Sean & Mollie Busby are Osprey Packs Ambassadors. Sean is a professional backcountry snowboarder. In 2004, while training for the 2010 Olympics, Sean endured a complicated diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Considering leaving snowboarding all together, Sean was inspired by reading stories of kids living with T1D that inspired him to keep living his dreams. He founded Riding On Insulin, a nonprofit, to honor all the kids who inspired him to keep living. In February 2014, Sean became the first person with T1D to backcountry snowboard all seven continents at the age of 29 in 2014. Mollie Busby graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Journalism and Retail. A series of life-changing events brought Mollie and Sean together in February 2010, and after five months, Mollie moved west. The pair was married in September, 2011 and now resides in a 30-foot yurt with their dogs, Daisy and Glacier, in Whitefish, Montana. Follow their adventures at Two Sticks and A Board and to learn more about Sean’s work educating kids about diabetes and winter sports, visit the Riding On Insulin website.
We had never built anything, let alone a home. But today, I’m proud to say that my husband and I live in an off-the-grid yurt, that we built with our bare hands.
The first part of our story begins in 2012. Sean and I had just begun our journey as Greasecar owners with our 1977 Dodge Travel Queen motorhome that we purchased from our co-owners, Russ and Brittany. We’d gotten a taste of living simply on our drive to Alaska and back (Read more of that here). Not only did we utilize a waste product (waste veggie oil) for our motorhome’s fuel and a natural product (Goal Zero solar power) for our electricity, but we learned a lot about using less. Living in small places, making do with what you have, and using the earth in ways it was intended to be used. (Editor’s Note: I wouldn’t recommend driving to Alaska with 4 people and a dog to figure these things out.)
The second phase of our yurt journey was a trip to Central Asia in December of that year. We visited a small, mountainous country called Kyrgyzstan near the birthplace of yurts (Mongolia) where being a yurt-craftsman is a highly respected, lucrative trade. Families depend on the sale of these structures to support themselves. A yurt — simply defined — is a round structure traditionally used by nomadic tribes in Central Asia. ShelterDesigns.net defines it a bit further: “A yurt consists of a round wall and a roof system that is free standing using a tension ring at the wall and a compression ring where the roof rafters tie together.” Some would call it a glorified tent:
While in Kyrgyzstan, Sean and I fell in love with the symmetry and balance we found in traditional yurts. As opposed to the jagged, 90-degree angles of a traditional house, we felt more at ease in these structures where energy can travel with easy throughout the space. Keep in mind, these photos are of very traditional yurts — not quite the same structure we’re putting on our land (we’ll get to that in a minute). For now, I love this photo of Sean — it captures true happiness:
If this family could sell three yurts a year (which they do — sometimes more), they will have enough income to not only survive, but fare extremely well in comparison to families of other trades in the village.
Flash forward to Whitefish, spring 2014: Sean had gone back and forth to determine what sort of “tiny structure” we were going to build on our land — tiny house, yurts, fire towers, tee-pees, etc. After months of research, he landed back on a yurt, officially. As if the universe had been waiting for us to decide, Sean came across a pre-assembled yurt for sale on YurtForum.com 20 minutes from our home manufactured by Montana’s Shelter Designs. A Montana-made yurt available LOCALLY… and technically, we would be buying second-hand. It was perfect.
Here is the yurt before we disassembled it in Kalispell, Montana:
Here is a photo of the yurt, reassembled on our property in Whitefish, Montana:
Some hard facts: Our yurt is roughly 700 square feet of living space, plus a loft (300 additional square feet). It’s 1 bedroom (plus sleeping space in the loft) and 1 bathroom, fully wired and plumbed, although we opt for solar power, a composting toilet, and rainwater collection. We have come so far, and yet have so far to go! Stay tuned for more posts from yurt life!
To see photo and read stories of the whole process, from disassembly to building a deck to building the yurt itself and more, click here. You can also follow our travels on Instagram: Mollie @TwoSticksAndABoard and Sean @SeanBusby
Central Asia, DIY, energy, Greasecar, inspiration, Kyrgyzstan, Mollie Busby, Mongolia, Montana, motorhome, off-grid, offgrid, Osprey Ambassador, Osprey Ambassadors, Riding On Insulin, Sean Busby, ski, skiing, snowboard, snowboarding, solar power, The Busbys, tiny homes, travel, Two Sticks and A Board, Whitefish, yurt, yurtlife, yurts
It’s that time of year again! Vertfest is and always will be known as “the best Festival of Freeride and Mountain Mettle in North America,” and it’s back, ready to kick off on February 16th and 17th in Alpental, WA. Naturally, we’ll be there to help celebrate. Here’s the full scope of what you can expect:
The weekend will begin on Saturday with the Monika Johnson Memorial Rally, with a race division that’ll take participants on two laps up Alpental and back — in addition to a recreational division, as well as a 50+ and splitboard division, all of which will offer up just one lap. Saturday will progress with a contest, an awards ceremony and an epic raffle with ski and pack giveaways. Saturday’s festivities will cap off with live music from Head Like A Kite and Daydream Vacation.
Sunday is the day of educational clinics, ranging from an Intro to Splitboarding with Neil Provo to a clinic focused on landscape photography to a Sidecountry Steeps Clinic with our very own Osprey Athlete Kim Havell. This clinic will take place from 9-12 and 1-4 p.m. You can check the full clinic schedule for details here, but be sure to stop by the Osprey booth on Sunday between 4 and 4:30 for a chance to meet Kim Havell, who will be doing a poster-signing!
Throughout the weekend, Osprey will be providing free demos on the Karve series of sidecountry riding packs, as well as the Kode 22 backcountry riding pack, so be sure to swing by to try on a Karve or Kode pack and get fitted by a professional. We’ll have Karve 6, 11 and 16 as well as the Kode 22 on hand for free demos. What’s more, we’ll be there with the entire Osprey winter collection and all of the new packs that will be coming in Spring of 2013. And while you’re at the Osprey booth, be sure to take the 3-minute Osprey Vertfest survey for a chance to win a brand-new Osprey pack. We’ll see you on the mountain!
Wild, weird, free… stunning. Those are just a few of the words that touched out lips while watching the teaser for Sweetgrass Production‘s new film, Valhalla. We’re stoked to be supporting this incredible crew and even more excited to watch the story unfold in the coming months. Take a few minutes and watch…
Here in Colorado, we’re celebrating the first snow fall of the season and we’re excited to watch our mountains turn white in the coming weeks… yes, yes, it looks like winter is upon us and once again the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival
is answering the call. Wax those skis, tune those boards and gather your friends! There is no better way to celebrate the fun and beauty of winter than with a true celebration of winter played and lived, as told thru the seven unique films in the 8th annual Backcountry Film Festival.
It may be the middle of June, but some of our favorite filmmakers have us thinking of deep turns and powder shots. If you didn’t make it to this year’s 5Point Film Fest or Mountainfilm, you may not have seen the inspiring and creative film with the whimsical title: Unicorn Sashimi. Whether you’re a powder hound or not, the magic produced from Felt Soul Media and Sweetgrass Productions is going to make you yearn for the white stuff…
Another exciting VertFest has been wrapped in a blanket of fresh snow and put safely to bed, and oh what a fantastic event it was! The biggest side and backcountry skiing/boarding festival and rando race in the Northwest lived up to its billing and was certainly filled with plenty of “awesomesauce” and “mountain mettle” as promised.
Unless you’ve been living in a deep, dark cave… You may have noticed that there is a lot of cool stuff going on out there. So, we thought it was high-time we started rounding up some of our faves each Friday. Every month, we’ll be choosing a theme that fits with the Osprey lifestyle. Since we’re still in the full swing of winter, we decided to pay homage by picking “snow” for our February theme. Welcome to the Osprey Friday Round-Up!
If this doesn’t make you yearn for powder, we don’t know what will… Happy Friday!
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Photos by Ryan Beck
Backcountry skiing is usually about getting away from the crowds. It is usually about spending time enjoying the beauty and solitude of the mountains at your own pace, making your own way. Why then would more than 100 backcountry skiers and riders enter a competition in a ski area on a gorgeous clear day in the middle of winter? I think the answers lies in their support for the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center and their desire to “fest” with others in the backcountry community.
Verfest is a celebration of backcountry culture that benefits the Friends of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. It is a euro-style “rando race” inviting all forms of glisse to participate in the human-powered race up and back down the mountain. The 4th Annual Vertfest was held at Alpental near Snoqualmie Pass on this bluebird Saturday, March 6th 2010. Martin Volken of Pro Guiding proudly announced that this was the most well attended rando race yet in the Northwest with more than 100 participants!
The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center (NWAC) provides an essential resource to backcountry travelers. We have come to love and rely on the avalanche and weather forecasts provided by NWAC. NWAC operates one of the most sophisticated and comprehensive mountain weather and data networks in the US, providing information that is crucial to the safety of mountain travelers.
The race course at Alpental is always steep and challenging. This year the cold clear morning made it extra technical with icy conditions. The recreational category made one lap within the Alpental ski area climbing about 2,300’, while the race category climbed two laps for a total elevation gain of 4,100’. The second lap was a completely different route that took participants into the Alpental backcountry, out to the infamous “Piss pass” and back.
Local favorite Monika Johnson took 1st in the Women’s race division completing both laps in just 2 hrs 7 minutes! Ellen Parker took 2nd with a time of 2:39 and Kristine Kleedehn came in 3rd at 2:44. The Traslin brothers from British Columbia took 1st and 2nd place in the men’s race division. Andy’s time was 1 hr 40 minutes with his brother, Mike, just 3 minutes behind at 1:43! Kirk Turner took 3rd with a time of 1:46. Local favorite Lowell Skoog placed 4th with a time of 1:49. All incredibly fast given the vertical gain and technical nature of the course!
As for me, I think “suffer fest” would be a more appropriate name. This was my 2nd entry into this game. I worked hard at it and was happy to have improved my time over my last showing at Crystal Mountain a couple of years ago. It took me 1hr, 26minutes to complete the recreational category of 1 lap. That put me in 9th place out of 41 in the category*. I accomplished my goals of finishing without injury & of not getting lapped by anyone in the race category (in the event at Crystal in 2008, not only did I get lapped by one of the racers, Benedikt Böhm, but I later heard that he enjoyed a smoke between laps!) It was fun to push myself and see just how fast I could tour up that much vertical. It was also fun to meet and hang out with many of the “who’s who” in the NW backcountry community. I got to have lunch with Lowell Skoog and Garth Ferber, a couple of local legends. I learned that Garth is one of only 3 employees at Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center! Wow! All that work with only 3 employees! I shook hands with the Traslin brothers and thanked them for all of their inspiring trip reports. I met Tyler Kloster, of Karakoram and saw the prototype of his soon to be released all new splitbaord system!
Vertfest is a great event that is gathering more support every year. It’s an excellent way to meet others interested in backcountry touring adventures and to support an essential resource that is constantly underfunded. The free beer and copious swag from all of the sponsors added to the fun. Everyone had a blast!
A huge thanks to Osprey for their support of Vertfest for the 4th year in a row! Thanks also to Martin Volken and his crew from Pro Guiding for setting & maintaining the course, to Outdoor Research for organizing the event, to Alpental for providing the venue, to all of the participants for their infectious energy, and to everyone else that helped in putting this together!
Be safe out there and have fun!
*unofficial race results – official results should be in later this week