Memorial Day weekend I arrived at the gate below the Beartooth Summit, a day before the road officially opened. The snow was rotten from so much warm weather. That first night it rained. Then it froze and snowed. Four inch thick rain crust was my first day of kiting. Not the best conditions but at least it was a strong 10m wind. I hit up Chain of Lakes and finished with a session above Long Lake.
The next day was much, much better. More new snow and the real treat – the Beartooth Highway opened for the summer! This is as Euro as it gets in the Northern Rockies. Drive to 11K feet and launch your kite in the land of rock and snow. Treeline is down below. One of the cleanest fetches I know.
So, for the next couple days all I have to do is kite, eat, party, sleep and repeat. This is snowkite nirvana. One by one I see friends from around Montana and beyond. Some are skinning for turns. Some are doing laps on the Headwall. A very few are kiting. Snowkiting is never crowded. There is always room for another. For lots of reasons, I doubt that will ever change.
On my forth day, I’m sitting in my camper reading a book parked at the West Summit, a few feet shy of 11,000 feet. It’s been snowing for three hours. It’s also been blowing 30 – 40 mph all that time as well. With the exception of five minutes when the sky opened up with some sunshine, it’s a total whiteout. Suddenly the snow plow pulls up next to my camper. I know this guy. He is a dedicated National Park Service employee. He is responsible for keeping this section of high mountain road open to the public. He shakes his head to me and says “Follow me, I’m closing it down.” With those few words I know that it’s time to get off the mountain and try my luck kiting a thousand feet lower, down by the Top of The World.
Within twenty minutes I’m laying out the lines and pulling the trigger on my 12m Ozone Summit and getting my last session of the long weekend. I’m fully lit and probably should be on my 10. Oh well. Anyone who kites with me knows I like to be powered and the 12 is my bread and butter kite. I’m good at holding down too much kite and, for the most part, good at sending it. Getting one last session fully lit will keep me stoked for at least a week. Fully powered, my synapses are flooded and I show off for the plow guy with the biggest boosts and spins I can fire off.
I hope that I never lose the excitement and thrill I get driving up into the Beartooths to kite. If you are one of those who have had that opportunity, you know what I mean. If you are a kiter and you have not taken the time to drive to the West Summit, laid out your lines and at least mowed the lawn, you owe it to yourself to get up there. It’s magic!
Thanks for reading and See Ya Up There,