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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.

Can the Snow Sports Industry be Saved from Itself?

Inspiration can be so simple. Photo: Colton Stifter


“I vote we stop skiing by the numbers and just start skiing, as much as we can. Hopefully the industry will catch on.”

By Gavin Gibson
The snowsports industry has long hailed mega resorts like Colorado’s Vail Mountain as pinnacles of the on-mountain experience. But by the time the chairs start spinning at 8:30 am on any given powder day, thousands of people have already tackled I-70, paid $60 bucks for parking, negotiated rental and ticket lines, and maybe even had time to snag some coffee. Powder crazed parents herd confused toddlers through hoards of diehard locals, weekend warriors, and Texas vacationers—all hell bent on skiing the same snow. Opening bell’s initial rush looks like the start of an Ironman triathlon minus the wet suits and Gu Packets. Vail’s expertly laid out lift system distributes skiers so efficiently that the majority of untracked terrain on Vail’s 5,289 acres quickly becomes a distant memory.

By 2 pm when it’s time to wrestle the family back into the minivan and “beat traffic” back to the front range, Dad’s already been up for 10 hours and only gotten a total of six un-tracked turns all day. Others board shuttle vans to DIA, only to return a year later for their next skiing vacation. The resorts that fall under the Vail empire see a full 12.3 percent of US skier visits*, it’s a big number considering Vail controls only 10 of the 478 ski areas in the United States.

On January 27th, Outsideonline.com published an article titled “Can Snowboarding Be Saved?” citing the sport’s youth-driven marketing model as a limiting factor in the sport’s growth. The article pointed out snowboarding’s slow adoption of the backcountry market, and the lack of carving boards on the shelves today.

Deeper research shows that snowboarding’s numbers have only “stalled,” but as a whole, the snow sports industry has seen a decrease in participation over the last few years. According to numbers posted by the Snowsports Industries of America, the number of Alpine skiers dropped off by 2 million between the  11/12, and 12/13 seasons. Blame for poor numbers always rests on “bad” winters.

While these numbers show the most dramatic drop in Alpine skiers in the last four seasons, it’s fair to say that all markets have been holding relatively steady. So why then, does dire news about the snow sports industry keep popping up?

With the corporatization of  the snowsports industry comes the expectation for infinite growth. Unfortunately, participation is stalling.  Less people are trying the sport out, and even less are returning after their first experience. The cost of gear, lift tickets, and lodging mixed with declining on mountain experiences from overcrowding, commercialization, and an increasingly unpredictable winter weather storm cycle all prevent people from enjoying their time on the hill. This process shows no signs of slowing. In the Proxy Report of Vail’s 2013 meeting of stockholders, Vail reported the following strategy for increasing profits:

“While the ski industry has performed well in recent years in terms of number of skier visits, with the eight best seasons occurring in the past 10 years for United States visitation, a particular ski area’s growth is also largely dependent on either attracting skiers away from other resorts, generating more revenue per skier visit and/or generating more visits from each skier. Better capitalized ski resorts, including our mountain resorts, are expanding their offerings as well as enhancing the quality and experience by adding new high speed chairlifts, gondolas, terrain parks, state of the art grooming machines, expanded terrain, on-mountain dining venues as well as amenities at the base areas of the resorts, including dining, retail and lodging, all of which are aimed at increasing guest visitation and revenue per skier visit.”

The snow sports industry faces two futures. The first is to work with a flat number of participants while a cycle of price raising and brand failures becomes the result of competition for higher earnings amongst a limited pool. The second involves a monumental shift in thinking, but not necessarily a new concept. In a letter to Mike Moore of the Skiers’ Gazette , Aspen’s own Hunter S. Thompson pointed out the incredible contrast between people who ski, and people who sell skiing:

“There is a hell of a huge difference between skiing as a sport—or even skiing as a lifestyle—and skiing as an industry, a boom-time fad like golf or bowling… On one side are the Cops and the Mayor and the County Commissioners, along with local realtors and corporate land developers from Chicago &  LA & Texas—and even NY & Boston. These people see Aspen as a resort, they want to sell it. And they are. Indeed—for the last 20 years they’ve been selling harder than New Orleans street-pimps. The other side is a weird mix of locals, liberals, freaks, dropouts, ranchers, heads, geeks & other less commercially oriented types who see Aspen as a place to live—not to sell—a refuge of sorts from the same kind of rotten urban madness that these scum-sucking developers are trying to sell here in Aspen.”**

The message of bigger, better, more extreme and more expensive has proven to attract a limited audience. The simple thrill of the mountains is a lost message when the obstacles of gear, travel, and just learning how to ride scare people away before they even start. Most people never stick with it long enough to experience the powder days, Alaskan spine lines, and double corks they are sold by snowsports marketing.

It’s time to start selling the side effects of sliding down snow that keep people around. For starters, the social benefits of the sport exists regardless of snowfall. Anyone who’s skied long enough knows that it’s easy to make life long friends out of strangers mid-run. A slow double chair ride makes for great couple’s therapy. The transformation from pizza to french fries is more empowering than buying the right pair of skis ever will be. These lessons come with time on the slopes though, and for most, that just isn’t happening.

“Anyone who has skied long enough knows that it’s easy to make life long friends out of strangers mid-run.” -BS

The total number of resort visits (56.6 million) last season divided by the number of skiers and snowboarders(15.6 Million) shows that on average, people spend less than four days a season on snow.  Even though skiing and snowboarding are billed as “lifestyle” sports, it’s clear that for most, they are merely a novelty.

For most of the United States, skiing at a “premium” level resort in the West for a few days makes more sense than skiing at a local resort with inferior vertical or slow lifts. Sadly, the same money could be spent skiing at home mastering skills and making new friends. With dozens of small resorts closing across the country in the last decade, it’s getting harder to commit to turning in the first place.

If the snow sports industry wants to grow, it needs to focus on getting more people on the hill in any capacity. More chairlifts don’t breed more skiers. Better dining options don’t attract people who can’t afford to eat at them. Magazines touting the same tired resort guides year after year do little to help anything but their advertisers. Let’s put an end to playing the same broken record season after season. There’s much more to skiing than a cellphone app and a helmet cam will ever capture, and we all know it. I vote we stop skiing by the numbers and just start skiing, as much as we can. Hopefully the industry will catch on. The experiences gained in the mountains are not a one hit wonder; diversify the message, or die.

Bomb Snow TV S2 E6 – AFRICA

We are proud to present to you our season finale. Ahhh, Spring time in Montana….or should I say, Africa. After returning home from Europe, we sent out in our homeland to get after the last powder days of the season.

In loving memory of Peter Maxwell & Super Max — thank you for the inspiration.

Edit: Axel Peterson / Bridger Brigade

Video: Axel Peterson, Rob Raymond, Randy Evans, Jacob Hensley

Skiers: Randy Evans, Colter Brehmer, Vann Gravage, Dylan Crossman, Silas Chickering-Ayers, Lars Chickering-Ayers, Rob Raymond, Axel Peterson, Andy Bertollino, Kyle Taylor

Thank you Sponsors for our best season yet: Tecnica Blizzard, Dakine, VOKE Tab, CAST Touring, Caravan Skis, and Cold Smoke Scotch Ale.

Music: “Africa” by Toto

Bomb Snow TV S2 E5 – Ski Festa Italiana

Ba ba da boopi!! After two solid weeks spent exploring Chamonix, we continued on with our European adventure toward Cortina.  Drawn by rumors of endless couliors and trams, deep pow, and leather and fur clad cougars, we packed nine dudes, 18 pairs of skis, and a seemingly endless supply of meat and cheese into a rental van and headed for Italy.  After a questionable Saint Patty’s day spent crashing a family birthday party followed by a night spent on a random beach outside of Venice, we finally found ourselves in the Dolomites.

Editing:
Axel Peterson
Randy Evans
Matt Evans
The Bridger Brigade

Sponsors:
Tecnica Blizzard, Dakine, Voke Tab, Cast Touring, Caravan Skis, Cold Smoke Scotch Ale

Athletes:
Rob Raymond
Ryan Walters
Zack Halverson
Kyle Taylor
Randy Evans
Matt Evans
Axel Peterson
Sixer
Kyle Christenson
Marcus Caston
Chris Tatsuno
Johan Jonsson

Special Thanks:
Stefano Mantegazza
Sam Cook
Hotel Bellina
Lorenzo
Carole
“Mosquito” Bar
Europcar
Bumblebee drivers

Music:
“Mambo Italiano”  Rosemary Clooney
“Cadillac Dust” – Eliott Brood
“Con Te Pertiro” – Andrea Bocelli

Wildlife Announce Support for Bozeman 2026 Olympics

 

BOZEMAN- The wildlife of the Gallatin Canyon made a statement recently stating that they are unanimously in favor of the 2026 Winter Olympic Games, and the potential new infrastructure that comes with it.

The canyon, long deemed an inconvenience for anybody trying to make it to Big Sky on a powder day, currently contains the relatively unimportant Gallatin River, a prehistoric two lane road, and an overabundance of freeloading wildlife.

That all could change with the arrival of Bozeman 2026 though, and the wildlife are ready to do their part. Speaking on behalf of the various aquatic species that inhabit the Gallatin River, Spokesfish Earl Troutman issued the following statement:

“Gallatin Canyon is currently accessed by a dismal two lane road that becomes easily congested at the mere mention of snow. Bringing the Olympics to Bozeman means that the road will be widened to at least four lanes to accommodate the thousands of Olympic personnel for a two week period, as well as the heavy construction equipment needed to build at least half a dozen new hotels in the Big Sky area. Words can’t express our enthusiasm for these improvements.”

During it’s heyday, Gallatin Canyon was revered for its natural scenic beauty, even hosting scenes from the 1992 classic film A River Runs Through It. But according to Bozeman 2026 advocate Jon Bluespoon, those days are long gone.

“It’s not like they’re going to make A River Runs Through It 2. Brad Pitt died in that movie, and he carried all 123 minutes of it,” says Bluespoon. “In fact, I can’t even remember the last time someone took a good selfie there.”

Bluespoon is confident that he can implement the “I-70” model, made popular in Colorado.

“When I drive down Gallatin Canyon now, all I see is potential. Look at I-70. People love that drive, and it gets millions of visitors every year. I see a beautiful, elevated road structure like the one in Glenwood Canyon. Plus, it’s easy to restore the inherent beauty of concrete much faster than it is to fix decay on rock formations that took millions of years to create.”

The canyons’ Bighorn Sheep population is increasingly excited for the larger amounts of salt minerals distributed on the  roadway as well.

“Currently we only have two lanes of road to lick for salt during the winter,” states  Bighorn Sheep representative Roger Rammalot. “Double the amount of  pavement means more treats for us, and that’s a win.”

Montana’s bear population also stands to take advantage of the years of construction waste left on site during the road expansion.“What Gallatin Canyon lacks right now is dumpsters for easy foraging,” says local bear Billy Oso during an interview. “If you could have three to five years of easy meals, you’d be excited too. Add in all the road kill and poisoned fish and we might have to put a gym in just to keep in shape.”

While the noise of constant construction and increased traffic initially deterred wildlife from agreeing to any potential improvements, the wildlife agree that it’s a small price to pay to give the canyon a face lift.

“People deal with the sound of jackhammers, blasting, and heavy equipment every day,” adds Troutman. “As wildlife, it’s a small price to pay for a greater good.” -Gavin Gibson

Illustration by: Mark Kowalchuk - http://markkowalchuk.com/

Bomb Snow’s “Piste-Off” is a fictionalized, satirical rant. Its content should in no way be interpreted as an actual record of events. These stories are also not intended to be, nor should they be construed as, attempts to predict the future course of any individual or entity, but should be viewed only as parody. Thanks for understanding. -B.S.

Bomb Snow TV S2/E4 – CHAMONIX

During the month of March, we found ourselves in a world of chocolates, cigarettes, and extreme vertical relief, immersed in the seemingly unreal reality of Chamonix.  Inspired by many years of Greg Stump films like the Blizzard of Aahhh’s and License to Thrill, our stoke level rose with every meter gained as we ascended the Aquille du Midi for the first time. In Graduate School for “ski-extreme”, the word gnarly is entirely redefined.  With exposure that would pucker Chuck Norris and locals whose daily lives involve cheating death, our egos were immediately shoved down our throats. This first half of our euro-trip forever changed our conception of EXTREME. -Bomb Snow

 

 

Editing:
Axel Peterson
The Bridger Brigade

Video:
Axel Peterson
Kyle Christenson
Rob Raymond
Kyle Taylor
Randy Evans
Ryan Walters
The Gary Bingham
Laurent Frat
Dave Rosenberger

Athletes:
Gabe Kelley
Kyle Christenson
Kyle taylor
Randy Evans
Matt Evans
Rob Raymond
Ryan Walters
Axel Peterson
Dave Rosenberger
Vincent Mayer
Sixer
Wing Tai Barrymore

Sponsors:
Tecnica Blizzard
Dakine
VOKE Tab
Cold Smoke Scotch Ale
CAST Touring

Wing Suit:
Larent Frat

Special Thanks
Gary, Anya, and Ayla Bingham for having us at the Vitamin Lodge and for the awesome time lapses !
Ben Verge
Gabe Kelley
Guille Hunt
Valerie at Camping de I’lle des Barrats
Vincent Mayer
Larent Frat
Concept Pro Shop
Dave Rosenberger
Glen Plake

Music:
“You Ain’t Going Nowhere” Bob Dylan
“Standing at The End Of The World” Have Gun, Will Travel
“Le Penitencier” David Hallyday, Johnny Hallyday

Bomb Snow TV S2 E3- Taming Strange

This winter brought change to some of the Bomb Snow crew members as they decided to split off from Montana and join the full-time RV life with some friendly folks in Washington State. Sean, Mark and Tyler decided to buy a camper and move to Steven’s Pass in order to pursue their dreams of living in a van up on the mountain.

The parking lot life was a new adventure in itself. Beautiful in it’s simplicity, life was good. Eat, shovel, snowboard, sleep, repeat. Jibbing logs, airing RV’s, and bonking houses in order to get by while the low tide hung around indefinitely was part of their daily routine. Fresh terrain, endless campfires and weekend mayhem ensued and then a quick trip back to Montana for a refreshing couple weeks of the light stuff.

Whitewashed

Author David Steele knows his trees.

Words by David Steele // Photos by Gavin Gibson

Studying the outlines of states on the small screen, it’s clear that I’m in the wrong place. Radar shows green storms of moisture pummeling the mountains to the north, while another deck of blizzards lines up a few hundred miles down the interstate. This place is the doughnut center while everywhere else picks up the frosting. By noon, my friends’ orgiastic cavorting of whitewash invades social feeds, leaving me with a sinking feeling.

“Man, we should have got in the car.”

Ski culture’s fixation with skiing fresh snow and traveling to do so breeds a fear of missing out on pow. Today’s madness is worse, thanks to phone apps screaming storm totals greater than your height, your dick length, or in some cases both together. Somewhere, somebody is skiing deeper snow than you are. Those tracks through the glade should be yours. Most importantly, there won’t be any left when you finally get there, dooming you to moguls and a summer of blue-balled daydreaming about Nimbus edits and a trip to Japan.

I can’t blame anyone for chasing the deepest powder fix. Slashing two inches of duff on a groomer makes a cheap face shot. But as the electronic powder cloud moved into our phones, a strange thing crept into our hearts. Localism and secret stashes stopped looking as good as the forecast next door. At the risk of seeming like I’m trying to sound older than I actually am, I want to make a quick case for skiing in the now, right here.

If the snow pack is 70% below average, it’ll be hard. If the danger rose is totally black, then repeat that classic line on the couch. But if it’s snowed within the last three weeks and there are mountains of any size, there’s good snow someplace nearby. I can’t come up with a better use for this lightweight touring setup than checking the treed, north aspects to see if they survived the warmup. Maybe a peak further. Perhaps a thousand more feet. Terrain I’ve known in sun cups and pockets of smoke makes easier scouting than reported numbers on a map. If I want to work for it, I only have to share them with the friends that helped to put in the skin track.

Perhaps the most under-reported statistic of the powder-focused marketing revolution remains the elevated douche-bag quotient. As measured in parking lot anger and skiers cut off per chair ride, the numbers don’t lie—it sucks to deal with these assholes. What should be a fun activity turns into a cutthroat quest for the same turns with slightly more snow.

The retreat to trail heads with friendly dogs and folks who wish safe travels is an easy one. It makes it easy to return home when the hill jockeys have left bar stools and mogul fields safe, once again, for a good time. I’ll clean up the aftermath, otherwise known as spots the phone-toting folks missed, with friends.

I watch screens and radar. I’ve heard how good it is in Jackson. And tomorrow, we’ll probably venture to find a good zipper in the bumps off the backside. Maybe go touring. Continue life in the doughnut hole outside of the main event—but it’s made of the same stuff as the rest. -DS

To find the deep, one must search.

 

Bomb Snow TV S2 E2- Boulder Hut Adventure

The Annual pilgrimage up to BC proved to be successful even under high pressure and sketchy avalanche conditions. This January, the Bomb Snow team heli’d into the Boulder Hut just west of Cranbrook, BC in the Purcell Mountains to enjoy a full week of fantastic skiing, lodging and camaraderie.

Editor, Director, Producer: Axel Peterson, Bridger Brigade Productions
Music: Elliot Brood- Write it all Down for You // www.elliotbrood.ca

Skiers and Filmers: Colter Brehmer, Randy Evans, Matt Evans, Axel Peterson, Kyle Taylor, Rob Raymond, Bill Buchbauer, Henry Worobec, Ryan Walters, Dylan Crossman

Thank You: Tecnica Blizzard, Dakine, Voke Tab, Mystery Ranch, Caravan Skis, CAST Touring

Special Thanks: Mark and Sarah Yancey for an unforgettable experience at the Boulder Hut. See you again next year!

Don’t Ever Date Someone from a Mountain Town.

He’s the one in the flannel, in between those other two wearing flannels. She’s got a goggle tan and a trucker hat that matches her fanny pack. He’s still wearing his snow pants, while she’s fist bumping with her “chicas.” They are leaning heavily on the bar, but for every drop of spilled whiskey, they have an interesting story to tell.

Seriously, don’t date anyone from a mountain town. They are hard to please. The usual “get a pizza and fuck date” already happened to them twice today before noon. Their souls crave tequila and howling under full moons. You’re never going to ski fast enough for them, or keep their attention. They’d rather drop acid and listen to Dead tribute bands than meet your parents.

She knows all of your friends. So if you’re having a hard time getting her number you should probably just ask one of them. But when you take her to the Secret Stash on the cheapest date you can think of, expect all of your friends to be there, because she invited them. As soon as she figures out that they all have sleds too, you might as well be out of the picture.

He loves you. But that’s just the molly talking. He’s told that to every girl with beautiful hair in the Stagecoach on a Thursday night. Sure his greasy chest hair looks good with polyester, but is that really what you want scratching your face in the morning?

They’ve held the same job for years.  Bumping chairs and busing tables is incredibly satisfying work thanks to water bongs. Sure he might be talking about getting a promotion next season, but at an average of 17 sick days a month, it’s a long way off. He makes the rest of his money handing out bags of plants to tourists, and three weeks into hooking up with him he’ll stop sharing.

But seriously, don’t date anyone from a mountain town. They’re well educated. After getting a degree in business management or engineering, they found a brutal job market. Instead of pursuing their dreams, they fled to the mountains to wait it out. That was in 2001.

Anyone in a mountain town lives a life of uncertainty.  They don’t have addresses, they have couches they are crashing on. Their seasonal jobs end, and they’d love to see you, but they need to go to Thailand for six weeks first. They don’t wear watches, because they all have cell phones, but the coolest ones still have flip phones. Their emotions are ruled by the weather forecast, and whatever they are coming down from. If it’s snowing, they won’t be there in the morning when you wake up, and you’ll be lucky if they leave a number behind.

They will never need you.  Happy hour comes and goes without fail. There is always a couch to crash on. If the snow really sucks, they’ll just go to Nelson. They might not have a car, but they come with thumbs. They know the right cooks in town to score free meals from. They climb mountains, only to go down them.

So don’t date anyone from a mountain town unless you’re willing to share; your drugs, diseases, studio apartment, furniture, ski gear, or last bowl of Cheerios. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, drink plenty of water and wait it out. It should only last a few hours.

-Bomb Snow

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