he’ll have two to four meetings a day, not including lunches and dinners with every client and friend he can schedule, plus his normal workload, which is nearly nonstop. There’s always more business to be had, he says, and, “As much as I hate to do it, it’s pretty hard to bring in new clients without leaving Big Sky.” Colleen Williams faces an opposite difficulty – it’s tough to broadcast the news from Big Sky. Unlike Clay, she can’t get to Montana more than three or four times a year. Sometimes, she visits for just a weekend.

L: Big Sky photo by Greg Mather

R: LA photo by royce gorsuch

big sky & Los angeles As she walks into NBC’s Burbank studio, she’s ready for this Olympics week to be over. Outside, it’s nearly 100 degrees.

“It’s the winters that I find really spectacular. It could be zero degrees outside, and you’re still snowshoeing under blue skies.”

“It is just a plane ride away,” she says of Big Sky. “When there’s a direct flight, it’s great. I’ll get on at 6 p.m. and land at midnight. I don’t mind getting an hour or two of sleep the night before, because there’s such an anticipation when I get there. It’s so calm, quiet and peaceful.”

She loves cross country skiing, while Jon is more partial to downhill. Chalk it up to the serenity of nature or the short lift lines accessing the “Biggest Skiing in America,” but winter had an allure they couldn’t escape. Neither could Lorinsky.

In 2005, she was taken aback when her husband Jon said he was buying land in Montana. She hadn’t ever been there, and she asked him, “Out of all the places, what could be in Montana?”

“If you’re going to be a second homeowner, especially for a ski home, you’re gonna be doing most of your skiing there,” Lorinsky says. “For me at least, Big Sky is the only mountain that I thought could keep me entertained.”

“If I don’t buy it, someone else will,” he said. It didn’t take more than a season before she was sold. Now seven years later, she says, “We couldn’t be more fortunate to have it.” In normal conversation with Williams, you can hear the sound bites and the newscaster authority, but when Big Sky comes up, her voice drifts toward nostalgia.

A friend introduced him to the area in 1993, but he didn’t switch to dual-residency until 2005. Just prior to that, he was offered an opportunity to run business affairs at Warner Bros. “Ultimately, it was a lifestyle choice. There’s no way I could do that and live like this.” He points out the window toward the mountainside of Douglas-firs behind his home. Earlier in the week, he saw a mother moose and her calf walk across his yard.





“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” he says, shrugging. Williams attests: “It’s not easy to do with the hours,” referring to her schedule of starting work at 11 a.m. or noon and wrapping up close to midnight, sometimes later during high stress seasons or the Olympics. “You’re never free from work. There’ve been a few times where I was in Big Sky and something big happened in LA, like an earthquake, and we discussed coming back.” Last spring she left her vacation early to cover the tsunamis that ravaged Japan. Traveling with her earpiece, Williams can report from anywhere.

“I could be in the Bozeman airport, saying ‘This is so big, people here are looking at it,’ and that would end up on the news in LA.” Or on the news in Montana, which anyone with an NBC West Coast feed could tell you. She’s been stopped walking through the Meadow Village and standing in the Hungry Moose when someone will look at her, do a double take and– “Aren’t you that woman from NBC?” “It’s weird to see yourself on TV in Montana,” she says, laughing. But for Lorinsky, it’s almost comforting to watch the 6 o’clock news to see what’s happening in LA. Williams and her teammates are a constant, whether the lawyer is in Montana or LA. Often, it’s a reminder

why he spends so much time away from the city. He was happy to have only experienced “Carmageddon” (the 2011 construction on Route 405 that had some executives taking helicopters to work) from his den in Big Sky. Like Williams says, “I’m neutralized [in Big Sky]. Stress free.” They’re dual citizens, drawn to Big Sky for similar reasons. For Clay Lorinsky, it’s not vacationing; it’s work with a chance of vacation. For Colleen Williams, it’s vacation with a chance of business. Even so, they both agree: There’s no place they’d rather be.

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S n iper i n t he V i n e s By Erik Meridian | Photos by Catch-22

a wine maker finds himself

training: military combat

usa country:

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occupation: sniper

location: afghanistan

code name: catch22

in the vineyards of afghanistan


Many of the grape rows he stalks through in Zharay are owned by the very Taliban fighters he seeks. Each vineyard he enters offers a fresh chance at death, either by mined trip wire, pressure-plate IED or the crackthump of AK-47 fire. Commander of a U.S. Army sniper team known as Catch-22, he’s the deadliest soldier on the battlefield and is the Taliban’s greatest prize. There is irony here: Once upon a time, Kurt felt at peace in the vines. In his previous life, he was a winegrower in the U.S.

a prearranged kill zone where sniper fire and helicopter gunships await. The team’s arsenal includes the M110 7.62 mm Semi-automatic Sniper System, the bolt-action XM2010 300 WinMag Sniper Weapon System and the M107 Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle. Each also carries an M4 carbine, and the team leader has a M320 40 mm grenade launcher. Complementing these weapons are state-of-the-art optics including an array of day, night and thermal optics that allow observation several kilometers out.

At times Catch-22 may be folded into a nine-man patrol and act as squaddesignated marksmen responsible for laying down accurate, long-range fire in enemy contact. Often they’re tasked with sniper over-watch from a concealed position, where they support a larger operation with powerful optics and weapons capable of reaching farther than 1,500 meters.

The mastery of this equipment and the knowledge to choose the right tool requires an average of 18 months of intense training and preparation. Far more important than the toys is the ability to make quick and correct decisions based on limited information. Target detection, range estimation, land navigation and stealth movement are all part of sniper field craft.

Their favorite missions, however, are those involving ambushes. In these, snipers work with infantry to engage the enemy and force them to flee into

In this game, lives depend on mere scraps of intelligence, and the sniper’s intuition and experience often makes the difference.

“We were selected for this duty because we are independent operators,” Kurt says. “We look at situations differently than the normal infantryman.” Sometimes being a sniper is a lonely job, and the training reinforces selfreliance. Catch-22 often spends hours watching an area, learning about the patterns of life there. That way, when something out of the ordinary occurs, they can react. As the 11-year conflict in Afghanistan winds down, the public pressure to reduce civilian casualties abroad and veteran casualties at home has altered the way in which the U.S. wages war. Gone are the days of overwhelming firepower, night operations and air strikes. What remains is a battlefield that has nullified many of the tactical and technological advantages once held by coalition forces. In response to this new reality, commanders on the ground rely increasingly on snipers to provide pinpoint lethality against an elusive, yet deadly enemy.




They’re ta k i n g

serious r i s k s to

job done, and

get the

they often c a n ’ t spot

da n g e r

until it’s

to o l at e .


Q&A with a sniper Erik Meridian conducted this interview with Catch-22 sniper team members Kurt and Anthony in August and September 2012 when they were in Zharay, Afghanistan. Kurt, 32, selected and trained Anthony, 27, based on Anthony’s skill set and ability to operate independently in a high-pressure environment. All quotes are from Kurt, unless otherwise noted. You’ve said Zharay is “the birthplace of the Taliban.” What does that mean? Have you heard of Mullah Omar? He’s the one-eyed spiritual leader of the Taliban who sheltered Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan, allowing them to plan and execute the 9/11 attacks from a safe haven. Mullah Omar was born in a little village called Nodeh, in the Zharay District of the Kandahar Province. Nodeh is 1.5 kilometers

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from where we’re sitting. I can literally see his house from here. Lucky for him he’s not home. What’s your favorite weapon? Do they take on their own personalities? They sure do. Each one has a name. My M4 with the M320 grenade launcher is called Hungry Joe, after the character in Catch-22, the novel. He’s feisty and relentless. He goes on every mission and never leaves my side. My partner’s gun, the M110 SASS, that’s Scarlet. She’s a sassy minx who’ll slap the shit out of you, especially with the suppressor attached. The XM2010 is called Closing Time after the Joseph Heller sequel to Catch-22. It makes sense since the 2010 is the follow-up to the Army’s old M24 Remington 700, which is, to answer your first


question, my favorite weapon. It’s simple, clean, and effective. It’s what I learned with when I became a sniper, and you never forget your first love. As for the M107 Barrett, the celebrity of the bunch and the biggest, we call it Orion’s Bow. It’s a behemoth, and it takes a stud to handle it. One round from this rifle will change the complexion of a battlefield in a heartbeat. It’s designed to intimidate and destroy by punching through anything in its way, be it a vehicle, a brick building, or some unlucky schmuck shooting at my guys. So, how much of a wine guru are you? What’s your background? I studied Food Science and Food Manufacturing Operations at Purdue University and was trained by some of the best. One of my


professors, Dr. Richard Vine, is a legend. A contemporary of Robert Mondavi, who wrote the foreword of Vine’s textbooks, he founded the Indy International Wine Competition, one of the world’s largest. I worked in the Enology Lab at Purdue, facilitated the school’s wine competition in 2002, and began working for Chalet Debonné Vineyards that fall. I came back and graduated in 2003, and then became the assistant winemaker for Lakeridge Winery and San Sebastian Winery in Florida. We made everything from cream sherry and ruby port, to méthode champenoise sparkling wines where we handriddled the bottles. Our red and white table wines, both dry and sweet, were consistent crowd pleasers and award winners. The most exciting time was during and right after harvest. Walking the vineyards, deciding when to harvest, working 80-plus hours a week to process the fruit, running the presses, starting the fermentation, and starting to blend after the first racking...it’s addictive. Tasting a wine that has reached its potential – something you’ve helped shepherd and craft– is really fulfilling. Those vines become your life. You know them better than you know yourself. Later, I was a wine manager with Total Wine and More for four years and traveled to wine regions throughout the U.S. and Europe. By age 26, I was running the sales floor of their $62 million per year wine retail superstore outside Philadelphia.

Tell me about walking through these dangerous grape rows in Afghanistan. It’s funny how life comes full circle, but with little ironic twists. I used to walk through the vineyards every morning and evening. It was the best part of my day. Now during a mission, when I watch the sunrise through the vines, I’m very aware that my next step could be my last. My greatest love may be the death of me if I don’t watch my step.

arrived here. If we give away the fact that we’re snipers, all hell rains down on us. That means they’re afraid of us. They know the name Catch-22. They gather intel just like we do. It’s a high stakes game of hide and seek, and we’re determined to keep winning. I have a very supportive family who loves me, but I’m single with no children. If I go, I leave no one behind. Anthony, however, has two of the most adorable little daughters on the planet.

What’s your biggest fear when you’re out there?

To Anthony: What if something happens to you?

As snipers, we’re the eyes and ears of our unit. We look over their shoulders and watch their backs when they’re sweeping for IED’s, carrying tons of equipment, moving toward an objective, totally exposed. We had to earn their trust over time. They’re taking serious risks to get the job done, and they often can’t spot potential danger until it’s too late.

It won’t, but if it somehow did, Kurt promised to be there for my girls. They’re 2 and 4. I would want them to know who their father was – how much I love them and why I made the tough choices I did in order to provide for them.

When insurgents are moving through grape rows or behind walls, we have a chance to stop them or alert the unit. If we failed our friends that would be something we’d have trouble living with. That fear keeps us sharp. What about your own lives? At this point, we’ve taken out our share of Taliban fighters. If they get us now, we’ve still done more damage to them than they have to us. However, we recognize we’re trophies. They’re gunning for us. There have been prices on our heads since we

In most sniper teams there is a primary shooter and a primary spotter. Who’s the better shooter? In unison: I am! (laughter) Anthony: But Kurt’s the better spotter. Kurt: For now, I just have more experience seeing bullet trace and calling wind. Anthony: He’s the team leader so he’s gotta work the radio and coordinate things. That means I get more time behind the gun, which is fine by me.





Why the call sign, Catch-22? Have you read the book? It applies perfectly. With the tight restrictions on rules of engagement and the lengthy process of establishing positive ID on a target before firing, soldiers often feel like they’re in a no-win situation. It’s important to maintain a sense of humor. If you lose that, morale goes downhill fast. Also, you can spin it a different way. We believe we’ve got the Taliban in a catch-22. If they stand and fight, they die. If they fight and run, they die...tired. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Are you tempted to make wine out of local grapes? The thought has crossed my mind, but that would be against regulations (winks). I could barter with farmers for fruit and use water jugs for

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fermenters. I’ve got the rubber tubing and mosquito netting to rack and filter. The grapes have indigenous yeast on their skin, so I wouldn’t need to inoculate. I’ve made award-winning wines with less. These vines aren’t like Vitis vinifera vines that grow in places like Napa Valley or the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The Afghan grapes lack the sweetness and acidity needed to make the wine stable at 10 – 12 percent alcohol, so you’d have to ameliorate (add sugar) during fermentation. But it could be done. Anthony: You’re such a nerd! Kurt: Yeah, I know. But in all seriousness, one big reason I don’t is because it would likely offend our Afghan partners. Alcohol consumption is a serious taboo in Muslim culture, and we need them on our side. Why is maintaining a good relationship with Afghan soldiers so important?


This is their country. We’re just short-timers trying to make an impact and provide security. For us to go home with dignity, they must be ready to take the lead. Our leadership has forced us to live and work in close proximity with the Afghan National Army, and we have no choice but to intertwine them into our lives. If they don’t patrol, we don’t patrol. Our unit has decided to embrace them and make them brothers. We eat with them, fight with them, mourn with them, celebrate with them, learn their languages and customs well enough that if they were to turn on us, they’d be killing their brother. When an Afghan soldier attacks coalition forces it’s called a Green on Blue incident. Those have become the number two cause of death among American soldiers in Afghanistan, second only to IED’s. Continued on p. 50

Catch-22 at work

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Continued from p. 48 I want to make a stark differentiation between the ANA that have committed the Green on Blue incidents, and the ones we work with. We’ll be disappointed to have to work with other guys. Our ANA are even more vulnerable than American infantry – they don’t have the same level of mine detection equipment, protective equipment, firepower or communications equipment – and they take more casualties because of the risks they run. American soldiers can’t go into someone’s house and search it anymore, so we have to ask them to do it. We take their safety very personally. But working with them is another catch-22. We have the opportunity to build a strong bond with them, but we also open ourselves up to serious risks. We hold our enemies close and our friends closer. So far, it’s working for us. The ANA are brave, motivated and professional, but it’s always a work in progress. Why have you chosen to serve? It’s part of my journey as a man and an American. When I was a kid, both my parents were schoolteachers, so we had summers off. I grew up in eastern Indiana, and when I was 5, we took a summer-long vacation and went to every major park between Illinois and Yosemite. The first time I ever went fishing was in Yellowstone National Park. I caught a little brook trout, and it was the coolest thing that ever happened to me. It was a perfect day. My dad is a Special Forces Vietnam veteran. At that time, he was a difficult person to talk to, and fishing with him was almost therapeutic. We understood each other very well that day, and it was many years before we understood each other again to that same degree. Part of the reason I serve is to understand where he’s coming from. The memory of that day and others like it built my appreciation and love for the vast beauty of this country. Let’s face it: America isn’t perfect. However, I’m willing to serve and sacrifice for the sake of that one perfect day and the dream that eventually another one will come along.

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Erik Meridian, a pseudonym, is an American soldier serving in Catch-22’s unit in Afghanistan. His duty position prevents him from revealing his real name. 50 Mountain


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A postcard fr o m c h i l ko o t pa s s S t o r y a n d p h o t o s b y C o r r i e Pa r k s

It was 6:45 a.m., and I had been hiking for two hours through white mist on white snowfields. The summer snow crunched beneath my feet as I steadily kicked steps, heading toward a bright orange trail marker barely visible 100 feet ahead. Beyond the marker, a steep, talus-covered hillside emerged from the fog as I came to the edge of the snowfield. I had reached the Golden Stairs. In 1898, more than 30,000 people walked this same path, lock-stepping up the snowy chute to the Chilkoot Pass, which separates southeast Alaska from the Yukon. They were the “stampeders,” racing to the Klondike goldfields and hoping to strike it rich. Back then, the area immediately below the Stairs was a makeshift city called The Scales. Here, the native Tlingit packers increased their rates from 14 cents to $1 a pound for hauling goods up the pass. Packers and stampeders alike would make dozens of trips up the Golden Stairs, carrying between 50 and 100 pounds each time.


Gold pans, cast iron skillets and tightly wrapped bags of beans and flour were some of the usual supplies needed for a year of prospecting in the bitter north. A few creative entrepreneurs packed rolls of silk, cases of fresh eggs, live cats and contraband bottles of whiskey - all items that fetched premium prices in Dawson City. At the pass, the men cached their goods, turned around, and returned to the noisy collection of humanity at The Scales to collect another load.

2 Frères au Klondike

Now the valley was eerily quiet as I scrambled hand and foot up the boulders. Not far ahead, I passed a family from Fairbanks whom I met in camp the night before. They were speaking quietly, as if trying not to disturb the ghosts that might haunt this pass.

Mario and Jean, of Montreal, were tracing the footsteps of their ancestor who joined the 1898 stampede to the Klondike. The brothers walked the trail in wool jackets, and leather boots, sleeping on folded blankets under a canvas shelter, cooking tinned beans and potted meat in a cast iron skillet. “We find gold in the scenery, in people, everywhere,” Mario said.

miles from Dyea, Alaska to Lake Bennett, British Columbia

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feet of elevation gain and the height of Chilkoot Pass (trail starts at sea level)



number of hiking permits issued daily by Klondike Gold Rush International Historic Park for modern-day hikers heading over the pass


estimated population of Sheep Camp during the height of the stampede, April 1898


population of Sheep Camp in July 1899 after the White Pass Railroad to Bennett was established and the Chilkoot Trail abandoned

Sentinel Over Deep Lake “Why do I go to the wilderness? For the crystal clear streams and the cold winds off snowfields. For the warm, sun-baked granite. For the physical exercise climbing, swimming, scrambling, glissading down soft snowfields. For the way food tastes after a day of all that. But mostly for the views...� - Trail Journal - Day 9

Twisted cables and rusty cogs lay on the boulders around me, reminders of the tramway built in 1898 to haul gear for those who could pay. By 1899, White Pass Railroad in the adjacent valley had monopolized the route to the interior, and the Chilkoot Trail was quickly abandoned. Wading through the whiteout, I breached the crest of the pass, the sound of a flag whipping in the wind ahead of me. A few steps later, a shelter materialized from the fog. A red maple leaf on the flag indicated I was now in Canada. Inside, I fired up my stove to melt snow for drinking water, pulled out an array of colored


estimated number of stampeders that crossed over Chilkoot pass in 1898


customs duties for goods brought into Canada collected by mounties stationed at the top of Chilkoot Pass


boats that set sail for Dawson City from Lake Bennett when the ice finally broke in June 1898

pens and pencils and a stack of postcards, and sat down to wait. My hike on the Chilkoot Trail was part of an artist-in-residence program, a joint venture with Parks Canada and the U.S. National Parks Service, and I had plans for the backpackers adding their footsteps to the thousands before them. Hikers burst through the door in waves, steaming up the windows as they shed sweaty layers and devoured snacks. Stories and laughter bounced around the tiny space. I offered hot tea and chocolate as I passed around postcards.


trees left on the shores of Lake Bennett after all those boats were built (the forest has regrown in the last 100 years)


This information is from Klondike Gold Rush International Historic Park. Interested in hiking the trail? Learn more at nps.gov/klgo.



Tr a i l t o H a p p y C a m p “Snow, snow and more snow! Snow canyons 15 feet deep, carved by the river; cracks and fissures of glacial blue opening up. We walk on snow for most of the four miles to Happy Camp, where tired hikers revel in the first warm rays of the entire trail and moods rise with the barometer.” - Trail Journal, Day 7

On Location - Corrie Francis Parks on the Chilkoot Trail.

K l o n d i k e L e t t e r s P ro j e c t For 13 days Big Sky resident Corrie Francis Parks wandered the Chilkoot Trail, collecting postcards, talking to hikers and rangers, creating art and gathering ideas. This fall and winter, she’s working to compile her experiences into a series of animated documentaries and an art exhibition. More artwork, photos and stories on are available at klondikeletters.com.

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“Write a postcard to yourself,” I instructed. “Write down one thing you want to remember from your journey up the Chilkoot Pass.” They wrote: “From knee deep water at the start, through beautiful forests and then starting for the pass at 4 a.m. Best of all, I did it with my daughter.” “I just experienced the most frightening day of my life. Extreme heights, horrible shoes and snowy hills have made me truly grateful to be alive. I love my life.” Ghosts on the Stairs

“I came north not to run away, but rather to prove something, to awaken a revival. I came for redemption, to save my soul in some way.”

“We all follow the orange stakes marking the saf-e path across the snow bridges, occasionally hearing the hidden rivers rushing under our feet. The stairs have shed their snow faster than the rest of the trail and it is pure scrambling from here.” Trail Journal, Day 3

“Behind us is civilization... before us, vastness, silence, grandeur – stand alone on the summit... and realize what an atom in the universe you are.” “I want to remember that traveling solo is amazing and that I do not need a partner to have a great time.” “The look on Yanik’s face as he reached the summit and hearing the excitement in his voice as he said this was his favorite day. I want to remember to see the world like that; always fresh, always seeing.”

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“Another day in the North. Embrace the good! Honour, challenge, laughs, snow, friends and wool socks.”

In these handwritten scribbles, I saw the answer to a question I’ve asked many times: Why do we seek out wild places? What are we experiencing there that we can’t find in our daily lives? As the hikers packed up to continue their journeys, I collected the postcards and tucked them away. I planned to keep them for a year and then, when the memories of this moment have lost their sharp edges, drop them in the mail. My hope is that the act of creating these postcards and receiving the physical artifact in the future will be vivid catalysts for remembering wilderness. Though the stampeders were seeking gold in the Klondike wilderness, the vast majority didn’t find their fortune. From their letters and diaries, we can see they found other things: adventure, suffering, love and insight into human nature at its best and worst. I see these same things written on the postcards – ultimately, they’re what make these wild places worth preserving.

kluane national park & reserve

yukon british columbia


Chilkoot trail Gulf of Alaska







Sharpen your skills, bring the proper safety gear and always bring a partner.


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m a n a n d

beast How a grizzly b e a r at ta ck in B i g S k y r e f l e c t s t h e h e al t h o f a s pe c ie s by emily stifler


59 MountainPhoto by Royce Gorsuch

Bob Olson at home with his dogs, Hatch, Weatherby and Cameron.

Photo by Tyler Busby

g r izzly k i l l e d i n bi g s k y At 7:30 on Friday morning, Bob Olson was still in his pajamas. He’d just finished eating eggs and bacon in his cabin in Big Sky, when he heard his three king shepherds barking outside, making horrible screaming noises.

He jacked a round into the chamber and shot the bear at five yards. Struck in the head, it stopped charging, then spun around a couple of times. Olson shot again, and the bear fell, landing right by Olson’s feet.

“I knew the dogs were being attacked but I didn’t know by what,” Olson said. “I knew something was totally wrong.”

“I was just reacting,” he said. “I killed it because I thought it was going to kill me.”

He looked out the window into his yard, which abuts Ousel Falls Park, but trees and the outhouse blocked his view. Olson, 53, grabbed his .300 Weatherby Magnum and ran outside in his flip flops. There, he saw his dogs fighting a 350-pound grizzly bear.

Shaken, Olson walked up to the dying animal. It had an ear tag, and had clearly been wearing a collar at some point, because the fur was matted around its neck. With grizzlies protected as an endangered species, Olson knew he needed to report the incident immediately. He called 911.

“It was attacking them, and when I ran out into the middle of the yard, it came at me,” he said.

The sheriff responded first, then two wardens from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and two biologists. They took notes

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on the scene, identified the animal as a 6-year-old male from the Taylor Fork area south of Big Sky, and then moved it into a truck and transported it to the FWP lab in Bozeman. The biologists and wardens returned, trying to determine where and why the bear entered Olson’s yard. “The food and stuff in that yard … it was the smell that potentially brought the bear in there,” FWP bear biologist Kevin Frey said later, referring to the bacon smell. Olson said he doesn’t leave garbage or dog food in the yard. Frey denies rumors this was a problem bear relocated from elsewhere. “We’re the only ones that move bears, and in 20 years we’ve maybe put two bears in Taylor Fork.”

The Taylor Fork – and by extension, Big Sky – is “core habitat associated with Yellowstone National Park,” Frey said. While female grizzlies have roughly 20-square mile home ranges, males can utilize 90 to 300 square miles in a season. As part of his normal range, this one just happened to drift north in the spring. When Olson killed the bear, on May 25, 2012, grizzlies were still protected by the Endangered Species Act. But some, including Wyoming governor Matt Mead and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, say the animals have recovered and are calling for them to be delisted.

Hu m a n-g r iz z ly c o n f l i c t s o n t h e r i s e Originally from Milwaukee, Olson has lived in Big Sky part time since 1996. He’s been in the pawnshop business for 32 years, selling gold and diamonds. This wasn’t the first time he’s been attacked. In 1983, two armed robbers entered his business and threatened his life with a 25-caliber pistol. When Olson turned to escape, he was shot in the arm. Having a grizzly bear charge him was “the same type of feeling,” he said. Olson carries a concealed weapons permit. He and his staff train in self-defense, and also alongside Milwaukee law enforcement for mock holdups. When the bear was charging, that training kicked in. His dogs, 75-pound king shepherds, are part of his security system. Also beloved pets, Weatherby, 7, is the

One of Olson’s dogs who was scratched by the Grizzly, Hatch, looks over the fence where the grizzly climbed into his yard. Photo by Tyler Busby

oldest; Cameron, the black one, is 5; and Hatch, with blond fur, is 4 years old.

A six-foot wooden jack-rail fence surrounds their kennel, which backs up to the cabin porch. The fence rails




region Bozeman gallatin national forest

are about five inches apart, “so nothing can get into the kennel, and my dogs can’t get out,” Olson says.

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There’s also a shed where the dogs eat in the kennel area, and where they sleep at night. He’d already let them out that morning, and they were hanging out on the porch before the bear climbed over the fence.

Yellowstone national park



The tussle with the bear left Hatch with a scratch on his nose, but otherwise the dogs came out all right.


Olson thought he’d feel backlash from the community, but in the following weeks, half a dozen Big Sky residents stopped by his place, all with kind words. “Everyone was so supportive,” he said. “[They were] happy I killed that bear because it probably would have killed somebody at Ousel Falls… This was selfdefense, and I’m sorry this bear had to die.”

The current occupied range for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is shown in red and encompasses approximately 37,000km2. Based on map from NPS

Ultimately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed it a legal self-defense killing. Grizzlies are abundant south of Big Sky, and according to Frey, they also live in lower numbers to the north, on both sides of the Gallatin River. The actual population is impossible to determine, but depending on the season and available food sources, at least 10 to 25 are present in Gallatin Canyon proper. In the past 20 years, nine incidents involving grizzly bears have led to human contact or injury in the greater Big Sky/ Gallatin Canyon area. These include a mauling on the Ousel Falls Trail in 1997; an attack near the Deer Creek Trailhead in 2010; and four hunting-related incidents. Overall, the number of grizzly-human conflicts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is on the rise, said Yellowstone National Park bear biologist Kerry Gunther. 2012 was relatively quiet compared to the four years prior. “It’s like the stock market,” Gunther said. “There are peaks and valleys, but the general trend is slightly upward.” This, he explained, is because bears are expanding into areas they haven’t been for more than 100 years. People at the leading edge of this expansion generally aren’t accustomed to living with bears. www.themintmt.com

In 2011, 229 conflicts were reported in the Greater Yellowstone. Of those, 15 people were injured by grizzly bears in 14 incidents. These included the first two deaths in Yellowstone National Park in 25 years. 62 Mountain



a s pecies r eco ver e d? In the year 1800, an estimated 50,000 grizzly bears lived in the lower 48.

to start with young males that are curious and looking for a place to live.”

A late 19th century U.S. government predator extermination program, combined with the ensuing century of human expansion, sent that population into a nosedive. A public grizzly bear hunting season in the Yellowstone Ecosystem compounded things, and by the time they acquired federal protection in 1975, there were fewer than 300.

In the entire 19 million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, biologists estimate the grizzly population is around 600; however, Frey says ongoing research may find that number is actually higher. In the larger region – the Greater Yellowstone, combined with the northern Continental Divide, Glacier National Park, plus scattered areas in Idaho and northwest Montana – there may be upwards of 1,500.

“They were hit hard from a lot of directions,” said biologist Steve Gehman, co-founder of Wild Things Unlimited in Bozeman, a nonprofit dedicated to improving wildlife and habitat management in the Rocky Mountains. The closure of the dumps in Yellowstone Park and its gateway communities between 1968 and 1979 severely impacted bear numbers. Conditioned to eating human foods and garbage, the animals spread out in search of other food sources, causing conflict and property damage. Many were killed by government agencies and property owners. “It took 25 to 30 years for [the population] to recover to the point where all suitable grizzly bear habitat in the park was again occupied by grizzlies,” Gehman said. Gehman has been studying grizzly bears since the mid-1980s, particularly the animals’ movement northward from Yellowstone into the Gallatin Range. Around the year 2000, he says, they began moving into areas of former habitat like the Wind River Range, the Shoshone National Forest, and the Gallatin and Madison ranges. “Bears are good at finding food and available habitat,” he said. “It seems

These are “pretty good levels,” Gehman said. “But if you look at population biology genetics and what it takes to have a genetically viable population in the long term – which to me is the definition of recovery – we need probably around 2,000 in the Montana-Idaho-Wyoming area, and that population needs to be connected.”

don’t let

Gehman and other biologists promote the idea of wildlife corridors – areas of interconnected habitat that allow isolated populations to make contact, increasing genetic diversity in the region. “It’s not so much that bears are walking back and forth, or that one individual bear is going to make that trip,” Gehman said. “It’s more a stepping stone approach – young bears make their way along that line, then a female makes her way, then her offspring go that way, and eventually an animal from one ecosystem enters another ecosystem.” Full recovery, he says, would include the 4 million-acre Salmon-Selway Ecosystem in central Idaho, a place that currently has no grizzlies but could likely support hundreds.

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Living with bears Surrounded by public land, Yellowstone and Glacier are some of the last large expanses of grizzly bear habitat in the lower 48. If you live nearby, it’s relatively normal to see a bear walk through your yard. “[People] have to realize one day it’s a black bear, and the next it could be a grizzly,” said bear biologist Kevin Frey. The Big Sky Natural Resources Council is working on a Bear Aware initiative to encourage responsible cohabitation. Efforts have included starting a bear hazard assessment of the Big Sky area, done by the Wildlife Conservation Society, and creating a Bear Aware committee. The committee will help with the assessment, collaborating this

winter to find solutions for the related issues, said BSNRC board member Kevin Germain. “We need to find out what holes exist and how we can fill those, what policies are out there on the books, and what recommended changes we have for the policy makers,” Germain said. Suggestions include implementing bear-resistant trashcans and centralized garbage collection points. The Bear Aware initiative is based on programming from the Get Bear Smart Society, a Canadian group that helps people and bears “safely and respectfully coexist in places where their homes and home ranges overlap.” Based on education, policy and management, its programming has been effective in mountain towns from Whistler to Tahoe.

Photo by mike coil

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E nd a ng er ed Specie s A c t In March 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Yellowstone grizzly bears from the Endangered Species list.

“[This] resulted in grizzly bears feeding heavily on whitebark, which resulted in very few grizzly-human conflicts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem this year.”

Environmental groups led by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition filed suit in federal district Yellowstone cutthroat trout were court, alleging the delisting plan also once a staple for grizzlies. failed to address issues like the Those, too, have seen a decline, possible effects of climate change and bears that previously fished on whitebark pine, a primary for cutthroat have switched to food source preying on for grizzlies. “There is a lot of pressure elk calves durIn September ing the spring, coming from states. 2009, the Gunther said. district court Wyoming, Idaho and Montana reversed the Louisa are all very desirous of delisting. Willcox is a wildlife bears getting delisted The case went with because they want control.” advocate next to the 9th the Natural Circuit Court Resources of Appeals, which in November Defense Council in Livingston. She 2011 upheld the district court’s fought the 2007 proposal and says ruling. Today the Yellowstone there will likely be another delisting grizzly is again listed as “threatdiscussion soon, once the U.S. Fish ened,” and its natural food and Wildlife Service in cooperation sources are being studied. with other federal and state agencies has addressed the court’s questions. Yellowstone grizzlies have long used whitebark pine seeds as a “There is a lot of pressure coming food source in the fall, before from states,” Willcox said. “Wyohibernation. During years with ming, Idaho and Montana are all poor cone production, bears very desirous of bears getting delswitch to other foods includisted because they want control.” ing ungulate meat, truffles and roots. She agrees removal from the endangered species list is the ultimate Mountain pine beetle outbreaks goal, but says it’s not the time to take and invasive blister rust have chances. devastated a portion of the whitebark stands throughout the “Now is the time to be looking at alGreater Yellowstone in the past ternative bear foods. What are bears decade. Despite this, Gunther eating now? Where are those foods says there still appears to be in relationship to where people are? ample whitebark pine seeds, How secure is that habitat? … [How pointing toward high cone procould] climate change affect secondduction in 2012. ary and tertiary foods?”

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M a na g em e n t : A bal an c i n g ac t Grizzly bear management is more a social issue than a biological one.

dation of habitat because of tighter restrictions being removed in certain areas.”

While public support for bears in the Greater Yellowstone area is widespread, some believe it’s time to crack down on growth. Ask Olson:

For wildlife officials managing bear populations, walking this line is critical.

“These things are everywhere. They’re not fearful of man, nobody hunts them … Now humans and the bear population are clashing. We’ve expanded, they’ve expanded. That’s why we’re having these issues.” Olson’s friend Jerry Andres has owned Andres Taxidermy in Belgrade for 27 years, and he can remember the last hunting season for grizzly bears. Andres says it wasn’t a mistake to bring the population back, but it’s now at a tipping point.

Tim Bennett is the Northern Rockies Bear Program Director for Keystone Conservation, a Bozeman-based nonprofit that seeks practical solutions for wildlife conservation. Bennett says the future of grizzly bear management isn’t bolstering populations or protecting habitat. “That’s the past. The future is reducing their opportunity to come into conflict with humans and increasing human acceptance of having grizzly bears occupying the same habitat.” Olson says it’s a balancing act.

“Hunters tell me they’re bumping into bears more and more every year. Everybody thinks there should be a [hunting] season... The population is probably as high as it can get without spilling into residential areas.” A hunting season would impact the population, Gehman said, especially where bears are trying to move into new habitats or expand their range. He’s wary of two things: “Direct killing of bears preventing movements between ecosystems, and degra-

A grizzly running across a snowy field in Yellowstone.

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“We need to protect them, but at the same time we need to protect ourselves… How do man and beast live together without putting people in jeopardy, and without putting bears in jeopardy? We need to get along.”

Emily Stifler is Managing Editor of Mountain Outlaw.

Photo by Tyler Busby





Traveling in bear country Using bear spray When in bear country, travel with a partner and pay attention for fresh bear sign like tracks, scat and natural foods. Carry bear spray where it’s immediately accessible. An average bear can run 35 miles an hour, so in your backpack won’t do. If you encounter a bear, don’t run. Stay calm and assess the situation. Is the bear aware of you? Is it threatening or fleeing? Keep the animal in sight as you back away, but don’t make eye contact. Only use bear spray if a bear is aggressively confronting you. If it’s approaching you and is 30 to 60 feet away, direct the spray downward toward the front of the bear, with a slight side-to-side motion. “What you’re trying to is build a wall between you and the bear,” said Dave Parker, a representative from Counter Assault, a bear spray manufacturer in Kalispell, Montana. If the bear is within 30 feet, spray continuously at the front of the bear until it breaks its charge. Spray additional bursts if it continues toward you.

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No deterrent is 100 percent effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, bear spray is the most successful at fending off threatening and attacking bears.

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National Park Service technicians remove fish from gill nets on the Freedom.

A legacy of conservation

Saving the last pristine habitat of Yellowstone cutthroat

By Tyler Allen | Photos by Jake Campos

Congress created Yellowstone National Park in 1872, writing the first chapter in one of our nation’s proudest narratives. Widely considered the world’s first national park, Yellowstone began a legacy of conservation that continues to be written to this day. Biologists in the park are currently drafting another part of the story: preserving the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout and the integrity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

It’s unclear when or how the non-native lake trout made it to Yellowstone Lake. The U.S. Fish Commission in the 1890s intentionally brought them to two other lakes in the park, Lewis and Shoshone, as a sport-fishing resource. Whether they were intentionally released into Yellowstone Lake from that population will never be known, but one thing is clear: since the first lake trout was documented there in 1994, the historic cutthroat population of 4 million has seen significant decline, and is now about 400,000. The larger, longer-lived lake trout evolved as a predator in the Great Lakes of the Midwest; in Yellowstone Lake, they feed on cutthroats at a rate of 40-50 per year, according to Todd Koel, Supervisory Fisheries Biologist for the park. Yellowstone cutthroat trout are a keystone species in the park, with more than 40 species depending on them as a food source. Their decline has implications for the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Because the cutthroat live in the upper 40 feet of the lake, they’re a food source for birds like white pelicans, bald eagle and osprey. Otters, grizzly bears and bald eagles feed on the cutthroat during their spring spawning run in the Yellowstone River and tributaries. The lake trout, however, are mostly unavailable to these species, because they inhabit deeper water and spawn in the lake. Starting with their discovery in 1994, park biologists have been developing a program to suppress, and if possible, eradicate the lake trout.

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“Fish are not necessarily a charismatic species...to anglers they are, but not the general public,” said park superintendent Dan Wenk. “[However] this is the most important restoration work in the park.” Using live trap nets and gill nets, the National Park Service, with help from commercial fishing boats, caught and killed more than 300,000 lake trout in 2012. And the cutthroats are responding. “We’re seeing way more cutthroats this year,” NPS Fisheries Biologist Patricia Bigelow said in late September. The cutthroats they’re catching were typically larger in 2012 than 2011, according to size distribution data collected. “It’s a very simple system,” Bigelow said. “If we can fish them out of the Great Lakes, fish [other species] out of the oceans, we can do it here.” That’s good news for the more charismatic species that depend on the cutthroats, and ultimately, for the millions of visitors who come to see them. Fisheries biologist Patricia Bigelow has worked on the lake trout suppression in Yellowstone since 2001.

“this is the most important restoration work in the park.” -Dan Wenk, YEllowstone Park superintendent

A history of conservation The Act of Dedication, signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, explicitly created Yellowstone National Park “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Those famous words were taken from a letter by Ferdinand V. Hayden, an American geologist and leader of the Hayden expeditions in 1860 and 1871. His team of explorers, photographers and painters documented the landscape and geologic features in the Yellowstone region. This imagery, including striking largeformat photographs by William Henry Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran, helped convince Congress to withdraw the land from public auction and entrust it to subsequent generations of Americans. A “supervolcano” created the landscape in and around the park. Known as the Yellowstone Caldera, it created the largest concentration of geothermal features in the world. The national park is also the cornerstone of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a 20 million-acre expanse of land that includes Grand Teton National Park, as well as adjoining national forests and wilderness areas. Unique to the natural world, this corner of the planet evokes emotion from both visitors and residents of the ecosystem– which may be the only reason it still exists intact. Many of the 4 million annual visitors to Yellowstone come to view some of the last remaining grizzly bears, bison and wolves in the contiguous United States. Others travel to the park for the cutthroats themselves. Al Johnson grew up in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, and spent weekends with his family, fishing Yellowstone Lake and the river below it. A retired bank executive now living in nearby Big Sky, he remembers the family routine “of stopping on Fishing Bridge and watching the cutthroats spawn in June.” Johnson learned of the declining cutthroat population 15 years ago and has experienced it first-hand since. Prior to moving back to Montana from the Midwest, he made yearly visits to the park. He catches fewer cutthroats in the Yellowstone River each year, he says. “I would like to bring my grandkids to the park to have the same experience I had as a kid.”




NPS technician Jay Fleming holds an adult lake trout in September 2012. From Annapolis, Maryland, this was his second year working on Yellowstone Lake.

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The Kokanee was one of two boats operated by Hickey Brothers Research on the lake in 2012.

REMOVING THE INVADER When the ice in Yellowstone Lake melts in late May or early June, the park begins its lake trout fishing season in earnest. The work continues until the autumn snows and cold temperatures shut them down. Park biologists catch, tag and release select lake trout, and then use radio telemetry to target populations. The park service operates a boat called Freedom; Hickey Brothers Research, based in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, operates two others and plans to bring a third for summer 2013. The Northwester manages the gill nets, while the Kokanee sets and pulls the trap nets. Like a giant funnel, the trap has large netting wings extending from its mouth. The smaller cutthroats and juvenile lake trout pass through the nets, while the larger ones are blocked and must swim the length of the net, attempting to get around it. Eventually, they find an opening they swim into but can’t escape.

A few days later, skilled fishermen use winches to pull the traps. Nearly all the fish they pull in are alive – the cutthroat are released back into the lake, and the lake trout have their air sacs cut open, so they’ll sink when thrown overboard. The gill net locations are set in shallower water, where they’re laid in a precise serpentine course to confuse the fish and prevent them from swimming around the nets. When a fish swims directly into the nets, its gills are caught, and it cannot wriggle free.

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September colors on Yellowstone Lake in 2012 feature

A model of success? Lake trout were intentionally introduced to Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho in 1925, a result of the same fisheries management that brought them to Yellowstone. “It was a time in our history when folks didn’t understand the consequences [of introducing exotic species],” said Andy Dux, Principal Fisheries Research Biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which has run a similar lake trout suppression program there since 2006. Their numbers in Lake Pend Oreille remained low until the late 1990s, at which point they began to outcompete the lake’s population of kokanee trout, also non-native. The growth was a delayed response to the 1960s introduction of Mysis shrimp, brought to the lake by biologists in hopes of benefitting the kokanee, a popular sport fish and a food source for the native bull trout.

Bull trout are listed federally as a species throughout their range in the Northwest, but the efforts in Lake Pend Oreille are encouraging.



“Lake trout suppression has been extremely effective, thus far,” Dux said. Adult lake trout have declined by more than 80 percent since the program was initiated, and the kokanee have responded favorably, he said, its population at its highest level since the fishery was closed to anglers in 2000.

These results of the Lake Pend Oreille trapping operation would seem to offer more than a glimmer of hope that Yellowstone Lake and other fisheries in the region can recover with intensive efforts. Biologists working on Pend Oreille have a couple more arrows in their quiver. The Angler Incentive Program pays fisherman $15 for every lake trout they remove. In the seven years since suppression began, this has accounted for nearly half of the 143,000 lake trout killed. They also have funding. Power companies that operate dams above and below the lake are obligated to fund mitigation for the negative impacts on the ecosystem caused by hydroelectric infrastructure. That amounts to about $1 million a year. With Lake Pend Oreille once a world class fishery and Idaho’s angling crown jewel, state fisheries managers are willing to spend the money it takes to regain that status.

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Early signs of success

“This year was the first time in more than a decade we’ve seen a significant decline in juvenile lake trout,” said park fish biologist Todd Koel. “There was an increase in the total number of cutthroat being caught.”

The entire Yellowstone Lake watershed is unfettered by the human consumption of hydroelectric power. The 692-mile Yellowstone River is undammed. The wild nature of the system is part of the allure for these millions who marvel at the lake’s beauty each year, but it means the hydrological system has had limited resources.

Mission: To protect, preserve and enhance Yellowstone by funding projects beyond the financial capacity of the National Park Service. Founded in 1996 by a group of dedicated citizens, the nonprofit Yellowstone Park Foundation has since raised more than $60 million for the park.

The additional funding means more nets in the water, more man hours and next year, another boat on the lake.

Until now. Yellowstone Park Foundation is the primary fundraising partner for Yellowstone National Park and has donated to the park’s native fish program for more than 10 years. In March 2012, YPF cemented its commitment to Yellowstone cutthroat recovery with a donation of $1 million, and a fundraising goal of another $1 million annually through 2016, if necessary. Already, it’s making a difference.

Yellowstone Park Foundation

“Lake trout probably won’t be completely eradicated [in Yellowstone Lake],” said Pat Byorth, Staff Attorney for Montana Water Project. However, biologists are learning creative ways to help cutthroat survive even in the presence of these predators, he said. “It’s more than just putting down lake trout. The product of these efforts has greater implications.”

Tyler Allen has been a staff writer for Outlaw Partners since July 2012.

In October 2012, a museum-quality exhibit called Destination Yellowstone opened in the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. YPF, partnering with the Yellowstone Association, the NPS and the airport, installed a mural depicting iconic Yellowstone wildlife, a web-based, LCD park map, a live webcam of Old Faithful, and a 55-inch interactive touch screen with Yellowstone facts, photos and information on YPF. Approximately 850,000 passengers came through the airport in 2012 – up 50,000 from the previous year, according to Airport Director Brian Sprenger. Visitors to Yellowstone make up a significant portion of those travelers. The new exhibit offers them “important information before they get there,” says park superintendent Dan Wenk. “When they return and want to get involved, with the YPF exhibits, they can find out how.” More at ypf.org.

Trusted Expertise in Big Sky

Jeff Helms

M: 406.539.0121 E: jeff@sothebysrealty.com bigskysir.com All information is derived from MLS sources and deemed reliable, however, is not guaranteed. Data is subject to error, omissions, prior sales, price change or withdrawal without notice and approval of purchase by Seller. We urge independent verification of each and every item submitted, to the satisfaction of any prospective purchaser. 73 explorebigsky.com Mountain






8 degrees south of the equator By Eric Ladd | photos by brian niles and megan paulson





Bali is an island of contrast. Denpasar, the capital, is a bustling city with traffic-choked streets. Amed, a hidden group of villages on the island’s stunning eastern tip, is home to fishermen, local craftsmen and diving. From Starbucks to fresh fish markets, seaside surf towns to 3,000-meter peaks, nightclubs to sacred temples, thatched hut resorts to the finest five-star hotels in the world – contrast defines this island paradise. A province in the country of Indonesia, Bali is 2,147-square miles, the 12th largest in the archipelago of 18,000 islands. Ninety percent of the 3,891,000 Balinese are Hindu, and the rest Muslim. Made famous for its beaches, culture and laidback vibe in the 1970s, its popularity has grown in the last decade, drawing tourists for its surf, arts, night clubs and appearance in the film Eat, Pray, Love. Dubbed “Island of the Gods,” Bali has several distinct regions. The southern part is considered the island’s heart, and here, a bustle of trendy resorts, packed beaches, entertainment, shopping and nightlife abounds. Verging on a step back in time, the eastern region is more low-key, lending itself to relaxing days spent exploring the rugged beaches, temples and mountainous terrain. Many locals here make their living fishing from traditional outrigger boats and tending to rice paddies by hand in the shadow of Mount Agung, the island’s highest and most sacred volcano. Although many parts of Bali are nearly bursting at the seams with trash and scooters, and it’s had trouble evolving with the rapid increase in tourism, the country still holds amazing getaways for adventurous travelers. A visit there could be compared to a less refined Hawaiian island experience, with a rich culture that will leave even the most seasoned traveler in a sense of…ahh. 76 Mountain






bali: “Island of the Gods”

Where to stay and what to do: Surf Camp: Padang Padang

This premier boutique surf camp will introduce you to some of the finest breaks in the world – and also a social experiment worthy of reality TV. Located on the southern end of the island, this small spot is hidden in the jungle off a dirt road. The lodging is quality, and breakfast and lunch are served family style. Seasoned guides teach surf sessions twice daily. At night, guests typically go out for dinner together in neighboring villages or sit around the pool in hammocks reliving the day’s adventures. Bring good surf booties, a rash guard and a book. Tip: A minimum four-night stay is required to book, but longer is suggested. Request Tina as your instructor. balisurfingcamp.com

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Boutique Luxury Resort: Desa Seni

An eco-friendly resort with a beautiful soul, Desa Seni is an oasis in the chaos that is Bali. Its grounds are manicured down to the hand-trimmed blades of grass, and its vibrant sounds and colors are exactly how you would imagine an Indonesian resort. Located in the western Bali village of Canngu, it’s a relatively small place focused on yoga, meditation and organic foods. The vast majority of food served is harvested from the property’s gardens. In the center of the resort is a saltwater lap pool surrounded by refurbished historical buildings dating back hundreds of years. Within a day the staff will know you by name and know your favorite cocktail. Tip: A daily regimen of yoga in the outdoor studio, organic food and Thai Massage is just what the doctor ordered. desaseni.com


Luxury Home

Stay: Amed, Soujourn -Ventures

Sojourn-Ventures has quite possibly one of the finest homes in Bali available for rent, Villa Paradiso. Located in Amed, a fishing village on the eastern shore of Bali, it’s owned by an ex-pat couple that has mastered the art of entertainment. Staff can arrange meals, daily adventures, private poolside Balinese dancers and shuttles to any island location. Making you feel part of the village family, they ensure you leave with a happy but pained smile (who would want to leave?!). The beaches are rocky, so get ready for spending time poolside. If you are a snorkeler or scuba diver, you’re in luck because it’s home to some of the finest in the world. Tip: Get the fish curry and spring rolls at Apa Kipar, and go play music with the staff at Pazzo’s. sojourn-ventures.com/travel

Green Resort: Ubud Green

Located in the back streets of Ubud, the artist village Ubud Green was made famous by Julia Roberts. A medium sized resort with a focus on being environmentally friendly and low-key, it’s just five minutes off the ‘strip’ of Ubud. An escape with luxury accommodation overlooking rice paddies, its modern rooms have private pools and butler service. The in-house restaurant provides quality food in a dining area overlooking the resort and jungle from a third story deck. Tip: Have the in-house Ubud drivers get you to and from the markets. Try Lotus Café for a nice meal. ubudgreen.com

10 tips and suggestions for a trip to Bali: 1.

Minimum of 14 days suggested; try to fly Los Angeles to Singapore for most direct option.


Plan two days to go to the Gili Islands. Avoid the magic mushroom shakes unless you’re ready to spend all night in the clubs.


Bring a water bottle. Bali relies on bottled water, and the plastic pollution is substantial. More than 50,000 bottles of water are thrown away monthly. Don’t be part of the problem.


Get ready for wheeling and dealing with the taxis. It’s friendly but intense.


Wi-fi is everywhere.


Bintang is the beer of choice.


Get a past-life reading! Yep, it’s for real: Find out who you were in another life. Learn more at baligoddessretreats.asia.


Go whitewater rafting. Details at alam-amazing-adventures.com.


Don’t miss beers and sunset at the Single Fin Bar.

10. Visit Uluwatu Temple (pictured) – it’s crowded but worth it. Sarongs are required and available to rent for the day.





Microbion Corporation Addressing global biofilm control in health, industry By Megan Paulson Microbial biofilm is a highly resistant form of bacteria that is nearly everywhere. In fact, it resides in everything from toothbrushes to the geysers in Yellowstone National Park. In the last 20 years, science has shown that 98 percent of all bacteria on Earth exist as microbial biofilms. Making up roughly 50 percent of the Earth’s biomass, they provide a highly resistant protective shield for bacteria and fungi, facilitating their survival for billions of years, even in extreme environments. More than 80 percent of all infections are related to microbial biofilms, according to the National Institutes of Health. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have affirmed biofilms are highly resistant to frontline antibiotics, causing more than 65 percent of hospital-acquired infections. Microbial biofilms also cause many industrial problems, including biocorrosion of oil pipelines, and biofouling of ship’s hulls, pulp and paper manufacturing, and water filtration systems used for desalinization and production of safe drinking water. For Bozeman-based Microbion Corporation, advancements in the microbial biofilm industry have propelled the company into a wave of opportunity. Microbion is developing a platform of broad-spectrum bismuththiol (BT) antimicrobial compounds effective

against nearly all antibiotic-resistant bacteria tested and their microbial biofilms. “We believe that BTs may be the most potent, broad-spectrum antimicrobial/antibiofilm compounds developed to date,” says Dr. Brett Baker, Microbion Founder, President and CEO. The company’s revolutionary compounds are showing several key advantages over current frontline antibiotics. This, Baker notes, makes the BT technology unique in both health and industrial settings. Globally, market trends and unmet health needs have shifted, emphasizing the need for new classes of antimicrobials that address lifethreatening, antibiotic-resistant infections and microbial biofilms.

“Antimicrobial resistance... is becoming more dangerous... urgent and consolidated efforts are needed to avoid regressing to the preantibiotic era.” -Dr. Margaret Chan,

Director, World Health Organization, March 2012.

Last year, the World Health Organization identified antibiotic resistance as a global health crisis. In response, Congress in 2012 passed the GAIN (Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now) Act with broad bipartisan support. This legislation provides incentives and FDA regulatory priority to companies developing new drugs to fight antibiotic resistant infections.

80% NIH has stated that 80% of infections are related to microbial biofilms

In October 2012, the Defense Medical Research and Development Program awarded Microbion and team a $2.5 million grant, provided through the U.S. Department of Defense. With the funding Microbion, working with the University of Pennsylvania and University of California - San Francisco, will conduct Phase 2 human trials to treat post-surgical orthopedic infections with Microbion’s BisEDT, an antimicrobial drug currently in regulatory development. Scientists successfully completed the therapeutic drug’s Phase 1 trials in 2011. “This is a critically important area for the global community, as almost all current antibiotics are losing effectiveness against antibiotic resistant bacterial and fungal infections,” Dr. Baker said. The technology has the potential to improve outcomes for more than 100,000 orthopedic implant patients suffering from post-operative infections in the United States each year. More at microbioncorp.com

The bright colors in this picture are created by biofilms thriving in a very acidic hot spring pool in Yellowstone National Park.

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High-level science in Big Sky

Yellowstone Club Community Foundation and University of Montana begin new partnership By Emily Stifler

Meadow Creek is a dynamic place. A dozen miles south of Big Sky, it drains into the Taylor Fork of the Gallatin River. A major landslide has caused significant changes to the geology and biological life cycles there in recent years, including altering elk migration. Part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Meadow Creek is also home to wolves, grizzly bears and native fish. Supported in part by the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, Rick Graetz, a University of Montana geography professor, has studied this micro-ecosystem and others nearby for the past two years. The Big Sky area and the upper Gallatin are an integral part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Graetz said. Graetz first visited Big Sky as a high schooler in the 1960s, then did a stint as a professional ski patroller in the resort’s early days, and is now a parttime resident. A UM professor since 2003, he has published many books on Yellowstone and other parts of the world. “He’s so impassioned by it,” said YCCF executive director Casey

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Schwartz. “Yellowstone National Park is in his bloodlines.”

sketches, and comparing the unstable geology to that of nearby Big Sky.

Graetz is leading a larger collaboration in Big Sky as well, bringing University of Montana programming to Yellowstone Club’s Outdoor Pursuits program, Lone Peak High School, and a community lecture series.

Graetz described LPHS as “forward thinking,” and the Yellowstone Club as “progressive,” explaining it’s uncommon for a private club to have a working relationship with a university.

Building on his research in the area, Graetz is planning to work with students in the high school’s expeditions program. The idea, says LPHS science and math teacher Paul Swenson, is to do long range studies on plant succession, geomorphology and changing habitat. Swenson and environmental studies teacher Nancy Sheil are leading the project for the school.

For the Yellowstone Club, this partnership is about being good neighbors. “[That’s] an essential part of who we are at the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation,” said board president Sam Byrne, also the club’s principal owner.

“For the kids in kindergarten now, by the time in they’re in high school, they’ll have seven or eight years of research from previous classes they can build on,” Swenson said, explaining that students could still be working on it 20 years from now. The school’s interdisciplinary approach uses the project to combine science, English, social studies, math and art. Kids are writing down observations, shooting photos to be used in long-term studies, doing field


“We want to support the university to have a bigger footprint in our community,” Schwartz said. “That’s our long term goal.” For this winter, that means public lectures, and also partnering with other regional organizations like the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the Big Sky Community Corporation. “How many kids take science [class] in Yellowstone National Park?” Schwartz asks. “We take it for granted, but it’s an exceptional experience.”

LPHS students on the Meadow Creek bridge.

Photo by Paul Swenson




Please visit the gallery to view our extensive collection of fine works of ar t in the Main Gallery, the Charsam Room, and the new Private Collection Salon.

“Bandits” Ezra Tucker Acrylic on Canvas 40 x 30 (Partial Image)

Picture life here

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Gary Lynn Roberts, A Crisp Morning, 30” x 40” By Ryan Dorn

The first thing you notice about Gary Lynn Roberts is his slow, Texas drawl, which stands out a bit in Montana. Next, you see his devotion to God and love for his family.

g a ry ly n n ro b e rt s

“What defines me is my faith,” he says. “My family is my strength. They are the reason I paint.” A classical oil painter, Gary Lynn’s pieces are primarily set in the 1870s and 1880s, and most depict vibrant scenes of cowboys or American Indians living in the historic West. His style ranges between impressionism and realism, leaning more toward impressionism, he says. Gary Lynn, 60, moved his family to Montana from his native Texas in 2008. After a show at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, he and his wife Nancy vacationed in the Bitterroot Valley. “I kind of trapped my wife,” he recalls. “I fell in love with it up here but couldn’t get her to move. She came to Hamilton and said, ‘Now if I could live here, I’d move.’ So, I jumped all over it.” Within 24 hours he’d rented a house and a studio. They had two weeks to move from Austin and enroll their daughters in school in Hamilton.

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For the Roberts, paintings are a family affair. Nancy helps In nearly 50 years of painting, Gary Lynn has had sucwith historic research, and daughters Mary, 15, and Anna, cess in both art sales and awards. 12, help frame his finished work. The older children have long been out of the house, but they too have helped, with In 2009, he won both the C.M. Russell Art Auction Joe building frames and Jeannie working at the Legacy GalPeople’s Choice Award and the Honorary Chairman lery in Jackson, Wyoming where Award for his painting, After the their father’s work is sold. Shower. This painting depicts three cowboys riding down a dark and “ [ Pe o p l e ] e x p e r i e n c e G a r y Ly n n ’s Gary Lynn’s father Joe Rader muddy street with packhorses in w o r k e m o t i o n a l l y. I t g r a b s a v i e w e r Roberts was also an accomtow, clouds breaking on a mountain and creates the illusion that the plished artist and commercial above them. viewer is in the scene, standing painter. In the days before fine just behind the point that the art galleries were popular, he More recently, Gary Lynn won a r t i s t p a i n t e d fr o m . ” provided for his family by paintthe 2012 Best of Show at the John ing signs for businesses in their Clymer Museum Auction for his small hometown outside of painting Colors of Fall. Houston, Texas. Gary Lynn followed suit, and each week his mother drove him to grocery stores to paint the newest His paintings transport viewers to the place and time specials on their windows. depicted in the work, says Colin Mathews, owner of Creighton Block Gallery in Big Sky, who represents “I think I got $8, and I would do 20 of them,” he says, Gary Lynn. laughing. “I made a lot of money as a 14-year-old. You’d make $1 mowing a lawn, so I made a whole lot more than “[People] experience Gary Lynn’s work emotionally,” my friends.” Mathews said. “It grabs a viewer and creates the illusion that the viewer is in the scene, standing just behind the In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the elder Roberts moved point that the artist painted from.” his family to Austin where a thriving art scene was emerging. There, he was finally able to support himself entirely with fine art painting. Gary Lynn also phased out of the sign business, and by age 22 he was focusing entirely on his own paintings. Despite similar paths, Joe Roberts never pressured his son to be a painter. “He had a philosophy that I share with him to this day,” Gary Lynn said. “If someone wants to be an artist, you can’t stop him… The ones that are successful have it in their blood.” Gary Lynn Roberts, Aspen Grove, 24” x 36”





“I’ve been blessed with an imagination I think comes from God,” Gary Lynn says. “I don’t necessarily need to see it to paint it. Growing up, I thought I was raised in the West since [I lived in] Houston. I didn’t know any different. I had horses, and I did rodeo. That was most natural for me.” Today, Gary Lynn prefers painting the American West of the 1870s and 1880s, because he’s drawn to the spirit of the frontier. “It was an industrialist age… If you had the courage, you could go west and make your fortune. That spirit has always interested me.” Many of his paintings combine “extraordinary depth of background, with a powerful sense of motion coming toward the viewer in the foreground,” Mathews says. “His mastery of the color wheel enables him to achieve subtle spatial effects through careful juxtapositions of color.”

Gary Lynn Roberts, No place to forge, 28” x 40”

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Gary Lynn’s studio is a nondescript building on Highway 93 in Hamilton. Inside, the furniture is sparse and the decorations few. The walls are filled with history books and paintings. A work of his father’s hangs in his office. He says he wishes he had more. Because Gary Lynn paints wet on dry, the first layer must sit for three days before more paint can be applied. Six paintings in different stages sit along a shelf. A colorful woven Indian blanket, a beat-up saddle and a holster with a gun are a few of the historical items piled into a corner for reference. Although he enjoys history and tries to be as accurate as possible, Gary Lynn won’t label himself a historical painter. Living in Montana, he is inspired by the landscape around him, according to his family. Continued on p. 89




The view from 1620 Chief Joseph Trail kitchen window

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This information is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change, withdrawal and approval of purchase by owner. All information from sources deemed reliable, but not guaranteed by Montana Living - Big Sky Real Estate, independent investigation is recommended. For properties being purchased at The Club at Spanish Peaks approval for membership is required prior to closing. If you are currently working with another real estate agent, this is not intended as a solicitation.

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pick your pearls.

Gary Lynn Roberts, Honoring Nature

“It was an industrialist age… If you had the courage, you could go west a n d m a k e y o u r fo r t u n e . T h a t s p i r i t h a s always interested me.”

Continued from p. 86 “Sometimes, we’ll be driving down the road, and he’ll be very quiet,” Nancy says. “Then he’ll say, ‘Believe it or not, I’m working right now.’” “And even [sketching] at church,” his daughter Mary says.


“You didn’t need to add that,” Gary Lynn says, laughing. “We could have left that alone.” Gary Lynn Roberts is still busy. He stays behind the easel as much as possible, working six days a week, from the time he drops Mary and Anna off at school until the family gathers for dinner. He finishes more than 30 paintings a year and receives requests from galleries all over the West.

Unique, handmade jewelry Extensive selection of South Sea & Tahitian pearls Exotic stones, raw diamonds, fine silver and 18-22 karat gold

Despite a painting career spanning five decades, Gary Lynn has no plans to slow down. “For me it’s not work, it’s a labor of love.”

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Steaks, chops and more from Big Sky Country

Open Range by Max Lowe

If you’ve ever been to the Mint Bar and Café in Belgrade, you know it has a unique and eclectic ambiance. The décor is like an old Montana ranch home, adorned with fine woodwork. The classic, mirrorbacked bar is complete with humble and welcoming bartenders. The photographs on the walls depict the regular and faithful clientele that have dined at the restaurant since its doors opened. The food is classic and artistically prepared by head chef Katie Hagmeier. The menu features grass-fed Montana beef and bison, locally grown vegetables and flavors that have been tried and perfected by owner Jay Bentley.

A perfectly grilled flank steak with seasonal greens is a staple on the Mint’s menu. photo by max lowe

Bentley’s latest venture is Open Range, a cookbook written together with his friend Patrick Dillon that hit shelves in October 2012. Themed “steaks, chops and more from Big Sky Country,” it features Bentley’s original recipes, some of which are Mint standards; others come from across the country, from his journey through life.

L: One of the Mint’s regular and faithful clientele who’s been on the wall since its doors opened. center: Jay Bentley keeping things good natured and friendly at the Mint. photos by max lowe R: Soup and local beer photo courtesy of jay bentley

Inspired by a love for delicious food, Bentley began cooking at age 18. “I would go into the fridge at home and just pick out ingredients I thought would go well together,” Jay recalled. “Sometimes they would turn into something awesome… It was always a learning experience.” Bentley came to Montana from New Orleans – where he was working as a realtor – in the late ‘80s when he got a job developing affordable houses for low and middleincome families in Helena. After several days of fly fishing on the Missouri River, he knew he was here to stay. Ask what attracted him to Montana, and Bentley will take you outside and say, “Look around, there is a reason they call it the last best place.” Open Range’s recipes are simple and straightforward. He believes that like classic music, many great food ideas of the past have a life of their own and should be given their due in today’s modern repertoire. “My core menus have always tried to reflect the best of the tried and true, while the daily specials offer the chance to be innovative and creative,” Bentley says. “I hate pretension and the kinds of menus where every minute ingredient is touted as tonight’s special. That usually reinforces my belief that fusion is an excuse for many chefs with poor or no taste to pile on a whole lot of exotic ingredients [just] for the sake of [it].” Open Range is not just a cookbook. It’s also a cultural history of Montana and all the things that connect us to it. The recipes and stories let readers imagine they’re sitting around a campfire on a brisk night with friends, sipping bourbon out of a tin cup, or smelling fresh caught trout frying on a skillet over open flame. “I live in a beautiful place, and I have never regretted leaving the cities behind,” Bentley says. “Here, I get to do all the things I deem important. Fly fishing in mountain streams for wild native trout; skiing that first powder up at Big Sky; sitting around a campfire with friends by the banks of the Madison River. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Open Range will be available at The Mint, the Country Bookshelf, and at any Barnes and Noble.

photo by lynne donaldson

Jay Bentley’s Dutch Oven Bison 4 lbs. bison meat, cut into 1 ½ “ cubes 1 c olive oil 1/3 c flour 2 c beef stock or water, plus 2 T beef stock 1 C dark beer – porter or stout 2 – 3 medium carrots, cut in 1” pieces 2 large onions, diced coarsely 4 baking potatoes, cut into 1-½“ pieces 3 bay leaves 3 T granulated garlic 3 T thyme 1 t allspice 1 small can tomato paste ½ c chopped fresh parsley (optional) Salt and pepper to taste In a hot Dutch oven, pot or braising pan, add the oil, sear the bison and set aside. Add the onions and, when they turn transparent, add the flour. Stir in well. When the flour has browned a bit, add the seared meat. Pour in all the liquids, stirring the cooked meat, flour and onions so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the thyme, bay leaves and garlic and cook over low heat for three hours. When the meat is tender, add the potatoes and carrots and cook until they are done but not mushy. Adjust the salt and pepper and serve. The gravy should be fairly thick. If it’s too thick, thin with water or beef stock. Serve in warm bowls with a bit of fresh chopped parsley for color and plenty of crusty bread, and a stout Zinfandel.




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Rustic Elegance

at R a i n b ow R a n c h

Photo by chris davis

A c o u pl e s i t s o n t h e l e at h e r c o u ch b y t h e f i r e pl a c e at R a i n b ow R a n ch L o d g e , drinking cocktails. Jazz plays in the background, and flames lick the hardwood logs. “That was the best snow of the year,” Alexis says. “When you went right to Obsidian, I cut under Lone Tree to the left side of the face. It was blown in with fresh snow all the way.” She sips a Stoli Doli, the pineapple-infused vodka that’s a house specialty. “Obsidian was pretty good, too,” Charles says, and takes a bite of the Wagyu Carpaccio. “It’s still snowing,” he says and smiles. Up for the weekend from Bozeman, they’re celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary at Rainbow Ranch - perhaps the most romantic resort in the area. They skied all day at Moonlight Basin, just up the road, and rolled down to the lodge when the lifts stopped turning.

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Upon arrival, they had fresh-baked cookies in their room; delicious, they’re made by the ranch’s pastry chef Liz Michaels, formerly a pastry designer for Ritz Carlton. Rose petals were strewn across the bed – a surprise touch Charles requested. Intimate details like these set Rainbow Ranch Lodge apart. Its extensive wine list, fine cuisine, serene riverside setting and professional but relaxed staff make it a hidden gem, both for locals and those traveling from afar. The bartender stops by and brings Charles a Twin Cabin. Named for the trailhead just across the Gallatin River from the lodge, it’s Makers Mark infused with pear, house-made ginger soda, served on the rocks with a brandied cherry – nearly as good as skiing powder. At dinner, Alexis orders the trout, and Charles gets the bison. Their server, whose cheeks are pink from snowboarding all day, pairs their meals with Champalou Vouvray, a Chenin Blanc from France’s Loire Valley, and Ladera Cabernet. He knows the offerings – he’s been trained well and has tried everything on the menu. Continued on p. 95

Photo courtesy of Saerack Design







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Just steps from the Gallatin River, Rainbow Ranch is open year round Continued from p. 91 Rainbow has a history of hospitality. The Lemon family homesteaded the land as a cattle ranch in 1919, but realizing it wasn’t ideal for livestock, they began renting cabins and making meals for folks headed from Bozeman to West Yellowstone, calling it the Half Way Inn. Renamed Rainbow Ranch in 1935, the property gained a reputation for fine food, wine and service in the early ‘90s, something current owner Scott Gibson continues to build upon today. The lodge and grounds are elegant, yet with a relaxed Montana sensibility. To boot: Chef Ian Troxler sources many of the restaurant’s menu items from local farms including Trout Culture, Gallatin Valley Botanicals, Amaltheia Organic Dairy, Montana Wagyu Company, Lava Lake Lamb and Yellowstone Grass Fed Beef. Charles and Alexis finish off the night with glasses of Moët & Chandon champagne and a made-from-scratch crème brûlée to share.



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The art and passion of

s ki

When Frances Ackerman first clicked into a pair of skis at age 40, she never envisioned becoming a ski instructor. Growing up in Virginia in a nonathletic family, sport wasn’t on her horizon, and a career as a hospital administrator further added to her cautious nature. Pressure from her three teenage children eventually turned the tables, and Frances, along with her husband Jim, took to the icy hills of Virginia and West Virginia. After almost 10 years without proper training, the Ackermans began honing their skiing in early retirement at Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia. A ski patroller, seeing their openness and willingness to help others, proposed they become patrollers. When Ackerman expressed worry about her ability, the patroller enlisted them both in lessons, and ski school is where they stayed. “I called my son and said, ‘This is the funniest thing, these people want me to be a ski instructor!’” Ackerman recalls. In 1998, while teaching at Canaan Valley, she received her Level I Certification through the Professional Ski Instructors of America. Two years later, seeking bigger mountains and better snow, the Ackermans moved to Angel Fire Resort, New Mexico, where they lived and instructed for six years. There, Ackerman earned her Level II Certification and Level II Children’s Accreditation through PSIA. Continued on p. 98

Frances Ackerman Moonlight Basin


At 58, Ursula Howland has nearly done it all. She’s walked the runway as a child fashion model; flown airplanes; raced downhill courses on 220 cm skis and been a freestyle skier; taught gymnastics, scuba diving, wind surfing and skiing. Howland began skiing at age 19. A year later, while attending university in her native Germany, she saw a job posting to instruct beginner skiers. Not being able to afford skiing otherwise, Howland’s name was first on the sign-up list. “I went to the interview, and they asked how many years of experience I had. I said one season. I didn’t realize they were asking about instruction experience, not skiing experience.” Being a natural athlete, Howland got the job and taught beginner lessons that winter. In 1978, working as a school teacher in the Black Forest region, she also instructed at the Feldberg Ski School and passed her German Level III. In 1986, she moved to Garmisch-Partenkirchen where she worked as ski and watersports instructor for the armed forces. Three year later, she took off to travel the world, searching for a place to settle down. In 1990, she found Montana, the place she would eventually call home. Howland taught skiing at Big Sky Resort that year. Next, she spent a season instructing at Bridger Bowl, and several summers at Mount Selwyn (now Selwyn Snowfield) in New South Wales, Australia. Continued on p. 99

U r s u l a H ow l a n d B i g S k y Re s o r t explorebigsky.com





Continued from p. 96

Trips to visit their son in Big Sky convinced them to relocate again. They bought a home and got on the roster at the Moonlight Basin Snow Sports School in 2006. Also a volunteer at Ophir School, Ackerman saw an empty niche: a ski program for 3-and 4 -year-olds. In 2010 she started the Ski Wees Program with 11 students. Two years later it’s grown to 73 students and added a four-week session to the main six-week program. Ackerman can still remember and relate to the fears of the first-time skier. “In the beginning it was pushing myself enough to do challenging things – moguls, tree runs. It was really hard for me to do those and feel comfortable.”

“Her vibe is infectious to both her clients a n d f e l l ow i n s t ru c t o r s . ” ing from mom, to adults that have been skiing for a long time. Her vibe is infectious to both her clients and fellow instructors.”

Nonetheless, she excelled at skiing, and at age 63 she is one of the resort’s most popular instructors, according to Herb Davis, director of Moonlight’s Snow Sports School.

When teaching young children, Ackerman’s enthusiasm helps put them at ease, allowing the kids to have fun. In adult lessons, she finds that understanding the whole person – acknowledging strengths, weaknesses and fears – forms a bond between student and instructor.

“Frances is incredibly positive, and clients love her,” Davis said. “She works great everywhere, from 3-year-olds separat-

“No matter what level you ski, you can enjoy the sport,” Ackerman says.

98 Mountain




Continued from p. 97

In 1991, while working as the first woman in the hard goods department at Bob Ward and Sons in Bozeman, she sold a duffle bag to Frank Smith, owner of the TowHaul Corporation, which builds equipment for open pit mines. Later that year, he signed up for a ski lesson. “The first time skiing, it took Frank two hours to get down one run,” Howland recalled. “He is a 150 percent thinker – everything had to be explained and broken down into the physics and biomechanics of it. We met every two weeks that season, and by the end of it he skied [down] the Bridger Ridge.” Today, Howland’s instruction style is still a combination of this analytical approach, combined with a practical German application. “There are three basics, and they apply to every skier, beginner, intermediate or expert,” Howland says. “You need to be on the ball of the foot, perpendicular to your ski and turn with your legs.” In addition, she says, there are “three ingredients in every turn: rotation, edge and pressure. Add in three ways to

We’ve taken

change edge, and you’ve got the simple math equation of skiing: three times three. “If you can get those in your head and in your body, you got it, most of it.” There’s also the all-important 90-degree quadrant. You’ll have to read her book to learn more about that… when she finishes it, sometime between skiing and flying. In 1995, Smith gave Howland his airplane, a Cessna 205, to learn to fly. By 1996, she achieved her private pilot rating, and Smith hired her as a researcher for TowHaul. Next, she added commercial, glider and instrument ratings to her pilot skills and is now flying TowHaul’s King Air as the copilot. She also tows and flies gliders for Big Sky Jet, Inc. Skiing is Howland’s passion, and though flying is now her main job, she still finds time to bring her skills to the slopes. “I love teaching … Skiing is what I love the most.”

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Southwest Montana and Yellowstone area hot springs by felicia ennis

Plink, plink, plink. I woke to the sound of melting snow dripping from my roof. Flakes were still falling gently on the rusty green and yellow leaves in my backyard in Livingston. It was the perfect day for hot springs. I drove 70 miles north to White Sulphur Springs, an unassuming town with an outstanding resource of hot water. These healing waters are laden with sulfur, magnesium and lithium, and its pools are drained, cleaned and refilled daily. At 105 degrees, the inside pool is like a steam room and hot pool mixed into one. “If you start to feel soggy, it’s time to move into the next pool,” a local soaker advised me. Geothermal features like the springs at White Sulphur come from deep in the Earth’s crust and are found worldwide in earthquake and volcano belts.

White Sulphur Springs

Photo by Emily Stifler

Water temperatures in the springs vary greatly. Some aren’t warm enough for a winter dip, and some – like most in Yellowstone National Park – are scalding hot. But quite a few in the Yellowstone region have temperatures between 90 and 106 degrees Fahrenheit, just right for a nice, long soak. The hot springs in southwest Montana run the gamut from primitive wilderness to historic resort to modern athletic facility. Here are a few favorites.

Chico Hot Springs Resort Chico sits at 5,270 feet in the Paradise Valley between Livingston and Gardiner. Pioneers have written about these springs since the 1860s, and the 40-room Chico Warm Springs Hotel opened in 1900. Today, Chico is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Soak: Large pool maintained at 96 F, side pool averages 103 F Ski: 53 miles to Bridger Bowl Special quality: Worth visiting solely for its great food




Bozeman Hot Springs Jeremiah Mathews first opened Bozeman Hot Springs in 1879 as a bathhouse. Fully renovated in 2011, the facility now boasts a fitness center, nine pools, swimming lessons and a party room. Soak: 90-104 F Ski: 45 miles to Big Sky/Moonlight Special quality: Water temperatures vary greatly between pools

Boiling River

photo by max lowe

Boiling River One of very few hot pools in Yellowstone National Park open for soaking, the Boiling River sits where its 150-degree namesake meets the icy Gardiner River. The two swirl together and are captured in a series of primitive stone pools. Soak long enough, and you can imagine the Native Americans who spent time here in centuries past. It is closed during spring runoff. Soak: 140 F in undiluted channels, 50-120 F where water mixes with the Gardiner River Ski: 55 miles to Cooke City, a backcountry haven Special quality: Situated on the 45th parallel, halfway between the equator and North Pole

jackson hot springs The 9,000-square-foot rustic lodge was built in 1950 and houses a giant oak dance floor, a large stone fireplace and a sturdy bar. More than 50 wild game trophies from several continents line the walls. Don’t miss the delicious homemade food at the Crossing Bar & Grill at Fetty’s in nearby Wisdom. Soak: 100-104 F, Olympic-sized pool Ski: 44 miles to Lost Trail, 29 miles to Maverick Mountain Special quality: Wildebeests in Montana

Fairmont Hot Springs Fairmont has it all: a 350-foot waterslide, an 18-hole golf course, two Olympic-sized pools with unlimited hot, healing water, a fitness center and camping. Soak: Pools are fed by 155-degree water, cooled to various temperatures from 98-105 F. Ski: 30 miles to Discovery Ski Area Special quality: 350-foot enclosed water slide


Based in Livingston, Montana, Felicia creates customized travel itineraries and group excursions to Patagonia, Morocco, Montana and Antarctica for groups, couples and solo adventurers who love the serendipity and thrill of exploring the world. bellatreks.com




The long, clean line A ski traverse of the Gallatin Crest By Forrest McCarthy

A map of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem hangs on my office wall. Over the years, I’ve drawn a series of black lines on the map. They often follow the crest of a mountain range, a river or creek, or sometimes a combination. My favorites are the longest and straightest lines – the crest of the Wind River Range, the Thoroughfare River, the Wyoming Range Trail, the South Fork of the Shoshone River. The lines represent routes I’ve traveled by ski, foot, packraft or mountain bike. There are more lines at the bottom of the map, closer to my home in Jackson, Wyoming, and also a few small ones at the top; these pass through the Spanish Peaks and the Beartooths, and alongside the Yellowstone River. Despite these, I was eager to draw something more substantial, something more aesthetic – a long, clean line. Twenty years ago, Wes Bunch and I started skiing in the Teton Range together. Back then the Tetons were a blank canvas, with only a few of the obvious lines drawn, just enough to inspire us. Our mentor and my housemate at the time, Tom Turiano, had a map of the range and the goal of skiing all the named summits. Most of them had never been climbed in the winter, let alone skied. Wes and I, with our old, heavy, clunky ski and camping gear, followed Tom on many long suffer-fests. We relished every minute and mile, and affectionately named the adventures “Tom Foolery.” Over the years, Wes and I have continued making annual pilgrimages to ski in the mountains together. In the summer of 2010, however, Wes had his left knee replaced. He took the following winter off from Jackson and skiing. The next May, my cell phone pinged with a text from Wes. “I can ski Forrest, I can Ski!” With 2011’s record spring snowfall, June wouldn’t be too late to complete a long ski traverse. In a phone message, I proposed the Gallatin Crest. He texted me back. He was in. Continued on p. 104




Above: A portion of the author’s routes drawn on a map of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Map ©1996 Yellowstone ecoysystem studies


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Continued from p. 102 We started at Daly Creek in the northwest corner of Yellowstone Park. At the trailhead, at 7,000 feet, the wide, sagebrush-covered drainage was free of snow. Several miles of brisk hiking on a cold June morning brought us to snowline and our first critter tracks: Ursus arctos horribilis, grizzly bear. Soon after, we saw elk tracks, then deer tracks. Gaining the Gallatin Crest at timberline, we crossed bighorn sheep tracks. Mountain temperatures had dropped below freezing the last several nights, creating a solid crust atop the saturated spring snow. We made good time along the crest, and by late morning we rested on the 10,301-foot summit of Ramshorn Peak. The Madison Range filled the horizon to the west: Imp Peak, Koch Peak, Lone Mountain, the Sphinx and Gallatin Peak. To the east, Paradise Valley shined a deep wet green with Emigrant Peak, Mount Cowen and Black Mountain forming the imposing skyline of the Northern Absaroka. Our curiosity and imaginations soared as we drew imaginary lines across these landscapes and mountains. Skiing north from the top of Ramshorn, the first thousand feet was perfect corn snow. Wes hooted, his grin visible for the duration of the descent. When the crust gave way at 9,000 feet, I tumbled head over heels into softening afternoon snow. Our progress slowed as we traversed around Fortress Mountain, across questionable avalanche slopes. Fog settled in and with it, drizzle. Beetle-killed whitebark pine covered the slopes on either side as we trudged along the Gallatin Crest to Eaglehead Mountain. We made our way north to a public use cabin at Windy Pass, the crest gradually rising back above 10,000 feet. The snow was firmer again, our route straighter, and our de-

The cozy Windy Pass Cabin, available through the Gallatin National Forest for public use during the summer months, allowed McCarthy and Bunch to forgo carrying camping equipment.




The narrow spine of the Gallatin Range provides a high altitude ski route through Montana wilderness. Photos courtesy of Forrest McCarthy

termination resolute. The fog occasionally lifted, allowing seductive glimpses of the surrounding mountains. Despite the fatigue of 20 miles and 6,000 vertical feet, our excitement continued to grow. The Windy Pass Cabin is managed by the Gallatin National Forest, and for a phone call and $20, they gave us the combination to its door. The cabin has a wood stove, four bunks, solid walls, a roof, chairs, cooking equipment and charm. It beats the hell out of sleeping on snow. For us, it also meant significantly lighter packs. Tired and hungry, we inhaled our dinner of freeze-dried pasta before lying down for a few hours of fitful sleep. At 4 a.m., the alarm on my wristwatch shattered the silence with its piercing beeps, and we brewed a vat of cowboy coffee. Sweetened with hot chocolate, it washed down our breakfast of oatmeal and PopTarts. We left the cabin at first light, worried we should have started even earlier – it froze overnight, but barely. It was a few miles to the 9,945-foot Sentinel, and kicker skins, carbon fiber skis and caffeine propelled us over the morning crust. The Gallatin Crest north of this peak is magical. Though far from straight, it hovers above tree line at about 10,000 feet, and is a natural pathway through a rugged maze of mountains and valleys.

The terrain was complex and exposed enough that we were rarely bored. Nor were Wes and I the only ones to use this route – we followed a coyote’s tracks for more than five miles. On Peak 10,059 we crossed a giant fivetoed weasel track: Gulo gulo, the glutton, wolverine. At the western end of Peak 9,690, we were confronted with negotiating a 100-foot wall of rock by traversing sketchy, 40-degree avalanche slopes warming in the afternoon sun. We picked our way carefully, factoring every convexity, concavity, wind scoop, recent slide, tree and nuance into our decision-making. After 30 minutes, we reached a lower angle slope of whitebark pines, relieved for the final safe passage back to the crest.

Impatiently, Wes and I picked our way along, balancing the risk of exposing ourselves to a lightning strike on the ridge against the avalanche danger of traversing its flanks. The storm subsided as we began our ascent to Hyalite Peak, and on the summit, clearing skies and pan-

Skiing through beetle-ravaged conifers for a mile to Crater Lake, I noticed younger, healthy “The final ridge from Crater green trees, as Lake to Hyalite Peak was well as the ocnarrow and corniced, dropcasional ancient ping away steeply on either matriarch that side. And if that wasn’t had resisted the enough, a storm cell colravenous pests. lided with the crest, visibility Here, I saw sur- dropped, and thunder and vival and hope. lightning filled the sky.” The final ridge from Crater Lake to Hyalite Peak was narrow and corniced, dropping away steeply on either side. And if that wasn’t enough, a storm cell collided with the crest, visibility dropped, and thunder and lightning filled the sky. It was already mid-afternoon, and we had just enough daylight remaining to complete the traverse.

After removing our skins for the last time, we descended Hyalite’s northwest side. A small cornicedrop provided the final technical challenge, and lower down, negotiating Apex Falls the final route-finding challenge. Soon after, we cruised the remaining three miles along a packed trail to Palace Butte Campground,

Wesley Bunch makes his way along the crest of the Gallatin Range, on Ramshorn Peak.

oramic vistas greeted us. To the north, we saw Alex Lowe Peak, named for the famous Bozeman climber killed by an avalanche in the Himalaya in 1999. Having worked with Alex at Exum Mountain Guides in the Tetons years ago, seeing the peak reminded me of his boundless energy and enthusiasm for the mountains, something that continues to inspire me today. We celebrated our final summit with a festival of grins, high-fives, hugs, photographs, Clif Bars and a Red Bull.


a road and our ride.Wes and I arrived back in Jackson late that night after two days, 45 miles and 12,000 vertical feet of skiing, multiple blisters and a final five-hour car ride. I was supposed to be at work the following morning. At home, I limped upstairs and took 600 milligrams of Advil PM. Before the bliss of accomplishment and ibuprofen settled in, I visited my map of the Greater Yellowstone and drew a beautiful, long and aesthetic line across the top of it.



Kent Davis (Madwolf)

d Wood her and Tod Kevin Kelle

Robert Kirschlager Rathole + Dobe (Mike Donovon)

JC & Kathleen 1994 Rusty Squire

Dan “Bucky� Bilanon, Devon White, Julia Nichols

Annaleis Miller

Charlie Nun emake




Early Ski School


history By Marcie Hahn-Knoff

Gary “Chicken Fry” Collins arrived in Big Sky country by accident. He’d planned to spend the winter of 19731974 as a ski instructor in Taos, New Mexico, but the season began with no snow. So, he hopped in his van and meandered north with an idea of settling in Steamboat, Colorado. Upon arriving, Collins discovered a booming resort community had replaced the sleepy ski town he’d left only a couple years prior. Not one for crowds, he pulled to the side of the road and considered his next move. Thoughts of Big Sky, a new resort in Montana, lingered in his mind. It seemed promising, but at 21 years old and with only $35 in his pocket, it felt out of reach. As luck would have it, just hours later a semi-truck hauling sheep flipped over outside town, and Collins scooped up a quick $50 by helping clear the mess. He drove north the next day, arriving in Big Sky in time for the ribbon cutting. After a trip to human resources, he had himself a job and a room.

Soon thereafter he earned the nickname Chicken Fry (“C-Fry” for short), slinging eggs for hungry employees as a breakfast cook. Collins saw the magic in Big Sky. It was new but not congested. With tremendous open space, it still felt wild. There was no powder frenzy and plenty of terrain to explore. But it was the people that gravitated to Big Sky in these early days that turned out to be the real treasure. The launch of Big Sky Resort in the early 1970s lured construction workers, snow professionals, entrepreneurs and ski bums like “Chicken-Fry” Collins, attracted by the promise of new adventure, untracked snow and a fresh start. They all fell under the spell of Lone Mountain.

Four decades later, Big Sky has become a world-class ski resort and a thriving year-round community. The individuals who came in those early days laid much of the groundwork that made it possible, and their stories tell of determination, friendship and hard work. Mike McCully embraced that pioneer spirit when he opened the Conoco gas station

in 1972, at the turnoff to Big Sky from Highway 191. At the time, the Meadow area was a hayfield, but McCully could tell change was coming. He recalls days of sub-zero weather and was amazed that the construction on the mountain continued through the most “hard core” weather. One morning in January 1974, the thermometer at the Conoco read -62F. Lynn Bailey (née Poindexter) showed up in 1970, three years before the resort opened, in a Volkswagen bug with her three kids. She’d followed Gustav Raaum, her boss from Jackson Hole, when he was hired as Big Sky Resort’s first CEO. “Everyone I met in Big Sky was from somewhere else, and we quickly created a family of friends,” Bailey says. “It still felt remote in those days, and people relied on their neighbors to get by.” Her kids were welcomed into the one-room Ophir School, the three of them increasing the school population by 30 percent. J.C. Knaub moved to Big Sky from Laurel in 1972, at 17 years old. He had followed his father, Harold “The Coach” Knaub, who moved to town to work construction. J.C. settled into a trailer in Pine Grove. Many Big Sky residents from this generation lived in cars, tents, trailers or old cabins – modern accommodations hadn’t been completed yet.

Under the spell of

40 years down the road photos courtesy of J.C. Knaub




J.C. Knaub popping on Ambush

Watch 1970s Big Sky footage on the Old Big Sky YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/oldbigskymovies. To see or contribute photos from this time period, visit flickr.com/photos/gwcollins.

style, all while starting his own family. Through his efforts, Buck’s has grown from a waypoint on the journey to Yellowstone with no winter business, to the successful lodge it is today. “If anyone needed to learn how to work hard, they just had to spend a month with Mike (Scholz),” Collins says, attributing Scholz’s success to his business acumen.

“Big Sky in the ‘70s felt like it was our own little world. We were all part of something amazing and synergistic.”

“There was an interesting overlap of the old homesteader pioneers and the new ski resort pioneers,” he says. J.C. documented these early years in photos, capturing the homesteaders, the beginnings of development, the raw land, the ski pioneers dropping new lines on Lone Mountain, and his friends outfitted in the height of 1970s ski fashion. “It was a wild area, much more remote than today,” J.C. says. “There was only a two-track logging road up to the mountain when I arrived. The area felt huge. Big Sky in the ‘70s felt like it was our own little world. We were all part of something amazing and synergistic.”

Still calling Big Sky home, J.C. Knaub says the connection to his friends from that era hasn’t faded with time.

“Big Sky was amazing terrain,” Donovan says. “It wasn’t crowded, and it wasn’t a destination area yet. The snow didn’t get skied out, and the gondola made it cool.” Donovan worked his way up and became patrol director in 1979. He left Big Sky in 1981 to attend college and never returned to live in Big Sky. But he left his mark, and Dobe’s, the chute beneath the tram, is named for him. When Mike Scholz’s family purchased Buck’s T-4 in 1972, Scholz saw opportunity. As a young man, he could start a business and live the mountain life-

40 years down the road March 15 – 16, 2013

Mike “Dobe” Donovan was one of Big Sky’s first professional ski patrollers during the season of 1973-1974. There were only eight on the patrol that first year, and many including Donovan had followed Jim Kanzler over from Bridger Bowl. 108


In March 2013, the pioneers of the early resort days will reunite in Big Sky for “40 years down the road,” a celebration to be held at Buck’s T-4. Buck’s owner Mike Scholz has planned a cocktail party and banquet, complete with music from the era, slideshows and a video. “The reunion will be a time to reflect on the journey of friendship, shared space and time,” J.C. Knaub says. “It will be an opportunity to ponder who you were in that moment and who you are now.”


McCully agrees, describing the feeling of reconnecting with fellow Big Sky skiers from that era as “magnified magic love.” “It is a feeling that is difficult to describe,” McCully says, “but it is impactful. Every time we’ve gotten back in touch, something magic happens.”

Marcie Hahn-Knoff has been whooping it up in the powder of the West for the past two decades and now calls Montana home. When not sliding downhill, she helps people buy or sell their own piece of the Big Sky as a real estate broker with Winter & Company Real Estate. Find her at homeinbigsky.com. Knaub’s vintage photos of the era and a collection from others will be shown at the event. Gary “Chicken-Fry” Collins has been busy editing video reel to be shown at the reunion. Collins, who idolized Warren Miller, kept a Super 8 camera and then a VHS camera as constant companions during his 11 years skiing at Big Sky. “Watching the films brings me back in time,” Collins says. “They capture the rich cast of characters of the early 1970s in Big Sky – from construction workers to resort professionals to ski bums – the people that worked hard and played even harder.” For more event information, visit buckst4.com.

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Nate Falconer, Montana State University student and pro-am snowboarder, hikes the jump line at Big Sky Resort’s terrain park. Photo by Max Lowe

gear reviews: INBOUNDS

Skis: Rossignol Squad 7 The new Squad 7s are solid but forgiving, says Grizzly Outfitters’ Andrew Schreiner. Compared to its predecessor, the Super 7, this ski has a lower-profile tail and shovel, and a larger turn radius. “It turns as easy as anything if you’re on the front of your boot, but if you want to go fast, you’re not fighting to make a big turn.” At 5.3 pounds each, they’re relatively light (read: easy on the knees), and the re-designed tip improves performance in the chop, Schreiner said. Available in 188 cm. – E.S. $799.95 rossignol.com/us

Snowboard: Never Summer Legacy I like to consider myself an all mountain rider. So, when throwing down for a new snowboard, I needed something wide enough for the steep and deep, yet responsive enough for narrow-nav trees. I found it: The effortless turn initiation provided by the Legacy’s rocker and sidecut allowed a significant length upgrade without sacrificing playfulness. – Mike Martins $509 neversummer.com

Mitts: Outdoor Research Point N’ Chute One problem has plagued me since I first took to the slopes: cold hands. For 20-some years, I’ve searched from my family’s hand-me-down tub to high-tech gear shops for mittens that let me play in the cold to my heart’s content. Turns out OR’s water-repellent, all leather Point N’ Chute Mitts are the solution. Ahhhh… Primaloft insulation, Gore-Tex protection and a stylish deep-purple undercuff. Sending a very warm high-five to OR. – Kelsey Dzintars $119.00 outdoorresearch.com

110 110


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Helmet: Smith Gage Gone are the days when you didn’t wear a helmet because it looked lame. You gave up on that when you stacked after telling your friends, “Watch this!” That argument has gone the way of the Dodo, thanks to the Smith Gage helmet. Suiting up with this lid gives you so much swag you’ll even be strutting it après. I guarantee the Gage looks better than a soggy beanie. And it holds up better in a crash. – Chris Davis $80 smithoptics.com

Caravan skis Zeph Hallowell began making skis in his Bozeman garage in summer 2011, “because I was bored and wanted a big project.” He’s got three big projects now: the Pig Dog, Zephyr and Daily Driver are made of basalt fiber, bamboo and fiberglass with custom top sheets by local artists available. Hand cut, hand glued and hand pressed. – Tyler Allen Starting at $499 caravanskis.com

Zeph Hallowell at work on a new pair of Caravan skis Photo by Max Lowe

Goggles: Smith I/OX The latest addition to Smith’s Vaporator Series, the I/OX is about seeing more. Their field of view is unmatched by any other goggle, yet the expansive real estate doesn’t compromise helmet fit. The quick lens release technology allows easy swapping in varying light conditions, and the 5x Anti-Fog inner lens keeps its fog prevention promise. – M.M. $175

Jacket: Men’s Outdoor Research Igneo Thermore®, the insulating force behind the Igneo, reduces thickness without sacrificing warmth. Waterproof and breathable, it has high-end features but won’t break the bank. Also: all the pockets you’d expect, plus a detachable powder skirt, removable hood, and double-sliding pit zips. My favorite feature is the simplest – the ThumbDrive cuff, which keeps a tight connection between your sleeve and glove. – M.M. $295 outdoorresearch.com

Baselayer: Bergans of Norway fjellrap Lady Shirt With flatlock seams and stretch merino wool, this top moves with you no matter the activity. An added bonus: Its extra long length doesn’t come untucked from ski pants and covers your backside with running tights on. Wicking, warm and with a wild Euro look, this is my go-to piece unless it’s in the wash. – Katie Morrison $91 bergans.com

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Nate Bosshard at Baldface Lodge Nelson, British Columbia Photo by Nick diamond

Patagonia Men’s Nano Puff Hoody

This is the perfect lightweight jacket for layering. I wear it under a hard shell at the resort and take it as a key piece for the backcountry. The hood adds that extra bit of warmth when you really need it. And one more thing: The Nano makes you look sexy as hell. – Sean Weas $249 patagonia.com

G3 Alpinist High Traction Skins/Love Glove

Built for punishingly steep skin tracks, the G3 Alpinist HighTraction skins are made from high-plush nylon and have 15 percent greater climbing ability than traditional designs. (Note: G3 still makes its regular Alpinist skins, which balance glide with climbing ability.) Tired of pulling gluey gook off your gloves? Check out G3’s Love Gloves ($35). Like flipping a t-shirt inside out, put your arm in, grab the middle of your skin, and retract. From there, they’ll fold up without sticking to themselves. Also good for hiding your transceiver for beacon drills. - E.S. $153.95-179.95 genuinegearguide.com

Dakine Pro II 26 liter backpack

gear reviews: BACKCOUNTRY

A perfect day means good friends, fluffy and stable snow, a two hour hike, 10 minutes of fall line bliss, and a celebratory beer. The right gear is key for this kind of enlightenment. Dakine’s Pro II 26 liter backpack has a dedicated shovel/probe pocket, an insulated hydration sleeve, and a whistle rigged into the chest strap for emergencies (or annoying your friends indoors). Even with skis strapped to it, I found the Pro II rigid and comfortable. Top and back entries make it easy to get into when there’s a perfect photo-op. – Brian Niles $130 dakine.com

Boots - Dynafit Gaia

With four buckles, a 110 flex and an alpine overlap cuff, the Gaia is an everyday boot. The rubber/plastic soles are interchangeable, but I keep the rubber for traction while boot packing. The 102 last is narrow for an AT boot but wider than traditional alpine, and the thermoformable liners fit as is. The men’s version, the Titan ($749), is a staple. New this year, check out the Dynafit ONE PX ($640) – with much greater touring capacity (cuff articulation is 60 degrees, versus the Gaia’s 15), the boot is still stiff on the downhill. This is a sexy three-buckle touring maniac. – E.S. $669 dynafit.com

Snowboard Touring system: Mountain Approach

This Ketchum, Idaho-based company has turned heads in its three years. “We were sick of riding splitboards,” said founder Cory Smith. So they invented a set of 140 cm, lightweight foldable skis with permanent climbing skins that pack into their own custom backpack. The binding accommodates any boot size, and each ski is four pounds. “We’re just trying to give people an alternative.” – E.S. $795 mtnapproach.com




Ski Touring Binding: Dynafit TLT Vertical ST

With these bindings, skinning is so natural it’s almost unimpressive: No more Frankenstein walking or booting out; be gone hip flexor pain. The TLT Vertical ST’s also perform well on the downhill for a skier light on his/her feet – with a ‘release capacity’ of 5-10, they don’t fall off unless you need them to. Specs: made from high strength polymer plastic, CroMo and stainless steel; 520 g. New in 2012, the Radical ST ($499) has better power transmission than the Vertical, but is still light on the uphill for touring monkeys on wide planks. – E.S. $449

Black Diamond Compactor poles

As a backcountry snowboarder, nothing can be more annoying than bulking up my pack for the ride down. Using BD’s Z-pole technology, the Compactors fold up and become basically nonexistent on the descent. Light, strong and incredibly small, your legs will thank you on the way up, and your mind will forget about them on the way down. Adjustable up to 20 c.m. - S.W. $119 blackdiamondequipment.com


Designed by backcountry big mountain skiing maestro Eric Hjorleifson, the HOJI’s are stable, yet nimble. “I could go as fast as I wanted,” our tester said. “They have a light feel, easy to make quick turns.” He liked them so much he ran out and bought a pair. – E.S. $749 4frnt.com

Avalanche Equipment Avalanche transceiver – Whatever beacon you choose, practice with it. A lot. The best one is the one you know how to use really well. Collapsible Shovel – Get one with a metal blade. This is key for digging through avalanche debris, which sets up like cement. Avalanche education – The pros at the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center teach affordable, informative classes all winter. Take one. And get your hands on a copy of Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper.

Probe – Debris can be deep. Get a sturdy, three-meter probe. Partner – Pick a friend you trust. Airbag backpack – The late Theo Meiners, avalanche expert and Alaska heli-guide, called this just another tool in the bag. It’s not the hand of God, but it might up your chances for survival. Medical kit – Tape is essential. Painkillers, steri-strips and gauze are recommended. Know what you have and how to use it.


pants party



Backcountry: Mammut Base Jump Touring Pant

It’s no surprise the Base Jump Touring pants come from a company rooted in the Swiss Alps. Mammut gets five stars with the women’s version – the sublime blend of stretch, warmth and waterproofing doesn’t sacrifice toughness or agility. The brushed interior keeps me warm on cold Big Sky days, while the 3XDRY is crucial for staying dry on long ascents in BC’s Valhalla Range. Other perks: good venting, suspenders, integrated gaiters, reinforced cuffs. Men’s cuts also available. – Megan Paulson $259 mammut.ch



Hard shell: Arc’teryx Sabre/Sentinel

Designed for resort and sidecountry riding, this is the best ski pant known to man (and woman). The freeride-style fit, combined with the classic Arc’teryx articulation in the knees and inseams, gives you steeze and range of motion. The threelayer soft shell Gore-Tex fabric is tech-nasty: The outermost layer is a burly, abrasion resistant nylon; the Gore membrane is waterproof; and the innermost layer is soft, lo-loft flannel. Cargo pockets and hip stash are easy-access on the chairlift, and the zippers are watertight. Thigh vents provide respite on a hot hike. – E.S. $450 arcteryx.com

Onesie: Airblaster Ninja Suit


Riding in the powder-filled B.C. backcountry, I caught my nose, threw a tomahawk, tumbled thrice and a half, and landed upside down in three feet of the fresh and light. I discovered snow in nearly every crevice except down my pants, thanks to this wonderful onesie, my only base layer on the 10-degree day. With a 350-degree zippered waist, optional hood, and moisture-wicking fabric, I’m always ready to kick some ass, even in pink paisley. – K.D. $109.99 myairblaster.com



Everyone needs a pair of hotpants. If you live in a ski town, that means a brightly colored pair made prior to 1990. This is elemental to your survival.

Casual: Horny Toad Jaywalk Pants

A well-fitting, comfortable pair of pants is like a favorite pair of skis. You wear (or ride) them every day and have to make a conscious effort to switch things up. The Jaywalks fit the bill. Their charcoalcolored twill weave looks good off the rack and washes down to a quality vintage look; the 2 percent smattering of spandex allows mobility in the meantime. – T.A. $75 hornytoad.com

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Somewhere in Ski Town, USA, a girl is missing her Obermeyer hot pants Photo by Chris Davis

Photo: Learmond - Skier: Mayr

Revelstoke’s ONLY Small-Group Day Heliskiing 5-Star Lodge and Day Heliski Packages

www.EaglePassHeliSkiing.com 1 877 WAY DEEP explorebigsky.com





Ethnotek laptop Dep Sleeve

Dep means handsome or beautiful in Vietnamese. Since that’s where Ethnotek’s bags are sewn and where company founder/head designer Jake Orak lives half the year, he named the sleeve after a Vietnamese word that says, “dang that’s a good looking laptop sleeve!” Partnering with artisans in Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, Ethnotek incorporates handmade textiles into its bags, as well as sturdy stitching, a big-toothed zipper, and svelte padding. – E.S. $45-55 ethnotekbags.com

Gibbon SlackRack


From late night copy edit sessions to intense political interviews, the GeekDesk keeps you on your feet – literally. Electronic buttons control the elevation, so any Outlaw can stand at a comfortable working height. Pre-set levels make it easy to bring it back to your level. Geek on! Available in several frame sizes. $749 - 799 geekdesk.com

Work consumes most of the daylight hours during the Outlaw winter, and much of the darkness, too. Weekends skiing or ice climbing are a fleeting fix, and the SlackRack is our remedy. Its two-inchwide webbing stretches 12 feet long, enough to wake up your core on the way to the coffee machine. One foot off the ground, it’s perfect for casual slackliners looking to improve skills and balance. Nearly every Outlaw client that’s walked into the office has given it a go, and Bridger Bowl ski patroller Ray Dombroski sent it first try. – T.A. $299.99 gibbon-slacklines.com

Clif Bar Kit’s Organics

New this year, Kit’s Organics are made from a base of dates, and have simple ingredients like berries, cashews, almonds and sea salt. clifbar.com $17.99/box of 12

the outdoor athlete’s guide to

Black Diamond Sprinter USB headlamp

The Sprinter gets you out of the office and onto the trail. It charges via USB port, so while you’re plugging away, it’s fueling up. On the highest setting, 75 lumens, this torch lasts up to six hours, and up to 42 on lower settings. A rear red light keeps you visible to vehicles, and the weather resistant exterior leaves no excuses. – R.C. $69.95 blackdiamondequipment.com

office survival

The Outlaws taking survival to a new level



Photo by Chris Davis


advice from the experts

Go outside every day. It’s a standard in the outdoor industry, says Serene Pelletier, Dakine’s marketing and PR manager. “At Dakine, we take group bike rides at lunch and bring our dogs to work.” In that vein... Bring your dog to work. “Having a dog in the office keeps stress levels low,” says Susan Strible from Ruffwear. “It’s also a constant reminder to get outside more!” Wear sunblock, and try to keep ‘er reeled in when calling in sick on a bluebird pow day. “Nothing gives you away faster than a goggle burn or blown knee,” says Nick Castagnoli, Rossignol public relations guru. “If you work in the ski industry like I do, calling in sick is a moot point…the boss already knows what I’m up to.” Use light therapy. This can be a valid treatment for the winter blues, says Dr. Maren Dunn, of the Gallatin Family Medical Clinic in Big Sky. “Bright light needs to enter your eyes at a certain intensity to cause your brain to produce more serotonin, the body’s natural “happy pill.”

sanuk rugburn slippers

$45 sanuk.com

Drink more water than you think. This from Eric “Hende” Henderson, previously a mountain guide in the Tetons, now an armchair forecaster/account manager at Denny, Ink. in Jackson, Wyoming. He also suggests stretching hourly, standing while typing, and running or skinning the same route “to track your office fitness.” Finally, he says, “lay off the beer...stick to vodka!”

Vew-Do Nub balance board

It’s like a traditional Vew-Do board with no moving parts. Launched in winter 2012, the Nub improves balance for any sport. The learning curve is quick, says company founder Brew Moscarello. Stance is key, he says. “It’s not just straddle the center, teeter toe to heel and rotate. You can shorten up, put one foot in the center of the board, turn and spin.” – E.S. $99.95 vewdo.com

Klean Kanteen insulated bottle

This double-walled wide vacuum bottle is essential to my productivity, as I switch from coffee in the morning to yerba mate midday. The quick twist, splash-proof Cafe Cap ($5.95) makes it easy to fill a mate gourd or take coffee to go. It’s not leak-proof, so hang onto the included Loop Cap for stashing hot, skin track beverages in your ski pack. – T.A. $27.95 kleankanteen.com

on ski break Krimson Klover Traveling Rodeo Tunic

If there’s a downside to workday ski breaks, it’s the concentration-blowing shivering that ensues afterward. The Traveling Rodeo Tunic is the answer to looking professional and staying warm after a few turns over lunch. Super-soft, tightly woven merino wool is paired with beautiful design and rich colors. Add leggings, chunky heel boots and a lip gloss touch up, and your boss will never know your midday meeting was with Old Man Winter. – K.M. krimsonklover.com $198


mountain khakis peaks flannel

The new Peaks Flannel by Mountain Khakis is tough, warm and stretchy. Side gussets add a feminine curve, and the longer hem keeps you covered. A wool/poly/lycra blend, it’s an ideal layer for morning ski runs before a day in the office (it wicks and doesn’t stink or wrinkle). Men’s cuts and colors also available. – R.C. $89.95 mountainkhakis.com



road trip

SWEET by Renae Counter

On Jan.1, 2012 Cory Birkenbuel set off with a goal to ski every one of Montana’s 16 ski areas in 16 days. As part of his internship as a business student at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Birkenbuel coined the adventure “Montana’s Sweet 16.” Accompanying him were his longtime friend and Montana State film student Kevin Hilton and an undying passion for Montana skiing. “Anybody can ski Montana. We have the best skiing in America,” Birkenbuel said. Growing up in Dillon, Birkenbuel was raised on the slopes of Maverick Mountain, a small ski area with gorgeous views and killer skiing in the rural Grasshopper Valley. Here, Birkenbuel grew to love skiing, to find solace in it, and to pass that love along to others. In his 20s, he taught skiing there, and even taught Hilton to ski at age 7. At 33, Birkenbuel was curious if the rest of Montana had a passion for skiing that paralleled what he experienced at Maverick. From the journey, he and Hilton produced Montana’s Sweet 16, a full length, feature film that captures the passion Birkenbuel sought. It shows a rippling pride for hometown Montana ski areas and powder lines. 118


Photos courtesy of Montana’s Sweet 16


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Birkenbuel’s Route on the Sweet 16 tour:

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Jan. 1 -2: Big Sky and Moonlight

Home to the Biggest Skiing in America

Jan. 3: Bridger Bowl


The Bridger Ridge is famous. The recently opened Slushman’s zone is already legend.


Jan. 4: Red Lodge

Known for big, late season snowstorms

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Jan. 5: Teton Pass

114 acres, 1,000 vert and a wild setting on the Rocky Mountain Front


jan. 6: Showdown


At 75 years old, Montana’s oldest ski area

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jan. 7: Bear Paw Ski Bowl

“Ski knee-deep cheap” on the Chippewa Cree Indian Reservation

jan. 8: Turner Mountain

All 2,000 vert of rockin’ terrain is available for rent.

jan. 13: Great Divide

Five terrain parks, night skiing and Montana-style jibbing on old mine tailings

jan.9: Lookout Pass

Free ski and snowboard lessons for ages 6 through 17

jan. 10: Whitefish Mountain Resort

Snow ghosts, creamy pow and 3,000 skiable acres

jan. 15: Lost Trail Powder Mountain

jan. 11: Blacktail Mountain

Drive to the top and drop in before ever riding a chair.

jan. 12: Montana Snowbowl

The front side trees are epic – when there’s fresh. The Last Run Inn is one of the nation’s best ski area bars.

“The people in Montana have a true passion for everything they do,” Birkenbuel said after the trip. “I hope I educated the ski community that there are 16 ski areas in Montana, and I hope I motivated people to go ski them.” But it wasn’t all easy. On November 27, before the trip even started, a fire consumed Birkenbuel’s house. Then, while skiing Bridger Bowl on January 3, he honored the 10th anniversary of his brother, Cody’s death. On January 4, a credit card company levied Birkenbuel’s bank account, emptying

Jan. 14: Discovery

The Backside is steep and radical. The views are gorgeous, the baked goods incredible. LT straddles the Bitterroot/Salmon national forests, the Montana/ Idaho border and two different time zones. Early season dumps are king.

jan. 16: Maverick Mountain

Ride the White Thunder!

his entire savings for the trip, and on January 5, he learned of another friend’s passing. But through great loss comes great understanding, and Birkenbuel’s journey taught him even more: Skiing equals peace of mind. On January 16, after an early morning run at Maverick, he became the first person to ski all 16 Montana ski areas in 16 days.

“the people in montana have a true passion for everything they do...there are 16 ski areas [here], and I hope I motivated people to go ski them.”

Viewings of Montana’s Sweet 16 will be held across Montana this winter and at the Cold Smoke Awards in Bozeman this February.

explorebigsky.comMountain Mountain explorebigsky.com



outlaw: f e a t u r e d

Estrada Earthship in Taos, New Mexico Photo by Kirsten Jacobsen

michael reynolds

by Tyler Allen

Photo by Kirsten Jacobsen

Twenty-five years ago, Michael Reynolds assembled progressive architectural prototypes into one seminal idea: Earthships.

exhausting effort in the New Mexico legislature to pass a new sustainable building act couldn’t break Reynolds’ resolve. In 2007, he returned to his life’s work: changing the world one house at a time.

Integrating solar, wind, thermal mass, rainwater harvest, gray water recycling and indoor food production, the Taos, New Mexicobased architect builds homes from re-purposed garbage. The exterior shell and interior walls are made from used tires pounded full of dirt, glass bottles and cans, stacked and mortared together with mud. “I don’t call anything garbage,” Reynolds says. “We can use anything for building materials.” The structures are off the grid, and off the map of conventional home construction, which is why the county tried to shut down his Greater World Earthship Community test site. Even a seven-year permitting battle with Taos County and an



The Estrada Earthship in Taos, New Mexico.


Photo by Kirsten JAcobsen

Big Sky

Providing a

The greenhouse in Monte Koch’s Earthship, Big Timber, Montana Photo by Matty McCain

His company Earth- “The efficiency ship Biotecture, and economics given notoriety by make sense. If the documentary Garbage Warrior, you take care of has built more this house, it will than 1,000 of these buildings, while take care of you.” do-it-yourselfers have built another 1,000. Taos has been the training ground, though Reynolds has built Earthships from Illinois to Vermont, Canada to Haiti, and France to Australia; as well as on islands in the Indian Ocean stricken by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Monte Koch lives in an Earthship northeast of Big Timber, Montana. “I’m not a huge global warming environmentalist,” he says. “But the efficiency and economics make sense. If you take care of this house, it will take care of you.” It’s so well insulated, Koch can’t even hear the notorious Shields Valley wind that rips over the barren steppe east of the Crazy Mountains. During winter storms, he uses a giant squeegee to keep snow from piling up on his giant south-facing windows. “This deal isn’t for everyone,” Koch says. “But everyone can learn from it.” The Earth’s mass stores heat – about 48 degrees below the frost line in Big Timber – which is conducted by

p e a c e of mind .

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the mass of the building. That means it only requires enough energy to raise the indoor temperature 15 to 20 degrees for a comfortable living climate. The south-facing glass wall of Koch’s house filters light into an 80-foot-long living space that is bright and warm, even by the rear, tire-filled wall. Glass bottles in the interior walls refract ambient light, while the aluminum cans reflect it, bouncing sunlight throughout the rooms. Orange trees, dwarf giant bananas, parsley, pepper plants and concord grapes grow in his greenhouse. In addition to producing food, they filter the gray water created by daily living, which is then drained into a treatment and containment system for later use. Reynolds believes these homes can be built anywhere on Earth humans live. In the next year, he’ll bring Earthships to Guatemala, Tierra del Fuego, Sweden and mid-town Manhattan. “It keeps getting more and more exciting,” he says. “We’re building in more strange places around the globe and looking for more challenges.”

Glass bottles and aluminum cans lining the interior walls of Koch’s Earthship refract and reflect light Photo by Matty McCain

Look for new Montana company Seven Directions getting into biotecture in 2013

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Gary Lynn Roberts, Go with Pride, 50”x 40”



Featured artist at Creighton Block Gallery. See story on p. 84


Profile for Outlaw Partners

2013 Winter Mountain Outlaw  

With award-winning editorial content, design and photography, Mountain Outlaw magazine has been described as “Powder Magazine meets Rolling...

2013 Winter Mountain Outlaw  

With award-winning editorial content, design and photography, Mountain Outlaw magazine has been described as “Powder Magazine meets Rolling...