Day Two of the Beartooth Summer Session starts slowly despite the fact the entire crew turned in early last night. We’re not fighting for freshies this morning, so there’s no rush. I emerge from my tent to see people, sans shoes, strolling through camp and readying their ski gear. Just a few months ago I was nervously browsing through boot heaters, hoping no one would catch me. Now, it’s June. The sun is shining. Corn skis SO much better than ice. I contemplate never skiing before April again.
While the rest of the Summer Sessioners head straight to Red Lodge, a few friends from another publication and I opt to ski one of the many—and by many, I mean endless—tasty-looking couloirs accessible from Beartooth Highway. The run we take is just steep enough to wake us up but mild in comparison to the terrain that Beartooth Pass holds. We’ll hit that next time.
We hustle back to the top of the lifts to find the others taking a break. No lift-lines and heroically soft snow all morning means everyone got plenty of laps in before lunch. There’s a comp coming up tomorrow, and nobody wants to wear them self out. By the time I boot up, everyone’s ready for the afternoon session. The jumps are perfect, and the soft snow inspires creativity.
The session wraps up at 3, and après parking-lot banter shifts quickly from the day’s exploits to the night’s main event: Pig Racing. Six miles from the town of Red Lodge is the Bear Creek Saloon and Steakhouse. Every night at 7 pigs dash around an oval track towards what I can only assume is the most delicious meal on earth for pigs. It’s a family friendly event, cheers erupt for the tiny track racers as they rush toward the chow. There’s even a watered down version of betting, but nobody wins.
Day 3 is comp day. More than 30 competitors with no particular goal beyond having fun gather at the top of the course. Turns out “just having fun” means going ‘effing huge for most of these guys. I watch as a few mild cornice drops and straight airs evolve into film-worthy hucks and rodeos. Some skiers drop 60-foot airs onto slush only to rip over to the park features and rails. The term “park rat,” doesn’t apply here despite the tall tees and facemasks. These kids straight rip.
The comp ends around 1. Instead of an award ceremony, a full-blown freestyle session erupts as skiers eagerly take what might be their last laps of the season. The energy has many of the skiers throwing down harder than they did in the comp—sunshine and slush just do that to a skier.
Hours later, under the summer sun, the awards ceremony finally happens,a truck bed as a stage. Prizes range from a $100 wine voucher to suits from Saga and Bloom Outerwear, and even skis from ON3P.
The after party happens in Red Lodge, Montana. After a few drinks, we spill out on the town and join up with a bachelorette party a few bars over. The night devolves into a haze of dancing and drinks. I lose memory myself. Maybe it’s best that way—the Beartooth Summer Session seems like a dream. That x-ray tech in Denver would never believe me anyway. One thing is for certain, I’ll be back next year.
Thanks to Austin and the RLISSC Crew, Kip and the ON3P Skis crew, and all the skiers who made one of the best events I’ve EVER been too possible.
For more info/prices go to RLISSC.com