Alpine

Former Olympic mogul skier Troy Murphy hitting the backcountry

It’s 6:15pm in Cooke City, Montana. A steady hum radiates through the hotel lobby and into my ears as snowmobiles wizz by the front windows. I’m here to ski, yet there are no chairlifts in site.

Instead, everywhere you look is packed with snowmobiles. This isn’t one of my normal winter destinations, but then again, this hasn’t been a normal winter. Up until this season I’ve been traveling the world as a professional mogul skier, representing The U.S. Ski Team on the World Cup Circuit. My competitive career culminated last spring when I achieved my lifelong goal of representing Team USA at The Winter Olympics. This year I’m focusing my energy in the backcountry, something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m traveling with Chris Lee, my best buddy from high school, in his truck / tiny home combo. We’ve been on the road since late January, and don’t plan on stopping until the snow starts to melt.

So far we’ve seen our fair share of backcountry destinations, and we’ve also encountered our fair share of obstacles. We finished the tiny house in late January in our home state of Maine. Since then we’ve driven to Utah, British Columbia, Washington, and now Montana. Along the way we’ve had two flat tires, a blown power converter (no heat, no water, no lights), a diesel engine filled with 94 octane (oops, my bad!), ran out of gas, and had frozen propane tanks due to -33 degree temperatures. The journey hasn’t been easy, but if it had our adventures would have been much less memorable.

For me, the learning curve from mogul skiing to backcountry skiing has been much steeper than expected. Backcountry jumps are a lot bigger than mogul jumps, skiing pillows is not like skiing moguls, snowmobiling is much more difficult than riding a chairlift, and there’s no trail map guiding you to the types of lines you want to ski. We’ve been played by the weather, and lost precious days in the mountains to issues with our truck. But at the end of the day, I’ve had tons of fun and have been more free on my skis than ever before.

Since we’ve been in Montana things have started to smoothen themselves out. We’ve encountered almost zero issues with our rig, we’ve had favorable weather and snow, and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting the hang of this backcountry thing. Each day I go out with the goal of filming one decent shot, and for the most part I’ve accomplished that goal. We’re getting stuck less often on our snowmobiles, I’m crashing less frequently on the lines I want to ski, and we’re moving through the mountains much more efficiently. I couldn’t be more psyched for the remainder of the season.

We went into this winter with the plan of having no plan. The whole purpose of the tiny home is to be mobile and ready to chase snow at a moments notice. We’re attacking the remainder of this winter with the same approach. Once we feel like we’ve had enough of Montana (and our appetites for Montana are immense), we’ll hop on the internet and try to find our next destination. Weather, snow quality, avalanche conditions, and terrain will all play a role in our decision making, and our goal will be to find the best possible combination of those categories. Our fingers are crossed that those snow and weather stars align for us in Alaska, but if we have to chase snow elsewhere, then so be it!

At the end of the day my goal is to stay safe, have fun, ski pow, and make memories. So far that goal has been met each day, and I strive to continue making it happen as this wild ride continues!

Thanks for following along,

-Troy