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Springtime Snowkiting in the Big Horns

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Springtime Snowkiting in the Big Horns

Postby Noahpz » Sat Apr 13, 2013 8:16 pm

Snowkite conditions in April will change from sunny corn snow one day to hard pack the next, reverting back to corn and switching to fresh powder, sometimes the same day! Be prepared for change. Enjoy what is served. For those of us who kited in the Big Horns last week, we tasted all those conditions and had a phenomenal time.

The southwest side of Bald Mountain held our attention for four days. Each day was different, none were disappointing. Corn snow was my expectation. I love pushing soft corn snow while fully lit. We got to do that every day we were there. Warm west-southwest winds were forecast and every day the SW flow delivered wind like clockwork.

During the four days, J.J. and I camped at the trailhead and rode our sleds to Baldy’s SW side. Matt, from Salt Lake City, stayed at the nearby sled-access only Wyoming High Country Lodge. Billing’s kiters John and Kevin pulled in for an overnighter at the lodge as well. One day, Dave from Lewistown and Mark from Sheridan rode sleds in from the Bear Lodge on the east side. Another day, Jerry and more of the Billings crew (Art, Walt, & others) rolled in via Jerry’s expedition-grade snowcat. It was quite a posse of kiters hitting the Big Horns!

While warm, soft corn held our attention for three days, the pièce de résistance was our final day. A storm blew in Saturday night. It brought short visibility and 3 – 4” of fresh powder for Sunday. Because of the low vis, we were forced to kite at a new spot, the many canyons walls below Baldy’s SW side. Here we had the eroded limestone cliffs to help define our boosts and to channel the wind straight up the fall line. So, with the snow falling and the wind flowing, we went from Roane Creek to Bear Creek to Cow Creek, kiting from canyon to canyon, testing our kite control in tight quarters. It was a fun game and it defined our first session on Sunday.

The reward to our patience came around 2 p.m. that day. The storm passed and the sun broke through the clouds, revealing Baldy’s full untracked glory. Also like clockwork the wind increased and became blow dryer steady; a clearing wind with sunshine! Without hesitation Matt, J.J. and I headed to the upper reaches of Baldy. Our prior days of ripping lines on Baldy had engrained our knowledge of every rock and every roller. With boot top powder waiting we pounded Baldy from every angle. It is almost too much to describe the feeling of elation that comes from kiting a high mountain in fresh powder with your friends. I’ll try: High speed kiting, 30, 35, 40mph from one side of the alpine bowl to the other; Super-powered boosts directly below the cornice; Smooth glides from the upper ridgeline to the lower mountain; Carving endless turns of fresh powder, lap after lap… …for hours!

When people ask me where are my favorite spots to kite I rattle off a list of high mountain locations around the Rockies. Some are a long way from the trailhead. Others are only a short sled ride and some are park-n-ride. On every list the immense Big Horns are mentioned. While we spent four days hitting Baldy, there are literally dozens of spots that one can kite in this range. The Big Horns are a top 10 snowkite destination without equivocation.

Thanks for reading and see ya out there,

Sunshine! Powder! Wind! Matt!.jpg
Warm and Sunny.jpg
Matt Rippin the Pow.jpg
Powder Day.jpg
Matt ParaStyle Glides.jpg
Noah Boosting the Corn.jpg
Matt Going Big.jpg
Korn Kiting.jpg
High Speed Ripping.jpg
Bald Mountain WY.jpg

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Re: Springtime Snowkiting in the Big Horns

Postby madman » Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:07 am

Always look forward to your epic trip reports Noah. Stoked to have joined in on one of them!


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Re: Springtime Snowkiting in the Big Horns

Postby knewschool » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:34 am

Oh man! Wish I could have been there for that one... Sweet pics!

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Re: Springtime Snowkiting in the Big Horns

Postby ALTMK » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:54 am

Looks awesome mate. Love the spring time for snowkiting. Wide open and quiet.... Very envious

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Re: Springtime Snowkiting in the Big Horns

Postby lewmt » Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:00 pm

1 truth to springtime as Noah says is how fast it can all change up there. Cale & I had "as good as it gets" conditions on Friday afternoon. Incredible sunset! Most star-filled night I can remember. We thought we'd get up there early and get some good Sat riding. Turned flat-light to stormy to thunder & lightening(which is really interesting being in the cloud the lightning is happening in) to changing wind directions, to no visibility at all. NOAA point forecasts are only marginally useful this time of year it seems. Its best to just say F-it and go no matter what.

Many thanks to Mark & Todd for Terminal B! Made for a great shelter in the midst of the worst of the storm.

One really nice circumstance in the Bighorns right now is little or no snowmobile traffic. Fresh snow means all fresh tracks in unblemished powder. In a place that huge it gives the sensation of having the whole mountain range all to yourself. Even if you only get a few hours of bliss it seems worth it! That's how Friday was. The lack of bilers also means the Wyoming High Country lodge is wide open for kiters. Friendly new managers who welcome kiters and seem wide open to accommodate. They have beer there but if you want liquor you have to bring your own. Super nice spot only a mile or so from the main kite spots.

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