Get out and Ride

After living in Montana for most of my grown life, I have found myself always serching for new zones to snowboard and bike. Over the past few years alot of my adventrues were inspired by looking at mountain ranges on google earth, then getting online to reasearch access to them. I have found that the majority of my inspiration as of late, has come from blogs that I have stumbled apon. These blogs have not only inspired me, they consistently teach me of all the great areas of Montana I have not seen. On top of the inspiration, these blogs have kept me curiously searching for more. They have also helped me plan trips and access areas without a throw-away scouting trip. I hope that this blog can do the same for a couple more people in Montana. I hope that this inspires other to get out and REALLY see Montana. This blog is for all those who participate in the endless search for more....More mountain escapes, whiteroom apointments, after work bike rides, or persuit of personal progression, Most of us are in the constant serach for Gnarnia. Lets get out and Ride. What do you ride for? I made this blog to display my seach in hopes of inspiration, less solo missions, and more adventures with like minded individuals.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Death of the Blog...

Where have all the blogs gone?  Gone to rest, only updated once per year, or even worse disappearing into the void.  I've found myself wondering a lot lately about the dynamic. I myself have struggled this year writing blog posts. Spending a few hours crafting a good post then sending thoughts into space for 3 or 4 readers feels a little lackluster after a while.  I find myself grasping at straws, searching for something to motivate me, something with content. I used to get fired up reading peoples trials and tribulations on existing blogs. It would get me stoked to head out and get after it.  If they wanted to be cryptic about the location, that's fine. The verbiage about the heart and passion of what we do, reading about the struggles, realities, successes and joy of backcountry recreation shed perspective and motivated me to keep pushing on.
Like everything these days however I feel we are loosing the content and expression in our world.  When did the world become more about making the catchiest hashtag, and less about actually expression and the experience?  The things we do in the mountains deserve more than five words and 20 hashtags.  One picture posts, so cryptic you would be lucky to pull anything out of them, besides the proof you got out.  Never much about the negative, inconvenient things that typically happen on most outings. Things we are quick to forget, but forge the character of the outing. To the outside viewer backcountry recreation is a dream come true and the only thing stopping you is buying the gear.  I could be wrong, but just as most things these days in America we seem to be swapping content for things that are "instant".  It is far easier to just throw a photo up as opposed to drafting a post.  Slap up a few non descriptive words, and presto.

I know what your saying....I'm a hypocrite, and you would not be wrong.  I think everyone is proud and stoked on what they do in the mountains, and a small part of me 5 years ago wanted to publicly display the things I was stoked on.  This is the one fact that weighs on me every post I put up.  At that point in life I was hesitant, but there were existing blogs and books already that had unearthed all the information needed for most every objective in Montana.  These well established blogs were what got me exited to chase some of the lines and trails.  I was not adding any information that was not already on the web.  So I felt like I was not letting the proverbial cat out of the bag.  So am I a hypocrite? Yes partially, but I struggle with this hypocrisy often as I assume many do. I would argue that anyone who participates in social media is doing it somewhat for recognition and approval in our society, myself included.

There are so many other reasons I started this blog though.  My main goal was to find other like minded, capable partners which was somewhat successful.  Most of my best trips to date were with folks that reached out to me on the blog.  I also wanted to pass on some of the stoke and inspiration I received from other blogs that I had read.  I know I am not even close to as capable as some of the elite mountain athletes in Montana that have blogged in the past, and some of my post fall far short of their accomplishments, but I felt I had something to add for others in the sport that like me were finding their way and needed a more obtainable goal.  A goal a mere mortal could accomplish.  Through the years I have pushed my fitness and seen results, but hanging with the likes of rondo racers is probably never going to be in my well house.  I wrote the blog to stoke others on split boarding, and keeping backcountry skiing fun!  I found I loved taking photos, loved reliving the experience, and most of all loved the emotions involved with the sport.  It was so much fun to regurgitate a tour and write about the interactions with my partners in the mountains.  Writing gave me time to look at things from an outside perspective on what the mountains have to offer and how they change the way you think about life.  The experiences you gain in the mountains are unexplainable, and change your perspective and the way you think as a whole.  I live my life differently because of these experiences. Years of spending time in the mountains and learning their ways has opened my mind.  I return to the mountains to realign and heal my mind and soul. Upon my return I often find myself questioning humanity and these systems we have created for ourselves to live in.  I guess it is these experiences that fueled my passion and attracted me to writing about them.

I will be the first to tell you I am a shitty writer and never put much effort into grammar.  If you read this blog I'm sure you already know.  For me it was always about getting the fleeting thoughts on paper and enjoying the process of doing so.  So the blog was somewhat about displaying what I was doing at first, but it changed into so much more than that.  I've questioned doing it all along, having that internal struggle I believe everyone that does it has.  Putting yourself out there in the big black void that is the internet and receiving close to no feedback.  More often than not only negative feedback. It begs the question why do we do it. 

I myself have struggled this year writing blog posts. Maybe its something you can only do for so long, explaining the disappearance of numerous quality blogs I have frequented in the past. I think this is part of the situation.  One can only explain the logistics of a ski tour so many times before it becomes repetitive and boring.  But I don't think logistics is the only content people are searching for.  I think people enjoy reading about the emotion and experiences involved. So it begs the question is this a sign of the times, Is it our generation of people that grew up blogging, before the "gram" came along that are just busy with life, getting older and cant find the time to write? I know that life has a way of getting busier with time, and it can be hard to sit down and spend hours putting together a respectable post. Or is it a change in dynamic of society and the internet.  Did new outlets in social media just become easier to quickly fire off a photo.

Either way after all the years I'm starting to question it, wonder where they all went, and look at the future of my own.  I've considered discontinuing a lot this year, but its hard to give up something you enjoy so much.  I don't know the future of this blog but in the end I hope that it was inspirational or helpful for others.  I hope in five years I will have the option to read a well crafted piece about someone's backcountry experiences instead of deciphering hashtags but I guess only time will tell.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Great Northern Peak

Its always great to link up with partners you haven't been in the mountains with in quite some time.  I had the privilege of joining my good buddy Brett in his back yard a week ago on a great day in the mountains.  I owe much of what I know in the mountains today to my early trips with him in our youth.  I met him one random day while hitting a kicker up at Lolo Pass over ten years ago.  As my jibbing lifestyle slowly faded, our snowboarding quickly turned into exploring ranges around the state every weekend, cutting our teeth and slowly learning the language of the mountains together. His stoke and willingness to head into the hills and explore was unlike anyone else I had met at that time.  We spent many days analyzing snowpack together, researching avalanches and discussing perspectives on split boarding.  This type of relationship is critical in the learning stages of a sport that is all about time and experience to gain perspective. We had so many good times hanging out in my old camper stoked on the next days adventure. Eventually he took a job up north in the Flathead and our adventure time together decreased, however linking back up with someone you spent so much time with makes the time passed seem miniscule.  As I jumped in his truck it felt like only a few weeks had passed since our last adventure.  I suppose as we age our shared passion and experiences stick out and no matter how much time has passed the moments you share in the mountains with others in the past filters out the moments past over the years.

For this adventure another visit to Great Northern.  We had both been before, but the spectacular nature of this impressive peak warrants return trips.  I think I could hike this peak a couple times a year and never tire of its incredible views and aesthetic beauty.  The day was all around perfect with nice soft snow, cool wind on a hot day, and visibility which we seem to be loosing more and more each day.  Two amazing runs on our slowly retreating glaciers in late July in such unique terrain is something we should cherish, and hard to beat.  To experience this with an old friend was the icing on the cake.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Central Swan Traverse

It all started with a random text from my buddy Cody.  He would be in Seeley for the Bob Marshal Music Festival, and I should join if I had the time.  He had no plan other than to spend some time in the Swan Range before the evening show.  With scheduled plans falling through I confirmed last minuet to meet him Friday evening.  The response....."Dust off those running shoes." We had no plans, no objectives, but put together a rough plan to try and traverse a good portion of the Central Swan Range.  With many unknowns and good weather we met at the Filling Station Friday evening and caught up over a few tasty beers.  As with all unknowns a small bit of excitement and anxiety lingered into the evening.  Would the ridge be runnable, would their be technical terrain and exposure neither of us could tell.  We hit the road with high hopes after some great bar room discussions and set out for the evening camp spot located at our proposed exit below Wolverine Peak, embarrassingly enough missing the turn twice in the dark.

We awoke to a warm beautiful morning.  The typical process of coffee and slow packing for the day ensued as we prepared for the day ahead.  The plan to drive the shuttle rig to the trailhead leading to Sunday Mountain.  A beautiful morning drive had us at the proposed trail head slightly behind schedule but the relaxed morning made it seem irrelevant.  Looking at roads on google earth had us convinced the trail head would start much closer to the peak, however we soon learned that the road we though existed had been gated for quite some time resulting in a 2 mile unanticipated run down the old roadbed.   This was not much of a deterrent considering the mellow nature of the old roadbed and the beautiful views of the Swan range around every turn.   After the nice warm up run we soon reached the trail and dove into the forest of bear grass in full bloom and wild flowers of all varieties.  The 1500 foot climb to the ridge between Matt Sunday Mountains was exceptional in the shade of the morning.   The plan for the day, to traverse the ridge from Sunday Mountain to Wolverine Peak.

Up to Sunday Mountain

A quick water break and we were off.  Up and over Sunday Mountain quickly pushing on to Fisher Peak.  Fisher is a big peak and getting closer It started to look like the traverse would require some technical work.  I had a hunch Fisher and Ptarmigan Point may offer us a challenge.  We made some good moves up Fisher eventually making it to the crux which involved a sporty move over some concerning exposure. In hindsight I think there are some easier routs up the east side but we climbed the direct ridgeline. Not being a rock climber this experience was new to me and I relied heavily on Cody's climbing experience.  On top views of the George Lake were spectacular.  If we could get down the north face of Fisher it looked like some really enjoyable ridgeline all the way to Ptarmigan point.

Nearing the summit of Sunday Mountain

Nearing the summit of Fisher Peak

George Lake

Fishers north face

Coming down the north side of Fisher was a slow process which required some route finding and small moves in technical sections but we soon found ourselves on the ridgeline.  One of the highlights of the trip was running this knife like ridge dropping to both sides most of the way to Ptarmigan point.  There is nothing like running along at elevation staring down both sides of the mountain a few thousand feet.  It just doesn't get much better than that.  A quick enjoyable run with a few sections requiring navigation and we were nearing the top of Ptarmigan point.

Ptarmigan point "benchmark"

Ptarmigan point is an impressive peak.  Jutting up from the valley floor nearly vertical for the top 1000 feet off the north and west faces.  The scale of the peak is breathtaking and peering over the edge in certain spots took my breath away.  What is interesting to me is that to my knowledge after looking at the maps upon my return, Ptarmigan point is not Ptarmigan Mountain.  Ptarmigan Point "Ptarmigan benchmark" although arguably more prominent and in my opinion more aesthetic earned the title of point.  Although it is even a couple hundred feet higher in elevation the next "point" to the north earned the name mountain.  I could not help but question the naming of the two, but I will admit I could be wrong as well. We eventually made our way down the north face of Ptarmigan which was in areas quite exposed with limited options to navigate.  Ill admit my climbing exposure comfort level is far less tuned than most rock climbers but a few of the crux moves were getting my heart rate going pretty good. After navigating a couple technical sections we made it to the ridgeline again. The crux of the down climb was a crack we had to shove our bodies in and down climb 15 feet to a flat bench above walls dropping both directions a few thousand feet.  Needless to say no pictures were captured during the decent. 

The rest of the journey to Wolverine was absolutely beautiful and pretty decent running terrain.  We stopped shy of the summit of Wolverine due to daytime temps getting pretty hot, and a cleaner exit to the van but all in all it was an amazing experience.  The bushwhack out from Wolverine was about as we anticipated and we eventually found ourselves sipping beers at the Van.  With hot temps and weather heading in we made our way to Clearwater lake for a quick bath before the festivities began in Seeley.  The water was a great temperature and it felt good to just sit in it and wash the dirt of the day away.  The day was capped with a super fun night watching Deer Tick play an intimate live show followed by some shenanigans at the local pub.  Such a good weekend.

North wall of Ptarmigan point


This being only my second traverse I was blown away by how fun these outings are.  Moving through the mountains quick in a T shirt and minimal gear is something I am not used too.  It is such a good way to get into the alpine and see lots of country.  The trip re affirmed that while more committing, traverses allow you to see double the terrain in the same mileage as an out and back and I can see myself doing more of them in the future.