With the New Year’s arrival, I started off my Northern Rocky Mountain road trip traveling into the state with the deepest snow: Idaho. For those who know, eastern Idaho also has some of the most reliable and windiest spots as well. My itinerary: the Continental Divide, nearby Island Park, the foothills of the Teton Range and the elusive St. Anthony Dunes.
Every spot I kited has its own unique claim-to-fame. Every spot delivered the goods with fresh powder and wind. Going solo, some days were just that - just me getting the goods. Other days I had the companionship of local kiters who were only too happy to share their “backyard” kite spots.
The Continental Divide almost always has wind and powder. Raynolds Pass is one of the lowest passes on the Divide and still gets abundant snow and steady wind. This weekend day, about a dozen Bozeman, Montana locals were sessioning the goods. My 11m Hyperlink V2 was perfect for power. Following that, I hit up the sunset session in nearby Island Park. Here, I flew the 15m Chrono EXP to finish out the day.
Scoring a session in the foothills of the Teton Range requires local knowledge. Here, I had local wisdom of Erik Boomer and Sarah McNair-Landry as to where to kite. Most Idaho land owners are fine with kiters. Here also, I had the pleasure of kicking up not one, but two herds of overwintering Yellowstone elk. As I kited over many miles of elk winter range, they kept their distance. They were obviously wary about the big, black 13m Hyperlink coming too close. In spite of it being a storm day, the visibility was enough to find my way out and, importantly, back to my camper.
As with any road trip, I am always prepared for a possible no-wind day. For this eventuality, I bring my skinny xc skis. Back up in the Island Park caldera, I enjoyed a day of Nordic touring at Harriman State Park. Many dozens of Trumpeter Swans overwinter in the park. Seeing these magnificent birds is very gratifying.
What would a road trip be without a storm? Ten inches of fresh pow was the view outside my camper window the next morning. As post-frontal high pressure shut down the wind, I made a move to one of my favorite snowkite spots: the St. Anthony sand dunes. For years, I obsessed about the dunes. I made regular trips there to figure out “when does it blow” and occasionally even scored an epic session. Eventually, I learned it is a fickle spot. It is just not reliable. However on this day, post-frontal, it was blowing. The Dunes delivered! I kited a long session on my 15 Chrono EXP and I was a very happy camper.
Back in Island Park, my final day included a dawn patrol session of deep pow and rock-steady wind. I was out at first light and thoroughly relished the slow rise of the winter’s sun as I dug deep trenches in the fresh powder. Snowkiting is a different sport when the winds are so steady. Every element is easier, especially boosting! I wrapped the week up with an afternoon of Nordic skiing in West Yellowstone and made my way home to a well deserved hot shower!
Words: Noah Poritz
Photos: Erik Boomer