I started snowboarding in 2003, but my love for the sport developed in 2006 when I got my hands on David Benedek's 16mm film 91 Words for Snow.
My world revolved around urban and park riding, inspired by the likes of Darrell Mathes, Justin Bennee, and Nicolas Muller. I craved every moment that my board was touching a fresh groomed pipe or sliding down a rail. I hurt inside knowing that the nearest ski hill was at least five hours away from my home in central Illinois, and that the "fun" hills were even further into Wisconsin or Minnesota; the passion was real, the fire burned inside.
As time went on I became more aware of big mountain riding and became increasingly aware of the people pushing the sport to new limits. This was what I needed, to explore these most majestic, most improbable mountainous landscapes with a board under my feet. It would be all too perfect to experience. But the idea of ever riding on real snow, on a real mountain larger than 300 feet, could not exist in my mind, no matter how badly I wanted them to exist.
My dreams were to only be further repressed: finding out my family would be relocated to the state of Kansas. It wasn't until I came to Bozeman in the fall of 2009 to see Montana State University that I began to allow my dreams to grow. The idea that I could explore the snow-covered high peaks was now not only a possibility - I would make it my reality.
Over the last few years here in Montana, I have realized my dreams through Lone Peak starting with Moonlight Basin and now Big Sky Resort. Lone Peak has been a place for me to learn, and to shed my skin and transform from a Midwest park rat into a big mountain snowboarder.
Even as I skin up the peaks in Hyalite Canyon, Beehive Basin, or Cooke City, I continually return to the resort as a place for personal progression. Lone Peak grounds me in my quest to climb higher, and ride more challenging terrain. For me, the true essence of riding at the resort means giving 100 percent, something you can do regardless of how hard the terrain that you ride is. Some of the most inspiring skiers and riders I know project the same run over and over until they have mastered it. They might not be skiing the steepest, most technical lines, but their motivation is pure and they love what they're doing. In the end, it's all about having a good time with your friends, being in a beautiful place, and doing a little riding.
Photo: Erik Morrison
Photo: Chris Kamman
When my officemate Michel and friend Candis asked me to go snowshoeing I was skeptical. What I knew about snowshoeing came from National Geographic Alaska TV specials and Jack London novels. What I didn't know, or expect, was how much I would learn about Lone Mountain, the Spanish Peaks and snowshoeing from our Basecamp guide Bea.
Bea taught us about the flora and fauna around Big Sky, such as the Indian Paint Brush wildflower grows at different colors at different elevations or that the Spanish Peaks are one of the only ranges in the Rocky Mountains that run east to west and are the oldest peaks in the Madison Range. Bea was a wealth of knowledge, keeping us on our snowshoe toes with funny quick-fire quizzes of what we'd learned so far.
We hiked up Moose Tracks, the trees near Middle Road, and then went even a little further to an open area with spectacular views of Lone Peak and the Spanish Peaks, the tallest of which, Gallatin Peak, stood prominently out overlooking both Madison and Gallatin Counties.
Breaking our own trail from time-to-time, I found snowshoeing essentially to be winter hiking. I love hiking and had no idea what I had been missing out on all these winters by not taking up snowshoeing.
Not only is snowshoeing great exercise, but it put me out into nature in a different way than skiing does. I don't stop to look around enough while I'm skiing because I'm continually in search for that great line, but snowshoeing forced me to pause and listen to the beauty that surrounds me every day.
For more information on snowshoe tours at Big Sky Resort check out bigskyresort.com/activities
Video: Michael Jezak
Big Sky Resort ambassador Dan Greene makes skiing look easy. Greene and Big Sky Resort Broadcast Media Manager Michael Jezak took a few days this December to ski the peak, grab some face shots, and film this video. It's short and sweet just like the lift lines and ski lines respectively here at Big Sky Resort, and it captures the coldsmoke powder we've been experiencing this December. With more than 25" in the past week, and 26" the week and a half before that it's time to shred into the New Year keeping the winter vibe alive.
Featuring: Dan Greene and Nick Malik; Video: Michael Jezak
We've been busy making snow the last two weeks in preparation for Opening Day on Thanksgiving. The Suessical piles of snow are mounding up outside my office window, and I wanted to bring a little of that to the blog. Here's how we snowmake:
Filmed & Edited by Chris Kamman
In preparation for the beginning of a new ski season I am participating in what I like to call the 25 Days of Winter leading up to Nov. 27. With less than one week until Opening Day, stay tuned for more tips and anticipation of the coming winter season. Here are days 6-10:
Plan to attend a festival this winter. To beat the mid-winter blues (aka: lack of Vitamin D) catch a music or film festival for those après-ski hours. My suggestion: Big Sky Big Grass Bluegrass Festival at Big Sky Resort. Quickly becoming the largest bluegrass festival in Montana, Big Sky Big Grass features Leftover Salmon, The Travelin' McCourys, Della Mae, John Jorgenson, and so many more. Tickets go on sale soon.
Journeying. The ultimate exploration of the mountains means one has to go on a journey. Part of that journey includes these days leading up to Opening Day. The days feel like they drag on forever, but time goes by quickly so get ready to continue that journey into winter.
Look for annunciations. Listen closely for the start of those daily snowreports and lift openings. Big Sky Resort begins the daily morning snowreport on Thanksgiving Day. Click here for snowreport info at Big Sky Resort.
Plan to stay for après music. Figure out what days work best in one's schedule to stick around at Whiskey Jack's or Carabiner Lounge for live après music featuring amazing Big Sky and Bozeman local artists. I would give a suggestion, but there's just no going wrong when it comes to live music in Big Sky.
Wax. It's time to get those skis and snowboards waxed for the upcoming season. Get more info on tune ups at the Big Sky Sports Repair Shop or Moonride Rentals and Repair.
Check back soon for days 1-5.
Della Mae at Big Sky Big Grass 2015.
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