Amish Backcountry Skiers In St. Ignatius, Montana

“Being up in the mountains, seeing God’s creation and the awesomeness of it, really makes God real. The quietness, the peacefulness. Sometimes it’s stormin’ and blowin’, and it reminds us of the power God has,” Yoder explains. “In my everyday life, I feel a connection to God. I feel like I have God on my side. I’m living for God. But when I’m up here, it seems like there’s an extra-special closeness.”

That’s 32-year-old Toby Yoder for an article in skiing magazine Powder.

It turns out that Amish in Yoder’s St. Ignatius, Montana community enjoy backcountry skiing. And you can’t blame them for taking advantage of the nearby slopes of the Mission Mountain Range.

Author Clare Menzel, who happen to be an unmarried woman, goes along with them starting about at 6am one morning, riding bicycles to a start point and then hiking up a mountain named Kakache for four hours before the skiing begins.

Joe Zygala asked on my recent “Amish guy buggy skiing” post if Amish do cross country skiing.

This isn’t quite that, but this is the first time I’ve seen an article devoted to Amish and downhill skiing. The form these young men practice takes more effort than a ski trip to a resort, however.

In the course of the article we also learn some interesting things about this small Western settlement:

  • The St. Ignatius Amish community is 23 households strong
  • The skier’s leader Lucas Beachy ranks the community an 8 out of 10 “on the liberal side” (Amish communities in Western states tend to be more progressive)
  • That noted, the community doesn’t permit trips to public ski areas, though some churches in Beachy’s home community of Holmes County, Ohio do

All in all it’s a pretty fascinating article of what might be called an “Amish skiing community”, though the skiing seems to be more the domain of young unmarried men. Beachy himself will begin to cut back, as a recently-married man.

Menzel notes that “almost every Amish home down in St. Ignatius has a scope trained on these mountains—originally to observe wildlife and weather, and now to keep tabs on skiers.” Read it in full here.

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    1. Backcountry skiing

      I agree that there’s something awesomely powerful about being surrounded God’s creation and Mother Nature.

      1. These folks picked a great place to live for that! Though it’s a pretty small community for being 20+ years old. I think a lot of Amish people would enjoy this outdoor lifestyle, but distance and perhaps economic opportunity make moving out to these places not so realistic for most.