Words by Kip Kirol

Red Lodge International Ski & Snowboard Camp (RLISSC) was established in the mid 1960s by Austrians Pepi Gramshammer, Eric Sailer and Anderl Molterer, to train Olympic ski racers during the summer. RLISSC is one of North America’s oldest summer ski areas. The area was purchased in 2002 by Red Lodge locals Rob Hart, Kurt Hallock, and Joe Maxwell. Snow permitting, the owners have kept the poma lifts on the Twin Lakes headwall running every season.

On the weekend of June 25th and 26th, the Red Lodge Ski Camp will host the first annual Beartooth Summer Session. The session will include a big mountain competition on Saturday, a park jam on Sunday, and a free demo from ON3P both days. Competitors in the junior big mountain competition will ski judged runs down the headwall. After the junior competitors are done, the open division will make hot laps on the headwall and judges will score their best three runs. Competitors in the park jam will get a set amount of time to lap the park and judges will pick who advances to the next round.

RLISSC has hosted several freeride camps in the past that included pro level coaches such as Tanner Hall, Paul Cotter, Wiley Miller, Mickey Price, Glen Plake, and many others. Prominent film companies such as Teton Gravity Research, Team 13, and Toy Soldier Productions have featured shots from the Beartooths in their films.

In addition to exceptional lift access skiing, the Beartooth highway has an abundance of easily accessible backcountry terrain, including Rock Creek Headwall. To ski the headwall, you must hike across tundra on top of the pass before skiing down to the third switchback on the highway, making for a very easy afternoon lap after the lifts close. Remember weather can change rapidly in the Beartooths. A warm sunny day can quickly change to into snow or thunderstorms. Make sure to come with sunscreen, lots of layers, and adequate water. Never travel out of bounds without proper knowledge of the area you are entering.

The snowpack this season is exceptional. The Beartooth Highway only officially opened yesterday, as it was buried by snow drifts up to 25 feet deep. Traditionally the road opens over Memorial Day weekend, and in the past 25 years, there has been only one other year when road crews haven’t finished plowing on time. The lifts at the ski area have been dug out and are set to start public operations on Saturday, June 11.

The ski area is extending an invitation to users of Newschoolers and Teton Gravity to come ski this summer by offering a $35 full day ticket (normally $45) to active members of Newschoolers and TGR. To get this discount, you must bring in a printed copy of this offer and a printout of a forum post that clearly shows your username. The ski area is also requesting that you post pictures and trip reports on the forums.

In addition to a discount on lift tickets, ON3P will be giving away a 50% discount good towards any 2011/2012 production model ski for the best trip report posted online. The ski area will pick the trip report that they think deserves the win, and the content of the trip report must include the weekend of the Beartooth Summer Session.

Due to the area’s proximity to natural wilderness, infrastructure must be kept to a minimum. A fifth wheel camper trailer serves as the area’s ticket office, lodge, and headquarters. The area can get congested when a group of people tries to purchase tickets. To help get you on the slope sooner, ON3P has provided an online option to pre-sell tickets in their store front: http://on3pskis.myshopify.com/collections/first-annual-beartooth-pass-summer-session In addition to purchasing a lift ticket, every skier and snowboarder is required to sign a liability release form. A liability release can be downloaded from the ski area’s site by clicking here: http://rlissc.com/handbookandwaiver.pdf

Hope to see you in the Beartooths!

Due to lack of snow during the summer of 2010, the ski area was unable to open but Toy Soldier Productions was still able to get some shooting done…

Beartooth Pass, Montana from Toy Soldier Productions on Vimeo.

And here’s an edit Jonny Durst put together of the camp and surrounding area during the summer of 2009…

The Tooths from Jonny Durst on Vimeo.

Current event sponsors include ON3P Skis, Crazy Creek Products, Beartooth Mountain Guides, Uni Threads, Toy Soldier Productions, Boardside Down Wax, Rime Knits, Phar North, Backcountry Access, Teton Gravity Research and Newschoolers.