For many, sleeping inside of a snow cave in the middle of winter while enduring sub-zero temperatures sounds like a survival situation, but for some MSU students, they just call that their weekend. With upwards of 500 members on their Facebook group, the MSU Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Club embraces skiing and snowboarding by avoiding the lift lines, and earning their turns.
The club’s president, Ian Nagel-Brice, is a lifetime skier and Colorado native, but didn’t have much experience in backcountry skiing until he came to MSU in 2012. “I hadn’t skied backcountry more than one time, and it was something that always interested me,” Nagel-Brice stated, “but I didn’t know how to get into it.” Although Nagel-Brice had limited experience in the backcountry, he was a competitive freestyle skier throughout his life, and expressed true passion for the sport. “The Backcountry Club seemed like a good place to meet people who wanted to go skiing, and that’s exactly what it provided,” he continued.
Last year the club hosted a ski movie premiere at the Procrastinator Theater on campus, where they raised more than $400 to support the student run organization. The club invited the Inspired Media ski crew to show off their latest ski films, and several professional skiers and X-Games medalists appeared at the showing.
Nagel-Brice has been working with Inspired Media for a showing of their newest film this year, but stated he was having trouble finding a venue. “Last year we sold out The Procrastinator in less than two hours,” he said, “We want to step up in venue size for this year’s premiere.” Nagel-Brice expressed a desire to keep the showing on campus, but due to scheduling interferences was unable to book any campus location that has seating capacity he desired. The Backcountry Club is now looking to host the showing at an off-campus location, like many ski films in Bozeman.
Aside from hosting their annual ski movie, the Backcountry Club is active in campus activities. Members strive to volunteer at university events such as the Legend of the Bobcat, and are planning to volunteer at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank this winter.
Overnight ski trips are also on the club’s agenda, especially to their favorite spot at the Bell Lake Yurts. The club frequently takes trips around Montana and Nagel-Brice explained how the club keeps those travel costs free for members, “We take the fundraising money from events like our ski movie, and use that to pay for food, gas, and other travel costs.” Nagel-Brice then continued, “once you own the backcountry setup, it’s a free way to ski, and we want to keep it that way.”
Although Nagel-Brice said the organization is in a great place, he also expressed interest in expansion. Alongside the club’s existing “Adventure Report,” a detailed log that members fill out after a backcountry expedition, members are interested in creating short films of these experiences to further document their best runs, and worst bails. Nagel-Brice would also like to see the Adventure log turn into an extensive resource that can be used to study snowpack trends in the area, which would allow for safer navigation of backcountry regions for newcomers.
Primarily, Nagel-Brice is working to have Avalanche Level 1 classes at MSU subsidized by the university. “Safety is the primary point,” said Nagel-Brice, as he went on to explain how we was looking into developing a scholarship to help fund the aforementioned avalanche safety classes.
Nagel-Brice is incredibly keen on backcountry safety, but stated that above all “we just want to enrich the skiing community through celebration for the sport we all love.
The Backcountry Club will be holding their first meeting September 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in SUB Ballroom D. They can be contacted at MSUbackcountryclub@gmail.com.