New book chronicles state’s ski history

New book showcases skiing across the state

By KAYLEE WALDEN/Montana State News

Through panoramic mountain shots, powder day pictures and firsthand descriptions, Brian Hurlbut and Craig Hergert capture the state’s distinctive ski culture in their coffee table book entitled “MONTANA: Skiing the Last Best Place.”

The book, over a decade in the making, was released on February 6. Their writing and photography aims to encapsulate the eccentricities and unique feel of each of the 17 ski areas across the state.

“Every hill is so different; from the views to the people, from the bars to the chairlifts,” Hurlbut said.

The original idea for the book came from a dream that Hergert had about eight years ago, in which he was skiing “in several places at once.” In the following years, he traveled to as many ski hills as he could afford each year.

Brought together by their love of skiing and the outdoors, Hergert the landscape photographer and Hurlbut the freelance writer began official work on the book last year, after Hergert contacted his colleague to write stories for his growing collection of ski hill photographs. The pair skied in each of the 17 areas featured in their book.

“Skiing here just has such a laid-back, grassroots feel to it. There’s not a lot of glitz or pretentiousness. It’s just good skiing and great people,” Hurlbut said.

About Bridger Bowl, Bozeman’s closest resort, Hurlbut writes that “there is perhaps no other ski area in Montana that boasts a following like that of Bridger,” and that “cult-like throngs of hardcore extreme skiers—mostly made up of college students from nearby Montana State University and Bozeman residents … descend on the mountain to carve up its legendary ‘Cold Smoke’….”

Hergert and Hurlbut, who were both enticed to the state by its rugged landscape and untouched wilderness, have proudly called Montana home for the past two decades. They both live at Big Sky and ski as much as they can.

“Not only did we ski some of best terrain in the world, we met some great people along the way,” Hurlbut said.

“MONTANA: Skiing the Last Best Place” is available for purchase both online and at local bookstores.

– Edited by Rebecca Marston

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