'Tis the Season

Winter tips & tricks. 

Whether you're a longtime ski-town dirtbag (photo editor), or a wannabe weekend-warrior transplant (senior editor), there are tips and tricks to maximizing winter that only the experienced ski bums can teach. Here are a few.

Up in Cold Smoke
Apparently, from what we’re told, scattered throughout our local ski hills are small structures hidden in the woods called smoke shacks. Their purpose is slightly nefarious, if you’re the type that thinks a short ganja-break is evil and deserving of scorn and ridicule. We’re not that type. We are, however, proponents of good social behavior. So here’s a short list of smoke-shack rules to follow, so that we can all just get along. 

1. First rule: Do not talk about the smoke shack. Second rule: Do not talk about the smoke shack.
2. New people can be taken to secret spots, but they must come with a veteran; proper induction by accompanying a veteran is part of the process.
3. Leave no trace, as in, don’t leave an empty beer can behind—unless you’ve poked holes in it and made a pipe.
4. Limit methane expulsions. This of course applies to all confined areas, but even moreso a smoke shack. Photo editor’s note: Au contraire. A smoke shack typically has great ventilation; therefore, flatulence is more acceptable there than, say, in a gondola. Fart on!
5. Bring enough to share.
6. Should patrollers arrive on scene, be nice to them and they’ll likely leave you and the shack alone.
7. Leave it better than you found it.
8. Give people their privacy; if you see two or more pairs of skis outside, move on to the next shack. (This of course depends on the size of the shack.)
9. Don’t pee near the entrance; establish a pee-tree if there isn’t one already.
10. Bring hot dogs. Also, it’s never a bad idea to donate a green propane canister once in a while, in case reserves are running low.

And as always, pass the dutchie ’pon the left-hand side!

Brought to you by Smokin’ Smitty’s and the Ad Council.

Camped Out
We’ve all overindulged at après or been around when an afternoon flurry turns into a full-on blizzard, one that necessitates first chair the next morning. When such an opportunity strikes, it’s best to be prepared.

camping, winter, smoke shack

1. Camp where permitted. Locally, Bridger allows camping in self-contained vehicles, and so does Targhee down south, a great option for bargain-shoppers.
2. Be prepared for a heavy dump or getting plowed in. A full-size shovel is your friend, and a sandbag isn’t a bad idea, either.
3. Keep layers and blankets in your rig at all times, just in case. It’s going to be cold, so the more the merrier.
4. Figure out your bathroom options before hunkering down. That means planning to pack out any waste.
5. Pack a stove. A two-burner camp stove can cook just about anything and fits in every vehicle, and nothing beats hot soup at night or a piping cup o’ joe in the morning.

Glazed Glory
Spinning donuts is wicked fun, a Montana rite of passage, and important training for how to react when you accidentally start spinning out of control on slick winter roads. Here’s what you need to know.

spinning donuts, smoke shack

1. Safety first. Go to an empty, snow-packed parking lot without poles, curbs, or other obstacles. Soccer fields, the mall, and Farmer John’s winter wheat field? Not so much. If you hurt someone or their property, you’re going to jail.
2. Rear-wheel-drive vehicles work best. In a front-wheel drive, try it in reverse. AWD and traction control sucks for donuts.
3. While driving less than 15 mph, stomp the gas and crank the steering wheel simultaneously.
4. Keep standing on the gas. You should be spinning. This is the fun part.
5. To stop spinning, let off the gas completely but don’t hit the brakes—you could lose control.

Ski-Pole Flask
Trust us, you need one of these. 

ski pole flask, smoke shack

1 ski pole
Roughly two feet of 1/2” plastic tubing
1/2” plastic plug
Travel shampoo bottle and cap
Drill with 1/2” bit

Remove the grip from your ski pole. Stuck? Pull harder. Epoxy plastic plug into tube end. Cram plastic tubing into the pole, plug end first. Cut to length with 2” protruding. Drill half-inch hole in the top of your pole grip. Reinstall grip with tube protruding. Cut the neck off of the travel shampoo bottle. Epoxy neck over exposed tube, snug to the grip. Cut off excess tube and install cap.