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Bozeman resident Hilary Eisen was on the other side of the world last spring on a scientific expedition when she looked around and the landscape reminded her of home.

Eisen was among five scientists surveying wolverines and other wildlife in Mongolia on behalf of the Wolverine Foundation, a Bozeman-based research organization. They spent 27 days cross-country skiing 340 miles through two protected areas roughly the size of Yellowstone National Park.

“Crossing the Mongolian steppe felt like driving across eastern Montana,” Eisen said.

But while the group from Montana was cross-country skiing across Ulaan Taiga and Tengis-Shishged national parks in the Darhad region, they found that park rangers there were lacking key resources. The rangers are only able to travel by horse or motorcycle to patrol the parks, which makes traveling in deep snow impossible.

In response, the Bozeman group is raising money to buy the park rangers 35 pairs of backcountry skis.

“We couldn’t have done (the expedition) without the support of the park staff, so we got back and started wondering what we could do to give back,” Eisen said.

Next Friday, the group will hold a fundraiser for the project and give a presentation about the expedition. The event will include a raffle for prizes from Mystery Ranch Backpacks and Duckworth.

Ulaan Taiga and Tengis-Shishged national parks are relatively new, having been created in 2012. They are strictly protected and not open to tourists. Eisen said the limited staff there work hard to stave off poachers and illegal miners but can’t monitor the places where snow prevents horse and motorcycle travel.

The staff offered transportation and support to the Bozeman group during their expedition. In turn, Bozeman scientists provided the park with data they collected. Eisen said the rangers didn’t expect the expedition to last long because there was so much snow. But the group made it the full 27 days.

“The rangers thought it was so cool we had gotten so far, and it was because we had skis,” Eisen said.

People in Central Asia began skiing centuries ago, but the sport’s popularity has waned in Mongolia. However, Eisen said the rangers decided it might be time to bring skiing back to the steppe when they saw the scientists traversing all over the parks.

The group raising money will buy skis from the company Altai, which is offering them at a discounted price. The equipment is designed to look like traditional skis that were once used in China.

Doors for Friday’s fundraiser open at 6 p.m., at 507 Bond St., in Bozeman. A GoFundMe campaign can be found at

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Shaylee Ragar can be reached at or at 406-582-2607. Follow her on Twitter @shay_ragar.

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