Forums Splitboard Talk Forum Crazies – Montana
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    570 Posts

    Been really bummed about some info I got last weekend. A friend told me a guy bought up much of the private landholdings in the Crazies(checkerboard ownership interspersed with Forest service tracts). I guess the word is they are heli-ing skiers in there & so I’m wondering if anyone has been in this winter(even with the shitty snowpack in there) & have you seen heli-ops going on? Is it possible they could exclude us from accessing any of the peaks back there? I looked on the MT Cadastral map & it appears Crazy Peak is almost all on private land. Ownership in the best of Big Timber Canyon seems to be all owned by Switchback Ranch – David Leuschen – owner who is an investment banker and has large holdings & outfitting business in WY & MT. Including ties to the Yellowstone Club. Does anyone know more about this guy? What does the future hold for the Crazies? Has there been any news in the Boz. papers about this deal?

    134 Posts

    lewmt, i’d like to hear a reply on this too. Sounds like a shitty situation…

    I’ve always been turned off on trips to the Crazies, in dealing with the difficult public access.
    I hadn’t heard of this new development though…

    Nick Stayner, can you add any input on this?

    9 Posts

    I have heard some rumblings of heli based operations going on in the Crazies as well. Not to publicly shame anyone, but I have a buddy working on an aerial photo project and he has been researching up on some heli ops. The guys at Rocky Mountain Rotors said they have done a few custom heli trips in the Crazies over the last two winters. Understandably, there is minimal info out there, but here is what I have been able to find. It seems like they have been gearing up for this, and their google plus account specifically mentions heli skiing, but not in the Crazies. It sounds like there is definitely a link between the YC and private ownership in the Crazies. I could be reading too much into it, but you can decide for yourself.

    This wouldn’t be the first group to try to get this going in the Crazies. Came across an interesting article from the 80s.,4119048

    As far as access, I don’t see how they can restrict access within the range itself, even with the checkerboard private land holdings. Short of putting barbed wire traversing entire mountains, the current public access are formally deeded. Would be interested to hear if anyone else has some insight/knowledge about this ongoing development.

    Does anyone have any knowledge of the legal regulations on heli access in Montana’s National forests and/orprivate land. I can’t seem to find any explicit codes on the subject in MT Code Annotated. There are MT government documents that explicitly state requirements for special recreation permits for heli skiing. (see link below) and click on Madison River Special Recreation permit. On page 31 they specifically mention heli skiing. I know its a different area, but it seems like its may be legally possible.

    154 Posts

    I wanted to respond sooner but had some re-registration issues.

    I don’t think you guys need to be too worried. There’s been no talk or news about this in Bozy. My guess is that those heli folks just want to let Gigi and JJ know that they can land them somewhere if TGR wants some sick MT footy. Can you imagine the liability of REALLY running a heliski operation out of the Crazies? They would need a fairly steady stream of clients, a certified guide or two, and an avy forecaster – IMO there’s NO WAY that they are interested in that to the extent the Wasatch or AK guys are.

    A few years back a pro wildlife photo shoot – complete with a pissed off lynx – was rescued off of Sac after being heli-dropped. If not for the snowstorm that caught them nobody would have ever known about it. No one is saying that there’s a heli-photo operation going on in the Bridgers is there?

    More to the point, I do some work at the Crazy Mountain Ranch near Clyde Park. My Client – a real straight shooter who lives in CP who I respect as one of the most truthful cats ever- hasn’t heard of or SEEN any evidence of a heli-ski outfit. And he would know. Also, he told me that CMR and a few other private landowners have been in negotiations with the USFS (for 2 yrs now) to exchange the private mountainous checkerboard lands (Rock Lake, Smeller Lake, and others) for the lowland USFS parcels. So, at least on the west side, private mountains will become public in exchange for grazing fields. It’s a slow process but expect (and look for) the opportunity to give public comment in the next year or two. It’s amazing how slow the process takes…

    And don’t worry about Crazy mtn access

    237 Posts

    @lewmt That range looks awesome! I need to get up to Montana and travel around.

    797 Posts

    If there are new Forest Service proposed actions for new heli skiing in this vicinity someone please send me a PM. Thx.


    154 Posts

    : There aren’t and even if there were the Custer/Gallatin National Forest isn’t processing any new special use permits. That means, no new (legal) hunting outfitter camps, no new (legal) ski yurt operations*, and certainly no (legal) heli-ops.

    * I have a few contacts with upper level USFS folks and was considering starting a yurt ski outfit with a friend last year. The off the record advice I was given was to find a new place to keep poaching in our wall tent. The USFS budget has been gutted to the point where they couldn’t do their job if they wanted to.

    601 Posts

    @Taylor: The USFS budget has been gutted to the point where they couldn’t do their job if they wanted to.

    Yup. Same story here in SoCal too. They even fired the volunteers!

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    2486 Posts

    All NFS land permit uses require a public input period.
    They are usually opened every ten years to update the public use policy
    The public input period will have to be posted in the local paper

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