How are they, really?
Spring is undoubtedly the best season for multisport. The season’s dynamic nature calls for flexibility in our outdoor pursuits, lending the best of all worlds in recreation. Whether it’s skiing and biking, boating and climbing, fishing and... paragliding? Why the hell not? The pairing options are nearly limitless. Plans for multisport outings tend to be quite ambitious, and when pulled off successfully, are very rewarding. But more often than not, we find ourselves tempting fate as we try to line up conditions for activities that are not normally fit for the same season. Let’s take a look at how the multisport dream matches up to reality.
You hatch a plan to bike up Hyalite Canyon Road, which is closed to vehicles, with skis in tow. The planks and poles easily secure to your pannier rack with a couple Titan straps and your boots sling comfortably across your backpack. On the heels of ski season, your legs are strong as ever, and you make short work of those eight miles of pavement. From here, you ponder the countless options of classic ski descents. Blackmore? Maid of the Mist? Hyalite Peak? Surely, any choice will be good. You pedal until you reach snow somewhere near Hyalite Creek Trailhead. After transitioning to ski boots, you skin along the smooth trail as sun warms your body and lights the path ahead of you. You turn off into the forest and set a skin track through soft snow. As you climb, a bead of sweat drops down your brow. Climbing these mountains is work, but it feels good, especially in this fresh morning air. You feel strong. You are strong. Before you know it, you’re standing proudly atop a lofty summit, gazing out over the Gallatin Valley to the north and the rising crest of peaks to the south. You smile, knowing that you’ve earned the fun part of your multisport—perfect corn skiing all the way back down. Ahhh, you sigh, sipping a tasty summit beer. Doesn’t get much better than this.
You’re optimistic about skiing conditions after a surprise three inches of snow falls the night before your outing. But this doesn’t bode well for the biking segment, as the wet precipitation froze onto the pavement overnight. Your leisurely bike ride is now a comedy of errors, as you slip and slide at a snail’s pace up the eight-mile roadway. Your bike looks like an overloaded donkey cart, and you can’t figure out a way to securely attach your skis. After a half-dozen attempts at reattachment, you surrender to putting them on your back, causing much lumbar pain as you grind the pedals. By the time you get to the reservoir, it’s 65 degrees and the snow has turned to slush. Hopefully there’s still powder up high, you think, as you slog up Hyalite Creek. Suddenly, a storm rolls in—it starts raining and a bolt of lightning flashes atop Maid of the Mist, warning you to retreat back the way you came. But this is multisport; you must persevere. As the storm passes, the temperature drops back below freezing and you struggle to skin up the refrozen slope. Finally, you decide to turn around and at least enjoy your luge track out. You click into your skis and make one turn, scraping and crunching your way to a shaky stop. Oh boy, you think, pondering the rough ride ahead of you. Does it get any worse than this?