As our crew scavenges the snow patches on the Beartooth Pass for spots to build a jump we find a patch where there just might be a chance of a dream come true, as I stick my snow probe into the snow I realize this is perfect… Time to build a tunnel jump!
June 6, 2021 Its the last day of our annual trip to ski the Beartooth Pass and we plan to end it off with a bang.
After sleeping the previous night away under the stars we are planned and ready to make this dream a reality.
But it wont come easy.
It took nearly 8 hours of shoveling snow and molding jumps till we were getting the first hits in, but boy was it worth it.
As the photographer I knew I had to capture this unique jump, I just had to figure out how…
I found a composition I was really happy with after walking around and through the tunnel for a few minutes and I knew this one had potential
I gave the athletes some time to warm up and myself some time to figure out the exact shot, then all of a sudden it lined up!
Easily one of my favorite shots of the season and I was watching it happen through my viewfinder!
As I rushed over to my friends to show it off I I knew my all encompassing shot was grabbed and I couldn’t be more pleased. My job there was complete, at least until they figure out their next crazy jump in another amazing location…
With summer in full force you may think its time to pack up the skis and call it a season. But that’s not what we all do, a select few choose to earn turn all throughout the year even in the hottest of summer months.
Here are some of my top summer skiing adventures!
September 27, 2020 The temperate drops just low enough to have a chance at skiing powder if I hike high enough, I waste no time to packing up and getting ready to head out.
It took right about 8 miles of hiking and around 5,000 ft of vert to get to the snow patches that stay year round and this means you can fully take advantage of the new snow on top!
That right there is the face of pure joy after not having skied anything but slushy ice in 5 months.
It only ended up being 2 inches or so but I couldn’t be more stoked.
High in the Mountains of Wyoming there is a small resort that opens up just for a handful of weeks a year.
This year is the first I have been able to actually ride the lift, but it was such a treat not having to hike for those slushy turns.
The Basin also has some amazing terrain right near it that is always worth the trip!
Solo at Sunrise
This was one of my first solo hikes, I went all in and was not disappointed!
Waking up at right around 4 am, I wanted to get to the summit of the peak that hosts my line by sunrise.
While I didn’t quite make it to the summit, I wouldn’t trade that sunrise for anything.
I saw some of my favorite views on that morning and that just might be one of the key hikes that got me hooked on this whole summer skiing thing.
Maybe it’s not about the skiing
Maybe its just and excuse to get out there and see new places every month. Either way I am on month 40 of skiing right now and I have no plans to stop any time soon!
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all
– Helen Keller
This week I’m going to take a quick break from talking about my big winter trip and talk about a more recent even that happened just last weekend.
If you’ve never been to the Beartooth Pass let this be your alarm saying its time to pack up and go, especially if your a skier.
Friday June 4, its 8:30pm and our crew of 5 that was supposed to set off about three hours ago, we still have that same three hour drive ahead of us.
Luckily not much later we manage to pack up and knock out the drive.
We arrive just before midnight with snow fields ahead of us and the stars above us.
The next day we have planned out to ski one of the few resorts still open in the northern hemisphere, Beartooth Basin.
With stoke high and adrenaline higher we get right to the skiing.
Lapping everything from slushy snake turns to cornices and cliffs.
After our legs couldn’t take it anymore we set off to go and find a spot to eat some dinner and call it a night
Day 2, We waste no time on day two and get right after it. The night before we had an incredible vision for a jump we have all been wanting to build for years.
A Tunnel Jump!
After many hours of shoveling and a few sunburns we finally had it complete and ready to hit.
As a photographer I had a lot of pressure to be able to capture everything that was going on in this special moment, and in the end I think I was actually able to do it.
The light, the skier, the snow, It all lined up for me to get the dream shot.
After that sesh we had to get back to the valley for work the next day! What an amazing trip that I will defiantly be thinking about all summer as the days quickly get to warmer and the snow becomes thinner.
“It is currently 4:30 am, I have already been awake for an hour, hoping to get to the peak by sunrise”
Its noon of March 6, 2020, everyone is finally packed up and ready to start hiking the popular trail up to Pine Creek Lake.
The crew we had for this trip consisted of:
Benjamin The back country expert keeping everyone at a good pace.
Jericho Brand new to skiing and back country adventures.
Hannah Benjamin’s sister along for the adventure.
Me The photographer & sunriser
The Hike Up
The hike up Pine Creek is always a beautiful one. Around a mile in you pass the falls, which at this point was frozen so it was extra cool.
The hike up to Pine Creek Lake is one of the harder 7 mile hikes with 3,500′ of vert and lots of switchbacks, but it defiantly doesn’t lack in the views on the way up as you can slowly see more and more of Paradise Valley below.
As I said, Jericho was pretty new to the whole back country skiing world and about 2 miles in he snapped his pole in half on a tricky tree crossing.
Lucky for him we managed to make it work again with some sticks and duck tape. Good As New!
After that it was rather smooth sailing as we made our way up to the lake and set up camp. I got to bed in a hurry knowing what I was in for the next morning.
Here Comes The Sun
After a long night of being woke up by the harsh wind, I checked my watch and saw it was 3:30 am. Time to go
My plan was to leave camp by 3:45 and make it to the summit of Black Mountain by 5:30 when the sun rises.
With 2 miles and 2,400′ of vert ahead of me, I set off.
I had to stop every once and a while to check my digital map and take pictures like this one to make sure I was on track as it was too dark to see what was ahead.
Once I got to the ridge I thought it would be smooth sailing from there, but little did I know that only the easy part was done.
Once you get on the ridge the walk to the summit is quite treacherous, not to mention it was partially covered in snow and ice, and I was in ski boots. The ridge consists of a lot of rock scrambling, a little rock climbing and a lot of butt clenching. But I was determined!
Eventually I finally made it and was rewarded with the best sunrise I was ever witnessed.
After running around on the top taking pictures and taking some time to relax on top, I turned around and began the trip down.
I didn’t pack my skis up so I was actually butt sliding down on the snow which was terrifying at points, but actually pretty fun. Once I got back to camp I made sure to tell everyone what they missed out on.
After that the morning consisted of starting a fire and eating lots of food.
As we packed up camp, I looked back at the mountain I had just conquered with a big smile on my face.
The skiing down was a good time, we were stopping every once and a while to let Jericho catch up. But he was keeping up amazingly well for his 1st time.
Once you get about 2 thirds of the way down you get back into the trees and that’s when skiing gets hard. You have to point straight and hope that you find a spot to get off to the side before you get going too fast. But we all made it back and alive.
This was defiantly a more simple story than the last one but it was defiantly one that I won’t forget. If you enjoyed consider subscribing below so you can hear more as I continue writing.
“Today was a big day. We hiked 9 miles, 2,500′ of vert, all with 40ish pound packs and one extra sled. The sled added a whole new dynamic in my mountain climbing experience, we tied it off to the end of our packs and switch off every mile or so. Although I will probably be glad we brought it along, it sure was a pain to get up here. But now we have the camp all set up for the awesome week that is to come.”
Or at least that is what I would have wrote had I remembered to journal through the exhaustion that fogged my mind as I drifted off to sleep in my warm sleeping bag.
First you have to meet the crew that made this trip as awesome as it was.
Jadon When he’s not hyping the group up you can find him getting inverted.
Andrew The new guy just trying to survive the journey.
Keegan The hype man
Benjamin The quiet guy who pops out of no where and goes bigger than everyone.
Isaac The video guy who can’t help himself and gets in on all the lines.
Me The Photographer
Day 1: And It Begins
The day started at 4:30 am, started hiking at around 7, just a lot of trudging with the sled, nothing too eventful. We got to the camp site around 5 pm.
We set up camp right on the edge of Granite Lake. Lucky for us there was a layer of slushy water about 2 feet under the surface of the lake which provided easy access to water.
We were all exhausted and got to bed shortly after setting up camp.
Day 2: Sore, but ready to go
We wasted no time and got right to the skiing. I had the honors of the 1st line of the week.
We started off basic with the line you can see in the image above, mostly sticking to the right side to get the feel for things.
Right after we ate lunch we went over to some old slide paths and practiced our avalanche safety.
While Jadon and Keegan were waiting for their round at practice, they decided to build a kicker out of a drift which proved to be a nice pass time while watching the sun set.
Jadon (Left), Keegan (Middle), Benjamin (Right)
After the sun set, we all sat around a campfire, drank hot coco, and dried our boots. We were waiting for it to get really dark to try out some night skiing.
Once we were happy with how dark it was we suited up, turned on our headlamps, and headed out. Isaac and I set up our cameras and waited with anticipation to watch the dot of light float down in the darkness.
Day 3: Pancakes!
After staying up till midnight night skiing the previous night, we woke up at 6:30 am on a mission to get a big line in with one thing motivating us, Pancakes!
After the 1 mile approach we peaked over the ridge that was blocking our view of the run and we began to see what we were in for.
We hiked up the left most couloir in the picture above. It was right at 800′ of vert, and around 45 degree slope, maxing out at 55 degrees.
Isaac hugging the slope to show just how steep this stuff is. You defiantly don’t want to loose a ski or fall on this stuff.
Once we all dug out or spots to clip in, I set out to find a spot to get some pictures. It was very steep and pretty intimidating, but I managed to sneak a handful of quality turns in there.
But then it happened, what we all feared…
As Isaac was making a nice turn his ski suddenly ejected which left him helpless to his instincts and the snow.
Lucky for him he fell in one of the less steep and softer parts and was able to stop his sliding and catch both his skis. But as smooth as it went, don’t be fooled, he defiantly got his fair share of adrenaline from the incident.
After we skied back we finally got to break out the pancake batter.
Jadon (Left), Isaac (Right)
Jadon was our cook who made all the delicious pancakes that everyone had been longing for.
As we devoured our pancakes, we slowly began to think, “Maybe the sled wasn’t so bad after all.”
We all drifted off to sleep in our slightly wet sleeping bags with uncertainty as to what the weather had to hold. Last we saw, (3 days ago) we were supposed to get rain the next day.
Day 4: Heading Out… Eventually
As I slept, I was rustled awake every once and a while by big gusts of wind and the sound of what I thought to be snow falling on our tent.
I finally felt rested and ready to go, as I opened the tent flap I was happy to see powder right at my doorstep.
I didn’t get much in video or picture of this day. But we really had a blast!
We finally got out and skied a gully we had been eyeing up all week and did it in prime conditions. The snow was soft, what a blessing!
Sadly we knew it was going to rain the next day and made the hard decision to pack up and get out of there. We didn’t end up leaving until around 5 pm.
Jadon eyeing up his line
Right after we crossed the lake we walked under a pillow line we couldn’t resist. Maybe a mile into our walk out and we already had to stop for a line.
After that detour, we managed to stay on track and ski/hike the rest of the way out. The first half was fun and filled with skiing, but after that was pretty flat and you know how that goes.
After a long walk in the dark on the road that had been snow covered only a few days ago, we finally saw the glint of the car in our headlamps. This was just before 10 pm.
And the rest is history. As we all got back to our homes I enjoyed the best cereal I have ever had, and enjoyed the soft and dry feeling of laying in my own bed.
I hope that you enjoyed this story and maybe even learned something from it or got inspired! If you want to hear more stories like this you can subscribe below
Its August 3, 2019 @ 2:30 a.m. I just woke up more hyped than ever because I’m about to climb a mountain while the sun rises behind me.
After packing my gear into the truck I set off for what turned out to be a 2 hour drive to the trail head. An hour of driving through fog and bumpy back roads later I finally arrived at the trail head ready to set out.
After about 30 minutes of walking through the woods with my headlamp beam to guide me, the sun started to light up the sky. It is always amazing watching the star filled sky turn into a mix of orange and blue.
The next 2 hours were rather uneventful as I just continued the walk along towards the patch of snow that comes off of the ridge.
Below are a couple shots from the top 🎉
This is the view from where you finally get to put your skis on.
The line is split into 3 sections, the top which you can see. The middle, which is just over the hump below the snow, you can’t quite see it, then the more open field below which is debatably ski-able as it is usually plastered with tiny rocks that have fallen from above.
Half way through skiing, this brave mountain goat walked across the snow patch and proceeded to climb this sheer rock. This was the only mountain goat I saw that whole summer
And that pretty much marks the end of the trip, there was a small hike down that takes you by a beautiful lake and from there it is pretty simple getting back to the car.
Thank you so much for reading and if you enjoyed this blog it would mean a lot if you could leave a like and be sure to follow me if you want to see and hear more backcountry stories.