The 2nd annual Big Horn Snowkite Summit was a high flying success! Without question, the Jackson Hole Kiters have created the premier snowkite event in the Rocky Mountains. Staged in the backcountry of the northern Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, every type of snowkite enthusiast was present at this year’s Summit: beginners flying trainer kites, novices making their first efforts with full sized kites, intermediates sending it for easy boosts, and seasoned air-sport masters flying off the top of Bald Mountain with huge, ridge soaring glides.
The Summit was also historic: Never before in North America have snowcats been engaged to transport kiters from their backcountry lodging to and from the day’s kite spots. This was a huge accomplishment and significant credit goes to our hosts at the Wyoming High Country Lodge. Managers Cheryl and Howard Jones and their staff made a major commitment and provided careful planning to make this year’s Summit a winning combination of lodging, sumptuous food and comfortable accommodations. Recognizing that there was a need for additional beds to accommodate the 60+ kiters, the lodge added a large Mongolian-built ger (yurt) to handle overflow.
When planning an event, one never knows how the weather will affect success. A much needed storm pummeled the Big Horns just prior to the Summit. This snow gave participants a solid base on which to kite. Added to that was a remarkable 7 out of 7 days of wind. Wind, sunshine and powder: Amazing weather guaranteed a successful event!
Our daily routine at the Summit was very special. We would awake to the lodge’s fire-warmed great room, fill up on a huge breakfast, pack our personal lunch and snacks for the day, load one’s snowmobile or pile into the lodge’s snowcat with our kites and boards and migrate out to one of the day’s predetermined kite spots for a day of snowkiting. Day after day of this routine was magical.
Snowkiting has certainly come a long way in North America. The most striking example of this evolution is the flight skills that the most experienced Summit participants brought to the mountains. These kiters are no longer content with small flights off the snow. Skilled pilots were routinely making minute-long, ridge soaring flights. Some brought speed wings, taking advantage of the mountain’s ridge lift, to further their flight times. Every day was a remarkable showcase of mountain flying. In tandem with the daily exhibition of flight, an evening seminar on this sub-set of kiting was covered. Every aspect was dissected and considered.
For those kiters who prefer to stay closer to the snow, the week was full of great riding and plenty of terrain features to session. Many of Bald Mountain’s gullies provided us with natural pipes to challenge our freestyle skills. Small changes in the prevailing wind direction allowed for different parts of Bald Mountain to be exploited for our kiting pleasure. Everyday brought a superb sunset session that was dramatic. All week we watched as the sun would set and an ever growing moon would rise in the east, culminating with a full moon that week. Also like clockwork, the lodge’s snowcat would arrive at the kite spot and return the crew back to our mountain home and its awaiting hot tub for a well deserved soak. Dinners were particularly festive; it was definitely a kiter’s lodge! The menu changed daily and no one lost even an ounce of weight that week.
With two years of successful Snowkite Summit’s under their belt, the Jackson Hole Kiters and the Wyoming High Country Lodge have put the Big Horns on the map as the number one kite destination in the lower 48 states. Pencil in your December 2015 calendar: People are making plans for next year!
Thanks for Reading and Windy Regards,