"Turn me loose, set me free, somewhere in the middle of Montana..."
So sang Merle Haggard, that dirty old scoundrel who knew exactly how to make you want to ditch work and go find some big mountains and open spaces. But you don't need Mr. Haggard for that this weekend: You just need your skis.
From June 5-8, Portland-based ON3P is holding its Fourth Annual Beartooth Summer Session, hosted by Beartooth Basin Ski Area (actually in Wyoming…but just barely), one of only two ski areas in the U.S. that offers lift-served skiing during the summer. With 1,000 vertical feet, 600 acres of skiable terrain, a terrain park, and some of the best snow conditions on Beartooth Pass in recent memory, the ski area makes a strong case for ditching the family picnic this weekend to go rip some summer steeps. What started as an ON3P ski demo four years ago has since turned into a kick-off bash for the summer, complete with a slopestyle course, a raffle with prizes worth $12,000, and discounts on lift tickets and Lagunitas beer.
"This is an opportunity to come rip around with friends and be loose and have a good time," says ON3P's Sam Caylor. "Plus, you can win some stuff and drink good beer for cheap. I like to think of it as a big summer party with some skiing involved. Come out and camp with your buddies and take a break from real life."
This year's event will also feature a fundraiser for the late Timy Dutton, the talented skier from Tahoe who recently perished in a skydiving accident. As a nod to Dutton's affinity for throwing back flips, event organizers will be hosting the Rubber Ducky Backflip-Off, a charitable contest through the High Fives Foundation that challenges skiers to amass 150 back flips in one hour over Beartooth's biggest jump. Known as Rubber Ducky and Timy Backflips, Dutton was a coach for B.A.S.I.C.S., a youth training program for ski and backcountry safety that High Fives runs in Tahoe. Those hucking back flips will have the opportunity to win gear from Strafe Outerwear and some of Dutton's favorite "Narrow Ass Snowboards" from Lib Tech, in addition to the massive pile of shwag.
Caylor says organizers are hoping to raise $1,500, or $10 per backflip. All funds will go to the Dutton family and B.A.S.I.C.S.
Lift tickets for the weekend will be $40 per day (down from the regular of $45), cash or check only. A closing party will be held in Red Lodge on Saturday night, where Merle Haggard plays on loop.
"Yeah, big city turn me loose and set me free..."