Ryan Jordan

The Lone Ranger (Backcountry Skiing in the Beartooth Mountains)


The Lone Ranger
Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, 2004

I’m a sucker for final scenes of old western movies.

You know, the one where the cowboy’s riding away from the camera on some dusty desert trail with a tired horse and bandaged head?

Montana backcountry skiers know this feeling well.

It comes after a long day of ducking tree branches, scraping edges, breaking bindings, and wondering if the slope is going to hold.

However, most backcountry skiers will be nursing their wounds at the Ale Works by 8pm.

It’s when you add the weight of gear, the hostility of weather, deeper remoteness, and apres-ski held in a tiny nylon pyramid when you start to feel what the cowboy’s might have felt if their mode of transport was two sticks rather than four legs, and the dust was white instead of tan.