On Sunday March 10, my buddy Will and I set out to see how far we could get towards Yount’s Peak in the Absaroka Range. We began the day at 5am and snowmobiled to the wilderness boundary. The wind was strong NW and we inflated our kites and set out across the Buffalo Plateau. We reached the first gully early in the day and stopped to shred some pow before transitioning to skins to make it up to the next plateau and the steady wind above.
As we began to traverse the open plateau, my mind was blown the the sheer enormity of the terrain and how fast we we covering it on our Ozone Edge Kites! What amazing formations. It was like these snow covered mesas with thousand foot plus cliffs in every direction. A real “highway in the sky”. It reminded me of the video game Super Mario Brothers. We reached Crescent Peak by midday.
Ahead of me, I could see Will had come to the edge of another plateau where it rolled over into the void. Apparently he thought he knew the right way to go and began scouting along the edge of the cliff band, looking for the way through. Then he started descending into the void, on a 40+ degree slope, with his kite in the air! It was unnerving seeing him disappear over the edge of this narrow ramp, with cliffs on either side. After getting to the bottom, we pushed onwards through a narrow traverse, in steep terrain, through rocks and trees Above is a picture of me, following the route Will figured out on the spot, with the crux in the background. I used just about every trick I know to keep my kite in the air and out of the trees! Do or die scenario.
We reached another gully transition where we would have had to stow our kites and skin another 1000ft uphill. It was one o’clock by then and we decided it was too late in the day to continue because we were so far out in the back country and would need time to retrace our steps back to the sleds. So we went back to Crescent Mountain, and after a lunch break shredded some more powder. With kite assist, we could make run after run in great powder snow!
Will had lined up a few pictures in this massive, cornice topped bowl, just below Crescent Peak. I began to work further out the ridge and lined up this run. I have been chasing the wind and snow for ten years now, and they can be fickle sometimes. Other times, it all comes together and you get to do something really cool, that makes it all worthwhile. This was one of those moments.
All in all it was a great adventure, with several close calls including almost not making the last hill climb on our snowmobiles! The potential of this place is limitless for snowkiters. A little piece of Norway in our backyard. I have a feeling we”ll be back.