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BIG SKI COUNTRY 'Quirky, quaint' Montana ski areas featured in new book Author Craig Hergert wanted to document small hills before they changed "Helena Independent Record" 2-21-13

A new story in the Helena Independent Record newspaper today on the ski is a link to the digital version:

'Quirky, quaint' Montana ski areas featured in new book
Author Craig Hergert wanted to document small hills before they changed


“Montana: Skiing the Last Best Place” sells for $60 and will be available at Montana Book and Toy Company and can be ordered on Amazon.


A love of skiing and the desire to document Montana’s 17 mostly “mom and pop” ski areas are combined in a vivid new coffee table book by Craig Hergert.

In “Montana: Skiing the Last Best Place,” Hergert uses scores of images to show the quirky, quaint and quality ski hills, where attire is anything from Carhartts to Pataguchi and chairlifts range from tow ropes to high-speed quads. Warren Miller, the esteemed ski and snowboard filmmaker, writes in the book that Hergert has done a “masterful job” of catching timeless feelings in breathtaking color, taking in not only the physical beauty but also the ambiance of their communities.

“Craig has spent thousands of days getting up before dawn to climb to just the right location, so that when the sun comes up and before the lifts turn on, he will get that magic photo that will excite you and make you want to experience freedom of your own on the side of that same hill,” Miller wrote in the foreword. “Being in Montana and absorbing some of the views captured by Craig will make your heart race as you drive toward them from the flatlands in between.”

Hergert said the idea for the book came to him about eight years ago. The Bozeman-based photographer said he was watching the Big Sky building boom and decided he wanted to document small towns and small ski areas before they changed. “And the honest truth is I wanted to go skiing,” the self-professed ski bum added. But he notes that beyond documenting ski areas, he wanted to share the hidden treasures so that Montanans might want to visit a new mountain. “And I also wanted tourists to see what’s out there and not just go to the big resorts,” Hergert said. “I included a little bit about the cities and towns nearby, especially since the area is part of it. “There’s a lot of love in all these places. Very few people are making much money, especially the smaller ones, but they are so important to the communities.”He added that what people won’t see are the magazine-type photos of tight shots of people making perfect turns.

“There’s plenty of that out there,” Hergert said. “I wanted the wide open scope of towns and ski areas.” He started at Lost Trail Powder Moutain, which in the book is noted as a “little gem” with some of the best snow in the state and lift tickets that max out at $36. Along with the iconic snow ghosts in Whitefish and the cold smoke of Bridger, Hergert shot photos of ski joring in Wisdom, White Sulphur’s infamous hot springs, the alpenglow of sunrise on Ear Mountain and Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the breeze at Red Lodge.

He’s hesitant to say which is his favorite photo, since “that’s like asking which kid you like best — you have a favorite but would never tell them.” However, he acknowledges that a shot of Discovery Ski Area does hold a special place in his heart. Closer to home, Hergert hit Great Divide on a powder day in January last year, showing spectacular skiing in the Big Open, the beauty of night skiing and the “unique” watering hole that is Jester’s Bar. Great Divide owner Kevin Taylor said he didn’t realize Hergert was on a photo assignment until afterward.

“It’s refreshing that someone produced such a high-quality book,” Taylor said. “It’s good exposure, although I still think people from out of state will still go to resort areas. But there are some hardy souls who will come around on auto tours to the small areas and understand some of our limitations.”

Author Brian Hurlbut also contributed to the effort, writing short synopses of the communities and ski hills to explain why each is worth a visit. Hergert said he used a mix of digital and film cameras with a variety of lenses to take the photographs, which made it a bit difficult to get around at times. “Some days I would put skins on my skis and hike up the mountain across from the ski hill or get up early to get that one shot,” Hergert said. “Timing is the tricky part, and I finally had to concede that in some cases I wasn’t going to be able to get the perfect shot. But I did get the one that told the story.”

Reporter Eve Byron: 447-4076 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow Eve on Twitter @IR_EveByron

Last modified on Thursday, 05 March 2015 22:35

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...We received the book yesterday, it is truly beautiful! As an Englishman who has spent a total of about 8 days in Montana in my entire life, it made me homesick for the place....


California Read More ...
Dear Craig,
I was jus
ing through your website and was awestruck by the beauty of your photos. I can’t wait to purchase my first image! It’s just so hard to decide! I live in Bozeman and am getting married at Roy’s Barn next July. I just wanted to tell you that your story is inspirational and you are a blessing to the Bozeman co Read More ...
...I ordered 4 of the Montana Panoramic books; one for each of my in-laws, my father, and my husband and I kept one for ourselves. I just wanted to let you know that everyone loved it, there is endless beauty on every page. I hope the book is doing well and please keep me posted on any new volumes that come out....


Wyoming Read More ...
"Craig, your work is just simply captivating. I've never seen anything like it, I catch myself getting lost in the amazingly detailed and creatively composed panoramic images that capture the Montana landscape and lifestyle better than any photo I've ever seen in my life."

Brian Hurlbut

Author, "Falcon Guide to the Greater Yellowstone Region" Read More ...
"Hello Craig, First, thank you for the great photo of Three dollar Bridge that we gave to the Attorney General - he loves it. It is now proudly displayed in his office for everyone to see."

Craig Sharpe

Executive Director, Montana Wildlife Federation Read More ...
"Craig, thank you so much for your quick shipping of the Bridger Bowl print we ordered last week. We just got it framed, and it is flat out amazing!!!!! My dad is going to absolutely love this years Christmas present more than anything ever. Keep up the good work!"

Nancy VanDermolen

Minneapolis Minnesota Read More ...
The book is great!  We absolutely love your work, and will definitely be back at the shop this summer.

Thanks Craig!  I had a tough time choosing which to pick.  You do beautiful work!!!  I used to live in Bozeman and you're photos bring back all the beauty and peacefulness of Montana.  I'm sure I will be ordering from you again!

s again!
Read More ...
Hi Craig,

Your photos of Montana have an emotional and epic feel to them.  I actually said, "wow" out-loud when your homepage loaded.

Jim Read More ...
Hi Craig,

I received the poster that I ordered from your website.  It is breathtaking!!!  I expected it to be wonderful but it is so much more!  I look forward to enjoying it for years to come.  Makes me want to plan another visit to Bozeman!!! 
s so very much!  I appreciate you signing it too.  I love that touch!  You really do great work!
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"I am thrilled I found your website. The Madison is my husband's favorite river and we fished there on our honeymoon, so this will be a great anniversary present. Your work is beautiful and not only that, it's REAL. In my online search, I saw so many pictures of Montana that looked altered to the point that I wasn't interested in hanging them in Read More ...
...Instead of merely imparting a place in time, as most photos do, Hergert’s panoramics seem to capture the entirety of a scene, from subtle differences in topography and color to holistic form and totality of detail. The result is a more comprehensive engagement of the mind, and a more visceral aesthetic response. When you see an image in Montana Read More ...
Hi Craig,

I wanted to let you know that we did receive your book all in good order last friday. Ah what a majestic land it is and your photographs capture it about right, they are truly stunningly beautiful. We sure did see a lot of familiar places, we are itching to get back to Montana next year, until then your book will do just fine..

Thanks again
Read More ...
...Viewing his 180-plus degree panoramas is as close as you can get to actually visiting scenic places such as the Bridger Range, Paradise Valley, and Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Hergert's ability to capture and highlight the diversity and grandiosity of landscapes makes the average Montana postcard look like a Kodak Instamatic snapshot. © "Montana Out Read More ...