The Bighorn Snowkite Summit! In a word, it was epic. I could go on and on, but our friend Noah Portiz has penned a summation that cannot be matched. A million thanks to our hosts at the Wyoming High Country Lodge, Howard and Cheryl. The food and hospitality were superb.
Never before in the United States has the announcement of a snowkite event created so much interest in so short a period of time. The idea was to host a week of snowkiting, on-snow instruction, kite demos and evening seminars at a backcountry lodge in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. The brainchild of the event was a few of the Jackson Hole Kiters, a tight group of avid Ozone riders that have been progressing snowkite technique and adventures for many years.
The northern Big Horns have been a snowkite destination for a handful of Wyoming and Montana locals since 2006. Each year we have push the limits of snowkiting in the Big Horn range. Each year we have come away enchanted by the diversity and immense magnitude of these mountains. In the lower 48 states, the Big Horns are one of our finest locations. Once the idea was hatched, it took only two days for the reservations to exceed the lodge’s capacity. With that news, some kiters said, “No problem, we’ll camp out!” Snowkiters are a hearty group, without a doubt.
With the dates set for the first week of December, it was now a matter of dialing in the logistics. Located at 8888 feet, the Wyoming High Country Lodge was to be our base for the week. Lodge managers Howard and Cheryl Jones came through with confirmation that they would do whatever it takes to make the event a success. With many of the local kiters in the northern Rockies having snowmobiles, and Howard with his Snow Cat, on-snow transport from the trail head to the lodge to the kite spots was successfully handled for non-snowmobiling participants. Because the event was to occur on the Big Horn National Forest, permits and insurance were required. Following that, all that was left was for the snow to get deep and the wind to blow.
Snow and blow it did. The first official day of the event we were rewarded with solid 30 mph winds and fresh powder. That first day, Snowkite Summiteers could be found at numerous kite spots shredding fresh powder and boosting sky high. Amazingly, this was our one day of above 0˚F temperatures! That first night, 9” of new snow fell and temperatures plummeted. A river of sub-zero Siberian air flowed into the Rockies. The nighttime lows averaged -25 ̊F night after night. While it was sunny, daytime highs were negative 15 ̊F! Everyone was on high alert not to have any exposed skin to guard against frostbite. The smallest routine chore became slow and time consuming in these arctic temperatures. Sightless kiters with frozen goggles were common. Throughout all of this, Howard and Cheryl kept the fireplace stoked and served up a week of hot, scrumptious meals. Amazingly, even the hearty kiters who camped out in tents were happy.
Every day we would venture out with our sleds and kite different spots. Some kiters tried out the latest kites from Ozone, the Summit and Frenzy. Others learned the basics of speed flying. Others “went long” and explored new areas of the Big Horns. Some visited areas that had never been kited before. Every day was a new adventure at the Snowkite Summit.
Every night was also an experience that will be remembered. Discussions were held on creating a grading scale of difficulty for snowkite terrain. Conversation on kite industry support was covered. A code of best practices for snowkiting was discussed. Consideration was given to revitalizing a nation-wide snowkite association. One night was devoted to viewing some of the best snowkite videos from the past and present. Ozone International Team Rider, Johann Civel, who was there from France, provided the US premier of his and Wareck Arnaud’s latest RIDE UP film: Blowin’ in the Wind. Through all of these nightly seminars and films, a couple gallons of Montana moonshine and 7 kegs of Montana homebrew were consumed! These were nights to revel and remember.
By the end of the week the kiters at the Big Horn Snowkite Summit were showing some wear and tear. The sub-zero temps were slowly draining us. Some of our sleds were reluctant to start. Through all of this, a new dimension of the future of snowkiting was being formed. Where it is going, no one can positively predict. However, snowkiting is refining its identity. Summit participants came to the Big Horns with widely differing experiences and perspectives. Perhaps the greatest outcome of the Summit was the friendships. Old friends and new friends, coming together at a remote lodge high in the mountains of Wyoming. These friendships will keep the future of snowkiting alive and well and provide a basis for the continued progression of the sport.
Thanks for Reading and Windy Regards,
Tentative Schedule and General Event Info:
The schedule is tentative and subject to change depending on wind and weather conditions. We would like keep the schedule flexible to take advantage of inclement weather for discussions and maximize time on the snow during good conditions.
There will be a daily meeting at 10am at the Crystal Creek parking lot on Hwy 14a at the road closure. If you need over snow transportation to the event from the Crystal Creek parking lot, you need to be there at 10am each day. At that time we will have updates to the daily schedule including kiting location, clinics and discussions. The Bear Lodge guests and other attendees with Snowmobiles will just need to check the email updates from firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Jackson Hole Kiters. Wyoming High Country Lodge guests will leave directly from there.
Here is some helpful advice for having a great time at The Bighorn Snowkite Summit. I do not speed while driving through the small towns on the way to the Bighorns… Ever. My trailer lights all work and I have a 2014 Wyoming Snowmobile permit. You should be prepared for cold weather. While there will be tents to escape the wind, you should bring food, water and warm clothing with you. You should be comfortably self sufficient for a cold, snowy and windy day in the mountains. The scope of the terrain or storm conditions can cause you to get lost. A GPS or map and compass would not be a bad idea. Cell coverage is limited so you cannot rely on your phones.
All that being said there will be many friendly mountain athletes there to support you should you need any help. Below is the Tentative Schedule. Please look it over since the topics we hope to cover are listed. Remember the schedule is tentative and will change to maximize conditions for the best snowkiting and discussions.
Monday Dec 2nd
-Meeting: 10 am at the Crystal Creek parking (14a road closure east of Lovell, Wy)
-Arrive, get settled, get debriefed on the terrain and go kite
-Forecast and schedule analysis
-Creating an ethical and reasonable standard of safety and practice to represent our
snow kiting community
-Creating a difference between a stunt and what is normal
Tues Dec 3rd
-General industry and media concepts… Attracting skiers, snowmobilers, outdoor
-What is the potential growth and future of our sport?
- Creating an Image of a snowkiter for the adventure sports industry
Wed Dec 4th Discussion 7pm
-Exploration and forecasting… what are our BIG ideas and how can we achieve them?
-2014 season schedule brainstorm
Thurs Dec 5th
-Clinic- 1pm advanced snowkiting on terrain. Build your skills no matter your level
-Discussion 7pm on Kite soaring, is it here to stay? If so how can it be done safely? How do you teach it properly?
Friday Dec 6th
-7pm Discussion large terrain course discussion, course concept, and format
-Conclusion to sum up the weeks discussions
-Clinic – 1pm Beginner to intermediate Snowkiter skill building
Sat Dec 7th
-Bighorn Valley Locals meet at 10am at Crystal Creek
– 7PM Celebrate the coming 2014 season party
-Clinic, 1PM at the Base of Bald Mountain-Learn to kite for locals, trainer kite progression for beginners and never ever kiters.
Sunday Dec 8th
Update! The High Country Lodge is booked to capacity for the Bighorn Snowkite Summit. We’re so excited that so many people are coming! Here are additional lodging options for the event:
In Lovell, WY –
Western Motel , 307-548-2781 – offering 25% discount off nightly & weekly rates
Horseshoe Bend Motel , 307-548-2221 – $68/night single or $78/night double
Econo Inn, 307-548-2725 – $45/night single or $55/night double, ask for Anita or Jesse
Lovell is approximately 35 miles west of the location of the Bighorn Snowkite Summit. Parking will be available at the Crystal Creek rest area, & over-snow shuttles will be provided to & from the kite site each day. A snowmobile is advantageous, but not necessary.
In Dayton, WY –
Bear Lodge, 307-752-2444 – offering 20% off nightly rates with a room block held for the event. The Bear Lodge is located 15 miles east of the Bighorn Snowkite Summit. The road is closed west of the Bear Lodge, so a snowmobile will be required for transportation – ask about nightly rates that include snowmobile rental.
For all attendees who are staying off-site, gear storage will be available at the High Country Lodge, “basecamp” for the Summit. Additionally, breakfast, lunch & dinner at the Lodge will be available to off-site attendees. An RSVP is required if you are staying off-site & would like to take advantage of meals.
If you are interested in getting on the wait list for lodging at the High Country Lodge, or have other questions, please contact Virginia Symons at 307-413-0174 or email@example.com
PRESENTING: The First Annual,
Bighorn Snowkite Summit!!!!
OPERATING UNDER SPECIAL USE PERMIT ON THE
BIGHORN NATIONAL FOREST.
DECEMBER 2ND- DECEMBER 8TH,2013
The Bighorn Mountain Range is located Northern Wyoming. The upper portions of the range ease back in steepness to form what is arguably the best snow kite terrain in the United States. In particular, Mt. Baldy possesses a combination of nearly treeless rolling mountain meadows, advanced steeps, and a ten thousand foot altitude that holds snow and catches wind. The usually ample early season snowpack and diversity of this amazing area makes it the ideal staging grounds for the first ever, Bighorn Snowkite Summit.
The goal of the Summit is to bring together snow kite enthusiasts of all ability levels early in the winter season for an epic snow kiting adventure on amazing terrain, gather industry professionals, and committed snow kiters of any level, to participate in a series of roundtable discussions about the current and future state of our sport. This discussion series is designed to scrutinize the growing pains of our sport as we face the need for some type of standard in a number of areas. Locally, we will provide an opportunity for first time snow kiters, local snow enthusiasts and anyone who is interested to improve their skills through a series of demos and clinics.
The Wyoming High Country Lodge is set just behind Mt. Baldy and is an ideal location to base the Summit. They offer rustic cabins and a large central lodge. The Wyoming High Country Lodge has agreed to support us with some snowmobiles and a belt track snowcat. The Jackson Hole Kiters and a number of others are also willing to help with some snowmobile support to get kiters out to the lodge and to the primary kiting areas. The event itself is free. The proprietors, Howard and Cheryl Jones, have generously offered an affordable package for snowkiters. For just $65 dollars a night, you get three hot meals a day! A 20% payment to hold the spot is asked by the lodge. Should the unthinkable happen and the snow does not cooperate, the cancellation window is five days out for a full refund minus a 10% processing fee.
When conditions permit, we will be on Mount Baldy snowkiting the entire time except for a couple discovery missions. There is enough room for everyone here. The discussions will be at night after dinner and the clinics will be during the day. Take this opportunity to wax the skis or board, and brush away the off season blues to enjoy great company and snowkiting in the Bighorn Mountains.
RSVP on Facebook at:
For Condition updates and RSVP go to Jackson Hole Kiters on Facebook and http://jhmountainkite.com/big-horn-event/