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Powder, peeps and PBR

How to survive when you’re in a world of yurts

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Yurt alert:
Be neighborly

The second night, our Lupine neighbors hosted the entire 15-person crew for imbibing, victuals and a song or two. Fifteen people in a yurt cuts each person’s usable space down to about the size of a shoebox lid, but the Alpine crew was in good spirits and feeling quite Scandinavian—until we realized something was amiss.

As we approached the Lupine yurt, we noticed a large mustache and some cryptic words drawn in the fog of the yurt’s front door window. The yurt was also suspiciously quiet. But our crew was too hungry not to go inside.

What happened next is hard to explain. There were burritos for dinner, and much drinking of course. There were also rules involving mustaches and, after dinner, something we’ll call “Big Booty.” That’s when things got out of hand.

Blame the altitude, dehydration, body heat or whiskey, but I can’t share the story of Big Booty with you, nor say what or who Big Booty is. You had to be there. This isn’t about being coy. This is how yurting works. Part of being neighborly is keeping secrets.

Yurt alert:
Take one more run

It’s possible that you’ll never experience anything like Yurtski again, so when someone asks, “One more?” it’s time to set down your beer, put on your coat and slap on the skins. The quad-crushing work to get atop the ridges is rewarded as soon as you drop into a bowl for a gentle glide through charred trees and puffy glades. The cold snap of the wind is quickly forgotten as you open your mouth to yell out with joy and inhale powder.

That said, it’s what happens inside the yurts that we’ll talk about years later. All of us who have skied or snowboarded the West have likely shredded some big pow, but only a few have ever known Big Booty.


The skinny on Yurtski

Where it’s at: The yurts are situated in the southern Swan Mountains, between the Mission Mountains and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. It takes about an hour to drive from Missoula to the trailhead.

Accommodations: Yurts are 20 feet in diameter and are built on elevated wood platform decks. Each yurt is heated with a wood-burning stove, can sleep up to eight people and includes a full kitchen “with all the necessities to make even the most gourmet of meals.”

Rates and packages: The “self-sufficient” rental starts at $40 per person for a week, for groups of four or more. Yurtski provides a key and a map, discusses snowpack conditions and sets you on your way. Note: Each group member must sign a liability waiver and possess basic avalanche equipment, such as a beacon, shovel and probe. Gear haul service costs an additional $35 per person.

For a more structured stay, Yurtski offers “The Package” for $195 per person, per night. This includes a private yurt stay, meals and gear shuttle. Guided tours are also available for $150 per day.

For reservations, call (406) 721-1779 or email yurt_ski@yahoo.com to make reservations. You can also check availability online at yurtski.com.

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