BRIDGER BOWL’S 8,800-foot Ridge first opened to the public in 1973, but for Bozeman skier Tom Jungst and his cohorts from the era, the deep-snow winter of 1979-1980 was when it really all began.
“It just coincided with all of us being as strong as we could be: We had climbing experience, we were all 21 or 22, so we had a little bit of common sense, and we had avalanche awareness, and it was a huge ski season — I mean, every day it just got deeper and deeper.”
Jungst and friends Jim Connelly, Scott Schmidt, Emil Tanner, Dave Wachs, and U.S. Ski Hall of famer Doug Coombs, looked at the Ridge differently from those who just yearned for deep powder. They took a competitive approach, making 12 to 14 Ridge hikes a day, in what Jungst refers to as “mini-golfing.” Influenced by local rock and ice climbers, the group sought out not wide powder runs, but narrow chutes and cliffs.
“If it included a rappel in the middle, a cliff, I wasn’t afraid of that because I was already climbing ice and rock at a high grade. So that just made it more interesting to me. If it involved stair-steps of cliffs, that was even better,” Jungst says. “Bridger had that terrain that was really complicated, and it translated really well when we’d go off to the Tetons, or any of the ranges around here, and then ultimately to Europe or Alaska.”
Writer Tim Cahill and photographer Paul Dix chronicled the group’s exploits in a Feb. 28, 1985 Rolling Stone article called “Going to Extremes — Adventures in the Endo Zone.” Soon after that Warren Miller came to film a ski movie, and word of Bridger’s intense Ridge was out.
I'd love to see that Rolling Stone article, but can't find it anywhere online. Anyone have a copy they could scan and post?
Here's something related that's interesting. Be forewarned, it's a 16 meg download.