We were busy testing our Peak SC skis deep into spring, but as soon as we had some solid working protos we of course ran them off the manicured slopes and headed to Jewel Basin Yurt to let them go feral—as is their wont.
JBY is one of many gems of Montana skiing. The yurt is run in the VRBO style—no guiding, no outfitting, just self-supported ski touring in winter and hiking in summer. You can snowmachine or ski tour to it. From there, it's about a 10 minute snowmobile tow or 30 minute skin to some of the best skiing in Montana.
That’s not hyperbole. Montana is a big state and it gets all types of weather. Down in southwest Montana, the higher peaks see thinner and drier snowpacks. Up in the Jewel in the northwest, the denser snowpacks hover around 12 to 14 feet. That’s 144 inches of settled snow with new layers dropping frequently.
The deep snow is nice, but the beauty of JBY is that it serves such a range of terrain—not just the gnarly stuff. When the avalanche danger is in the red, you’ll find low angle/low hazard hippie skiing in old growth trees. When the danger is low but the light is too, there’s steep and jumbled treed terrain to pop around in above the yurt. And when conditions eventually go blue and stable, you can traverse north/south ridgelines overlooking Glacier National Park while choosing between pinner chutes, summit descents on alpine faces, and bowl skiing on a range of aspects.