The Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming USA are an enormous snowkite paradise. Many square miles of superb terrain are blanketed by snow beginning in October and their 9000 foot elevation ensures that upper-atmosphere winds are frequent and reliable. For the past five years, during the first week of December, snowkiters converge on this immense snow-covered playground to experience a truly unique gathering: The Big Horn Snowkite Summit.
While the Jackson Hole Kiters are the brainchild of the event, our host is the Wyoming High Country Lodge. The Lodge staff provides comfortable accommodations and three fantastic meals every day. While many dedicated kiters have their own snowmobiles, for those that need it, the Lodge also provides over-snow transportation via snowcat to the day’s kite spots.
Surrounded by friends in the remote mountains of northern Wyoming is what makes the Snowkite Summit unique and special. For that special week, snowkiters from Mexico, Canada, and the US and beyond converge on the Wyoming High Country Lodge to immerse themselves in snow, wind, sunshine and spectacular mountain terrain.
Every kiter, from first time riders to experienced veterans, shared the same routine: Awake to a filling breakfast prepared by the lodge staff, pack up one’s gear for the day and head to one of the nearby kite spots for multiple sessions of riding. The routine also means kiting until sunset and then it’s back to the Lodge for a hot tub, a delicious dinner, perhaps a libation or two, and sharing the highlights of the day.
This year, Big Horn winds were generally strong with a couple days of 5, 6, and 7m kiting to handle the 30-40+ mph winds. The strong northern jet stream brought fresh snow on multiple days and everyone relished the fresh powder. Ozone demo kites, the Blizzard and the Hyperlink, were always in demand and the smaller sizes proved to be perfect wings on those high-wind days.
As the week progressed, a tribal camaraderie becomes evident in which everyone shares their stories from the past and their kite dreams for the future. In this environment, new friends become well-known old friends by the week’s end. This engagement extends well into the night with films, kite conversations, a bit of Montana moonshine and delicious desserts prepared by the High Country Lodge.
Clearly the Summit is an amazing gathering of the snowkite tribe and continues to be a platform for the evolution of snowkiting in North America.
A hearty ‘Thank You’ to the staff of the Wyoming High Country Lodge and their efforts to accommodate and facilitate snowkiting in the Big Horns. Another big up to the Jackson Hole Kiters for their persistence and dedication to make this unique event possible.
Words: Noah Poritz
Images: Will Taggart / Chris Emerick / Noah Poritz