By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
Backcountry recreationalists depend on the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. And the GNFAC needs them.
That’s why it’s hoping for a strong showing at the 10th annual King and Queen of the Ridge at Bridger Bowl, the center’s second-biggest fundraiser of the year.
The idea is for skiers and snowboarders to hike as many laps up the Bridger Ridge as possible—and get pledges for doing so.
Since its inception, the event has raised $89,000 dollars for the avalanche center. Alex Lussier and Jeannie Wall hold the record for number of hikes with 29 and 26, respectively. Jerry Carish set the record for fundraising by bringing in $7,000 in pledges.
“Our goal is to raise $5,000 this year,” said Doug Chabot, director of the GNFAC.
The top pledge-winner this year will win a pair of 4frnt skis. Other prizes go to top hikers and include Schnees Hunter boots, Mystery Ranch backpacks and Oboz shoes.
The money raised from the King and Queen goes toward the GNFAC’s avalanche education program.
“It supplements the one-hour community classes we do around Southwest Montana, the school programs, the classes for search and rescue or other groups that want one,” Chabot said.
To get the psyche up this year, the GNFAC is pitting the area ski patrols against each other. Patrollers can enter individually, but will be scored by number of hikes and win as a team. The winning team gets a gift certificate to Montana Ale Works.
The event takes place above the Bridger Lift, on Sluice Box. Although Bridger hasn’t been blessed with huge snowfall this year, “we can have the King and Queen no matter what the snow conditions are,” Chabot said. And right now the conditions on Sluice Box are pretty good; smooth, and not many moguls, he added.
There will also be music at the base this year, to create more of a party atmosphere. Possible changes the GNFAC would like to suggest for next year include online pledging, onlookers betting on teams, and women skiing in bikini tops.
The King and Queen is part of Bridger Bowl’s community race series, which has corporate sponsors that donate prizes. Visit mtavalanche.com for more information.