The Tour Lives On! –Scott VerMerris After our big night all over town in Jackson on New Years we stuck around and demoed on the mountain and skied for two more days soaking up the powder and of course the apre at The Mangy Moose.Our final evening in Jackson Hole consisted of luke-warm hot tubbing and solid rest. On the morning of the third we headed over the pass to Grand Targhee to meet up with Jason Berning. It was on this day that our new and not so favorite tour game began “Chain Up”. As I mentioned before the Penske rental van we had at the time was a serious liability and struggled to say the least with adverse conditions and any kind of incline so we had to purchase chains. Of course the ones available for purchase that morning were the really bulky ones that max out at 15 mph. There we were on a bluebird powder day driving 20 mph the whole way to Victor, it took 2 hours to drive 30 miles. The best part was the deafening laughter of the chains slapping against the truck.We arrived at Grand Targhee around 11:oo, set up a few handfulls of employees on skis for the day and headed up with Jason to find leftovers. Targhee is sick, we had good snow and good views followed by a Dead cover band at the lodge.Before heading out of town the next morning we decided to go up for a lap on Teton Pass with the dogs. It was beautiful and we got a lot of good shots. This was Thor’s first backcountry venture, he killed it.The drive to Red Lodge, MT was terrifying. There were moments when the Penske was being blown sideways across the icey road. We finally made it to Modroo’s Ranch, the home of pro rider Justin Modroo and his cat Montana. The next day we did Red Lodge Mountain and we did the town at night.Next we barged over to Bozeman, MT and stayed with Icelantic rider and local ambassador Joe Turner. We got some computer work done, fed Joe’s horses and then headed up to the Big Sky. We hit Moonlight Basin for Montana Appreciation Day, many Montanians loved our skis. Later Joe, Ashley and I went out for a night session in Big Sky. We found some short pow lines and a rail not far from our hotel and got some shots. Of course we got the Penske stuck and had to get creative with shovels, chains and some rebar to get it out.After Big Sky and a night out in Bozeman where Ashley and Thor painted the town we headed up to Bridger Bowl. Bridger was nice, we slayed lines off of the ridge and Joe showed us some his favorite little stashes and drops around the Cave in Nose area. All morning I had been eyeing this hanging shelf line near the cave. In the afternoon I went up and found my way into it. It was a super technical entrance where you had to slide onto what looked like the edge of a 50 footer with no way out while hanging onto small trees. Once in position you could see the next move over a totally exposed, 50 degree strip of snow on rock. I traversed fast across it into a pillow and punched in with my hand so as not bounce and fall off. After shimmying carefully around the pillow and under a branch I was free to shred down this mini coulior thing that made up the rest of the shelf. It was full of deep snow and was the only untouched line left on the mountain. The line spit me out onto this perfect little apron, I was pumped and I really wish the helmet cam battery didn’t die at the top of the line.That day at Bridger Bowl we happened to meet a man named Duke, that man happened to be the manager and head buyer of the ski shop at the Yellowstone Club. If you don’t know what the Yellowstone Club is, it is a high end private ski and golf country club minutes outside Big Sky. The YC boasts “private powder”, they actually save lines for members like Bill Gates, Dan Quayle and Warren Miller. This is a place where you might see 3 people all day. They have thousands of ski-able acres featuring a ridge with super fun, and aesthetically pleasing lines free for the picking, you don’t even have to hike. Duke gave us the invite to come up and ski for the day. He said there was a lot of powder left over from the last storm and no one there to ski it. As hard as it was to make the decision to change our plans we thought “sounds good, why not give it a whirl.”Good thing Bill and Dan don’t shred hard because Joe, ashley and I were granted access to any and all terrain including the open lines off the ridge. Kirk from operations gave us a guided tour of the mountain, there were virtually no tracks to be found. We giggled like school children all day. Fun and awesome are basic words I might use to begin describing the experience. Lunch was also descent, we helped ourselves to a five star buffet on the house in the mid mountain lodge near the fireplace. Special thanks to Duke , Kirk, and all the guys in the shop at the YC. The YC is the place to be.After our time in the Big Sky area we headed to Missoula, the land of bluegrass and Carharts. We did a day at Montana Snowbowl. Snowbowl is down-home little place famouse for their Bloody Mary’s and layed back party attitude. The snow was terrible but we always have fun. Thanks to George for putting us up and teaching me how to operate an excavator.From Missoula we headed over to McCall Idaho to hit up Brundage and Tamarack. This was one of the only daylit drives I remeber from the first half of the season. Good thing because it was one of the most beautiful ones too. On Friday the 16’th of January we met up with team riders Jaron Stadler and Eric Mowatt to shoot at Tamarack. This day was my last for a while on the tour. I’ve been injured before but it was on this Friday that I learned the true meaning of pain. They say your femur is the hardest bone in your body to break. Not for me, I actually found it quite easy. All I had to do was go huge and land flat.Being taken away from what you love in the middle of go time is hard. For me it brings out the best and the worst. Regardless of the circumstances, it is what it is and you have to find a way to persevere and grow from experience. It’s sad but I had a great run during the first half of the season. I was blessed with good snow and good times. In the spirit of staying positive I want to say that I embrace the idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder. For me this confirms something I already knew, I am going to ski and adventure for as long as the universe allows.