When one has gloated and boasted about the superb kiting here in the Northern Rockies as much as I have, one has to recognize that out-of-state kiters will arrive at your local spots and want to harvest the goods. These road-tripping friends expect to experience the same epic conditions that we locals enjoy every day. They want to discover the same high level of kiting that has made Montana, Idaho and Wyoming a must-kite destination.
For the week leading up to the New Year, kiters from all over the USA sessioned fresh snow and strong wind near West Yellowstone, MT and Island Park, ID. They camped in their vehicles, partied in the local bars, and brought their snowmobiles for a week of post-Christmas kiting. Every day the conditions seemed to change. One day it was blow-drier steady 11m conditions. The next day a nuking 7m northerly. The next was heavy wet slop and punchy SW wind. The following day bluebird 13m conditions. In a week of kiting we had a bit of everything thrown at us and it was all good.
One bold kiter, RVRat, drove from the East coast, across the US in 3 days, to explore the backcountry conditions for which our region is famous. With that kind of commitment I made sure that I was prepared to show him the best of the best in local kiting. On his second day we loaded up our snow machines (he has a tracked 4x4 ATV) and headed from the Continental Divide 20 miles back to kite Lone Tree Pass and Deer Mtn. While his over-snow vehicle was slower than a mountain sled, it had the torque and the capacity to make the trip and he was able to challenge himself kiting in a spectacular setting. That day he set a new standard for himself. We had a fantastic time far from any road or other people. It was committed backcountry kiting and we pulled it off in fine style.
Another traveling kiter flew in from the island paradise of Oahu to enjoy a week of snow and wind. He repeatedly remarked about the world of difference between Hawaii’s soft sandy beaches and the soft powder snow of Idaho! By the third day his body was crying out for relief from the long days of kiting. Sorry, no breaks. We kite all day, every day! Thankfully every night we had a hot tub to soak away any soreness.
Every night there were stories thrown about the bar about boosting big, ripping powder snow, crazy crashes and wild times in the snow and wind. Hearing these tales from far-flung kiters make me feel pretty smug about being a local and knowing that the Northern Rockies have some pretty cool kiting. While the conditions are not always perfect, if you ever have the time, a road trip out this way will be full of highlights and hopefully great kiting.
The best session I've had on the snow so far, the ONLY session I've had on the snow so far this season, was yesterday at Edgewater Park in Cleveland. Grass was still poking through the snow, the wind was gusty and up and down, and the ride is 200 yards one way, 200 yards back, flat grassy field. No terrain at all. Parking lot and a line of posts 50 yards downwind, so I rig smaller than I normally would for safety.
No ice on either Presque Isle or Sandusky Bay. Not sure there will be this year.
Colorado is way too far for a road trip for me.
I'm waiting for the Tug Hill Kite Derby. Will there be snow? Don't know.
Thanks Noah. Your stoke is, has been, and always will be contagious. Living vicariously and occasionally with you, on or off the road. You do live in a great spot. All of us amongst the Rockies and the Divide of the Continental do, but somehow you are always central to the deepest pow and strongest wind. Looking forward to sessioning the entire Montana & Idaho border with you soon.
BTW- RVRAT has it good too, even with a West By God Virginia address. He was the sole partner on my best session at Skyline in years, May 31st 2011. Everyone else was on the water wearing dry suits while we got the goods with fresh pow and a deep spring base. Here's to the truck driving, snow machining mofos of North America.
Nice write up Noah, and Rvrat's 4 track Tank looks stellar!
We were inches from making it out there to meet you guys. Sometimes there's too many cooks in the kitchen. We did have great conditions up at the road side Togwotee spot through that storm basically everyday with even too much snow. However, we're getting sick of the safe old spots up there. Wayne and Chaz are chomping at the bit to get to these new spots while I'm still pushing for the Bighorns this weekend. The slide danger remains high here and you can see natural slides everywhere. I'm sure the danger is high at the Biggies, but at least it's a managable feature regarding slides. This cook wants to go to the Biggies!
I gotta tell you all, I feel real lucky to be involved in such a cool sport like snowkiting. Especially when I can hook up with such cool folks with mad skills willing to take someone like me that does not have such skills but wants it bad. I wish I could have been here a week earlier. The damn warm weather followed me west. Sorry guys!. The snow in Island park has a thick crust on it, so I bailed to Big Sky to visit a good friend that works at the mountain. After a couple of days of lift serve we loaded up the buggy and went out to Buck Ridge just south of Big Sky. It was a 5 mile journey on groomed track gaining a couple thousand feet. I found the good snow and had enough wind for my 13m Frenzy. I got my buddy Zack on a trainer right away. He is a talented athlete and a great skiier. Before long he was on my 6m access. He saw what I was able to do with my 13 in the lite winds and wanted more. So he graduated from his crash course with a sunset sesh on my 13.I hope we have a new kiter on our hands. I am on my way to Driggs to drop of my camper and then into Jackson to pick up a friend at the airport and back to Driggs. After a couple of days there it is back to the east side for some sessions at Togwotee and the Big Horns before I head east. Any of you badass Jackson kiters wanna hook up? Holler at me! Let's hope for some snow, JR
After my day at Buck Ridge I moved down to Driggs Id. to visit a friend and do some skiin'. I was hopin' to get my kite out of course but mother nature was not cooperating. NO Wind down here. After a lame day of lift serve at Targhee we used the machine to get into South Leigh Cr.and found the ever elusive POW on the north side of Beard Mt. We had 3 great days of skinnin' and skiin' in the soft snow. While up there we noticed all the terrain to the north over by Green Mt. So today we took the buggy 7 miles up North Leigh Cr. to the edge of the Wilderness area and then skinned up to treeline. Wind was forecasted to start in the afternoon with the passage of a cold front and snow. Sure as shit it started as soon as we got there. I put up my 13m Frenzy and gave it a try. Wind was gusty and comin' from all directions and visibility went to hell but I had a blast. This is what I came to do. The snow was awesome and the terrain even better. I stopped at Tetonia for a short sesh in the evening but the wind died. Tomorrow I wanna ride Togwotee in the afternoon and the Big Horns on Thurs. before pointin' the rig east. The forecast looks good both days. So far my trip has been great with 4 days of kiting, 3 days of lift serve and 3 days of skinnin'! I want more kite days! JR