DREAM Adaptive teams up with Great Northern Powder Guides

Endless stashes of deep powder greeted a foursome of elite adaptive skiers and snowboarders earlier this month in the backcountry north of Whitefish.
The group logged more than 20,000 vertical feet of fresh lines with the Great Northern Powder Guides cat-skiing operation as part of DREAM Adaptive’s first-ever backcountry powder camp.
“We had some amazing snow and an epic two days with those guys,” said Cheri Dubeau Carlson, Executive Director of DREAM.
DREAM, which stands for Disabled Recreation Environmental Access Movement, is a local nonprofit that assist people with disabilities by providing access to year-round outdoor recreation.
DREAM started planning for its backcountry camp about a year ago, hoping to bring a new offering to more advanced adaptive athletes looking for a different experience from what’s found on the groomed slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
“We saw that there’s [adaptive cat-skiing] in Jackson Hole and decided there’s no reason we can’t do one, too,” Carlson said.
They teamed up with the guides at Great Northern, who retrofitted their snow-cats by added a simple ramp and removing a few seats.
Four athletes were hand-picked for the inaugural event, including Bozeman-based X Games monoskier David Poole. In 2006, Poole broke his back after a cliff drop at Bridger Bowl went wrong. He tumbled down the rocky exposure and was left paralyzed below his sternum.
But just a year after the injury, he was back on the snow using a monoski. He has since progressed to become one of the country’s most well-rounded adaptive athletes, and has notched many notable monoski descents, such as the expert-only Big Couloir at Big Sky Resort.
Even with many adaptive accomplishments on his resume, Poole described DREAM’s powder camp as a “liberating” experience and an eye-opener in how much further he can take the sport.
“Words can’t describe how much freedom we gained,” he said of the four-day camp. “It was a confidence booster in what I’m capable of.”
Joining Poole were Whitefish snowboarder Lucas Grossi, Oregon monoskier Jamey Stogsdill, and Jackson Hole monoskier Odie Pierce.
“Having everyone at a higher ability made for a nice challenge to keep up and keep going,” Poole said.
No terrain was off limits, he said.
“They kept us away from some things, but that’s because we weren’t wanting cliff drops with trees or to have to hike out.”
Poole said it can be surprising to people when they see an adaptive athlete take on rowdy ski lines or other athletic challenges.
“A lot of time we are treated like what’s on the surface, but what’s on the surface is not exactly how we live our lives,” he said.
It’s his goal to change adaptive sports history by showing what’s possible.
“Some of us want to break those barriers and inspire others to reach their dreams,” he added.
It wasn’t just the athletes who found inspiration in the day. Great Northern owner Jay Sandelin said his ski guides came away from the trip with new enthusiasm.
“It really affected their attitude on life,” he said. “To see someone with a disability ski like that — and that they’re a fighter and having such a good time in life. Everyone came back with a completely new outlook.”
DREAM hopes to expand the backcountry camp next winter to include more participants. Poole says it won’t be a problem to find adaptive athletes interested in the opportunity to push their abilities.
“I do think it would be really cool to continue to offer this kind of trip,” he said. “There are many more adaptive skiers that are on the elite side.”

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