Montana Meanderings: Beau Fredlund has Summer Skiing Dialed

Beau Fredlund is a guide and freelance photographer based out of Cooke City, Montana. And he’s a committed year-round skier who has skied all over the globe, in places like Alaska, Kyrgyzstan and Norway—just to name a few. But Beau remains loyal to summer skiing in Montana, where he’s confident he’ll find skiable terrain, be it winter or summer. “There’s a lot to ski around this area so I find plenty to keep me moving,” says Beau, who continues skiing in the Beartooths well into the summer months, whether he’s guiding clients or on his own exploratory missions.

We caught up with Beau a few weeks back to discuss summer skiing, conditions in the Beartooths and an upcoming fly-fishing/ski linkup.

Beau Fredlund milking summer steeps in Montana's Beartooth Mountains. [Photo] Kt Miller

Beau Fredlund milking summer steeps in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains. [Photo] Kt Miller

BACKCOUNTRY MAGAZINE: How did you start out backcountry skiing and guiding?

BEAU FREDLUND: I suppose I cut my teeth skiing the sidecountry around Red Lodge and Bridger Bowl, and eventually just became infatuated with riding powder and exploring. I went to school at Montana State University, and found an old snowmobile for sale, so that helped with access, and generally just came to a point when I was happy to phase out chairlift skiing.

A couple years later I transferred to the University of Utah, and was able to work out an academic schedule that still allowed me to ski tour at least four or five days a week in the Wasatch. I had some fantastic years down there and then moved up to Cooke City eight winters ago. I’ve had a wonderful time exploring the northern Yellowstone region since.

BCM: Where do you typically ski in the summer, and how does this change depending on the season?

BF: I primarily ski around southwest Montana…lifetimes of terrain to explore around the Greater Yellowstone, so I find plenty to keep me inspired. I’m also hooked on traveling down to New Zealand in the fall. For the ski mountaineering.

BCM: What motivated you to start getting after it during the summer?

BF: Besides simply being passionate about skiing? Well, I suppose it has something to do with the avalanche hazard. Once the snowpack becomes consolidated, it’s a lot safer, and I just really enjoy getting into bigger, more interesting terrain. So it makes sense to try and do that in the summer when it’s safer.

BCM: What are you up to this summer?

BF: I’m spending the summer based between East Rosebud Lake and Cooke City. I work primarily as a guide, but also as the field manager for a homeowner’s association and as a freelance photographer. I also try and sneak in a healthy dose of mountain climbing, trail running, snorkeling and skiing whenever possible.

BCM: Tell me about your experience skiing in the Beartooths this and previous summers.

BF: One highlight this year was guiding a ski trip to Whitetail Peak for Beartooth Mountain Guides. Whitetail is a really aesthetic mountain and has a big, classic couloir, so with a couple of great clients, it was a pleasure. I also enjoyed a couple wonderful, new routes in May that I had been scoping for years.

But it became quite warm earlier this season, and the snow turned quicker than we all hoped. However, about two weeks ago, I snuck in a super fun pack-raft-assisted ski. That was nice and novel. I have a small inflatable raft that a friend and I took across a couple swollen rivers and lakes to get to a remote, otherwise inaccessible area in the Beartooths.

BCM: When you go on summer missions do you ski off Beartooth Pass or do you try to go to more remote places?

BF: I definitely try to keep it fresh and interesting by going elsewhere, but there’s a lot you can access off the pass that seldom sees skiers. The Upper Rock Creek would be an example. There is a lot of fun roadside skiing that is quite popular, but with a little creativity and effort, it’s easy to have a large cirque or headwall all to yourself.

BCM: Do you plan on doing any more ski trips this summer?

BF: Well, this week I’m hoping for a skiing and fly-fishing link-up. The Beartooth Pass melted out fast the last couple of weeks but there are still a couple of fun looking lines and some alpine lakes with trout below, so I’m hoping to just have a nice casual day of linking skiing with fly-fishing.

BCM: So you’ll ski down to fish? Sounds like a relaxing way to end a ski day.

BF: Exactly. It’s nice to end on a high note.

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