The superbly successful 6th Annual Big Horn Snowkite Summit is now in the history books. The enthusiasm and excitement of the many skiers and snowboarders who spent a week in the backcountry of Wyoming's Big Horn Mountains will persist long into winter. Hosted by the Jackson Hole Kiters and the Wyoming High Country Lodge, this year's Snowkite Summit week started with a deep base of powder snow and a forecast of daily wind.
The day's routine of organizing one's gear, loading into the snowcat-powered transport, arriving at the kite spot and kiting until sunset became a blur of both pleasure and eventual exhaustion as the week progressed. What makes the Summit so special is the camaraderie among the participants.
Whether one was a never-ever snowkiter, a progressing intermediate, or a seasoned veteran of many years of kiting on the snow, all relished in the experience of being in the spectacular Big Horns. For beginners, there were many opportunities to fly trainer kites, learn the basics of flying four line foils, and to absorb the details of safe on-snow kite progression. For the experienced kiters, and there were many returning experts, the Snowkite Summit is a special opportunity to reconnect with like-minded kiters who are passionate about snow, wind and mountains.
Every day the Lodge catered to the needs of our eclectic group of kiters. Superb cuisine was prepared daily. From breakfast at the Lodge, a sack lunch on the snow, and gourmet dinners and desserts every night, it was as if there was a different restaurant serving scrumptious meals every day. One could not go away hungry!
Also, every day the wind was a (mostly) reliable companion. The wind showed many nuances: some days were reliable southwest thermals, some days were post-frontal northerlies, one day was an unanticipated, rock-steady katabatic wind, and a couple days were very light tactical kiting. Whatever the wind's strength or direction, the Summiteers took full advantage of the breeze and with mostly big kites, skis and snowboards, tracked out miles and miles of delightful powder snow.
Ozone kite demos were available daily: the single-skin Explore in three sizes, the superb handling Chrono V3 Ultralight, a quiver of mainstay Subzeros and the everlasting Access V7 were available for kiters to fly. Having new kites allowed Summit participants to feel and experience the most highly evolved snow-specific designs and safety systems. There is no substitution for on-snow demos!
For the couple of snowkiters who are also paragliders, a light-wind day provided an outstanding opportunity for hours-long ridge soaring along Bald Mountain's NE side. A steady stream of kiters looping their Ozone Chronos and Edges among the air-borne gliders made for tactical traffic control on the snow and in the air. Exciting visuals for sure!
True to its billing, the Snowkite Summit brings together an incredibly diverse array of unique individuals who share their passion of kiting in the spectacular Big Horn Mountains. It is truly a one-of-a-kind event that will be remembered by everyone for years to come.