For Ozone snowkiting veteran Noah Poritz, the snowkiting season is neverending, even in the warm sun he still finds unthawed spots to cruise in. Having had a break from the snow due to an injury, he is now back on the skis and enjoying the long summer days...
BEGINNING OF SUMMER //
The opening of the Beartooth Highway is a ceremonial mark of the beginning of summer. For the many tourists who drive across its 11,000 foot high West Summit, it is a jaw dropping experience of expansive snowfields, extraordinary alpine mountain vistas and breathtaking glaciated terrain. For the skiers and boarders who come to the Beartooths, it is an opportunity to ride one final time before summer’s heat melts away the snowpack. For the handful of kiters who arrive at the gate, patiently waiting for the lock to be opened, it is a chance to kite atop the largest alpine plateau in the United States.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK //
I left my home town of Bozeman, Montana in a cold, driving rain. Sheets of water blew sideways from the sky as I made my way through Yellowstone National Park on my way to the Beartooths. A strong tail wind followed my camper as I climbed higher and higher, past soaking wet antelope, elk, big horn sheep and bison. Flooding torrents of whitewater filled the rivers and streams of the Park. As I gained elevation, the rain finally gave way to solid precipitation - fresh snow! I was in a wind driven blizzard, on the first day of June!
As I arrived at one of my favorite park-n-ride kite spots, the Switchbacks, a sucker hole of blue sky opened up and that was my sign to pull on my harness for a sunset session. I quickly had my 11m Ozone Subzero ready to launch when the next storm cloud enveloped the spot. “Never mind the storm”, I said to myself. I have kited here many times and knew the terrain well and that another hole of blue sky might soon follow. For the last couple hours of daylight, I relished in the experience of being solo in the high mountains, powered by the wind and feeling the sting of icy crystals. Well, the blue sky never opened up that evening and eventually I packed it up for the night to my camp spot below Beartooth Pass.
BLUE SKIES & FRESH POWDER //
The next day dawned windy, cold, and cloudless with a blue sky that went on forever. A friend from Bozeman arrived and we promptly hit the kite spot right outside the door of my camper. I flew the new Ozone Chrono V3, bouncing across the sun cupped snowfields, seeking out smoother deposition areas of fresh powder. It was a quick one hour session; my sights were really set on getting back up to the Beartooth Pass for some ‘real’ kiting.
A second session atop the Beatooth Pass was ballroom smooth fresh powder. Again, I was flying a perfectly powered 15m Chrono V3. In every direction, the views at 11,000 feet were very distracting. The distant snow-covered Absaroka Mountains were stunning in their alpine grandeur.
Following that session, we dropped off the Summit to kite the Switchbacks. We joined two other kiters for a long afternoon of soft corn snow and steady west wind. Again, the views were so distracting; it was hard to keep focused on the terrain in front of my skis when the vista was so enchanting. For the remainder of the afternoon we did laps, carving up the soft corn and relishing the opportunity of kiting in the high alpine.
As the long sunlight of evening wore on, we all felt the fatigue of kiting at elevation creep deep into our muscles and bones. Eventually we packed it up for the night. Tomorrow would bring another day of blue sky and west wind and another day to kite the remarkable Beartooths Mountains.
Thanks for reading and see ya out there,