Over 60 participants turned up this year to compete in the 13th annual Bridger King and Queen of the Ridge event at Bridger Bowl. The event is a five hour long hike-a-thon, or for most, a five hour sufferfest. It is organized by the Gallatin National Avalanche Forecast Center (GNFAC) in collaboration with Montana Aleworks and Bridger Bowl, and all the funds raised go directly toward supporting the avalanche center.
Competitors hike 400 vertical feet from the top of Bridger lift to the top of the ridge, where they pass a checkpoint and don their skis or snowboard for the descent. Whoever completes the most laps in five hours is crowned king or queen of the ridge. Many participants sport costumes: Wonder Woman, several fairies and women wearing tutus.
One of the racers was MSU sophomore Jossie Grigsby, who “on a whim” signed up for the race only days before. Her pre-race goal was ten laps, a stout number for even a seasoned ridge hiker. She ended up hiking 19 laps, securing a third place finish in the women’s category. “I liked the community feeling of it. Everyone was cheering on everyone else because we were all suffering together! Every time you passed someone or were passed, there were words of encouragement and smiles,” Grigsby said.
The day started out cloudy, but quickly turned sunny and the snow conditions improved with the weather. “When the sun came out it got really warm and people started taking clothes off,” Grigsby said.
While most participants were there to enjoy the camaraderie and support the GNFAC, a few came looking for the crown. Thomas Snyder, a local snowboarder, started hiking hard and did not slow down for five hours. He knocked out an impressive 27 hikes to be crowned King of the Ridge. Ruby Zitzer, a 19-year-old Bozeman native, crushed out 22 hikes to be crowned Queen of the Ridge. “I love hard endurance events like this,” Zitzer said after the race. “I love getting in the zone and going.”