2014 Beartooth Summer Session

Shay is on a pit stop en-route to a summer internship, his bags packed neatly in the back of his white station wagon leaving barely enough room for the mountain of skis he’s trying to stow. Kevin’s taking a break from fabricating a future of suspender straps, and in the near future, portable neck bags will keep us from sitting slanted because we won’t need wallets. Todd just got out of jail this morning, so he’s still towing a trailer that utilizes the same technology as colanders do for managing water to join us. They’re part of an assembly of hippies, automobile dwellers, weather-faced locals, snow ramp fanatics, and fun enthusiasts gathered in Red Lodge, Montana for camp fires that burn until sunrise—fueled by fungal fantasies that eventually dissolve into sleep held by hammocks. We’re at the Fourth Annual Beartooth Summer Session, an event created by stirring a concoction of costumes, camaraderie, and cannabis usually reserved for World of Warcraft Conventions.

Instead of a competition, this three-fire-ring circus of woodland mischief and airborne acrobatics has the feeling of a festival, mixing the usually frozen activity of snow sliding with summer’s sun and s’mores. Because all of the judges are slightly intoxicated, their opinions hold no weight, making most people’s agendas revolve around swine racing instead of switch sevens.

It’s inconvenient to get to Red Lodge from anywhere, so before Todd made bail, I connected multiple car rides from Missoula in the back of a ski-boot-stuffed truck thanks to some frantic social networking. Facebook might require more fingers than hitch-hiking, but it’s a good way to weed out drivers that listen to too much Sheryl Crow. I also left my tent and machete on the porch next to the cigarette butts that I haven’t been sweeping, so upon arrival at our boulder-infested campsite there were no comfortable places for borrowed blue tarps. I considered writing a letter to the Governor about the overwhelming rock menace at these unregulated campsites, but after a few Smirnoff Ices, I discovered that there aren’t too many places on the ground one can’t sleep. My solo journey of drooling and snoring made a sudden transition into a wrestling match with David Steele and a frosty sleeping bag the next morning. We made some turns in the surrounding hitch-accessed skiing and I traversed off target in the middle of my run to shorten the hike out. Even snowballs can ride the fall line, Dave.

The session’s summer camp theme lead me to a nearby pond to fish in during our free time. It’s been at least eight years since I went fishing last, and Todd wasn’t there for that either. The swarm of hungry feeder trout made for fantastic fishing, and I was grateful that the tiny salmonids didn’t mind Todd’s absence. I caught a small sucker and a slightly less small rainbow trout, both of which were released without incident. Todd arrived just in time to watch everyone drift towards fires like merry moths wandering through the night. I immediately forgave him because he brought the Red Man tobacco and a bunch of beer.

By day two I managed to get an entire run in. Most of the other folks lap hour after hour on some of the most fun terrain in the surrounding continent, and as long as the pulleys kept dragging cables in circles the spell of slush-soaked freedom diffused through the air like laughing gas from a bored dentist. The effect resulted in me forcing a goggle tan into submission by staring stoically skyward every time I caught the pommel lift. Compared to the cost of a spray tan, lift tickets come at a ridiculously good price.

In respect to the rest of the event, Parker Black rode his snowboard after a grizzly bear snagged his usual skis. He beat half of his competition to snag second place. I’d like to give a shout out to his snowboard sponsors, but I’m not aware of any. I have no idea where anyone else placed but I’m pretty sure that information is available on Newschoolers.com, Freeskier.com, ESPN.com and Twitter. To that Canadian lady roaring solo across the country on her motorcycle with the VIOLATION sticker, please, keep on freedom fighting. I nominate you for the First Annual Bomb Snow Canadian Freedom Fighter Hero Award. Please email me for details. Gavin@Bombsnow.com

After the contest I stood around in the parking lot getting rained/snowed on and hunting for beers with frozen fingers because I hitch-hiked to the ski area and didn’t bring any equipment. Overall, I would call the event a large success—the hot dogs were cooked to that point where they became more red than black, but not too red so that no one burned their tongue when eaten directly off the Coleman.

Just as Beartooth’s travelers converged, they scattered. Shay is traveling much farther west. Kevin is on his way back to creating the future with suspender straps. Todd’s screen-roofed trailer returns to de-valuing the properties around his house, and his bruised wrists are healing. Red Lodge is bracing for the next bunch of reality escapists to arrive, whether it be the biker crowd on their way to Sturgis, or the Burners on their way to Nevada. But the snow-sliding tribe is different, and come first snow we’ll all be back together, hopefully with a little of the magic left that comes from celebrating skiing instead of doing it.

Thanks to everyone for the good times. We’ll be back next year as long as Todd isn’t still on probation.

Leave a Reply

Bombsnow on Instagram

Like us on Facebook