2022 Winter Mountain Outlaw

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MOUNTAIN

WINTER 21/22

TATTOOS IN THE AMERICAN WEST

PLUS: How relationships can survive the backcountry

BIG SKY | BOZEMAN | JACKSON

Resilience IN HAIKU

F E A T U R E D O U T L AW :

Golf legend Tom Weiskopf THE SOCIAL SCIENCE O F AVA L A N C H E S



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With an incredible knack for capturing miniscule detail, Colorado photographer Mike Chilcoat brings to life the intricate beauty of a single snowflake using a technique that limits the depth of field a few times over. Most of his snowflake images are focus-stacked, meaning a single photograph could be up to 40 images layered together. PHOTO BY MIKE CHILCOAT

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ILLUSTRATED TIMES: THE ART OF TATTOOING IN THE AMERICAN WEST By Toby Thompson Tattoos have been etched onto the human body for thousands of years, from ancient Egyptian mummies to inked-up sailors, and are now considered fine art. Toby Thompson follows these Illustrated Times and unpacks the road tattoos have taken to their present form in the American West.

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SNOW BLIND By Bay Stephens Snow scientists and social scientists are teaming up worldwide to link the disconnect between perception and reality in the mountains. Bay Stephens discusses in Snow Blind how avalanche research is intersecting with behavioral economics and affecting decision-making in the backcountry.

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FEATURED OUTLAW: TOM WEISKOPF TAKES AIM By Michelle Hiskey In the golf world, Tom Weiskopf is larger than life. He’s been victorious at the highest level of competition and designed 80 golf courses across the globe. Michelle Hiskey writes how Tom Weiskopf Takes Aim at a different opponent and is discovering a new sense of freedom in Montana.

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D E PA RT M E N T S TRAILHEAD

CONTENT by location

22 REEL: A journey of healing brings empathy to wildlife migration 22 CAUSE: War Party Movement offers new perspective to at-risk youth 23 VISIT: Tackle one of the West’s most underrated powder stashes 24 READ: Antique newspaper clips revive the unruly Montana of yore 24 RECORD: Satsang presents Montana soundscape in All. Right. Now. 25 TRENDING: New art books act as a vehicle to travel America’s national parks OUTBOUND GALLERY

M O N TA N A Bozeman, p. 52, 128 Missoula, p. 52 Big Sky, p. 74, 161 Helena, p. 98 Red Lodge, p. 161

32 Art in Haiku: A collaborative, abstract expression of resilience NOW

W YO M I N G

52 Tattoos in the West: An era of body art embraces the character of a region

Jackson, p. 70, 96 Cheyenne, p. 94 Yellowstone, p. 148

70 The new age of après ski 74 OUTLOOK: Turning wastewater into snow may alleviate drought pressures 80 OUTLOOK: Reaching life’s ‘third mountain’ and the journey of Beqoming CULTURE 94 REPORT: Bitcoin carves out the future of Wyoming 96 REPORT: Amid a looming housing crisis, Shacks on Racks turns trash into treasure 98 REPORT: Mary Jane debuts in the Treasure State

CALIFORNIA Los Angeles, p. 80 Olympic Valley, p. 106 Bridgeport, p. 106

100 HEALTH: How to navigate your relationship in the backcountry 106 FAMILY: How to make full-time life on the road compatible for your family

WA S H I N G T O N

ADVENTURE

Mount Adams, p. 100

116 PROFILE: Pro skier Vasu Sojitra turns hardship into opportunity for a more inclusive outdoors 128 EXPLORE: An unlikely equation to mitigate avalanche risk

Denali, p. 116

EXPLORE YELLOWSTONE 146 All you need to know for your visit to America’s first national park 148 DISCOVER: The truth about Yellowstone’s pending eruption (hint: it’s not happening) 151 Yellowstone Animal Guide 152 FLORA & FAUNA: Hey Bear launches as a brand to save bruins FEATURED OUTLAW 158 Tom Weiskopf writes Montana into his renowned golf legacy

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BE READY FOR THE MOUNTAIN TAKE A DEEP BREATH. The air being pulled into your lungs suddenly bathes your body with life-sustaining, invigorating oxygen. Your lungs and then red blood cells carry these powerful oxygen molecules through your body allowing your cells to obtain energy and function properly. OXYGEN IS ESSENTIAL TO LIFE. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH? Oxygen molecules that are abundant at sea level become much scarcer as you climb in elevation. If you’re not acclimated properly, unstable breathing patterns occur as your body attempts to replenish what it needs. Although these breathing patterns might not be recognizable to those traveling to higher altitudes, they can start significantly affecting people at as low as 6,000 feet. Headaches, fatigue, malaise, digestive upset, and insomnia can set in. YOU MAY JUST HAVE ALTITUDE SICKNESS. Most cases of altitude sickness occur over 8,000 ft and with most mountain ski resort towns having 30% less oxygen than at sea-level, you could run the risk of your vacation plans being interrupted by unfavorable symptoms.


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F E AT U R E D CONTRIBUTORS Owned and published in Big Sky, Montana. PUBLISHER Eric Ladd EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VP MEDIA Joseph T. O’Connor

SALES AND OPERATIONS CEO Megan Paulson

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT LEAD Sam Brooks

COO, VP FINANCE Treston Wold

PROJECT MANAGER Eli Kretzmann

SENIOR EDITOR Bella Butler

VP SALES E.J. Daws

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Gabrielle Gasser

VP EVENTS Ennion Williams

ASSISTANT EDITOR Tucker Harris

VP MARKETING Blythe Beaubien

COPY EDITOR Carter Walker

MEDIA AND EVENTS DIRECTOR Ersin Ozer

CREATIVE ART DIRECTOR Marisa Opheim

EVENTS COORDINATOR, RETAIL MANAGER Conner Clemens DISTRIBUTION MANAGER, LOCAL SALES Patrick Mahoney

VIDEO DIRECTOR, CINEMATOGRAPHER Seth Dahl

GRAPHIC DESIGNER ME Brown

SENIOR ACCOUNTANT Sara Sipe

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR Meg Koenig MARKETING COORDINATOR Sophia Breyfogle

CONTENT MARKETING ACCOUNTING STRATEGIST MANAGER Mira Brody Taylor Erickson

SENIOR DESIGNER Trista Hillman

TOBY THOMPSON

BL A IR A N N E H ENSEN

(Illustrated Times, p. 53) has been a part-time resident of Livingston, Montana, since 1972. He has written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, Outside, Playboy, Men's Journal, and The New York Times, among others. Thompson has published six books of nonfiction on topics ranging from Bob Dylan to art in the American West. He teaches nonfiction writing at Penn State University. PHOTO BY ROB STORY

(Ski together, stay together … right?, p. 100) is a licensed Marriage and Family Counselor in Bozeman, Montana, who works as a counselor in private practice and runs outdoor wilderness workshops for couples, families and groups with Open Routes Adventures. She is working to actively minimize the stigma around emotions, mental health, and relationship issues. PHOTO BY NATE HILL

MICHELLE HISKEY

MARK WILCOX

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS/EDITORS Claire Cella, Dan Egan, Blair Anne Hensen, Michelle Hiskey, Tom Levar, Amanda Loudin, Brigid Mander, Bay Stephens, Toby Thompson, Mark Wilcox CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS/ARTISTS Jessica Averett, Chris Boyer, Mike Chilcoat, Daniel J. Cox, James Corwin, Lynn Donaldson, Ryan Dorgan, Kelsey Dzintars, D’Anne Hiskey Eustace, Della Frederickson, Theodore Grover, Kelly Gorham, Johnny Haglund, Neal Herbert, Nate Hill, Jordy Hendrikx, Ted Hesser, Doyle Hostetler, Linzi Hungerford, Sofia Jaramillo, Mny-Jhee, Ben Kitching, Mary Levar, Amir Magal, Loy Maierhauser, Thomas D. Mangelsen, Bailey Mill, Don Nguyen, Robert Osborn, Holly Pippel, Greyson Christian Plate, Ryan Sheets, Rob Story, Nate Tellstrom, Mark Wilcox. Subscribe now at mtoutlaw.com/subscriptions. Mountain Outlaw magazine is distributed to subscribers in all 50 states, including contracted placement in resorts across the West. Core distribution in the Northern Rockies includes Big Sky and Bozeman, Montana, as well as Jackson, Wyoming, and the four corners of Yellowstone National Park. To advertise, contact Ersin Ozer at ersin@theoutlawpartners.com. OUTLAW PARTNERS & Mountain Outlaw P.O. Box 160250, Big Sky, MT 59716 (406) 995-2055 • media@outlaw.partners

(Featured Outlaw: Tom Weiskopf, p. 158) is an Atlanta-based writer and writing coach with deep family roots in Idaho and professional golf. She attended Duke University on a golf scholarship and is working on a personal history that explores themes of competition, mental illness and evangelical Christianity. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, ESPN.com, USGA.com, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. PHOTO BY D’ANNE HISKEY EUSTACE

(Juggling Act, p. 106) is a veteran storyteller from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Most days, he helps business owners tell their stories better online. He and his wife live in northern Utah, where she homeschools their six brilliant children, one of whom published her first novel at age 11. PHOTO BY RYAN SHEETS

© 2021 Mountain Outlaw Unauthorized reproduction prohibited

T O M L E VA R CHECK OUT THESE OTHER OUTLAW PUBLICATIONS:

explorebigsky.com ON THE COVER: Tattoo artist Linzi Hungerford is somewhat of a work of art herself. Donning more than a dozen tattoos, Hungerford depicts the illustrated times that grip a piece of new-age Western culture. PHOTO BY LYNN DONALDSON

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(Outbound Gallery: Resilience, p. 32) is a retired University of Minnesota research scientist who returned to his birthplace near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with his wife and their dog. His career spanned four decades of natural resource management. His scientific background and the serenity of their new home inspire him to write haiku daily. PHOTO BY MARY LEVAR


F RO M T H E E D I T O R

WINDS OF CHANGE The American West is experiencing a monumental shift. Currently, 90 percent of western states are in a devastating drought. Wildfires are swallowing homes in the expanding wildland-urban interface and humanbear conflicts are increasing. In towns across the western U.S., we’re seeing this shift play out in multiple ways: jobs abound yet a limited housing inventory is leaving workers in the lurch; More people are moving to places like Bozeman and Big Sky and Whitefish, Montana; to Jackson, Wyoming and Driggs, Idaho. This reality isn’t entirely new. Indeed, over the past decade an increasingly digitized world is allowing nearly any desk-job employee with a computer and Wi-Fi signal to work remotely, crunching numbers or writing articles from a new home office in Anywhere, USA. The COVID-19 pandemic shifted this pace into overdrive. Record numbers of transplants have relocated, trading in the lengthy rush hours of America’s cities for the Wild West, the Great Unknown. They want elbow room and space to breathe. The stories in this edition of Mountain Outlaw reflect this shift we’re seeing across the West. They will give you, esteemed reader, insight into how some of these changes are playing out. What I hope they also do is shine light on solutions for the

future: “The West that will be,” as Senior Editor Bella Butler says. In her report (Mary Jane lights up the Treasure State, p. 98), Butler looks to January 1, 2022, when Montana joins 18 U.S. states in legalizing recreational marijuana and deciding how to manage the process. The Outbound Gallery (Art in Haiku, p. 32) explores the concept of resilience in imagery paired with custom haiku penned by poet Tom Levar. As the West looks to adapt to a shifting landscape, these images and haiku represent the resilience we’ll all need to embrace the new West that lies ahead. Associate Editor Gabrielle Gasser (Snow Guns for Change, p. 74) examines how a changing climate is sparking creative water uses, specifically as ski resorts look to recycled wastewater for snowmaking operations. And in our cover story, writer Toby Thompson takes a deep dive into the colorful world of tattoos (Illustrated Times, p. 52) and how modern-day stories of the American West are being etched onto skin. As the winds of change blow through the West, glimpses of progress shed new light on seemingly bleak issues. We hope these pages can be that light, and that you, reader, may feel inspired to move forward in hope and resilience.

Joseph T. O’Connor Editor-in-Chief

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VOLUME 6


CELEBRATE WINTER IN THE HEART OF BIG SKY Family fun for all ages Viking Nordic Ski Race

Retro Movie Night

Ice Sculpture Carving

Frozen Foot Fun Run

Skijoring Winter Street Dance

Live Music & Awards

Scan for full schedule, tickets and event info

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REEL 92 Miles: A Migration Story Two years into graduate school, Patrick Rodgers lost his father who had instilled in him a love for the outdoors and its wild inhabitants. On a mission to bring a human perspective to the dangerous, difficult journey deer make each year, Rodgers became an unlikely migrant along one of Colorado’s mule deer migration routes. Produced by Cold Collaborative, 92 Miles: A Migration Story chronicles Rodgers, a researcher with the University of Wyoming, on a 92-mile run that is both a physical replication of migratory big game as well as an emotional migration toward a place of healing. 92 Miles communicates the significance of wide-open spaces for the mule deer migration while also paying homage to Rodgers’ father. PHOTO COURTESY OF FILMFREEWAY

Available on YouTube.com.

CAUSE War Party Movement Montanan Jeremiah Wilber’s earliest memories are of his mother, a Mescalero Apache, devoting her life to helping tribal women and children break the cycle of abuse in their communities across the U.S. As a child, he helped her pursue this mission, and as an adult, he turned her work into a business. The War Party Movement, a for-profit business, is dedicated to disentangling vulnerable populations from deprivation that often leads to abuse. Originally founded to support Native American communities, WPM works broadly to protect women and children across the country from sex trafficking, mutilation, human sacrifice and violence. The movement offers fresh perspectives for at-risk youth and women by providing real-world experiences with veterans, cowboys and Native American communities. Today, WPM continues Wilber’s mother’s fight by “giving a hand-up, not a hand-out” to shift a grim paradigm and alter lives for the better. warpartymovement.com 22

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PHOTO COURTESY OF WAR PARTY MOVEMENT


TRAILHEAD VISIT Lost Trail Powder Mountain

Located in the stunning Bitterroot Range of the Northern Rockies, Lost Trail Ski Area straddles the Montana-Idaho border abutting vast national forest lands. This picturesque resort gets its name from the Lewis and Clark expedition which attempted to cross Lost Trail Pass, a treacherous alternative to the Salmon River which was nicknamed “The River of No Return.” Owned by the Grasser family, some of the resort’s original founding partners from 1938, the resort embraces skiers with the homeyness of a mom-and-pop operation. But don’t let its quaintness fool you— Lost Trail boasts terrain that would impress even the most seasoned of Northern Rockies skiers, and there’s almost no better place to be on a powder day. With 60-plus trails on 1,800 acres, five double chairs, three rope tows and an average annual snowfall of 325 inches, Lost Trail is a worthwhile stop on your Montana ski tour. losttrail.com

MAP COURTESY OF LOST TRAIL SKI AREA

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READ The ‘Sneakin’est’ Man That Ever Was It all started with a single microfilm from 1894. Author Jim Harmon, a retired journalist, Montana native and avid history buff, became enamored with the glimpses into the unruly life of old Montanans that newsprint provided him. While the bylines of those early journalists are lost to us, Harmon revisits their biting words for modern readers in a collection of short stories he’s compiled based on newspaper accounts from the late 19th century. Harmon’s The ‘Sneakin’est’ Man That Ever Was brings to life a cast of characters including Coyote Bill, whom the book is named for, Dunn Creek Nell and even writer Mark Twain. harmonshistories.com COURTESY OF STONEYDALE PRESS PUBLISHING CO.

RECORD Satsang All. Right. Now. Fueled by acoustic guitars, fiddle and pedal steel, Montanabased band Satsang’s newest album All. Right. Now. seeks to create a soundscape of Montana, birthplace and home of the band’s front man, Drew McManus. “This record is my most honest work to date,” he said. “The time off and getting back into the mountains and with my family full time again, has left me the most whole version of myself I have ever been.” Satsang’s fluid genre evolved across its past three studio albums, but the trio’s most recent release presents an entirely fresh sound; All. Right. Now. is a country-inspired, Americana blend that transports listeners to the wide-open fields and soaring mountains that inspired McManus to write his moving lyrics about the power and pull of home. Written and recorded during an extended hiatus from the road, the record also explores McManus’ Western roots, creating a joyful ode to letting go and living in the moment. satsangmovement.com 24

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DREW MCMANUS FROM THE BAND SATSANG OUTSIDE OF RED LODGE, MONTANA. PHOTO BY GREYSON CHRISTIAN PLATE


TRENDING Your national parks: A different view New art books depict America’s treasured parks on the page By Brigid Mander For thousands of years, humans have scratched their own interpretation of the natural world onto any available surface. A bit more recently—about a century ago—as part of FDR’s New Deal, the Works Progress Administration hired hundreds of artists to depict numerous aspects of life, including the beauty of America’s national parks. Though many have been lost to time, the remaining posters from the 1930s and ’40s still resonate today. In that vein, some new projects focusing on national parks and other natural treasures have been released with wildly varying takes by each artist. Perusing books full of art—especially in an age where the immersive travel experience has in large part been overwhelmed by bucket-listing visitors posting curated images to the internet—is a striking reminder to slow down and take in the moment. These new books have the capacity to make readers laugh, inspire new adventures, and thrill the armchair traveler with new takes on ancient landscapes. Art of the National Parks: Five years ago, artists began an initiative called FiftyNine Parks in an effort to bring art posters back to the parks in the style of the beloved WPA posters. The book is a compilation of posters by contemporary artists for each of the 63 national parks (up from the 59 in 2016) in the United States. Five percent of profits go to the National Park Service. Simon and Schuster, $45 The American Landscape Project: Fans of James Niehues, the famed ski-area map artist, will be thrilled with new drawings of national parks and other lesser-known yet spectacular wild American landscapes, such as Mount Stuart in Washington’s OkanoganWenatchee National Forest. So far, his instantly recognizable depictions vary from the Pacific coast to the Wind River Range in Wyoming’s harsh, unforgiving interior, to Maine’s Acadia National Park. Jamesniehues.com, from $80 Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors: Artist Amber Share’s delightfully hilarious series of drawings combines paintings of iconic, sublime natural scenes with online reviews by duly unimpressed visitors. The New York Times best seller is based on Share’s popular Instagram account, and in the book the artist supplements her indictment of the reviewers with informative park insight. Penguin Random House, $22

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SIMONANDSCHUSTER.COM, JAMESNIEHUES.COM AND PENGUINRANDOMHOUSE.COM

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OU T B OU N D

G A L L E RY Art in Haiku: Resilience RESTORED BY GRACE Transformed by sorrows Rising above challenges Resilient life. -T. Levar, October 23, 2021 One traditional form of Japanese haiku poetry consists of 17 syllables composed on one line and meant to be spoken in a single breath. Haiku are historically attributed to the Japanese masters beginning with Basho (1644-1694). The following haiku, westernized versions of the form, are arranged in three lines in a 5-7-5 syllabic format. As you take in the following images and their corresponding haiku, we invite you to contemplate the idea of resilience. The concept was born of the theme for our 2022 TEDxBigSky event, held at the end of January. For this project, we asked eight artists and photographers to submit artwork that reflects their idea of resilience. Research scientist-turned-poet Tom Levar then composed original haiku for each of the works. They are purely his interpretations of these works of art. We invite you to sit with and absorb the following images and haiku. – The Editors Tom Levar submitted the following introduction to this Outbound Gallery: The invitation to participate in this resilience project is an honor to me and awakens creativity, like an unfolding bud. These images encourage us to take “a long, loving look,” as theologian Walter Burghardt wrote. My hope is that the haiku here offer a gentle and simple interpretation of these images. Nature is the great teacher as we live with, care for and learn from it. May these images heighten our awareness, fill us with wonder and evoke gratitude. – Tom Levar

Wisdom Warrior Your mysterious visage Speaks of pain and strength.

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Silent feline grace Gliding over the snowpack Stalking prey with stealth.

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H O L LY P I P P E L

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Listen and learn from Communities in Nature. Harmonious life.

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K E L S E Y D Z I N TA R S


Soot and ashes hold The promise of green rebirth Nature’s renewal

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C H R I S B OY E R

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The circle of life Begins and ends in the soil. Sustain it with love.

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DELLA FR EDER ICKSON


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Interconnected As we tend to all Creatures Working with Nature.

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The cycle of life Obscured by smoke and embers Renewal by fire

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T H E O D O R E G ROV E R

Cloaked and blanketed Awaiting the warmth of Spring And birds' melodies. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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PHOTO BY LYNN DONALDSON

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I L L U S T R A T E D

PHOTOS BY LYNN DONALDSON

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SECTION: SUBHEAD NOW: TATTOOS IN THE WEST

T H E A RT O F TAT TO O I N G IN THE

AMERICAN WEST BY TOBY THOMPSON

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he map of Linzi Hungerford’s tattoos begins at her shoulder. There, a praying mantis hovers menacingly, trailed by “an exploded view of a tattoo machine,” she explains. And pointing toward an audio fixture she adds, “This one’s an amplifier knob from Spinal Tap—dialed to 11.” Below that rests a bouquet of French fries, followed by a tat of a 35-millimeter camera and an inked-in magnifying glass. “This one’s a pencil, then here’s a little paint tube,” she says. On a once-injured hand rests a broken firecracker. “Then I have a snowflake, then a little wheelchair guy because this finger was broken also.” On her sternum, beneath a violet teddy, is an elaborately rooted tree she sketched in Australia. “My first tattoo.” And across her chest is a double-headed snake with ferns and foliage, applied in Missoula. She steps from behind her desk. “Then my legs ...” These are but a few of more than a dozen pieces Hungerford wears—a modest number for a tattoo artist and downright skimpy for any 33-year-old addicted to ink. “It is an addiction,” she says, cocking a leg and scanning her body art. “Eventually my tattoos will make a sleeve or a body suit, becoming all one piece. I have an appointment with an artist in Four Corners to fill in some spaces.” She fidgets. “This looks incomplete.” We’re in the reception area of Jamais Vu Tattoo, a studio Hungerford opened last year in Bozeman, Montana, and which this morning she’s spent hours sanitizing, “because tattoo shops have to be a sterile environment.” She adds, “I was very worried during the pandemic about opening a business, let alone something boutique … but everybody’s coming in. It’s going to be hard to find anyone who doesn’t have a tattoo.” There are currently 12 tattoo shops in Bozeman, 25 in Billings, and in smaller Idaho Falls, 10. The latter’s Bleeding Cowboy studio employs five artists who specialize in Western styles, including that of mountain wildlife art. There are 13 studios in Missoula where Nicholas Beuthien of the Union Tattoo Parlor has said, “The tattoo business is pandemicproof. The tattooed man and the tattooed lady in the carnival sideshow? That’s average people walking around.” Much has been written about body art as a form of modern primitivism, about the suburban class’s self-decoration as an embracing of street art, and even piercing and tattooing as a way for abuse victims to reclaim their bodies. Less has been written about American tattooing as having Tattoo artist Linzi Hungerford displays her body art.

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“ T H E TAT TO O BUSINESS IS PA N D E M I C - P RO O F. T H E TAT TO O E D MAN AND THE TAT TO O E D L A D Y I N T H E C A R N I VA L S I D E S H OW ? T H AT ’ S AV E R A G E P E O P L E WA L K I N G A RO U N D . ” -NICHOLAS BEUTHIEN Ed Hardy (American, b. 1945) “Future Plans,” 1967 Etching 11 13/16 x 9 1/4 in. (30 x 23.5 cm) Fine

Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of the artist 2017.46.56 © Don Ed Hardy IMAGE COURTESY flourished not only in New York’s Bowery OF FINE ARTS MUSEUMS OF SAN FRANCISCO quarters and in sailortowns like Norfolk and New Orleans, but in the American West. This occurred in the early 20th-century wanted to do was to make art and be an artist,” the 76-year-old years of San Diego’s and Long Beach’s parlors, yes, but more Hardy writes in his memoir, Wear Your Dreams. “I didn’t want emphatically during the renaissance of modern inking—from to be judged by the medium of my expression ... In the public 1969 to the present. mind the kind of people who got tattoos were psychopaths, Tattooing, historically, is an ancient craft that originated rapists, and killers ... When I started, nobody thought tattoos with the Austronesian people of Taiwan. But its practice is were art or that people who did tattoos were artists.” universal. Archaeologists have uncovered tattooed Egyptian How that has changed. Pre-COVID New York and Los mummies from 3351 and 3017 BC. And in 1768 Captain James Angeles galleries have handled tattoo “flash” art, museums Cook’s crew brought tattoos from the South Pacific to Europe, have displayed it, and national conventions and online festivals where nautical and military persons favored them. Tattoos were abound. Fashion utilizes tattoo-inspired patterns (e.g., tattoo used as passport IDs, as well as for decoration. tights), and the staid Yale University Press has published an The New Yorker has reported that during the late 19th cenimage-laced book, The World Atlas of Tattoo. In its introduction, tury, tattoos were familiar to English society: “Coats-of-arms, Anna Felicity Friedman writes, “Today tattooing exists in nearly five-pound notes, and packs of hounds were punctured in the every country on the skins of a phenomenal array of people. British epidermis, royal, noble, and otherwise.” This behavior Perhaps at no time has this art form been more prevalent ... Since reeked of slumming, and magnates such as King George V, Czar the mid-1990s, an astounding range of new tattoo genres has Nicholas II and Queen Olga of Greece indulged. Except for this arisen alongside revitalizations, reinventions, and continuations early craze, the acquisition of body ink would stay raffish and of Indigenous traditions.” devil-may-care for a century. “I am a canvas of my experience,” L.A. inker Kat Von D Then, in the 1970s, tattooers such as San Francisco’s Lyle writes in her book, High Voltage Tattoo. “My story is etched Tuttle, Honolulu’s Sailor Jerry Collins and Los Angeles’ Ed in lines and shading, and you can read it on my arms, my legs, Hardy—a San Francisco Art Institute alumnus—brought my shoulders, and my stomach. But like everybody else, I was tattooing from skid-row hovels and biker shacks to mainstream born naked and screaming, waiting for my life to write itself on boutiques with the pretentiousness of fine artists. “All I ever my skin.”

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ungerford’s life began in Korea, but she was adopted as a six-month-old by parents in West Yellowstone, Montana, and grew up there. She was valedictorian of her high-school class (“My dad taught shop and was a high-school basketball coach; my mom ran a daycare center.”) but was rebellious. Her paper art was removed from exhibits because “it was blood and gore, punk-rock stuff.” Her parents divorced and at 16 she left their house. “I was homeless for a while, which is hard in the winter in West Yellowstone.” She worked construction, welded and traveled widely. “Originally I wanted to be a fashion designer or to make album art for rock bands.” As for tattooing? “I kind of fell into it,” she says. “I loved painting and sketching, but I never really thought it was a feasible career. My brothers actually pushed me into the tattoo industry. They loved tattoos ... they thought that I would do well.” Her tat designs are more in an “illustrative style,” as Hungerford calls them. “Pretty much all black. And with a little 56

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hint of color, just to pop certain aspects of the design. Montana has very traditional styles ... very bold lines, very bold color, maybe four colors in one. That’s not my style.” Tattoos are both permanent and fleeting: permanent for the wearer; fleeting for the artist. Instagram is the artist’s scrapbook and portfolio. Recently Hungerford posted photographs there of a sleeve she inked for a client tagged “Mark.” Done in the black-ink style, the tat features a human skeleton with a ram’shead skull, arrows embedded in a second skull, a rustic cabin, a hunting dog and other outdoor motifs. The piece suggests Montana, but its artfulness is in its complex design. Images flow in a surrealistic manner, and though they are nature-focused, the effect is hypnotizing. Despite such complexity, Montanans’ favored images are comparable to those in other Western states. “Here, it’s definitely mountains and trees, with wolves and grizzlies,” Hungerford says. “There are plenty of brands or rodeo style, cowboy stuff. I’ve seen plenty of landscapes, with Bitterroot flowers and stuff like that.”


" M O N TA N A H A S V E RY PHOTOS LEFT CLOCKWISE: Hungerford poses in her studio in October of 2021. Hungerford opened her Bozeman, Montana studio, Jamais Vu Tattoo, in June of 2020. TRAM “All About that Base”: Big Sky Resort’s Lone Peak Tram PHOTO COURTESY OF LINZI HUNGERFORD

TRADITIONAL STYLES ... V E RY B O L D L I N E S , V E RY BOLD COLOR, M AY B E F O U R COLORS IN O N E . T H AT ’ S NOT MY STYLE.” -LINZI HUNGERFORD

To Google “Old Western Tattoos” is to find photographs of numerous cowboy tats—of pistols, horses, and at least one full-backer of a train robbery and a High Noon-style shootout. Many of such images’ creators are women. Hungerford is one of thousands of female tattooers who during this renaissance have embraced dermal art. “You could do a feminist take on tattoos,” she says. “But I think the majority of female artists just have their own style. Some people say, ‘Well maybe a female artist will have a lighter touch.’ But that’s definitely not true.” Asked what the challenges are for sketching on skin, Hungerford sees tattooing as a different beast. “It’s a whole new breed of art,” she says, adjusting her mask. “You get frustrated by the fact that you can paint this on canvas, you can draw this, but on skin it reacts completely differently. You have to relearn all of it. You have the needles and skin and pain, and people’s tolerances, and everything about it is fairly difficult.” Is part of that difficulty being psychologically aware? “Abuse victims want to get a tattoo to signify their victory over something. Or there are self-harm people who come in, and they don’t want to self-harm anymore … they want to cover up their scars.” There is a talismanic element to such tattooing. And for the tattooer, the process is palliative. Von D writes, “Whether I’m helping somebody cope or celebrate, when I give somebody a tattoo, I become part of a landmark in time for them. The

Hungerford’s tattoo, “Bison in Rabbitbrush” BY LINZI HUNGERFORD

connection is something way beyond a needle and some ink. I can’t magically take away people’s problems and pain, but I can help them honor, heal, and rejoice.” Tattoo parlors crowd the American West. The World Atlas of Tattoo chronicles this growth and cites its artists. Whether in his Austin or San Francisco studios, the African American tattooer Zulu creates images that are brightly colored renditions of spiritual moments. The “godfather of spiritual tattooing,” he sees tattooing as “a healing force,” and the tattoo experience as communicative. “I’ve never tattooed a stranger,” Zulu told the World Atlas. “By the time I tattoo you, we know each other.” San Francisco’s Jill Bonny works in the Japanese tradition of full-body art, inking geishas, warriors and mythological figures in black ink highlighted with color. She was trained in art at New York’s Cooper Union. British Columbia’s Dion Kaszas works with Indigenous images of North American spirituality. “When I [first] sat down to skin-stitch,” he’s quoted as saying, “I felt as if I was connected to something that was beyond this plane of existence, a place connected to my ancestors in a way that I never felt possible.” Fountain Valley, California’s Jose Lopez tattoos lowriders on forearms in the Chicano, black-and-gray style, and Stanton, California’s Elle Festin works in neo-tribal motifs, “inspired by Indigenous Philippine sources,” World Atlas writes. Austin’s Nick Baxter inks in a style he calls “color surrealism.” The list goes on.

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Hungerford at work inking an art nouveau-style tattoo and an empress, part of the tarot, that she drew specifically for the client.

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"WHETHER I’M HELPING SOMEBODY COPE OR C E L E B R AT E , W H E N I G I V E S O M E B O D Y A TAT TO O , I B E C O M E PA RT O F A LANDMARK IN TIME FOR THEM. THE CONNECTION I S S O M E T H I N G W AY B E YO N D A N E E D L E A N D SOME INK. I CAN’T M A G I C A L L Y T A K E AW AY P E O P L E ’ S P RO B L E M S A N D PA I N , B U T I C A N H E L P THEM HONOR, HEAL, AND REJOICE.” - K AT VO N D , H I G H VO LTA G E TAT TO O

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TOP: Nicholas Beuthien’s Union Tattoo studio in Missoula, Montana, is located in a converted 1912 warehouse in a quasi-industrial neighborhood. BOTTOM: Inside his studio, Beuthien displays fine-lined and expressive charcoal sketches on his wall.

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Beuthien moved back to Montana from Seattle to pursue more Western style art.

t Missoula, Nicholas Beuthien’s Union Tattoo is housed in a converted 1912 warehouse in a quasi-industrial neighborhood. His studio has thick wooden beams and pillars, brick walls and corrugated metal partitions. His paintings and charcoals rest on a bare wood floor, and his inking table stands near counters he constructed. I ask about charcoal sketches leaning against one wall. They are fine-lined and expressive portraits of women. “I moved back to Montana from Seattle to pursue more oil painting and fine art on more of a Western style,” he says. “In tattooing, I’m a lot more into Western art: elk with mountain scenes, bears, trout. I do get asked to do a lot of the nature scenes, with animals and stuff. I’d like to do more cowboys and horses, for sure. Today, I tattooed a mountain lion skull on a girl’s thigh.” The 38-year-old Beuthien—a fly fisherman, greenhouse gardener, pig and chicken farmer, beekeeper, machine tinkerer, and carpenter— wears a Hawaiian shirt, black shorts, a porkpie hat and sneakers. His tattoos, which pepper both arms and legs, are faded. “I’m covered in a bunch of junk,” he says. “I’ve started to laser it off. But I have the itch to get back into the chair.” Beuthien grew up in Butte and Helena, where his motorcycleclub mother and stepdad had tattoos. “My step had a panther and a dragon. When I was 10, I watched the guy who ended up teaching me tattoo my mom. He was the classic ornery biker—he buzzed his machine at me. Years later, I thought, ‘I’d like to learn that.’” Out of high school, Beuthien joined the Air Force but was discharged because of visible tattoos. Quickly, he began to learn the craft. “At the time, you’d go into a street shop and it had checkered floors, girls and people everywhere. I loved the smell, the greensoap-scent heavy and clean, the artwork and tattoo designs on the walls, the buzzing of multiple machines, many conversations going and an energy that was controlled chaos.” Beuthien shrugs. “It seemed a lifestyle that was really interesting. I thought, ‘Man, these guys are cool.’” He’d made art as a kid but never considered an art career. “Or any type of career, really.” But today, his clients vary from serviceindustry people to upscale professionals. “My client tomorrow is a pediatric neurosurgeon. I did a half-sleeve on him, and I’m working on his full back. It’s the medical symbol—a Caduceus—with wings across the whole upper back. On the sides we’re doing a nautical scene transitioning to a mountain one.” Despite these tats, “he looks like a neurosurgeon. He’s put together, he comes in with a Louis Vuitton bag, we have a good time and go out for drinks afterward.” Designs like the neurosurgeon’s are expensive. For a really nice sleeve, Beuthien says you’re looking at a bill between $5,000 and $8,000. “Montana is generally $150 an hour,” he says. “I lived in Seattle for 12 years and it was $225 an hour at shops like Painless Steel, Slave to the Needle, Super Genius. Some people charge up to $350 an hour out there.” He glances aside. “I’ve tattooed well over 100 hours on people.” On that note, cocktails are suggested and we decamp toward a watering hole off Higgins called Stave and Hoop. “It’s a kind of Prohibition style, underground bar,” Beuthien says. “You go down an alley which still smells like piss, but there are symbols spray painted on the wall, with a hand pointing down so if you know, you know.” M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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A N E I G H T H - C E N T U RY CHINESE TEXT DESCRIBED H OW D E E P - S E A J A PA N E S E D I V E R S WO U L D G E T TAT TO O S OF DRAGONS AND OTHER B E A S T S A S P RO T E C T I O N F RO M S E A P R E D AT O R S .

Beuthien tattoos an octopus on a client.

ShiJin, the Nine Dragoned, from the series One Hundred and Eight Heroes of the Water Margin,1853, by Totoya Hokkei (Japanese, 1780–1850). Part of the 2019 exhibition, Superb Japanese Prints Highlighting Origins of 19th-Century Tattoo Culture. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection, 11.39658. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS BOSTON

Motoring there we pass Blaque Owl Tattoo, a high-end “street shop” where Beuthien worked for several years, and another called Witch of the Woods. There, its founder, Lana Zellner, a spiritualist in the pagan religion Wicca, and selfdescribed “psychedelic color maniac,” as well as an author and former architect who conducts Tarot readings for clients before she inks them, reasserted that business is thriving. “Everyone wants big tattoos,” she said. “I’m not sure why,” Beuthien says. “Protection? Nowadays it’s a lot more fine art, indepth pieces, where they’re wanting foreground, midground, background, lots of elements that tie together.” I’m struck by the protective remark. And I’m reminded of what the LA tattoo artist Ed Hardy wrote about an eighth-century Chinese text, describing how deep-sea Japanese divers would get tattoos of dragons and other beasts as protection from sea predators. Did the same hold true for pandemic folk? “Who knows?” Beuthien says as we negotiate the alley to Stave and Hoop. “It may be just that ‘I’m going to die, so why not get a tattoo?’ Or, ‘My life’s crap, I don’t have a job, but I got credit cards so the hell with it.’” 62

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Inside the Stave, the lounge space is dark, luxurious and filled with well-dressed, professional Missoulians. Beuthien, in his porkpie hat and Hawaiian shirt, stands out. But he greets the bartender by name and orders Hendricks gin and tonics. I speculate about how many of these bougies might be inked. “You can’t even get in with tattooers anymore,” Beuthien says. “Everybody stays months booked, the clients are throwing money at you. So, I’d say most.” I mention Witch of the Woods’ spiritualist take on tattooing (“They do a lot of solid, dark, more simplified pieces,” Beuthien says.) and as our drinks are served we chat about inking’s pain quotient. The Blackfeet ledger artist, John Isaiah Pepion, who’s apprenticed with Shoshone-Bannock tattooer Kira Murillo and is inking traditional Native images on skin, thinks that pain is part of the attraction. “It’s addictive,” he says. “Endorphins get released in the brain. You want more. A lot of my clients love it. It’s like a spa day, but with wet lightning hitting you.” He taps his glass. “People tell you some deep, personal things when they’re getting tortured.” Rendering tattoos is hard on the artist’s body, as both Beuthien and Hungerford attest. Needle machines are stressful to the hands and arms. Hungerford underwent carpal-tunnel surgery this fall. “I get so zoned in that it’s not good for my eyes,” she told me. “Every 20 minutes I have to look up. And since I’m hunched over, my neck is starting to curve in the back where it’s not supposed to.” Beuthien warns that the artform has a shelf life for its practitioners. “You can’t tattoo forever,” he says. “And you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen your whole life doing dishes. It can really limit your future.” A guitarist strums folk-rock as we nosh on burgers. “You know the most satisfying thing I do?” Beuthien asks. “It’s cover-up work on the scars of breast-cancer survivors. I had a bout with melanoma, so I know a bit about cancer.” He’s quiet a second. “I have a whole art library at my house. A lot of my fine art is things I make and do so that I can work on my artistic skills to then match my needle skills. It’s like practice for the game.” He touches the brim of his hat. “At some point I’d like to transition a little further back into fine art. But tattooing still has a passion with me. The images will continue until the hand can’t.” At home, on the pig, chicken and bee ranch, Beuthien has a partner of seven years. “But this life is hard on relationships.” He nips at the gin. “What can I say? Suspicion grows. It’s working all day on halfnaked women, the bars at night.” He fingers his right forearm and its tattoo—of an apple and snake. “Like I said. It’s the lifestyle.” The finished octopus tattoo is a riot of vibrant colors.

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Where did après ski go? BY BRIGID MANDER

ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY DZINTARS

One snowy evening a decade ago at Wyoming’s Jackson Hole ski area, local skiers piled into a favorite hole-in-the-wall gathering spot, the Village Café, celebrating another massive powder day. It was a spot near the tram that for decades was a piece of the beating heart of local ski culture and passion. Just then, tourists from Chicago discovered the hidden staircase down to the bar and joined the party. Swept up in this immersion into Jackson local life, one of them climbed onto the bar, raised his arms and shouted at the top of his lungs, “THIS! IS THE BEST! BAR! IN AMERICA!” He then rang the bell and bought drinks for every cheering skid in the place. Skiing as a pastime has always had a festive, ridiculous punctuation to the end of a ski day. According to the Journal of Ski Heritage, the tradition of hot food and drinks after a cold day of skiing began in Norway, right around when skiing evolved from an over-snow hunting and travel method to recreational fun. This later became known as … après ski! As a ski town local, you’re one with fat everyday planks, take wholly unnecessary and gratifying risks, and live amongst a community of like-minded individuals. At 4 p.m. daily, you glide into the base area at a casually inappropriate rate of speed 70

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with a few ski buddies, screech to a halt, click out of your skis and survey your world as one of your fellows cheerfully throws a beer can from some ski-bum approved bar. Yes. This is tradition. This is your tribe! Here, industrious folks driven by that unquenchable passion for sliding on snow collectively eschew the societal pressure to spend daylight hours in offices or jostle for material status (alas, someone always has a newer jet!). Après caps that enriched, visceral existence, thanks to pointed life choices. For those who managed to find the party, it’s been open to all. And hey, if a tourist makes it through another day without finding the nearest MRI machine, that’s deserving of a beer or two! It’s guaranteed that the Chicagoan and his ski buddies still talk about their memorable après session at the Village Café, too. But when they return, they won’t find any such place or community. Instead, they will find a big parking structure-like building, which cost $100 million and bills itself “a spectacular earthly phenomena [sic]” according to its press release. In skiing, this phrase should never apply to egregiously over-designed hotels, rather reserved for seven-day pow storms that close airports and roads.


NOW: WHERE HAS ALL THE APRÉS GONE?

As the curled toes of ski culture disappear under the new building, inside there are a few local skiers who aren’t paid to be there, and no colors, just dull neutrals, like its soul. This scene is playing out in ski town after ski town. Why should anyone care about the loss of dive bars, absurd bohemian personalities and silly, carefree traditions? It’s not just about the economics of replacing $2 beers with $30 cocktails. Après, silly as it seems, is a canary in a coal mine for the health of mountain communities and ski culture. For decades, ski towns were built on the origins of American ski bumming: WWII vets back home, happy to be alive, looking for the opposite of war in joyous, purposeful living and a ridiculous sport in the mountains. For today’s local skiers, après gatherings are still a celebration of community, where deep snow adventures and dreams, calculated risks and pure hedonism pool at the end of the day. It’s what high-end developers and marketers sell, but oftentimes the product they have is at odds with its inspiration. Recently, upon entering an après spot at a nearby ski area, instead of free-roaming camaraderie, skier banter and cheap beers we’d customarily found, a hostess threw herself in front of me and my ski buddies. We realized she’d been tasked with ushering all who entered to … a sit-down table. With linens! No mingling! No fun! We quickly fled the stultifying scene and its refined murmuring and clinking. A friend formerly based in Aspen waxed fondly for the not-too-long-ago days when one could get thrown out of a popular local gathering spot for rowdiness, followed by a

Après punctuates that enriched, visceral existence, thanks to pointed life choices. For those who managed to find the party, it’s been open to all. bouncer’s pat on the shoulder and a genuine invite to “Come on back tomorrow.” That spot is now, incidentally, a cashmere boutique. Who knows what that signifies exactly, but it can’t be good for spinning tales of epic cliff sends or discussing how many jobs one takes on during one six-month season to pay for another six months of employment-free skiing glory! Ski bums, who, like artists, are in pursuit of a certain lifestyle and culture, may abandon dulling, trophy home status-driven domains, but they will pop up elsewhere in search of powder and freedom, and the silly après of yore. That carefree après routine, where the status jostling comes from fleeting, personal athletic feats is important, and where a like-minded community finds each other—and itself. It’s not just fun; it’s a healthy philosophy, one which reminds us all to celebrate the silly joys, and not to take skiing, or life, too seriously. Brigid Mander is a Jackson, Wyoming-based writer who may or may not be hard at work researching the world's most epic après sessions for the cheapest beer options. Or is at least thinking about it until it snows more.

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SNOW GUNS FOR CHANGE

As climate change ravages the Mountain West, ski industry mavericks are looking to boost disappearing snowpack by making snow with recycled wastewater. BY GABRIELLE GASSER

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“The problem is it's getting warmer, and that means there is less snow in winter and more evaporation in summer” -Cathy Whitlock, Montana State University

When the snow guns roared to life at Arizona Snowbowl resort in December of 2012, the small ski area made history for two reasons: it was the first time Snowbowl ever made its own snow and it was the first time in the U.S. that snow was made entirely with treated wastewater. After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added snowmaking as a viable water-reuse option in 2012, Snowbowl seized the opportunity. It had to. Located on an extinct volcano in Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks, Snowbowl had no viable water source, according to J.R. Murray, chief planning officer at Mountain Capital Partners, which manages Snowbowl. “We chose reclaimed water because it was a known source at the time and Flagstaff already had a [water] treatment facility that met the highest standards,” said Murray, who served as Snowbowl’s general manager for 30 years. “Otherwise, we were going to have to drill speculative wells.” A coalition of environmental groups and Native tribes that considered the mountain sacred argued that snowmaking would contaminate it. They filed suit and, in 2018, a judge ruled in favor of Snowbowl’s upgrade plans, which included the snowmaking initiative. Today, Snowbowl receives 1.5 million

gallons of water per day from the Rio de Flag Water Reclamation Plant to manufacture snow on 150 skiable acres. “The snowmaking totally stabilized the business and provided predictability to the skiers and snowboarders and the community,” said Murray, attributing 650 winter jobs and a $35 million increase in Flagstaff’s annual economic impact to the snowmaking system. “It's just been the difference between a hit-and-miss ski area and now a very successful ski area.” In the Mountain West, saving water and recharging the water supply by making snow with reclaimed wastewater could be the key to saving the ski season. According to the June 2021 Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment that analyzed climate data for the Greater Yellowstone Area, including Big Sky, regional snowpack is declining, the average temperature is rising and more precipitation is on the way. While increased precipitation sounds like a positive thing, in this case it isn’t.

Snowbowl uses low-energy, computerized fan guns for snowmaking. PHOTO COURTESY OF ARIZONA SNOWBOWL

OUTLOOK: CLIMATE CHANGE

“The problem is it's getting warmer, and that means there is less snow in winter and more evaporation in summer,” said Dr. Cathy Whitlock, professor emerita of Earth Sciences at Montana State University and co-lead author on the assessment. “Snow is the reservoir of water that we depend on in this region. Keeping that snowpack on as long as possible is what gives us reliable supplies of water at the end of the summer.” The assessment also noted that since 1950, annual snowfall has declined by about 25 percent, meaning that each year 23 fewer inches of snow is falling. Not only does this decrease bode ill for water supply in the Mountain West, it also threatens the recreational opportunities that many travel here to enjoy, namely skiing. Nine years after Snowbowl tapped into making snow with reclaimed wastewater, fewer than a dozen ski resorts worldwide are following suit. One happens to be the world’s only private residential ski and golf resort. --Tucked away near Big Sky, Montana, the exclusive Yellowstone Club is also looking to make snow with treated wastewater. The effort began in 2011 when local nonprofit Gallatin River Task Force conducted a pilot study to test >>

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the concept. The study expanded to include the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and formed the basis for the club’s current project. The project will use 25 million gallons of “highly treated wastewater,” according to Yellowstone Club Environmental Manager Rich Chandler, to make an 18-inch snow base over 55 skiable acres at the club. Most of the wastewater will be sourced from Big Sky’s water and sewer district, and about 20 percent will come from the club’s own plant. Chandler says artificial snow can remain on the ground 19 days longer than natural snowpack due to its greater density, meaning precious runoff is extended further into the summer. “The need to recycle water within our watershed is such an important part of how we manage our land today,” Chandler said. “And combining the reclaimed wastewater component with snowmaking seems to be a phenomenal statement of overall recycling within the environment.” In 2016, the task force convened the Sustainable Water Solutions Forum, bringing together stakeholders that met regularly over two-and-a-half years to discuss the challenges of water availability in Big Sky. To expand wastewater-reuse options, the group identified snowmaking with recycled wastewater as one solution that became part of the Big Sky Area Sustainable Watershed Stewardship Plan, published in 2018. Three years later, in June of 2021, the Yellowstone Club obtained a Montana DEQ permit to make snow with

“The need to recycle water within our watershed is such an important part of how we manage our land today” -Rich Chandler, Yellowstone Club

reclaimed wastewater. The permit stipulates that the club must continually monitor the project to discern if and how melting snow is impacting the river. Leading up to its decision, the DEQ received an outpouring of support for the initiative from environmental groups, individuals and businesses in the Big Sky area, according to Jon Kenning, DEQ’s water protection bureau chief. “This proposal is the first permit of its kind in Montana,” Kenning said. “It has the potential to provide increased protection for streams while also providing a necessary function for the Yellowstone Club.” As part of the permitting process, the DEQ completed an environmental assessment of the snowmaking project, concluding that impacts to water quality, wildlife and plant life, among other resources considered, would be insignificant. But not everyone was on board. Bozeman-based Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, along with the Gallatin Wildlife Association, filed a lawsuit in August of 2021 against DEQ, asserting that the agency’s environmental assessment did not analyze the impacts of pharmaceuticals in the water. “There are more than 4,000 prescription medications used for human and animal health that find their way into the environment,” said Clint Nagel, president of the GWA, pointing to information from the U.S. Geological Survey. “The cumulative effect on wildlife and fish over time can affect their health and behavior; of course much of that is dependent upon amount and species.” Currently, the EPA has no standards for the acceptable level of pharmaceuticals in water, according to Kenning. “Research is still being conducted to better understand this emerging contaminant,” he said. As of November 2021, when Mountain Outlaw went to print, no litigation timeline had been set and parties involved would not speculate on the outcome. Chandler says the Yellowstone Club’s snowmaking effort is endorsed by conservation organizations including Trout Unlimited, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Gallatin River Task Force, and American Rivers. “It's a great project and the right thing to do for our community and the environment,” he said. --The Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment concluded that the ski industry and associated economies “will be threatened by the continued loss of snowpack as the [Greater Yellowstone Area] The new project at the Yellowstone Club will use 25 million gallons of treated wastewater to make an 18-inch snow base over 55 skiable acres. PHOTO BY NATE TELLSTROM/YELLOWSTONE CLUB

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Rich Chandler, environmental manager at the Yellowstone Club, collects water samples during the snowmaking pilot study in 2011. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE YELLOWSTONE CLUB

snow season becomes shorter and more uncertain.” Charles Wolf Drimal, a fierce advocate for wild waters in the American West, is coauthor of the assessment and has spent a lifetime working in conservation and environmental policy. He says the Yellowstone Club’s snowmaking project will decrease nutrient loading in area waters, and will create a store of water in colder months that will augment stream flows in the spring and summer. “We’re in a time of climate crisis,” said Drimal, the Waters Conservation Coordinator of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “The Gallatin [River] has experienced consecutive algal blooms and we need innovative solutions. This project is an innovative solution to addressing a couple of interests that folks in the region have and that is, one: climate adaptation, and two: nutrient loading to one of the most iconic rivers in the region.” The final piece to get the Yellowstone Club’s project off the ground will be obtaining a stormwater permit from the DEQ. According to Chandler, the goal is to have the project up and running by fall of 2022. In the wake of the club’s innovative measure, the task force will conduct a new study to assess the viability of snowmaking with treated wastewater at adjacent Big Sky Resort and Spanish Peaks Mountain Club. The hope is that these ski industry leaders will follow in the Yellowstone Club’s footsteps and help address climate change concerns in the region. “Water is a limited resource. Reusing treated wastewater to make snow is a model that addresses challenges from climate change and interests in recreation simultaneously,” Drimal said. “I'm an avid skier and I have a stake in this, not just as a conservationist … I want to see the future of a sport that I love—and [which] has given me mental, physical, spiritual health and bliss in my life—I want to see that for myself and for my grandchildren.” Gabrielle Gasser is Associate Editor for Mountain Outlaw magazine. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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‘BEQOMING’ A full spectrum of existence BY MIRA BRODY

Benjamin and Azrya Bequer have an ambitious calling – to invite humanity on a transformative journey through a personal development process they call, Beqoming. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BEQUERS

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OUTLOOK: BEN AND AZRYA BEQUER

Azrya Bequer has 34 journals filled to the brim. Inside, she’s poured some of her life’s most intimate experiences, from a drunk driving accident and musings on the fate of humanity, to bad breakups and the time she shed her former name and took on Azrya as her new identity. The ink documents the mistakes, triumphs and evolution of her “Beqoming” journey, the process Azrya and her husband Benjamin Bequer founded, practice and teach. Together with Benjamin’s equally vulnerable self reflections and businesslike pragmatism, the husband-wife force of nature have written a book, BEQOMING: Everything You Didn’t Know You Wanted, outlining this transformative process as they depict deeply personal, emotional and sexual descriptions of what it takes to discover the path of Beqoming: meeting yourself fully and unapologetically, to shake off physical and psychological barriers to become the person you are destined to be. It’s a journey the Bequers believe called them to guide people through, one they are intimately familiar with and one they hope will transform the way humanity addresses hardships and personal growth. Their vision is that Beqoming revolutionizes humanity. “We want to have a dramatic impact on the world, and we want Beqoming to be a tool that people come to and are able to more efficiently move through [as] a personal development journey,” said Benjamin, who also goes by the moniker, Bee. “If we can expedite people’s process, that’s really the objective.” Their book will be joined by a podcast and a six-month online course during which time students will build a heart-centered operating system, an ever-changing blueprint meant to guide you on your individual journey. The Bequers will also join a lineup of speakers during TEDxBigSky, an event spanning January 29 and 30 of 2022. As a part of their talk, Azrya and Benjamin will speak to their use of psychedelics and plant medicine, components Azrya calls “powerful tools.” “It allows us to strip away the masks,” Azrya says of ayahuasca and other plant medicines. “Most people don’t realize how many masks they are actually wearing, even within their intimate relationships.” >>

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BEQOMING (noun|verb) [be.com.ing]

Devotion to the process of becoming who you are designed to be by radically embracing your greatest challenges as curriculum and savoring the full spectrum of life. The Bequer’s concept of Beqoming is centered around the purpose of becoming who you are destined to be. PHOTO BY AMIR MAGAL

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The Bequer’s book, BEQOMING: Everything You Didn’t Know You Wanted, is a collaborative effort of Benjamin’s business-like pragmatism and Azrya’s artistic spirit and will be supplemented by a podcast and a six-month online course. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BEQUERS

“We want to have a dramatic impact on the world, and we want Beqoming to be a tool that people come to and are able to more efficiently move through [as] a personal development journey.” -Benjamin Bequer

Azrya, an artist and performer with a decade in the entertainment industry behind her, has a thirst for sharing her experiences with others. Benjamin at a young age embraced a high-powered career as an entrepreneur, raking in revenues in the hundreds of millions, becoming a father and quickly climbing his first mountain of success, a concept outlined by writer David Brooks in his novel, The Second Mountain. Together the two hope that the process of Beqoming allows individuals, businesses and artists to amplify their visions and live to the fullest, an achievement they refer to as the “third mountain.” The Bequers’ book describes rock-bottom scenarios that many of us find ourselves in at various points in life—the death of a loved one, a traumatic breakup, drug abuse, quitting a job, a feeling of lost purpose. It’s important to recognize these barriers, they explain, and submit to them. “I think that most people go through the greatest growth during their most challenging times,” Benjamin said. “I don’t think it’s a prerequisite, but think more often than not, that is the situation.” Beqoming utilizes familiar concepts, such as the idea of being “unfuckwithable” and the “Full Fuck Yes,” or, FFY, which encourage those standing on the precipice of change

to surrender and fully feel the experience. It also embraces practices from Shamanism and Buddhism, as well as other wisdom traditions, and integrates, in some cases, the use of plant medicine ceremonies. The societal benefit of these practices, explains Benjamin, reveals a community that no longer represses fear or emotion, nor do they project unaddressed trauma outwardly. This helps you find beauty in every moment of life, they say, both in joy and grief. This form of humanity experiences the full spectrum of existence. “Because everyone’s Beqoming journey is completely unique, what’s almost more important than the tool is the intention,” Azrya said. “If the intention is really sincere, that intention and that clarity and commitment to that intention will magnetize all sorts of ideas in your fields. People underestimate the power of a very sincere intention.” With their intention, the Bequers are guiding readers and students to fearlessly and willingly embrace life; to stay open to the direction the universe is guiding; and teaching that it’s not either, or. It’s yes, and. Mira Brody is Content Marketing Strategist with Outlaw Partners.

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Silicon

PRAIRIE Will becoming the first state to charter cryptobanks transform Wyoming into a bustling tech hub or deposit it in the lawless Wild West?

One year before statehood in 1889, innocent blood marred Wyoming territory’s Wild West prairies. Homesteaders intent on taking advantage of prime cattle prices and free land fenced off their allotted 160-acre portions for small herds. But cattle barons claimed they had rights to the homesteaders’ land since their cattle had historically grazed in the area. They also said the fledgling herds incorporated stolen cattle, claims later proven false or exaggerated though widely circulated. Big-time cattlemen soon hung a perhaps-married couple with back-to-back acreage in the first salvo of what would become known as the Johnson County War. After murderous mobs later invaded with lynching orders for about 70 men, small landowners eventually won the right to fence off property in Wyoming to protect them from big-time interests. Now, 130 years later, the land grab is back with digital property at stake.

BY MARK WILCOX

Since the Wild West days, agriculture has faded to the No. 3 industry in Wyoming behind energy and tourism. The Cowboy State, whose official nickname is the Equality State, has long spoken of the need to diversify into technology as fossil energy falls out of favor. “We do a lot of coal, oil and gas, and those don’t necessarily have the bright, shiny futures they once did,” State Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D) told MarketWatch. Rothfuss chaired the Wyoming Senate’s blockchain committee. “We’re really looking for opportunities to bring advanced emerging technologies to Wyoming,” Rothfuss said. The feeling is bipartisan in libertarian Wyoming. Leaders couch cryptocurrency as an asset the traditional financial system can’t graze with their herd of fat wallets. U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R) argued on the Senate floor last October that cryptocurrencies offer people a place to save and avoid hyperinflation caused by exploding debts. “So, thank God for Bitcoin and other non-fiat currencies that transcend the irresponsibility of governments,” Lummis said. “Including our own.” She had purchased between $50,000 and $100,000 of the digital currency in August.

THE NEW RANGE


PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION BY MARK WILCOX

Tech pioneers traditionally congregate in cities rather than seeking a “home on the range.” But tech has found a foothold on the prairies as it becomes easier to meet with worldwide experts from the comfort of internet-connected homes and offices. Adding some cement to the distinctive fusion of old-school ag and new-school tech, Wyoming has passed a raft of cryptofriendly laws in recent years that include a legitimization of crypto banking. Among laws passed in Wyoming was one allowing for a new bank charter for Special Purpose Depository Institutions, or SPDI banks, pronounced “speedy.” In many ways, it’s a return to the Wild West: colonizing open space because it’s there. No chartered SPDI bank yet has customers. The legislation that allowed SPDI banks heralded the coming digital turf war by talking up how crypto-connected deposits have been refused by the traditional financial system.

MONETARY WARZONE

Caitlin Long is founder of Avanti, the second SPDI bank to obtain a Wyoming charter. The company raised $44 million to offer products ranging from a tokenized, “programmable U.S. dollar” to business services like Automated Clearing House transfers, which will be backed by in-house assets rather than an insuring entity like the FDIC. But perhaps more importantly, Long set in motion the chain of events that led to Wyoming’s crypto laws when she tried to

REPORTS: JACKSON HOLE BITCOIN

donate Bitcoin to her alma mater University of Wyoming and the state had no vehicle to accept the sizable donation. Long is quick to compare the Johnson County War with the current battle for digital property rights. “Can we digitally fence off our financial assets like fencing off the West to enforce property rights against trespassers?” she asked. “Our financial assets are trespassed upon every day due to market structure issues.” Brokers, Long contends, have abused trust and enacted nearly invisible grazing mechanics in the traditional financial system that fatten their own herd of wallets. Most financial assets, she says, have been rustled by the traditional system to become IOUs rather than actual assets. Crypto banking will fix these and other problems, according to Long. But the new technology also requires personal responsibility. She compares it to stashing cash in a digital mattress. Further, wherever money is, criminals will follow. That means that SPDI banks and crypto at large need to come up with monitoring and processes that prevent them from becoming a black hole of black-market transactions. Long said because of the distributed nature of reputable crypto’s ledger sheets, this has already helped put away would-be crypto criminals. Problems and challenges aside, the digital land rush is on. But many question why it’s occurring in Wyoming. “Why not Wyoming?” Long asked. “There’s zero advantage to physical location in a virtual industry.” M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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SHACKS ON RACKS In the throes of a housing crisis, one Jackson nonprofit is saving old homes … on tractor trailers BY CLAIRE CELLA PHOTOS BY RYAN DORGAN When Esther Judge-Lennox was 10 years old, she stood on the side of the interstate near Dillon, Montana, watching with wide eyes as a 274-ton, 40-by-90-foot mansion lumbered by on the bed of a semi-trailer. It was the Roe Mansion, built in 1912, and moved from Ted Turner’s ranch south of Bozeman to the University of Montana Western in 1998. The move allowed the mansion, which had lain dormant for years, to be restored and given new life as part of the university’s administrative offices. Twenty years later, that memory resurfaced as inspiration for Judge-Lennox to start her own venture, a nonprofit moving houses in Jackson, Wyoming. She calls it Shacks on Racks. In 2018, she and her husband Philip moved their own 1941 craftsman house for $12,000 from downtown Jackson to their current property off U.S. Highway 89. They’ve since fixed it up and now use it as a rental property specifically to house

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those serving Jackson’s workforce. The craftsman’s move would be the first of many relocations Judge-Lennox would spearhead in attempt to alleviate the town’s growing housing crisis. The business model for Shacks on Racks is based in service (in fact, Judge-Lennox hasn’t even started charging her clients yet for her time). Judge-Lennox begins by mining a log of the town’s demolition permits—a list that grows longer every day as Jackson lots are bought for redevelopment. When she sees a demolition permit for a historically significant structure or one that is worthy of relocation, she posts a photo of the structure to her Instagram account, scrawling across the image the word “Free.” That’s right. Homes up for demolition are free; they just need to be moved to another site. When interested parties

Esther Judge-Lennox, the mind behind the nonprofit Shacks on Racks, stands in front of a historic 1930s home she helped move to the National Elk Refuge in July 2020, where it will serve as employee housing.


REPORTS: SHACKS ON RACKS

“Back in the day, our parents could at least get a chunk of land, there was something tangible. That ability is gone. How are we supposed to empower people to have families and stay in a community where they can positively contribute to it?” -Esther Judge-Lennox have 90 days. And once you find the house you’re willing to relocate, you’ll Vern Woolstenhulme of Teton Transport is part of the team Judgestart accruing the Lennox assembles as part of her services to make these moves possible. professional fees from architects, movers and commit, she springs into action with a engineers. It’s a cash team of professionals to get the shack on endeavor and a lot of people don’t have the rack and moved. this kind of money.” “Between a house mover, a general But still, these costs are a drop in contractor, a structural engineer, [and] an the bucket compared to the nearly $2.5 architect,” Judge-Lennox says, “I have a million median home price in Jackson really tight team because we have about according to Realtor.com. And therein 90 days to pull off a relocation before it lies the motivation. gets demolished.” “I’m not moving homes to be guest This process accomplishes two things: houses for rich people,” Judge-Lennox “It matters to be able to have housing, says. “And this stuff really, really, really and to be saving pieces of history that matters to me. Trying to make a positive otherwise would have gone to the trash.” impact on this ever-changing community. Since she started in 2018, JudgeBack in the day, our parents could at least Lennox has helped move 11 structures get a chunk of land, there was something and a handful of smaller outbuildings, tangible. That ability is gone. How are sheds and the like. She bemoans the fact we supposed to empower people to have that still more houses go to the trash families and stay in a community where than she can save. Approximately 94 they can positively contribute to it?” percent of demolished buildings in Teton Two recent projects prove her County in 2019 ended up in the landfill, niche service to be an effective an irony in a valley where, according to tool in contributing to the kind of Housing Department data, more than community she envisions. In April half of critical infrastructure workers 2021, Shacks on Racks relocated commute in to work. But she understands the Coey garage, built in 1945 on saving a house is no easy feat. Warm Springs Road in Grand Teton “You first have to have land and be National Park, to the Aska’s Animals willing to pull the trigger like this,” she Foundation property to help support says, snapping her fingers. “At best we the nonprofit’s rescue animals.

Approximately 94 percent of demolished buildings in Teton County in 2019 ended up in the landfill. Judge-Lennox stands in the street in front of the 10 East Simpson Avenue house as it lumbers down East Broadway Avenue in Jackson, destined for its new home at the National Elk Refuge.

Another “shack,” a house that had been at 10 E. Simpson Ave. for more than 90 years, was moved to the National Elk Refuge where it’s being renovated to serve as employee housing. The renovation was scheduled for completion by the end of 2021. The local Jackson Hole News and Guide covered the Simpson house move, opening their piece in this way: “A crowd at the corner of Cache and Simpson gasped Sunday morning as a house wobbled back and forth on a semi-trailer as the truck turned off the property’s curb and onto the street.” One can only wonder if a wide-eyed 10-year-old girl was in that crowd, becoming inspired. Claire Cella currently lives in a tiny house the size of a large shack in Lander, Wyoming. When she’s not writing for Mountain Outlaw or working her day job at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, she helps with the city’s local climate action network.


Mary Jane lights up the Treasure State BY BELLA BUTLER

In 2011, federal agents raided medical marijuana dispensaries across 13 Montana communities, handing down 26 indictments and placing nearly out of reach the prospect that recreational pot use would ever be legal in the Treasure State. Now, a decade later, Montana is joining 18 other U.S. states in legalizing adult-use marijuana.

PHOTOS BY: LARYGIN ANDRII ERLLRE - STOCK.ADOBE.COM


SECTION: SUBHEAD REPORTS: MARY JANE AND THE TREASURE STATE

Like smoke wafting from the end of a pipe, cannabis has drifted from Montana’s Wild West fringe to the forefront of its culture, lighting up a multi-million-dollar industry. Beginning on January 1, 2022, adults 21 and over will shop for marijuana products freely and legally. This journey from impossibility to inevitability is not unfamiliar to the state; Montana was the first to repeal enforcement of Prohibition nearly a century ago. “We’ve had alcohol in Montana since 1926,” said Kristan Barbour, administrator of the state’s Cannabis Control Division. “Somehow, no one has any problems with sitting in a bar and having a glass of wine or … traveling the state to go to different

This legislation is exhaustive. When he introduced the bill in its first hearing during the legislative session, Republican Representative Mike Hopkins, the bill’s primary sponsor stated: “House Bill 701 is a comprehensive, fully functional, operational system for the safe, controlled, responsible implementation of the growing, the tracking, the testing, the transporting, the manufacturing, the selling, and the taxing of adult-use marijuana in the state of Montana.” While the bill may not be the most comprehensive in the nation, he said, it’s certainly one of them. Something Petersen and Barbour are now especially excited for is the shift

Kristan Barbour is the administrator for Montana’s Cannabis Control Division, under the umbrella of the state’s Department of Revenue. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTAN BARBOUR

Adult-use marijuana is projected to rake in nearly $1.2 billion in sales through the end of 2026. breweries or distilleries. We've gotten over that hurdle. I do believe cannabis has that same opportunity.” In November 2020, Montanans passed a pair of initiatives—I-190 and CI-118—that together legalized adult-use recreational marijuana. The initiatives were top performers in the election, each raking in nearly 60 percent of favorable votes, as many as Donald Trump in 2020. Pepper Petersen, a leader for the 2020 pro-cannabis campaign New Approach, had a heavy hand in the passing of the initiatives. Petersen doesn’t fit within the commonly held stoner archetype; no tiedyed shirt, no skateboard clutched under an arm. Sunken into the leather couch in his Helena-based dispensary, he sports a black cowboy hat, black leather boots and an intricately beaded belt buckle gifted him by a friend from the Crow Reservation. But Montana’s marijuana culture itself doesn’t fit into a stereotype, he argues, which is partly why it was so successful. “You notice our campaign didn’t employ Snoop Doggy Dog,” he said. “It was Willie Nelson.” After the 2020 election, Montana’s 67th Legislature sent the long-debated 153-page House Bill 701 to Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk, where he signed it into law on May 20, 2021.

from a vertically integrated market to a horizontal one. Before 2022, dispensaries also had to be growers and producers. Now, they’ll have the option to specialize and do business with other growers, producers and shops throughout the state, something Petersen says will boost innovation. While adult-use marijuana is legal to possess statewide, an “11th-hour addition” to HB 701, according to Barbour, established green and red counties, currently splitting the state nearly in half. In green counties, where the majority of voters approved I-190 in 2020, the sale of adult-use marijuana will be available on January 1, 2022. In red counties, where voters rejected I-190, it won’t be. Either type of county can change its designation by putting it to a vote. Just as the law is far-reaching, so will be the industry. During its campaign, New Approach commissioned an economic report from the University of Montana that estimated total cannabis users in the state would exceed 873,000 by 2026, a more than 2,100 percent increase from Montana’s nearly 39,000 medical cardholders. The report projected adult-use marijuana would rake in nearly $1.2 billion in sales through the end of 2026. Adult-use marijuana also comes with a

Pepper Petersen, the owner of a Helena dispensary and the president and CEO of the Montana Cannabis Guild, played an influential role in the 2020 campaign to legalize adult-use marijuana in Montana. PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

20 percent sales tax, which HB 701 divvies into several pools including an addiction and recovery fund, several conservation and recreation sources, veterans’ services, the Department of Justice, and the state general fund. Counties also have the chance to add a 3 percent local-option tax. The UM report estimates the tax will generate more than $236 million in tax revenue through 2026. Barbour described the first year of Montana’s adult-use marijuana program as both a full launch and a pilot. Just like the medical marijuana program, she suspects regulation will change with each legislative session, and the industry will have to iron out some kinks. But for now, across the threshold of legalization, a new cultural truth has ignited across Montana; a perceived impossibility is now an inevitability. Bella Butler is senior editor for Mountain Outlaw. She grew up in Big Sky, Montana, and spends her time chasing the West’s top stories, food and powder.

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Ski together, stay together … right?


HEALTH: SKI TOGETHER, SECTION: STAY TOGETHER? SUBHEAD

A look at relationship dynamics in the backcountry BY BLAIR ANNE HENSEN

We stood atop the southwest chutes on Mount Adams, the second tallest mountain in Washington, weighing our options. Ski it or no? A group discussion led to the unanimous answer: “Send it.” One after the other we skied over 3,500 feet of perfectly cooked spring corn snow. Midway down the chute we stopped to check in, and while everyone had slightly tired legs, we were all thrilled. I looked at my partner and smiled. When I switched from snowboarding to skiing 10 years ago, this was the moment I envisioned having all the time: high fives, blissful turns and laughter with friends, family and my significant other. But reality is not

always what it seems. Especially in the backcountry. More often than not, I’ve ended up on descents beyond my skill level or gotten into an argument with my significant other over safety decisions or terrain choices. A few years back, I started talking more about this reality with friends and family who also recounted difficult experiences they encountered learning to ski, mountain bike or climb, and the moments of relationship despair. As a relationship counselor, I couldn’t help but dig into these dynamics. Here are some ways to tackle a new outdoor sport with your partner without the big blowups. >>

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Dr. Sara Boilen, a psychologist in Kalispell, Montana, suggests creating a “safe word” with your backcountry partner. PHOTO BY BEN KITCHING

The learning curve

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “I want to try [enter activity], but I’m too scared.” Being a beginner is hard. You have to endure the process of moving through the learning stages, and it’s not always glamorous. But the bruises, frustration and negative self-talk can make it a fulfilling journey. “I was such a new skier,” my sister-in-law Megan told me. “I felt competitive and so insecure that I was not comfortable being left behind. I started feeling resentful because I didn’t feel like I was a part of the crew.” Whether you’re on the teaching side or the learning side, validate each other for tackling something new. Look for joys in the learning stages, whether it’s connecting a turn, sending a new-to-you route, or sharing accomplishments with friends.

Setting goals

Are you learning this new thing to reach a bigger objective down the road? Are you doing it to spend more time together? Or have you always wanted to learn this skill and now have the chance? Unspoken expectations or goals will hurt the learning outcome. If one partner dreams of climbing a summit together and this objective is not shared or mutually established, it can quickly turn into resentment or undue pressure. “Looking back,” Megan told me, “I wish me and my partner had a clear conversation about expectations to make sure I was focusing on getting better as a skier and [that] he was focusing on quality time and giving each other space to practice our skills.” Be clear about your goals for the day, the activity and each other.

Own it

If the learning partner feels a sense of agency and autonomy by building outside support, it can alleviate pressure on the other partner to be “teacher.” My friend Kiersten said that after a few clinics and finding gear that actually fit her, she felt more confident to ski with her friends and significant other. “Lessons were really helpful,” she said, “and learning with other women made it way more fun.” Kiersten said she was having a hard time learning to mountain bike, a sport she was trying because her partner loved it. She would think, “I’m only doing this sport because of you,” and this would lead to a downward spiral that led her to question her worthiness in their relationship. “I felt like I wasn’t a good enough mountain biker, and therefore, [not] a good enough partner." It wasn’t until she made mountain biking about her, that it became rewarding and fun. Having ownership in the activity helps decrease moments of blame and resentment between partners.


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Safety first

Let’s say your goal is to ski backcountry powder with your significant other. This is doable if you have a realistic timeline, mutual goals and appropriate safety training for both partners. All too often I see couples (and have also been in that couple) rely on the experienced partner to make all the decisions. Especially at the beginning of the process, one partner might have more experience making decisions in the backcountry, and it is critical that neither of you overestimates your capacity to manage safety. Make sure you choose terrain options that are appropriate for the skill levels of both partners so you both feel safe in the other’s care. Have a plan you’re both prepared for and feel safe executing, including using proper gear, setting objectives and discussing emergency plans ahead of time. Dr. Sara Boilen, a psychologist in Kalispell, Montana, suggests creating a “safe word” together. This word is easy to remember and employed when one partner is feeling overwhelmed and unsafe enough to execute the safety plan.

Communication: A two-way street

How you talk to each other matters. Empathy, validation and sharing about your experience helps you continue checking in and making sound decisions together. Share when fear is present rather than using fear to motivate (“I’m scared by the wind on the ridge” versus “If you don’t move quickly, we could die.”). Using “I feel” statements can also be helpful. For example: “I feel scared we may get caught in a storm if we don’t move through this section quickly.” Expressing emotion and needs can help your partner understand how the situation impacts you specifically. Keep in mind there are different styles of learning. Some people learn best through experience and challenging their thresholds, while others like to learn more systemically. Find out what works best for your partner and meet them in their process, rather than using yours. Avoid language like, “When I was learning,” or “You should try.” Instead, use validation and curiosity: “I can see how hard you are working.” “What was your favorite part of today?” Know that it’s OK if you end up in a blowout. We’ve all been there. Take time to talk about it afterward and repair the hurt that was caused, then keep after it! You can be that couple who farms pow for life, as long as you both want it and keep finding positive ways through the learning. Make it fun, take good care of each other and always stay curious!

Communication in the backcountry is important and using “I feel” statements with your partner can be helpful. PHOTO BY MNY-JHEE-STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Stay Connected 1.

Be willing to care for each other in the wilderness—be it the wilderness of each other’s emotions or navigating difficult terrain.

2.

Slow down and check in with one another. What kinds of risks are you available to do given life around you? How do you want your partner to challenge and support you?

3.

Keep unplugging from the stressors of daily life and find time to integrate wilderness into your relationship. Create time for play, and make sure you are choosing objectives you both want.

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FAMILY: TRAVELING FULL-TIME WITH KIDS

As remote working comes into vogue, full-time travel is a real thing. Here’s how to make it work with kids in tow. BY MARK WILCOX

The author juggles four of his six kids in front of the Tetons in this photo illustration depicting how it can feel to travel with family while keeping up with daily life.

Standing on a paddleboard off the Baja Peninsula with his two young sons at his feet, a huge shadow passed beneath Steven Nascimento’s board. Shark. Roughly 25 feet of solid muscle, its fin broke the surface of Bahía Concepción’s emerald waters just near the board. The experience should have been terrifying, especially with two boys under 10. But the behemoth had more in common with the Big Friendly Giant than Jaws. It was a whale shark, known for being a gentle giant that feeds almost entirely on plankton. Nascimento’s wife, Alexis, took her turn on the board, paddling out to the tranquil shark. It swam right underneath her when she arrived. “Hands down, the coolest experience ever!” she wrote in a blog post at the time. That night, the beach offered another surprise to the family of four. The bay glowed bright blue with the bioluminescence of the creatures the whale shark had been feeding on. “It literally looks like something out of Avatar,” Alexis wrote. “Every time you kick or splash the water, the world around you lights up bright!” These are atypical family experiences fueled by an atypical way of life. Living on a beach in Baja, Mexico, with your whole family may sound like paradise (and it is) but the experience has its price of admission.

Sell, sell, sell!

Steven describes the Nascimentos as a traditional family. He worked public affairs and was on the city council in Bridgeport, California, and served on a hospital board. Alexis handled digital marketing for a local winery. The couple with two kids had grown up in Bridgeport and were still close to their families there. “We weren’t the typical ‘Let’s-get-rid-of-it-andhit-the-road’ kind of people,” Steven said. Still, encroaching demands weighed them down. They found it more difficult to get out and do the things they loved, especially working around school schedules. That’s when they bought a passenger van that Steven would convert into a campervan. After a monthslong process and a few trial runs, their new life came together. The Nascimentos pulled their kids from school and sold their house. Alexis quit her job. Steven arranged to work remotely from the road. They sold their extra vehicle. The couple had modest investment income and set aside most of the money from their home as untouchable savings. >>

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ABOVE: The Nascimento family awaits the Fourth of July fireworks show in Bridgeport, California, where Steven was camp host this summer. LEFT: From left to right: Harvey (6), Steven, Levi (9), Alexis, and their dog Ruby backpack at Leavitt Meadows in the Eastern Sierra Mountains.

They earmarked $50,000 for ongoing travel expenses and said they’d revisit their income and lifestyle if they traveled their way to $10,000. “We took the van down to Baja and never looked back,” Steven said. Within a few months, he’d quit his job and the family lived exclusively off their travel nest egg. It ended up lasting six months longer than the year they’d predicted. “You’re not buying anything because you’re getting rid of everything,” Steven said. And the fun didn’t stop when the money ran out. Alexis’s former employer reached out to offer part-time work and she also picked up freelance writing while Steven homeschooled the boys. Currently, Steven works as a camp host at a California campground for a free parking spot while they tool up a new Airstream/truck combo. It’s the first major purchase they’ve made in months, but one that offers the boys better sleeping spaces. “It’s not expensive to live this way,” Steven said. But it does take know-how, and not everyone travels the same way.

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The know-how

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While the Nascimentos are full-time campers and over-theroad travelers, others are looking abroad for more permanent travel plans. International living can be a transcendent experience but crossing borders does tack on a layer of complexity— especially with kids. Jessica Averett is a Utah-based mother of five and founder of the blog bring-the-kids.com. In one 11-month “gap year” between living in Saudi Arabia and moving back to the United States, the entire family visited 17 countries. Sound expensive? Averett said a year of full-time globetrotting cost them less than living in America for the same amount of time. Including airfare for seven. The Nascimentos made $40,000 over the last 18 months living the #familyvanlife. With nearly twice as many family members and a lot of flights, the Averetts spent $55,000 over 11 months and hit 15 more countries. At the time, the Averett children were between 4 months and 10 years old. Those who can afford it might call travel with so many kids stressful. They’re right, but the simplicity in full-time travel can also smooth out relationship bumps. For a year, the seven Averetts lived out of one suitcase, two carry-ons and a couple backpacks. The only luxury was a second suitcase packed with snorkel and dive gear. Traveling light meant no toys to fight over; nothing to trip on. All that’s left is family relationship-building time. And that happens more cohesively in new places. “It sounds like full-time family travel is this really scary thing,” Averett said. “But it’s an incredible experience when traveling with kids who have a different perspective.” One flawed paradigm, according to Averett, is that locals won’t accept family travelers in exotic places. After all, folks have horror stories of traveling in places like Egypt, Southeast Asia and South America. But Averett says locals tend to welcome family travelers and warn them about possible dangers. Strangers even surprised the Averetts, offering to carry their bags or entertain the baby while they dined at a restaurant. For both the Nascimentos and the Averetts, the hardest challenge was scheduling work and school. With full-time travel, planning the next leg of the journey—or even the next day—can become consuming. Fitting in life’s essentials must be planned: Perhaps one parent attends a meeting while the other takes the kids to a library to get schoolwork done. Sometimes education consists of learning local history and geology while out exploring. Work-life boundaries need to be firmly delineated, but fluid, to keep it all together while building lasting relationships through shared experiences. >> TOP: Sydney (8) and Landon (6) Averett take a break from hiking in Italy's Dolomites.

CENTER: Andrew Averett strolls the shores of Lago Di Brais in Italy with Cameron (10) Sydney and Landon during an 11-month tour of 17 countries. BOTTOM: Squaw Valley didn't know what hit 'em when the Averetts hit the slopes with their five kids. Andrew is seen here with Cameron (13) Ethan (3) Sydney (11) Landon (8) and Connor (6).

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All in: Luxury fulltime family travel

While the Nascimentos and Averetts make it a point to travel somewhat affordably, others prefer a more luxurious approach. Phillip Lockwood owns a successful Colorado-based web design and digital marketing agency. When the pandemic hit, the Lockwoods plucked their three kids, now ages 9 to 14, from school and hit the road. They sold their Denver home and got dual memberships for a service called Inspirato. Starting at $2,500 per month, the family can stay in luxury homes around the world. “It was time to leverage our career freedom and get the kids out of the textbook-based learning model,” Lockwood said, adding that the hardest part of full-time family travel for them is not having a home base. “You’re literally having to pack months in advance.”

Scheduling is also a challenge, he said, but schooltime and work hours tend to coincide. The couple finds afterhours time to produce videos for their fledgling YouTube channel, “Always Be Changing.” Despite the challenges, the Lockwoods’ eyes have been opened through the education of full-time travel. Before this experience, none of the family had ever left North America. Now, they have experienced far-flung cultures and witnessed different perspectives that have left lasting impacts. “It amazes me how moved I am by some of these trips,” Lockwood said. While the Nascimentos are still full-time travelers, both the Lockwoods and Averetts have purchased homes in the Mountain West and still travel as much as possible. But the adventures stay with them. “The takeaways weren’t the places we saw,” Averett said. “They were the experiences we had together.”

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HORSES: In a desert canyon outside San Miguel De Allende, Mexico, the Lockwoods took a private, eight-hour guided horseback tour that combined culture, education and adventure into one package and included eating cactus plucked from the trail. OFFICE: Phil Lockwood records a vlog from a dining room on Coronado Island, California. He says the nomad's life means your office is always in a new place. WATER HOLE: This 300-foot-deep cenote on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico became an educational swimming hole for the Lockwoods. PYRAMID: Reagan (14), Phillip, Colt (9), Erin, and Brooklyn (10) pose at the pyramids of Chichén Itzá in Riviera Maya, Mexico, where they learned to write any number in Mayan from zero to infinity.

Traveling with kids on the cheap Full-time travel can be expensive and at times uncomfortable. But Jessica Averett, mother of five “energetic and wild kids” who’s traveled with her family to nearly 40 countries, says it can be easier than you realize. Here are some pro tips to turn your family into global explorers. START WITH CHEAP FLIGHTS With flexibility and advance planning, you can find flights to exotic places under $100. AIRBNB IT “We rarely stay in hotels because they cost us a million dollars and it stinks to be stuck in a room with just beds,” Averett said, adding that tempers flare in tight quarters. Airbnbs can be cheaper while offering more space. GO FOR THE LONG-TERM Airbnb and other similar platforms offer discounts for weeklong or monthlong visits. The Averetts targeted $70/night or less, then watched the rates drop as they piled on more time. Long-term stays also cut down on cleaning and administrative fees. EAT LIKE A LOCAL Locals don’t eat out every night. Find the small markets, cook your own meals and ask around for great food on the cheap. TRAVEL LIGHT Baggage no longer travels free unless you can pack super light. Plan for no more than basics and a few changes of clothes. “Each kid gets a storage cube and all their stuff has to fit in there,” Averett said.

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SKIP THE CAR RENTAL With planning you can find walkable places or take a bus or taxi to your destination. Foreign countries often have cheaper public transport and more-expensive rental cars, especially for family-sized vehicles. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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‘ S L OW G A M E ,

BIG MISSION’ Vasu Sojitra’s mountain journey into social change BY DAN EGAN

“[Six] dudes, 1,000 pounds of gear, 17 days, a 6,000-meter peak and 10 legs.” -Vasu Sojitra’s Instagram story during his historic climb and descent of Denali, North America’s highest peak. June 20, 2021. Writer’s note: If you do the math, that’s two legs short of a typical expedition because Sojitra and Peter McAfee were the first two amputees to ski from the summit of Denali in Alaska. The expedition is featured in Warren Miller Entertainment’s new film Winter Starts Now.

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PROFILE: VASU SOJITRA

Vasu Sojitra commits to the fall line in skiing and in daily life. PHOTO BY SOFIA JARAMILLO

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Vasu Sojitra lost his right leg to sepsis at nine months old. PHOTO BY SOFIA JARAMILLO

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Backcountry skiing is challenging. There’s the skin and bootpack up, the cold, the danger of avalanches. And then there’s the ski down. Add a whole new layer of skill and complexity, such as accomplishing it on one leg, and it’s downright overwhelming. Vasu Sojitra brushes off the momentous effort. “I have a simple saying I like to repeat to myself during big climbs and adventure races,” he says.

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“I’ve done hard things and I have the capacity to do harder things.” Sojitra lost his right leg at nine months old when he contracted lifethreatening sepsis. His parents, who immigrated to America from India in the late 1980s, had only hours to act when doctors informed them that their second son would lose his life if they didn’t operate immediately. “There was no choice in the matter for us,” says his mother Rama Sojitra. “The decision saved his life. He has never once complained, and my husband and I have never tried to hold him back at anything.” As a child, Sojitra tried to use a prosthetic leg, but found it slowed him down as he played with his friends. The same was true when he and brother Amir were on the same hockey and swim teams. “He just came home one day and said he wasn’t going to use it anymore,” Rama says. “He learned to ski with friends, not through a program.” Sojitra, who was raised in New England and attended University of Vermont, gained notoriety while ripping local ski areas with his college buddies, and his story began appearing in magazines like Powder, Freeskier and Backcountry. Then film companies such as Teton Gravity and T-Bar Films featured him. Then came the sponsorships—Ski the East, Columbia, Red Bull—and his story went global.


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“ C O N S I D E R M E YO U R F R I E N D LY NEIGHBORHOOD DISRUPTER,” SOJITRA S AY S , “ B R I D G I N G G A P S B E T W E E N A B L E D AND DISABLED, COMMUNITIES OF COLOR … W H AT P U B L I C A C C E S S I S A N D W H E R E O U R P U B L I C L A N D S C A M E F RO M .

Vasu makes his way to the summit of Denali, the highest peak in North America. PHOTO BY TED HESSER

Now, Sojitra is the first disabled athlete to be sponsored by global gear giant The North Face. The relationship began when he met famed mountaineer Conrad Anker at the Spire climbing center in Bozeman. “Vasu has ignited the conversation at The North Face about inclusion, disabilities and what can be done,” says Anker, who oversees marketing for the company’s Global Athlete Team. “This is important stuff.”

Sojitra has harnessed more than 46,000 followers on Instagram and is using the platform to advocate for inclusion, diversity, the disabled, public lands access, and Native peoples. “Consider me your friendly neighborhood disrupter,” Sojitra says, “bridging gaps between abled and disabled, communities of color … what public access is and where our public lands came from. If we understand we are stewards of the

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SECTION: SUBHEAD Influential faces of change in the outdoors: Vasu and Don Nguyen. PHOTO BY DON NGUYEN

land, that can elevate the conversation in a way that protects and saves our planet.” Sojitra is also encouraging broader segments of the population to get involved in outdoor sports and inspiring others in the process. Joe Stone survived a 2010 speed flying accident that left him a highfunctioning quadriplegic. Since then, he’s been fighting alongside Sojitra for inclusion for disabled athletes in marathons, mountain biking, skiing and paragliding. “It’s hard to change culture,” says Stone, the current director of mission at nonprofit Teton Adaptive Sports in Jackson, Wyoming. “Vasu is using these major accomplishments to shine a light

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on inclusion and access. He’s playing the slow game and has a big mission; people are taking notice.” One is mountain guide and activist Don Nguyen. Founder of Seattle-based nonprofit Climber of Color, Nguyen is of Vietnamese descent and sees Sojitra’s efforts as inclusionary and impactful. “There are so few Asians, Black and Brown people in the mountains and the barrier for access comes down to exclusion,” Nguyen says. “I started my company to provide access for people like me. Vasu is amplifying that by using his platform to show people of color and disabilities what can be done.” Nguyen was guiding clients on Denali last June when Sojitra was making his own ascent.


“As a guide, my main instruction to clients is efficiency, don’t waste energy; but for a one-legged person like Vasu, I don’t even know what to tell him because he has had to develop his own pace and climbing system,” Nguyen says. “He summited Denali faster than my ablebodied climbers.”

Roy Tuscany is founder of the High Five Foundation, which specializes in preventing life-changing injuries and provides resources— and hope—should the worst happen. High Five has raised more than $4.5 million for injured athletes and veterans since 2009. Tuscany knows how hard it is to find influencers who will magnify a message but sees a groundswell of support of late. “In the advocacy world there are no products,” Tuscany says. “Rather, we trade in words and services and our value is equated in trust and in time. Vasu, Joe and me, we have all been doing this for a long time and now we have able-bodied influencers leveraging our voices which helps to ramp up diversity and access to the outdoors. And that changes lives.” Sojitra believes in the Golden Rule 2.0: “Treat others as they want to be treated.” When asked what he would say to a room full of outdoor industry leaders, his answer is straightforward: “Help us by providing the resources for the underserviced

Vasu, a man on a mission. PHOTO BY SOFIA JARAMILLO

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SECTION: SUBHEAD Peter McAfee (L) and Vasu Sojitra (R) became the first amputees to climb and ski Denali. PHOTO BY TED HESSER

“ [ VA S U ] S U M M I T E D D E N A L I F A S T E R THAN MY ABLE-BODIED CLIMBERS.” communities of color and disabilities,” he says. “Build relationships with these communities by hiring a diverse staff within the leadership of your companies. Research shows the more diverse leadership, the more profitable the organization becomes.” And it takes a village. “These are not just my achievements, they are the achievements of my community, my parents, my brother and so many others,” Sojitra says. “I’m just trying to expand the narrative for [people with] disabilities and people of color by promoting access and how we can help each other.”

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Sojitra’s next adventure will be a summit attempt of Cotopaxi, an active volcano rising to 19,347 feet in the South American Andes. A 2017 inductee of the U.S. Skiing and Snowboarding Hall of Fame, extreme skiing Pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 14 Warren Miller films and lives in Big Sky, Montana. His new book, Thirty Years in a White Haze, documents the evolution of “extreme skiing.” Visit skiclinics.com for information on Big Sky ski camps.


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HOW SOCIAL SCIENCES A R E W O R K I N G T O M I T I G AT E AVA L A N C H E R I S K BY BAY STEPHENS

DOUG CHILD slapped his skis down on the snow and clicked into his bindings, eager to get off the ridge and out of the ripping wind. He skated to the cornice where skiers had been dropping in all season long and slid just over the edge to wait for his partner. It was a cold bluebird day in February and Child, a middle-aged woodworker and server in Bozeman, Montana, was up early to beat the crowd and ski a lap on Saddle Peak, just outside Bridger Bowl Ski Area’s southern boundary. A sweeping storm had dropped two feet of dense snow the previous 48 hours, and locals were already hiking the ridge to cash in on fresh powder. The bootpack trail they followed gave wide berth to the massive cornice that had

grown throughout the season on Saddle Peak’s leeward side. The slope beneath the cornice was largely untouched and had remained so for most of the season. That area, known colloquially as the Football Field, was an avalanche waiting to happen. A weak and rotten layer of faceted snow from an early season storm lurked beneath a bulletproof wind slab, now weighed down by several feet of snow deposited throughout the winter. In a December 17 video published by the local avalanche center, an avy forecaster said skier compaction would do nothing to mitigate those facets. They would lurk at the bottom of the snowpack until enough weight pressed down and a trigger let loose the slope. According to the avalanche center, this was the most unstable snowpack in more than 20 years. >>

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Hundreds of tracks riddle Saddle Peak in the Bridger Mountains; however, the avalanche slide path visible on the left side of the image reveals instability lurking beneath all those turns. PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST AVALANCHE CENTER COLLECTION

AVA L A N C H E S K I L L A N AV E R A G E O F 2 7 P E O P L E E A C H Y E A R I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S . AND LAST YEAR WAS WORSE. The 2020-2021 ski season saw 36 people lose their lives in slides, the highest number of avalanche fatalities in more than a decade. An explosion of backcountry riders last season played a role in these numbers as hordes of riders traded lift lines for backcountry lines due in part to COVID-19-related factors. Indeed, backcountry-related gear sales were up 76 percent over 2019, according to a study conducted by market research powerhouse NPD group along with Snowsports Industries America. But the sport itself is also dangerous. Skiing involves inherent risks and sometimes the actual risk we expose ourselves to differs from the risk we think we’re dealing with. This difference between actual and perceived risk can be a matter of life and death, especially when it comes to avalanches. Around the globe, snow scientists are teaming up with social

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scientists to better understand the crucial role the human mind plays in fostering this disconnect between what we think we know and the reality beneath the snow. Andrea Mannberg, a behavioral economist of the Arctic University of Norway in the city of Tromsø, teamed up with Montana State University political scientist Jerry Johnson and MSU snow scientist Jordy Hendrikx to study decision-making in avalanche terrain. The collaboration is part of a larger effort called the White Heat Project, which researches risk and risk perception in avalanche terrain. “Avalanche terrain is very fertile soil to grow overconfidence in our ability to mitigate avalanche risk,” Mannberg said. This may be why the median age of avalanche victims has trended upward since 1950, according to a 2020 study in the Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism.


AND MOST TIMES, WE D ON ’ T C AUSE A N AVA L A N C H E AND WE DON’T DIE SO WE THINK WE MADE A GOOD DECISION .

Some scientists posit that the increasing age of avalanche victims could, ironically, have to do with their experience. That is, it’s possible that more experience in avalanche terrain leads to poorer decision-making in the backcountry. This isn’t necessarily due to some deficiency on the part of backcountry riders, but more likely relates to the learning environment. Psychologist Robin Hogarth categorizes learning environments as “kind” or “wicked” to help explain why in some realms repeated practice leads to increased skill, while in others, greater experience provides no additional advantages. Take a kind learning environment. In chess or ping pong, for instance, the more you play, the better you get. You learn what works and what doesn’t because for every action you take, your brain receives immediate and accurate feedback on how effective that action was. Then, there are wicked learning environments. “In wicked domains, the rules of the game are often unclear or incomplete, there may or may not be repetitive patterns and they may not be obvious, and feedback is often delayed, inaccurate, or both,” science journalist David Epstein writes in his 2019 bestseller Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. In the most fiendish learning environments, feedback may actually reinforce the wrong behavior. And avalanche terrain may be one such environment. As Hendrikx puts it, in avalanche-prone terrain “we make a decision but we don’t get feedback on the veracity of that decision, whether it’s good or bad. And most times, we don’t cause an avalanche and we don’t die so we think we made a good decision. And then one time we make a really bad decision, you might die. By the time you’re in your late 30s, into your 40s and 50s, chances are you’ve had a lot of input that’s told you that you make good decisions and that you’re really good in the backcountry.” With little to no corrective feedback, this can lead backcountry-goers to venture further afield into increasingly exposed terrain. To be clear, the dataset from the 2020 study can’t say why the age of avalanche victims is increasing; it’s likely a variety of factors in combination, such as the fact that backcountry recreation is expensive, so middle-aged individuals are more likely to have the means to enter the sport. Still, viewing avalanche terrain as a wicked learning environment may prompt more seasoned backcountry travelers to ask the question: Am I a smart decision-maker, or a poor decision-maker who has gotten lucky thus far? >>

A group of skiers decides how best to safely navigate avalanche terrain while heliskiing in Alaska’s Northern Chugach Range. PHOTO BY JORDY HENDRIKX

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CHILD, who would turn 43 in April, leaned into the cornice out of the wind. Two skiers dropped in nearby and made a few turns before stopping to check in with each other. More hikers on the bootpack drew nearer. Child wanted fresh powder but his ski partner, a patroller he had met in the Schlasman’s lift line, was taking forever. Child muttered under his breath as the guy took a leak, then adjusted his boots, and finally stepped into his bindings. Child didn’t want to be on the slope with a bunch of jamokes above him who might send down an avalanche. He had his triedand-true route planned out, which would take him and the patroller down a gentle nose that skiers and boarders had been riding all season. Though he considered his run safe from a slide—he’d probably skied it a hundred times—he’d have to traverse back under the Football Field at the bottom of the run to re-enter the Bridger Bowl boundary. And he wanted to clear that traverse as soon as possible. A hiking snowboarder took a few steps off the bootpack

toward the cornice for a breather and a photo. When he swung down his pack to the snow a crack shot in both directions, opening a chasm into which he plunged six feet straight down. Child watched stunned as the 1,500-pound chunk of cornice broke loose and began sliding down the slope. For three or four breathless seconds, the VW-van-sized cornice slid like an iceberg. Then, about 40 yards down the slope, it buckled the snowpack, crushing the wind slab and collapsing the weak facets at the ground. It took a half-second for the collapse to propagate hundreds of feet in both directions, cutting like lightning across the slope 40 yards below where Child stood. The slope shuddered then slid, crumbling and transforming into a river of snow rocketing toward the valley floor. It pulled to the ground, four to six feet deep and 1,000 feet wide, taking all the snow from the shoulder where Child and the patroller planned to ski just moments later. The torrent careened over a 50-foot cliff, letting loose a white mushroom cloud as it pummeled trees 2,000 feet below.

IT TO O K A HALF SECOND FOR THE COLL APSE T O P R O P A G AT E HUNDREDS OF FEE T IN B OTH DIREC TIONS , CUT TING LIKE LIGHTNING ACROSS THE S L O P E 4 0 YA R D S B ELOW W H ERE CHILD S TO O D.

Doug Child, an avid skier, had left Bridger Bowl Ski Area’s boundary via a backcountry gate numerous times to ski Saddle Peak, often getting two runs in the unmitigated avalanche terrain in a day. PHOTO COURTESY OF DOUG CHILD

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ABOVE: The view of the Saddle Peak slide from the ridge near where Doug Child stood. He missed being swept by the avalanche by mere minutes. PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST AVALANCHE CENTER COLLECTION RIGHT: The VW-van-sized chunk of snow sheered from the cornice when a hiker stepped off the boot pack to take a photo. The chunk slid 40 yards before it collapsed a weak spot in the snowpack and triggered the avalanche. PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST AVALANCHE CENTER COLLECTION


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Montana State University researchers Jerry Johnson, left, and Jordy Hendrikx, right, have teamed up with Norway-based, Swedish behavioral economist Andrea Mannberg, center, to research why some people take excessive risks, particularly in avalanche terrain. MSU PHOTO BY KELLY GORHAM

BEFORE MANNBERG JOINED THE TEAM in 2016, Johnson and Hendrikx took a primarily geospatial approach to studying humans in the backcountry. They used GPS data from a mobile app called SkiTracks, that volunteers downloaded on their phones, to see what terrain choices folks made on a given day. They could then compare those decisions to the avalanche hazard posted for that day and assign an approximate level of risk. While this approach has an elegance and veracity to it—“A ski track can’t lie,” as Johnson put it— pulling back the curtain of the mind to see what factors affect people’s decisions is tricky. Mannberg’s background in behavioral economics lends a new perspective to the issue. Pairing up with her allows Johnson and Hendrikx to leverage decades of behavioral economic theory to investigate the nexus of humans and backcountry travel. “Economic research does not have to be about money at all,” Mannberg said during a 2020 avalanche conference. “The core of economics as a science is decision-making, regardless if the decision-maker is a banker or a backcountry rider.” While classical economists view humans as rational decisionmakers, a behavioral economists’ footing is atop a mountain of empirical evidence proving that’s not always the case. According to Mannberg, a well-documented set of biases lead us to make

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decisions that aren’t optimal for our own personal interests or for society. Many of these biases may apply to how we interact with avalanche terrain. One economics-derived concept the team has studied among backcountry goers is positionality, which holds that we derive satisfaction not only from how possessions benefit us directly, but also how they denote our social position relative to others. For instance, you might be perfectly content with your camper van—until you see someone else roll up with a built-out 2021 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter with solar panels and custom ski rack. If your eyes narrow with envy, you might be positional about vans. And if you’re driving the souped-up Sprinter, and you notice in yourself a certain smug satisfaction as you drive by that beat-up campervan, you too are likely positional about vans. It all depends on what we care about. Some of us are positional about cars and houses, others, how rad we ski on the slopes, a concept Mannberg, Johnson and Hendrikx have data to back. Positionality, then, is keeping up with the Joneses, or, as the White Heat trio cleverly titled it in their 2018 ISSW conference proceedings paper, “Keeping up with Jeremy Jones.” Using an online survey of 648 North Americans, the paper found evidence that around 33 percent of backcountry riders


ECONOMIC RESE ARCH D O E S N O T H AV E T O BE ABOUT MONEY AT A L L , ” M A N N B E R G SAID DURING A 2 0 2 0 AVA L A N C H E CONFERENCE. “ THE CORE OF ECONOMIC S AS A SCIENCE IS DECISION-MAKING, REGARDLESS IF THE DECISION-MAKER IS A BANKER OR A BACKCO U NTRY RID ER .

are positional about their riding. Their research question? “Do aspirations for social status drive risk-taking behavior among backcountry skiers?” Their answer: Yes. If you’re positional about skiing or splitboarding, a good day in the mountains is even better when a scroll through Instagram reveals that you sent the most badass line of your peers. On the flipside, that same great day can be dampened if you learn a buddy sent a way gnarlier line than you. We all have unique risk preferences, and some people have a greater tolerance for risk than others. There’s nothing wrong with a measure of risk. But positionality comes into play when you choose to take on more risk than you’re comfortable with in order to impress others— to be cool, to be accepted. Positionality for riding bold terrain can lead to rampant one-upmanship, wherein the backcountry community races to send bigger and more dangerous ski lines. This is a problem because even if you tag the biggest line, the glory is fleeting; your epic ride today will become tomorrow’s normal. So, we risk getting killed or injured in an avalanche for a few seconds in the spotlight. What we post to social media affects others, said Mannberg, who has her own rules governing what she posts to Instagram. She tries to resist the temptation to post from her steep, challenging days, but requires herself to post whenever she turns back from an objective. Applying her research into positionality, Mannberg is trying to counteract the phenomenon for herself and for the benefit of her broader backcountry community.

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MORE THAN A DECADE HAS PASSED since February 16, 2010, the day Saddle Peak went big and Doug Child had his near miss. Despite thousands of tracks laid down on the slope that season, and an estimated 20 to 30 people on the ridge above the face, the avalanche released with such timing that no one was caught, killed, or even injured in the monster slide. “Avalanches this size are not survivable,” said Doug Chabot, director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, at a community gathering a few weeks after the slide. As the avalanche uncovered the bare slope underneath, it also revealed Child’s misperception of the danger, and his own hair’s-breadth proximity to death. The Football Field he had judiciously avoided that season did not slide; the nose that he skied, did. “My thought process wasn’t 100 percent wrong,” Child said. “But my perception of the risk was 100 percent wrong.” Child was one of the lucky ones to whom the mountains gift nonfatal feedback. He was allowed to both see the inaccuracies of his perception and return to his children at the end of the day. “That was pretty vivid,” said Child, who is now 53 and a brewer at MAP Brewing in Bozeman. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget most of that day … That guy taking forever definitely

Doug Child lives to tell the tale of his close encounter with the mountains’ wicked consequences, to be a father to his kids, and to brew beer for MAP Brewing Company. PHOTO BY LOY MAIERHAUSER

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saved my life.” For those less fortunate, the span between one’s perception of risk and actual risk while navigating avalanche terrain can not only surprise; it can maim, and it can kill. Avalanche education along with obtaining the local avalanche forecast, an educated partner, and the proper safety equipment—transceiver, shovel, probe—are as important as ever for anyone recreating in the backcountry. But the next step for avalanche educators and practitioners alike is to better understand the human brain and how it makes decisions in wicked environments like avalanche terrain. It’s early days for this type of research, and the White Heat trio are still breaking trail. Johnson and Hendrikx are combing through mountains of data gathered through the SkiTracks app to suss out important trends in the backcountry, and they have considered applying a similar geospatial approach to fields like wildland firefighting. And in Scandinavia, Mannberg is part of a research initiative called the CARE panel which aims to track 10,000 backcountry users over 10 years to see how avalanche occurrences and training affect backcountry behavior. The study would be the first of its kind.


For those recreating in the backcountry, it’s key to know the basics of avalanche safety, go with a knowledgeable partner, have the right safety gear and to read the local avalanche forecast. The next step is building good decision-making habits in avalanche terrain. PHOTO BY JORDY HENDRIKX

I DON’T THINK I ’LL EVER FORGET MOST O F T H AT D AY … T H AT G U Y TA K I N G FOREVER D E F I N I T E LY S AV E D M Y L I F E .

In time, the trio hopes to develop effective interventions for when our biases lead us astray and closer to danger than we ever intended, as was the case for Child. That day on Saddle Peak etched itself in Child’s mind. He didn’t return to Saddle for more than a year-and-a-half after the slide. And even today, he only goes out Bridger Bowl’s southern boundary on special occasions. He’s not afraid of Saddle anymore, but he’s not quite comfortable with it either. Perhaps for good reason. It’s been a long time since Saddle Peak slid, and the 2010 avalanche wasn’t even close to the biggest event recorded on that slope. On St. Patrick’s Day 1980, Saddle Peak loosed what snow scientists call a “full-track” slide, meaning it was a maximum-size avalanche for that slope. While the 2010 avalanche had a max crown depth of six feet, the 1980 slide boasted an 18-foot crown. It was nearly 2,000 feet wide— double the width of the 2010 slide—and pulled the entire Football Field, shattering full-grown trees on its way down. You can still see the scars of the St. Patty’s Day slide some 40 years later. In fact, this 1980 avalanche “[cleared] out trees to create the run we ski today,” reads a 2010 paper produced by the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. Saddle Peak went again in 2007. “I’m telling you, this stuff slides,” Chabot told the crowd in 2010 after the Saddle Peak avalanche. “The key point is to not forget that.” It’s been more than a decade, but Saddle Peak will slide again. It’s just a matter of when. Experts hope the confluence of research, education and deliberate decision-making practices in the backcountry will ensure no one gets caught when it does. Bay Stephens is a freelance writer and former associate editor for Mountain Outlaw. He and his wife are building out a short school bus to live and write on the road full time. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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Y O U R G U I D E T O A M E R I C A’ S F I R S T N AT I O N A L P A R K M A P & PA R K I N F O R M AT I O N / 1 4 6 EXPLORE / 148 FLORA AND FAUNA / 153

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EXPLORE: WILL YELLOWSTONE CALDERA ERUPT?

... not around

A Ma YelLo Explos

the corner Despite persistent rumors, the Yellowstone caldera is not a “supervolcano,” nor is it about to cause a super eruption BY AMANDA LOUDIN

The Milky Way above Grand Prismatic Spring. PHOTO BY NEAL HERBERT

If there was ever an “overused, misrepresentative and misapplied” term, according to Mike Poland, it’s “supervolcano.” Sometimes, he admits, trying to squelch the rumors surrounding Yellowstone’s volcanic activity can get downright depressing. But as the scientist-in-charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, Poland is passionate about sharing the truth of the matter, and so he—and others like him— continue to educate and inform the public wherever and whenever they can. Here’s what they’re up against: Some 631,000 years ago, Yellowstone experienced a massive eruption from a

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) is a consortium of nine state and federal agencies who provide timely monitoring and hazard assessment of volcanic, hydrothermal, and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone Plateau region. INFORMATION SOURCED: USGS, GRAPHIC BY ME BROWN

caldera, the name for the basin-shaped volcanic depression with a diameter ranging from one to 30 miles across. This was a “super eruption,” but not a super volcano. In fact, according to Poland, “There’s no such thing as a supervolcano.” About 20 years ago, the term super volcano began entering scientific articles, seeping into the public’s imagination. Add to it the 2005 BritishCanadian disaster film—actually named Supervolcano—that centered on a massive eruption at Yellowstone, and the term caught fire. These days, with social media to fuel the rumor mill, folks like to chat

about Yellowstone’s “supervolcano” being overdue for a massive, civilization-ending eruption. “People’s minds like to go to disaster scenarios,” says Madison Myers, assistant professor in the department of earth sciences at Montana State University. “When I tell people what I do for a living, the first question I get is ‘When will the super eruption occur at Yellowstone?’ They’re almost disappointed when I tell them it’s not going to happen in their lifetime.” If and when the caldera actually erupts in the distant future, however, it will likely be more of a whimper than a bang. >>

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What’s really on tap One thing is for certain: the rumor mills crank up anytime there’s increased seismicity around Yellowstone, or anywhere in the West, for that matter. “We see spikes in rumors whenever there are higher than average numbers of quakes, or large quakes anywhere in the country,” Poland says. “The 2019 Ridgecrest, California, quake, for instance, or the 2020 central Idaho earthquake kicked the chatter into high gear.” On average, somewhere around 1,500 earthquakes occur annually in Yellowstone, and in some years, upwards of 3,000. But an uptick in earthquakes does not equate to an impending super eruption. A number of components need to come together, according Wyoming state geologist Erin Campbell, including the tilt of the surface near the volcano and its elevation, the release of gases like sulfur dioxide, and even the amount of water vapor the volcano is releasing. “When activity is close to the surface, there’s nothing to be concerned about,” Campbell says. “Volcanoes are not like tornadoes; they give you plenty of clues well in advance of an eruption.” The Yellowstone caldera is one of the most highly monitored volcanoes in the United States, under the close watch of multiple organizations. “At this time, we have no evidence that an eruption is taking place soon,” Myers says. “If something changed, we would know about it and be able to react to it with plenty of time.”

“When activity is close to the surface, there’s nothing to be concerned about,” Campbell says. “Volcanoes are not like tornadoes; they give you plenty of clues well in advance of an eruption.”

Scientists study eruptions in two general categories, according to Myers, the first being effusive, or a lava flow, which hugs the ground and moves slowly. “Think Hawaii,” she says, adding that an effusive eruption is considered low hazard and evacuation isn’t too difficult. It’s just not quite electrifying. “It’s like watching paint dry,” Myers says, “but there’s some level of excitement associated with that release of gases.” The second type is explosive, which is what most people think of when they picture an eruption. These involve magma higher in viscosity and with a higher gas content. Eventually, Yellowstone will experience one of these, but nothing indicates that will take place anytime soon. “The magma chamber would need to be primed for that to happen, and that would take a while, probably centuries,” Poland says. “It would be accompanied by unmistakable signs of unrest, far more extreme than anything we’ve witnessed before.”

Fighting misinformation Given all that, what’s a scientist to do about getting the correct messaging to the public? “We do our best to put out lots of good information, including monthly video updates, weekly articles, annual reports of activity and so forth,” Poland says. “And we try to fight misinformation that we see on social media.” It can be an overwhelming job, however, and experts face an uphill battle in numbers. “It’s really difficult for every scientist who has dedicated a career to this, because for every one of us, there’s 1,000 others on the internet spreading bad information,” says Wyoming’s Campbell. Another layer is a general mistrust in government in some circles, according to Poland. “I frequently have people say they don’t trust me because I work for the government,” he says. “So, I push back and encourage them to find experts not on the government payroll, like a geology department at a university.” At the end of the day, consistency in messaging is the approach the experts take and that means dispelling fear about a supervolcano in Yellowstone. “My approach is one person, one rumor at a time,” Poland says. “I trust that in the end common sense will prevail.” Amanda Loudin is a new Colorado resident and freelance writer who covers health and science, the outdoors and travel—sometimes all in one article.

Mike Poland, a research geophysicist and the scientist-in-charge at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, says, “There’s no such thing as a supervolcano.” PHOTO BY JOHNNY HAGLUND

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Yellowstone National Park

ANIMAL GUIDE

Which animals can you spot in the park? Check them off as you see them!

Wolf

Between 1995 and 1997, 41 wolves from Canada and northwest Montana were released in Yellowstone. In Yellowstone, their primary winter prey is elk, while in summer months their prey consists of mainly deer and smaller mammals.

Moose

While Yellowstone moose are very large, they are the smallest of four subspecies of moose in North America. Montana has noted a statewide decline in moose populations due to forest fires and limited food and habitat availability. NPS PHOTOS

Bald EAgle

Bald eagles, the national symbol of the United States since 1782, are usually found near water where they feed on fish and waterfowl.

Bison

Yellowstone is the only place in America where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. Yellowstone bison comprise the nation’s largest bison population on public land.

ELK

As Yellowstone’s most abundant large mammal, elk comprise approximately 85 percent of winter wolf kills and are an important food source for bears, mountain lions and scavengers, including bald eagles and coyotes.

Cougar

The cougar, also known as a mountain lion, is one of the largest cats in North America and a top predator native to Greater Yellowstone. They are seldom seen, but scientists can track them with strategic cameras.

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Why we yell it in bear country BY MIRA BRODY

Bears, both black and grizzly, are a part of our ecosystem. They thrive in the same places we like to hike, bike and hunt. To safely coexist with these apex bruins, it is important to practice being bear aware while recreating. HEY BEAR PHOTOS BY BAILEY MILL/BARE MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY

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Hey Bear

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FLORA AND FAUNA: HEY BEAR

By the time snow begins to accumulate, grizzly bears have gained enough fat to see them through a long winter's sleep. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

When Nate Bender goes camping or hiking, he makes it a habit to keep his bear spray to his right side—on the right-hand pocket of his backpack or to the right of his sleeping bag at night. On July 4, 2021, that habit came in handy for the first time. It may have even saved a few lives. An avid outdoorsman and native of Hamilton, Montana, Bender grew up recreating in bear country with his family and continues to do so from his home in Missoula where he is attending the University of Montana for dual graduate degrees in research conservation and business analytics. This summer, he was camping alone, what he calls “cowboy style,” in the Mission Mountains when sounds of a bear growling woke him around 6 a.m. “I can think of better ways of being woken up,” Bender said. “It all happened very quickly. When I

opened my eyes after that sound I was looking right at the mama and her two cubs.” The sow bear, which Bender identified as a grizzly, charged within five seconds, just enough time for him to reach to his right, grab his bear spray, pull off the safety and deploy a 30-foot pepper spray cloud that deterred her and may have saved both their lives. Bear encounters are not only dangerous to humans but put bears at risk as well. Over Labor Day weekend in 2021, four grizzlies—a sow and her three cubs—were euthanized after improperly stored food habituated the bears into breaking into vehicles and residences. The sow had been a longtime resident of Glacier National Park and is said to have mothered at least 10 cubs over the years. Bender did everything right: he stored his food away from camp in a scent-proof and bear-proof bag and had bear spray on hand, within reach, and ready to deploy at

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a moment’s notice; and he had practiced with his spray. He calls the encounter a combination of preparation and luck but asserts that everyone entering bear country should do so with a visitor’s mindset—you are entering a wild habitat in which wild animals live and thrive. “Following these recommendations and being ‘bear aware’ adds layers of safety for people, but they also help keep bears wild,” said Morgan Jacobsen, Region 3 information and education program manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Bears that are habituated to gaining access to food, whether it be garbage, pet food, bird feeders or other attractants, according to Jacobsen, lose their natural drive to find food in the wild and oftentimes cannot be rehabilitated. “Keeping attractants secured not only helps keep you and your neighbors safe, it helps keep bears alive and promotes healthy bear behavior.” Yellowstone National Park visitation numbers broke all-time records in both July and August of 2021, and Gallatin Valley is the fastest growing micropolis in the country. As more people visit

and move to these wild areas, bear encounters will become more common. In addition to storing food properly, hiking in groups, and carrying and knowing how to use bear spray, it’s also key to avoid startling bears, which many people do by yelling “Hey bear!” The brand Hey Bear has harnessed the power of these words and turned it into a movement. “There’s been this massive population growth in bear habitat areas,” said Eric Ladd, the brand’s founder and owner of Outlaw Partners, publisher of Mountain Outlaw. “You see more and more interactions with people and bears … and it prompted me to try and have an impact and create a solution for these problems.” Hey Bear cobrands with a number of sustainable and ethical brands, such as Cotopaxi, selling T-shirts, hats, jackets and bear spray belts, and is subsequently creating a movement around education and recreation as well as partnering with regional bear habitat conservation efforts. Hey Bear is more than just a brand of sustainable and fashionable products—it’s a movement that advocates for those beautiful apex predators with whom we live.

A small cousin of the grizzly, the black bear is found throughout the United States in forested mountains. Unlike grizzlies, black bears are skilled at climbing trees. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN


This is the ethos of Hey Bear. “If you’re going to coexist with a creature at the top of a the predator pile, like a bear, you have to treat them with a tremendous amount of care and respect, otherwise that interface is not going to turn out well,” said Ladd. “We should consider ourselves lucky to be stewards and to be living with a creature such as a bear.” And we are lucky—lucky to share a space in this beautiful ecosystem with these bruins. Lucky, even, to be awakened by them at night while camping, or to see one on a hike or from a distance in our car so long as we’ve taken the precautions required of us to be good stewards in their home. Visit fwp.mt.gov/conservation/species/bear/bear-aware for information on living, working and recreating in bear country, as well as what to do in case you encounter a bear. Visit heybear.com to shop products and learn more about Hey Bear!

BEING RESPONSIBLE IN BEAR COUNTRY Hike in groups of three or more Make noise. We recommend yelling “Hey Bear!” Store food properly when hiking and camping Carry bear spray, keep it within reach, and know how to use it Visit a bear safety class with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks If you see a bear from afar, stay 100 yards away If you encounter a bear and it moves toward you, move slowly away and speak to it in low tones If a black bear charges, hold your ground and fight back If a grizzly charges, lay flat on your stomach, protecting your neck and head with your arms and do not move

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Tom Weiskopf

Takes


F E AT U R E D O U T L AW

Aim

Tom Weiskopf lines up a putt during the 1982 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. PHOTO COURTESY OF AUGUSTA NATIONAL/GETTY IMAGES

BY MICHELLE HISKEY

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Weiskopf enjoys an Arizona sunset at TPC Scottsdale. The course, designed by Weiskopf, hosts the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURIE WEISKOPF

In 1968, Tom Weiskopf made his first trip to Montana. Then 26 years old, he had won two tournaments on the PGA Tour, and his name was rising in the Nicklaus-Palmer era of professional golf. One of the most beautiful, powerful swings in the sport’s history belonged to him, and he would win the 1973 British Open. But Weiskopf didn’t come to Montana in 1968 to golf; he set his eye on bigger targets which, as his celebrity rose, would come to mean freedom for the Ohio native.

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Weiskopf and his wife, Laurie, are backdropped by the golf course at Italy’s Castiglion del Bosco, which Weiskopf designed in collaboration with club owner Massimo Ferragamo. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURIE WEISKOPF

came and hunted down by Red Lodge in the Pryor Mountains and had a great experience with antelope and mule deer,” Weiskopf recalled. “I have great pictures of the wild horses still in that area. A good friend of mine, Tom Culver, and I had permission to hunt on a couple of ranches there. We hunted the Hi-Line, near U.S. Route 2, everything north to the Canadian border, from Plentywood to Sidney.” The most enduring trophy of that trip could not be spotted through a gunsight or mounted on a wall. It was a feeling that beckoned in a much later season of his life, after he retired from competition and built another celebrated career as a golf course designer. “I just love Montana,” said Weiskopf, whose portfolio includes the courses at the Yellowstone Club and Spanish Peaks in Big Sky, and Black Bull Golf Course in Bozeman. “The character of the people, and everything about the scenery. The people here, they don’t make quick decisions. I just like the lifestyle and character that they project and that if

you give them enough time, they’ll figure out if they like you or not.” From his home overlooking the Yellowstone Club’s 14th tee, Weiskopf is now 78, no longer a tourist since moving from Arizona eight years ago. He is appreciated but not glorified, with a deep circle of friends who didn’t need much time after all to figure out that they liked him and his wife Laurie. They quickly pitched in for the Weiskopfs when he revealed his battle with pancreatic cancer last year. While his life is scheduled, for the time being, around chemo treatments, good days and not so good days, Weiskopf is nailing down plans for the hunting, fishing (and yes, golf) seasons ahead. He has become one of the Montanans he admired from afar, and at local businesses like Schnee’s, his hunting trophies are displayed without signage. “There’s nothing there that says Tom’s name or where or what happened,” said Bill Ciccotti, director of golf and clubhouse operations at the Yellowstone Club. “This fits Tom from what I know about him. If you know, you know; if you don’t, you don’t. And that’s the way it is.”

“I just love Montana,” said Weiskopf, whose portfolio includes the courses at the Yellowstone Club and Spanish Peaks in Big Sky, and Black Bull Golf Course in Bozeman. “The character of the people, and everything about the scenery."

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LEFT: Weiskopf celebrates his Open Championship win in Scotland in 1973. TOP RIGHT: Weiskopf cruises across the 18th green in the final round of the Open Championship at the Troon Golf Club in Scotland, 1973. BOTTOM RIGHT: Weiskopf (far right) beams after sinking a 15-foot putt at the 2015 Open Champion exhibition. Tiger Woods (center) helped Weiskopf read the putt line. PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAURIE WEISKOPF

atural flow has been on brand for Weiskopf since the 1960s. Golf fans admired his ultrasmooth swing, soaring ball flight and unfiltered reactions to bad breaks. Some even called him “The Towering Inferno” (which in fairness was a blockbuster with a dramatic ending). What you see with Weiskopf is what you get, and that holds true for the golfers who play his 80 courses across the world. “At end of the day, all you hope for as a course designer is a compliment,” he said. “I hope each player will like it. I’ve had enough controversy as a tour player.” Those memories remain near. Weiskopf spoke with Mountain Outlaw right before watching the 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup team—an all-star lineup of American pros— demolish their international peers. In 1977, Weiskopf declined his Ryder Cup selection. He was chasing a grand slam away from golf: big game hunting’s four most coveted North American sheep trophies. Weiskopf still jousts with golf’s stuffy status quo; in late 2020 he opined that superstar Rory McIlroy lacked “that determination and will to be the best.” Weiskopf’s drawn such criticism 162

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himself, after finishing second in the Masters four times and in the U.S. Open once. Jack Nicklaus was asked what Montanans reading this article should know about Weiskopf. “Tom was one of the finest strikers of the golf ball to ever live, and if he ever believed that he was half as good as he was, he would have won a lot more tournaments,” Nicklaus said. “Tom had this hang-up that he couldn’t beat me, and he shouldn’t have that. Because Tom was a terrific player, and certainly a lot better player than he gave himself credit for.” All that talent and near misses—what does that do to someone? That question may be impossible to answer, but as Weiskopf sorted it out, Montana’s bigness and relative remoteness became even more attractive. “He’s kind of a cowboy golfer,” said Ed Sneed, Weiskopf’s friend of 60 years, a former PGA Tour winner who like Nicklaus and Weiskopf attended Ohio State. “That little bit more laidback lifestyle in Montana suits him. I don’t think he’s under pressure, not under a microscope. On tour, playing in front of people and media, even in our day, Tom was still scrutinized much more than the average player.”


“Becoming wise is a process. Not many people get there and are willing to share what they’ve learned,” said Byrne, 56, managing partner and co-founder at Bostonbased CrossHarbor Capital Partners, which owns the Yellowstone Club. “Tom has become that guy.” I feel like I was always thought of as regular person, maybe an outspoken one,” Weiskopf said as he considered his image. “I’ve never been afraid of voicing my opinion and if someone disagrees, that’s fine. Montana was a perfect place for me to come because it had everything I needed to satisfy me and the challenges that the outdoors give. People don’t recognize me, only occasionally. But I wasn’t hiding from anything when I came here. I just thought this was a great place.”

In addition to being a legendary golfer, Weiskopf was a golf course architect, designing more than 80 courses in his career. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURIE WEISKOPF

Weiskopf designed the 28,000 square-foot 18-hole golf course at the Yellowstone Club, one of 80 he's designed worldwide. PHOTO BY JONATHAN STONE

Very few professional athletes go on to create a playing field—it’s not like Wayne Gretzky can bring anything special to a regulation hockey rink. Golf course design demands the confidence to turn raw acreage into a competition site that welcomes everyone. In October 1999, Weiskopf’s second coming to Montana was for a job interview: could he design the Yellowstone Club’s golf course? “I stood on the helipad with four-wheelers, horses, and a topographical map of 15,000 acres, and the owner wanted to build the most exclusive club in the world,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is nuts. How are you going to do this?’” The same way, actually, that you rise to the highest level of golf competition: uncanny vision. As a competitor and course designer, Weiskopf could always see what’s not there yet. “The most important element of every golf course is visual,” explained course architect Phil Smith, who in 1999 left Nicklaus to work with Weiskopf. “Does it look like it’s always been there? You have to make sure you don’t create something inorganic. That’s the trick behind a great course design. If it hurts your eye, you’ve done something wrong.” M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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Weiskopf lets fly at the Open Championship in July 1973 at the Troon Golf Club in Troon, Scotland. He won the major championship with a four-round total of 12 under par 276, tying the Open Championship record set by Arnold Palmer in 1962 at Troon. PHOTO COURTESY OF R&A MEDIA

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Weiskopf draws on vast mental archives. “He and Jack Nicklaus have this amazing ability to play any golf course and remember every golf hole,” said Smith. “That memory bank is what made them great players. When Tom and I walk a raw site, he has the ability to tell you how far something is in the distance. It’s uncanny, his keen eye for distance and sense of scale.” Golf course design is a humbling profession because the land itself can limit your vision, and a famous name doesn’t mean you get free rein. Success, Nicklaus points out, is when the boss—the course owner—is happy. At the Yellowstone Club, Sam Byrne says Weiskopf is “a zen master,” because he communicates his vision and life lessons. “Becoming wise is a process. Not many people get there and are willing to share what they’ve learned,” said Byrne, 56, managing partner and co-founder at Boston-based CrossHarbor Capital Partners, which owns the YC. “Tom has become that guy. He’s had a full, extraordinary life with unique, valuable things to learn from. He was a guy who lived at the highest heights of his sport in the Nicklaus-Palmer era, and had extraordinary heartbreaks and frustrations at the Masters and the unique high of winning the British Open. He has a unique demeanor, and he’s willing to share advice that never seems judgmental or preconceived.”


Weiskopf’s era of pro golf gave way to a new generation of superstars like Phil Mickelson. The two played at Yellowstone Club in 2016. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAM BYRNE

“I want every golfer to be rewarded properly for a properly played shot,” Weiskopf said. “I want my courses to err on the side of forgiveness [rather] than to force every player to be so precise.”

n Montana’s higher elevations, golf course construction is lengthy and the season for playing is short—about 110 days a year. Amid the kaleidoscope of colors that bounce off sheer rock faces, Weiskopf loves making space for exceptional memories beyond the final scorecard, and his success at the Yellowstone Club can be measured in the more than 9,000 rounds played there annually. “The best thing about mountain courses is the exceptional views and long days,’’ he said. “You have all these animals, the elk and big horn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats and mule deer, the grizzly bears, wolves, and black bears. You never know what animal you’re going to see and how close you might get to them.” Between recent cancer treatments, he and Laurie drove their Sprinter Van the 1,350-mile round trip to Black Desert Resort in St. George, Utah, one of his current projects. “Beauty meets playability” is its tagline, shorthand for Weiskopf’s design philosophy. “I want every golfer to be rewarded properly for a properly played shot,” he said. “I want my courses to err on the side of forgiveness [rather] than to force every player to be so precise.”

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The Weiskopfs kick back at Castiglion del Bosco in Italy. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURIE WEISKOPF Weiskopf gets ready for a road trip from his Big Sky, Montana home to the Black Desert Resort in St. George, Utah. The course at Black Desert was one of many designed by Weiskopf. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURIE WEISKOPF

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ap and Sue Brakeley started playing Weiskopf courses like some people collect state quarters. The inspiration came from five years living next door to the Weiskopfs on a street renamed Tom’s Track. “A Weiskopf course is very approachable. It’s not trying to penalize or torment you,” said Hap, a 9.1-handicap player. “There’s always a way to get to the green.” When a good player struggles, Weiskopf takes it personally. And when Sue, a 15 handicap, found Yellowstone Club’s easiest hole too punishing, “Tom spent 20 minutes teaching me how to land my tee shot on the green, which was surrounded by hazards,” she said. “Then he left me there to hit that shot 50 more times.” Weiskopf has a wicked sweet tooth, and the Brakeleys never minded him sneaking Sue’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, which they hope keeps his weight up during the cancer fight. The Brakeleys flew to Houston to support the Weiskopfs during treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Tom is never ‘Woe is me,’” Sue said. “He’s always, ‘Let’s go get this thing.’” Lee Levine, a close Montana golf and hunting friend of 20 years, sees Weiskopf drawing from the mental strength of all those major tournament rounds. “With golf, you’ve got to be positive that you’re going to win, that you’re going to beat this guy or that guy,” Levine said. “That’s the same mentality he has with cancer.”


Weiskopf takes a moment to relax at the 11th Annual Tom Weiskopf Cup at the Yellowstone Club in 2021. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURIE WEISKOPF

Laurie Weiskopf chokes up when recalling the community support of the past year. The couple’s mountain home was no longer practical for accessing winter visits to the hospital, but the Weiskopfs had stayed in touch with the buyers of their previous home in the Gallatin Valley. Our house is your house, they told the Weiskopfs. “When we came back, we drove by the Yellowstone Club Village Club and probably 200 people were out waving flags and welcoming us,” Laurie said. “The whole community here is helping us make it through.” The Yellowstone Club’s Ciccotti, 34, is among that community, and he grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a Weiskopf fan. It still blows his mind that he got to play his first round of golf at the Yellowstone Club with his idol. Weiskopf explained then how he manages risk and reward, and his strategy. Figuring the distance, weather and terrain, Weiskopf visualized his optimal route to the hole. After his tee shot, he recalculated the strategy and made the plan for his next shot. Rinse and repeat on every hole, every swing. “Some players simply hit the ball as hard and far as they can, but Tom always has a reason for what he’s doing,” said Ciccotti, who understood Weiskopf’s affinity for Montana over traditional golf destinations like Florida. “People are in Big Sky because they want to be, not because they have to be,” Ciccotti said. “We’ve all chosen Montana for a reason.”

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