Beartooth Summer Sessions Recap
BEARTOOTH SUMMER SESSIONS RECAP
By Rachel Delacour, Beartooth Summer Sessions: The front hallway of my house was filled with car camping gear, stinky ski equipment, and unnecessary amounts of food. It was around 10 pm on a Wednesday night, and I was preparing to endure a 15-hour drive to south central Montana with two people I had never met. I was less than a week away from taking two of the most difficult finals of my life. Still, missing the fourth annual Beartooth Summer Session didn’t really seem like an option.
Each year, ON3P Skis host a giant 4-day ski party at Beartooth Basin in Wyoming, just a quick drive from Red Lodge, Montana. Beartooth Basin is unlike any ski resort I have ever been to in my life. Situated on top of Beartooth Pass, the parking lot can hold about thirty vehicles, and the ticket office is located in a small white trailer next to a loud, humming generator. It’s the type of ski resort us old-fashioned ski elitists dream about. When you are at Beartooth, you feel like you are a millions miles away from everyone and embodies that “small resort” feel I remember from growing up…it is obvious skiing runs through the veins of its owners.
After breakfast in Butte and a quick stop in Bozeman, we arrived in Red Lodge and eventually made our way up to Rock Creek Campground. Several miles up the road we happened upon tents full of friends and several growing bonfires, with complementary Lagunitas brews.
The next morning, we awoke to a low-hanging fog, making it especially hard to climb out of our sleeping bags. We quickly discovered the only person intelligent enough to pack coffee, and a group of groggy individuals slowly began to crowd around his campsite. Once we finally rallied into vehicles and caravanned up to the pass, the fog began to clear. At around 9,000 feet, we burst out of the clouds, and the Beartooth Mountain was revealed beneath a bright blue sky. We all began to squirm and jump with anticipation – we had finally made it.
Beartooth Basin consists of two steep and fast Poma lifts, which access a north-facing wall of snow with a giant overhanging cornice. This means that for most of us, the first turns we were making in a month or more were on a 45-degree slope, with variable snowpack. Welcome to Wyoming.
Skiers from all over the country came to play on the natural terrain and hit the 50-foot jump the resort had built for the event (did I mention I cased it three times?). ON3P set up a demo tent at the base and was turning screws all day. Around noon, the Rubber Ducky Backflip-off, started and spectators were encouraged to buy a backflip for $10! All proceeds went to The High Fives Foundation in memory of Timy Dutton. The clouds rolled in around 2 pm, and the jump was closed due to low visibility. By the time we were heading back to camp, it had started to snow.
That night we all gathered at the Bear Creek Saloon, about ten miles outside of Red Lodge to witness an event unlike any other – the pig races. Crowds of people gathered around a thirty foot-long track lined with deer wire. The pigs couldn’t have weighed more than ten pounds apiece, and each proudly wore a colored bandanna around its neck. Every half an hour, two young kids herded the pigs into the start gates just before the starting trumpet sounded. Then, for roughly twenty seconds, the crowd went wild whooping and hollering for their respective pig. After losing more than a few bets, we headed back to camp and enjoyed another roaring bonfire.
The next morning, the sun peaked into the canyon early and began to evaporate the dew collecting on our tents. When we arrived at the basin, Sam and the rest of the ON3P boys were working madly at a registration table in the parking lot. The Booster Strap Big Mountain Slopestyle competition was scheduled to start around noon, and athletes were determined to prove their versatile skiing ability on the challenging terrain.
I was offered an opportunity to judge the competition with Sander and Dusty, so we situated ourselves on some rocks with an excellent view to watch the madness ensue. Some of the crazier moments from the competition included – Ian Hamilton’s switch rodeo 9, Brandon Clabaugh’s burly switch 1 off the cornice, Meaghan Gaffney’s face-first tumble over a cliff, Josh Anderson’s huge stomped backflip, and Parker White snagging second place in men’s snowboarding.
After the competition, strong skier and Bozeman local, Issac Helvey, sustained serious injuries dropping a large cornice out of bounds. First responders and Beartooth Basin ski patrol were able to stabilize Isaac before he was airlifted to a nearby hospital. I think I speak on behalf of everyone at Beartooth that day offering our love and support to Isaac and his family, lets send some good vibes their way.