In January 2018, Jordan Skattum and Ben Flook made a deal. Skattum, a snowboarder, would try skiing if Flook, a skier, tried snowboarding.

Since his first day on skis, Skattum hasn’t returned to snowboarding. Instead, the two friends have skied every month, trudging through deep snow in the winter and hiking to high, shaded spots in the summer to meet their goal.

In their search for snow, Skattum and Flook, who just completed their junior year of high school, have explored much of the Gallatin and Paradise valleys and gotten better at hiking and skiing, activities they had done before but not as seriously.

“Just go for it,” Flook said. “Anyone can do what we did and just start skiing whether it’s summer or winter.”

This time of year, their favorite spot is Pine Creek Lake, which sits below Mount Black south of Livingston. It reliably has snow much of the year and is among the most scenic places they’ve been, Skattum said.

They also recommend Beartooth Basin on the east summit of Beartooth Pass about 20 miles south of Red Lodge. The area has a summer season during which lifts are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. until July 7. Skattum and Flook haven’t taken the lifts, preferring to hike in to explore the area.

Closer to Bozeman, there’s The Great One, a steep couloir high in the Bridger Mountains that consistently has snow and is about a three mile hike.

Each season offers a different skiing experience, which Flook and Skattum said has kept them going all these months. In the fall, there is often fresh snow, making it their favorite time of year. In the winter, there is a lot of snow, but sometimes it’s so deep that it’s difficult to access places. In the spring, the snow begins to melt, making it more difficult to find spots to ski. And in the summer, the snow is scarcer, icier and bumpier than at any other time of year.

The pair has skied everywhere from Hyalite to Mill Creek and has lost count of the number of times they’ve gone skiing. To find new places, they ask friends and family or just look outside to see what areas have snow. Most trips take a full day, the majority of which is spent hiking or skinning in.

“You have to appreciate the hiking or it’s not worth it,” Flook said. “Skiing and hiking are each fun in their own ways and part of the experience.”

Their first trip got them hooked. Flook, Skattum and several of their friends camped for four days in a valley near Elephant Head, exploring the area and skiing as often as they could.

“That’s what really got me into skiing,” Skattum said. “We realized we could do this even though it was much colder than expected, and every morning, we had to fight to get our ski boots on.”

They’ve gotten into some sticky situations, but they always manage to make it out and have a good time.

“The struggle can be super fun,” Flook said. “Some of the hardest days result in the best memories.”

They spent Halloween night camping in Hyalite only to wake up in the morning to a blizzard. They had hoped to summit Mount Blackmore, but given the snow, the hike would have taken too long. They went to a nearby peak instead and skied down, successfully meeting their monthly goal.

As they were hiking to George Lake, which doesn’t have trail access, they got off track and ended up hiking through downed trees wearing ski boots. The trip took longer than anticipated, and they didn’t finish until past dark. But they managed to get their skiing in, keeping their streak going.

When they went to Crazy Peak last April, they hadn’t realized the hike in would be 12 hours or that most people take two days to complete the trip.

“Hiking for that long was very unexpected,” Skattum said. “At a certain point, when you’re hiking for that long, you just kind of shut off your brain and keep walking.”

However, the long hike gave them the opportunity to ski for two hours, a uniquely long time.

“Everything was so big and extreme,” Flook said. “We probably would have given up if the peak hadn’t been in front of us the whole time, drawing us in.”

Flook and Skattum haven’t scoped out their ski trips for this summer year, but they know they’ll fit some in.

“We want people to know this is possible and you can just do it,” Skattum said. “A lot of people think skiing is just for the winter or at resorts, but you can get outside and do it.”

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

Perrin Stein is the county, state and federal government reporter for the Chronicle.