Backcountry skiing, ski straps, big mountains and bigger turns. 'Tis the season💪🏻 It's snowing in Bozeman, and it looks like it will be for a few more days. Grab your ski gear (ski straps, skins, boots, beacon, shovel and more) and get after it in the mountains. And if you can't, enjoy this story, video and photos by Jordan Skattum and Nathan Saier. If you have a story to share of adventures where you use Titan Straps for skiing or other winter sports, please email us. We want to hear about it! Or if you run a small business and you regularly use our tension straps, we would love to feature you. Check out our story on Beartooth Vanworks in Bozeman.
Ski Straps, Backcountry Skiing & Big Mountains
Photos & story by Jordan Skattum
On a mission to secure just a few more turns out of this crazy winter, our crew of three skiers and one snowboarder set off to camp deep in the Absaroka Range with hopes of good times and deep snow. A huge thanks to Titan Strap for helping support this trip with ski straps and a place to share our story.
Benjamin Flook keeps the group morale high and makes the best out of any situation.
Ty Jones, the group snowboarded, is always ready with a joke when the time is right.
Nathan Saier filmed the trip, but don’t let that distract you from his impressive skiing abilities.
Last but not least, I am Jordan Skattum, the group photographer and also the one who puts together these crazy trips.
Day 1: The Ski & Hike Approach to the Absarokas
Day one always challenges. We don’t quite know what to expect and our packs seem unbelievably heavy.
Despite these struggles, upon arrival to the trailhead, we discovered we would only have to walk 100 yard or so with skis on our back. Then it was all skinning from there.
We planned our approach to camp right near Pine Creek Lake. We skied six miles with just under 4,000 feet of vert. And we sure felt every mile on this one.
As much as the climb sucks on this trail, it is still one of my favorite trails. I appreciate the scenery on the way up both in the summer and winter. I recommend it as a worthwhile big day.
As soon as we crested that last hill and saw our playground for the next couple days, we cracked big smiles. The packs seemed a little lighter, and stoke was high. Everyone scouted out what they wanted to ski.
We wasted no time setting up camp, cooking food and getting ready for some much needed rest…
Day 2: Ski Exploration
We woke up one by one, emerging from the tent. I looked around, hardly believing how lucky we were to be in this place. My mind raced with so many things I wanted to ski. But I knew I couldn’t ski them all.
After breakfast we all geared up and started the short walk to the base of the slopes.
With limited visibility due to some light snowfall Ty and Nathan decided to hang back near camp and poke some small lines. Ben and myself decided to push on to a bigger objective.
As we climbed our couloir, the snow got lighter and lighter. I couldn’t wait for the way down our first slope of the trip.
And the snow was just as good as I hoped. Getting some much needed face shots, I whooped and hollered the whole way down.
After we all got back to camp we discussed how everyone’s days went over some much needed food and started planning day three.
Day 3: Sunrise & Euphoria on the Slopes
After some deliberation, we decided to wake up at 3a.m. to see if we could summit black mountain for sunrise. My job was to wake up before everyone to ensure clouds would obscure our sunrise. Even with that plan, I still found it hard to get out of bed at 2:50a.m. But I peeked outside and didn't see a cloud in sight. I knew we had to go.
We woke to frozen gear. My best guess is that temps fell to -10 °F.
Unfortunately because of this freeze Ty, our snowboarder, was unable to put his poles back into touring mode and had to stay behind at camp. With a tight time frame we had to push on.
I am fairly familiar with these mountains. So I led the charge with only a headlamp as our guide through the massive terrain. Luckily our research and experience kept us on track until the sun finally started to cast a deep blue tone over the sky.
Now with the sun racing us up the mountain, the pressure was on and we buzzed up the terrain towards the peak.
As we got higher we looked behind us and could hardly believe our eyes. Inversion lay all around us. We skiied above the clouds. This would be a good sunrise!
As we crested the lower summit, the sun came over the horizon.
We agreed the early wake up call was well worth it. We didn't want to leave the summit.
As we started the rocky descent section I could hardly believe we still had more fun in store as next up was the skiing
After all of that we felt like we had a full day behind us, but it was only 8.m.! We strolled back into camp and reunited with Ty and told him all about our morning adventure.
All that was left on our agenda was to pack up and head back to the truck. As sad as I felt leaving, we couldn’t have wished for a better ski adventure.
This trip reminded me of two sayings I have heard in the skiing industry:
“You have to be present to win.” and “The early bird gets the worm”
Despite stormy weather throughout the trip, we took a chance on waking up for a sunrise backcountry ski, and it worked out better than we expected. And, as much as that 3a.m. wakeup sucks in the moment, you just have to push through it. And if you do, you’ll probably end up experiencing something you never could otherwise.