Do you ever dream of being at a snow-bound backcountry lodge surrounded by snowkite terrain of every imaginable size, shape and steepness? How about being transported from the lodge to various kite spots in a 4×4 tracked snow coach? Add to that: scrumptious meals and decadent desserts to recharge after a full day of snowkiting? For the kiters who participated in the 4th annual Big Horn Snowkite Summit that was the routine – day after day of superb kite terrain, fresh powder, wind, sunshine and fantastic accommodations.Hosted by the Wyoming High Country Lodge, the Summit is the brainchild of the Jackson Hole Kiters and in every one of its four years has proven to be a premier gathering of kiters from around North America. Kiters of all abilities are enthusiastically welcomed. Beginners, cautious intermediates, and expert kiters all join together to live, eat, and breathe snowkiting in a week-long immersion in the spectacular Big Horn Mountains of northern Wyoming. Kiting events are full of interesting personalities and the Summit was no exception. Doctors, postmen, oil field workers, artists, tech workers and kite bums alike all came to the Summit for the same reason – to share in the abundant powder snow and wind, share ideas, tell stories, renew old acquaintances and make new friendships.Some kiters brought their snowmobiles and snowbikes to access the goods. Others relied on the lodge for snowtracked vehicle transport to the various kite spots. Every day we sessioned a variety of kite spots that always included mountainous terrain which allowed the best flight masters to exhibit their aerial kite gliding skills. Every form of gliding was showcased during the week: low, close-to- the-ground forward flights, astronomically high backward and forward glides and the unquestionably expert and unique style of aerial master Pascal Joubert’s style of forward flight.For seven days Summiteers roamed the expansive powder fields surrounding Bald Mountain and satiated our need for untracked snow and wind. Some days were light wind and we used our biggest kites – 15 to 17m foils and inflatables. Other days were perfectly suited to tens and 12m kites. One day was a nukefest – a snow storm with sustained 35mph winds (50+mph gusts!) which generated a full day of sub-zero whiteout conditions. The lack of visibility and cold kept all but a couple intrepid souls confined to the refuge trailer that was situated at the daily kite spot.Evenings were always full of a variety of libations and constant discussion of kiting techniques, equipment and style. Mixed in among our evenings were snowkite films that exhibited the whole range of snowkite disciplines: freestyle, big mountain, backyard and even end-of- the-earth arctic exploration. Everyone was amazed and awestruck by the caliber of kiters and the deep level of commitment showcased in these films. One film premier was the release of Will Taggart and Pascal Joubert’s Mountains of Wind.
As the week at the lodge reached its crescendo, more and more new snow accumulated as new kiters arrived at the lodge to carry the stoke forward into the next week and into the winter ahead. The Big Horn Snowkite Summit is an amazing gathering of the snowkite tribe and continues to be a platform for the evolution of snowkiting in North America.
Words and blog photos by Noah Poritz // Gallery photos by Wayne Phillips
A team rider for Ozone Kites, Noah Poritz would like to give 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. Look for Noah’s latest article on Montana’s wild and wonderful backcountry in the winter 2016 issue of Tkb. On sale soon!