Saturday, April 6, 2013

High Altitude Altoona Ridge Lodge

Perched on the mountainside at the end of a 10 mile dirt road, on a private 70-acre property in an undeveloped, undiscovered, unexploited mountaintop at an altitude of about 8,000' is a back-country ski lodge where the sound of silence is the only sound for miles.  The Ski House of the Day is the Altoona Ridge Lodge, located in Maxville, Montana, in the heart of the Flint Creek Mountains.

The lodge is actually three separate small structures...

....connected by an elevated wooden walkway / bridge with a soaring view of this pristine mountain terrain:

The three structures are "cabins" each with their own identity and function.  The Lupine Cabin, with a cozy wood-stove in the corner, kitchen area, and lots of windows revealing the view,  is the place for cooking/dining/lounging:

...the Bear Den Cabin houses the bedrooms (the lodge can accommodate six people):

...and the Wild Rose is a bathhouse containing the toilet, two showers, and an amazing 8-person wood-fired sauna with a view:

One of the two showers is called the "Vertigo Shower" because of its floor to ceiling window that is 15 ft off the ground which then plunges into the 120 mile distant vistas below:
I'm not big on window treatments anyway, and with the closest neighbor about 6 miles away, I think this shower-with-a-view is great!

Altoona Ridge and the surrounding area look like a back-country skiers playground.  First tracks?  Nope,  here it's more like only tracks!

The owners are avid outdoors people, and operate the off-grid lodge with a philosophy of sharing nature with all of us;  so Altoona Ridge Lodge is available for rentals (self-guided and fully-guided) as well as various events including Avalanche certification courses.

Here's something else I notice about Altoona Ridge's named after the mining claim that it was built on, which was (presumably) named after the Latin word Altus for high / altitude.  This was the site of gold mines in the 1800's, and the ravages of that mining activity are apparently still visible here, at least during the summer months.  In the words of the owner, "Scars left by the miners...are a testament to how fragile the Earth is, how long a mark will last, and how slowly the environment at 8,000' recuperates from such activity."  So it seems to me that now the meaning of "altus / high" has been reinvented by the current owners to signify "higher use" (as in the return of this land to its natural state, a "higher" use, indeed).  So the name, Altoon Ridge, fits the site in more ways than one.

Getting to the Altoona Ridge Lodge is a 5-mile ski trek (or snowmobile, if you have to).  But I suspect that along that way you'll be leaving a lot more baggage behind than you'll be bringing in with you (and I'm not necessarily talking about the physical kind)...

It seems to me that along with the hiking and spectacular back-country skiing on the site, this ski house offers a glorious place for solitude, peace, nature, and rediscovery.


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