Words: Kelly Balfanz
This summer I got a chance to head up to Beartooth Pass with some of the Backcountry Squatters (Women's outdoor club at Montana State) and half of the Bozeman college-aged population. First let me say that the crew we went with is totally savage, most of them are extremely embarrassing, and I would not have wanted to spend that weekend with any other group of people. Yes, we stayed up and slugged as many beers as possible every night, but what really stole the show was the jaw dropping scenery, insane skiing, and the best company.
For a lot of us it was our first trip to the Beartooths, and let me tell you that place is breathtaking. I can not believe I went twenty years not knowing that the pass existed. Erik Hilb, a good friend and coach to the @ski_beerandwomen ladies however has spent many years on top of the pass, and even lived out of his car for the summer of 2015. Safe to say Hilb is in love with the place. Lucky for us newcomers we had him to show us that hot spots on the pass. On good snow years Beartooth Basin, a ski area on the pass with one tee-bar will open up allowing people to lap like crazy on hero snow with some of the coolest features to play on. This was not one of those years. We spent hours every day hiking up steep mountains so that we could slide back down them. Unfortunately drinking a beer at the top of each run is not the best method to refuel after a long hike. (We tried to prove that wrong but just ended up getting really dehydrated).
We had the coolest crew of girls on the trip. Just to highlight a few we had Mackenzie Lisac who will throw a backflip at any given moment and shock you with the way she charges down mountains. Andie Creel who I have watched improve more than any other skier I have seen in such a short amount of time. This girl went from division 1 cross country, to hanging up her running shoes and throwing her body off the closest cliff on skis in just one short year. Pretty cool change I would say. Annika Heid who is always willing to try something new on skis (including a backflip that she landed on the trip for the first time at Beartooth Pass). Getting to experience this amazing place with my best friends is what really made it so special. I have never spent so much time with ladies who push me physically and mentally that I also want to kick back and have a beer with at the end of the day. Women in the outdoor community need to surround themselves with more people like this. The ones that you want to go adventure with but also could sit inside on a rainy day with and not get sick of each other. Going to the pass was a first for a lot of us but it will most definitely not be the last. I am anxiously anticipating the next time I get to go play on the pass and act like an idiot with my best friends.
Read More about Backcountry Squatters at http://backcountrysquatters.com/