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.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Exploring lines in the Central Bitterroots

Went out exploring some lines in the Bitterroot's a little while back.  The lines looked to be top notch....if they had snow in them.  Here is to hoping for more snow and a return trip to ride some of these great chutes.  We did find some great consolation turns and enjoyed a beauty of a day.  Calm, sunny and warm makes it hard not to enjoy being in the alpine.


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Early Season in Montana

Just another early season in Montana.  I always have high hopes of hitting big, alpine objectives early in the year.  Every year I am exited and anxious to push terrain.  I think for the first time in my life, I have come to the grips that it is rare in Montana that we get to push terrain early.  We can occasionally get lucky in late October and November, however after the first few storms a different story.

I don't trust the pack this year.  More typical of what I am used to around here, we have a warmer and dryer than average winter on our hands.  Stuck with the "persistent" deep instability.  One most skiers dread hearing.  I dislike this because it becomes extremely tricky to assess the snow stability. The classic low probability high consequence scenario.  Numerous wind events creating variability in pits, making you question yourself.  If you look hard enough you can find a positive result to lure you into riding even though you know better.  In times like this I refer more to what I am seeing, and what I am feeling as I travel through the mountains and I don't like what I see.  Maybe age and being a salty dog restrains me, but the decision is easy not to consider pushing it.  Way to many whoomps, and way to many shooting cracks to even consider it.  Its hard to put that feeling in the back of your mind telling you "maybe somewhere is stable?" away when that is what you long for, but for me I am letting this play out for a while.

Its hard to argue with the obvious when the snow has been so good.  I have not had a bad ski day this year, enjoying numerous days with beautiful light and soft, playful powder.  So until it is go time, Ill keep skiing good snow and put more weight into the beauty of the mountains, and how fortunate I am to be traveling through them. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Fall into Winter

Fall is such a beautiful time.  I grow more fond of it every year.  This year better than the past few, fall seemed to linger on extending the time before the colors turn grey.  In these times of fleeting light something about the vivid colors or the fading larch trees revive my spirits.  A beautiful time.

Fall eventually looses its grip as the light fades even more.  Getting out becoming ever so challenging with the dwindling light, I catch far to many sunsets this time of year.   To much time wandering the woods by the luminescence of artificial light.  We have been blessed and cursed this season, a double edged sword.  Its hard to argue with the beauty the light brings and the euphoria experienced from a beautiful sunset. It is also hard to argue the effects these beautiful nights have on the health of the snow. 

I have been out wondering quite a bit assessing the season.  We were blessed with and early storm providing us good skiing.  The snow stayed preserved much longer than I anticipated but the extended dry spell has me wondering.  Oh the lottery of winter.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Pintler Traverse-Day #2-Base of Mt. Howe to Carpp Lake Trailhead

We awoke early the next morning following a sleepless night at the nameless lake near the base of Mt. Howe which Cody H. coined “The night of the Griz” Lake. We had decided to get up before sunrise in hopes of a quick breakfast and camp pack up before making the decision to push on. With a night’s rest, mentally and physically, we eventually came to the conclusion to push on to Carpp Lake Trail head. Rather than head back up and over Little Rainbow, over to Goat Flats and around the tricky climbing to Kurt Peak, which we had originally planned, we opted to take the faster route and drop down to the Seymour Lake CDT Trail. We figured we could make good time on the trail and push to Upper Seymour lake. From that point we would gain the drainage to the unnamed lake at the head of the Queener Peak Basin at which point we would gain the connection ridge between Kurt and Queener Peaks.

Queener Peak from Base of Mt. Howe
So, we set out from the unnamed lake at the base of Mt. Howe through sizable boulder fields until we were in a beautiful, lush, forested area eventually wandering our way to the CDT trail. From the tie in
we made great time briskly walking up the beautifully manicured trail. Its amazing how nice trails feel after a full day of boulder walking. Soon we made it to Upper Seymour Lake, a first time for me. We took a quick look at the lake which seemed a beautiful place to camp at some point. We kept with the trend of quickly heading further up the basin.

Upper Seymour Lake
The walking from Upper Seymour further up the drainage was breathtaking in the morning light through big, open alpine meadows. At one point we decided to climb up a small water fall area on to a rock bench as opposed to continuing up the drainage. As we neared the top Cody C. noticed a big healthy bear sitting under a tree along the route we almost took. It was neat to see the bear from a distance out of reach, however he did not seem impressed or scared of us, only slightly aggravated by our presence. We were lucky to zig instead of zag on that navigation decision. A little bit more walking and we soon walked into the outlet of the unnamed lake at the base of Queener Peak. The beauty of this little lake was unmatched, and it looked as if it had been built by hand with perfectly rock lined walls and grassy meadow banks extending to the tree line. Not only was this one of the highlights of the trip for me, it was likely one of the most beautiful pieces of scenery along the whole trek in my opinion. Although we were on a quick timeline for the day, none of us could argue with spending some time here. We refilled water, took off our shoes and snacked at the banks of the gorgeous area for nearly 45 minuets with the sun slowly warming our bodies. I would love to be there when the Western Larch trees are changing colors as the scenery would be out of this world.

Healthy Boy

Unnamed lake below Queener Peak

Reluctantly we packed up and headed further into the drainage to the shortest section of the saddle between Queener and Kurt peaks. A quick climb of some fun, rocky couloirs and we made the saddle. A bit of fun, quick scrambling found us on the shoulder of Queener peak walking the big open tundra to the view of our approach to Fish Peak. We did not extend out to the true summit of Queener, it being a decent sidetrack off course and we had a sizable amount of country to still cover for the day. Walking down the back side of Queener took longer than I imagined as the vertical drop is decent to access the approach to Fish Peak. We eventually made it to the bottom where a quick conversation happened regarding the approach to Fish Peak

Up to the Kurt-Queener Saddle

Unnamed Lake from the Kurt-Queener Saddle

Kurt Peak (Left)  and Kurt Peak Saddle. Mt. Howe (Center)

Gaining the Queener Ridge

Queener Ridgline

Look at Fish Peak in the distance with approach ridge
Fish Peak has a prominent ridge connecting it to Queener, but you must gain a decent amount of vertical to a high point in the ridge which you eventually loose to reach the final approach saddle to the summit. We originally planned to traverse this ridge at the saddle elevation however it turned out to be a tedious effort so we pointed it uphill following the true ridge line. More boulder walking eventually lead us to the high point where we dropped a few hundred feet to the final approach saddle. In hindsight it would have been a beautiful, easy walk to just come directly up the drainage to the east and tie into the final approach saddle. After regrouping at the saddle we made a quick push to the top of Fish Peak with more of the same boulder navigating, eventually meeting at the summit cairn. From the summit amazing views of West Goat Peak, Hicks Lake, and Warren Peak came into view. We could also now see our route out to Cutaway pass which looked deceivingly close. From the summit of Fish we were surprised how vast the connecting ridge line was. We continued down the ridge which consisted of scree and boulders.

Fish Peak from top of approach ridge

Top of the Fish Peak approach ridge-Queener behind

Top of Fish Peak-Hicks Lake below-Warren (right)-West Goat (left)

West Goat


Descent off Fish Peak

Descent ridge off Fish Peak-unexpected point left of center 

We soon reached the saddle to an unnamed point which we realized we likely had to climb or traverse to reach the trail to Cutaway pass. It was not until we reached this point we realized it was there.
When looking at Fish peak from Queener this small peak is hidden from view and appears to be a clean ridgeline from Fish peak to the saddle which ties into Cutaway pass. It turns out this little point is lined with cliffy terrain and boulders on the backside which makes a traverse challenging at best, and if you climb it and then down climb it leads to a boulder field on the last few couple 100 feet. This unknown obstacle sucked up quite a bit of time but we eventually regrouped at the saddle near the Cutaway pass trail. At this point we were starting to get low on supplies but at least we felt some satisfaction that we were about to finally be on trail. A little more walking along the ridge and we tied into the Cutaway Pass Trail.

top of unexpected point

looking back at the unexpected point.  Fish peak (far point in the distance)

Cutaway Trail becomes visible

The trail was nice to walk on, but slightly rockier than I anticipated. I am amazed that someone built that trail. What a crazy effort! Regardless it was nice to be walking on a trail as our joints had become tender at this point. We put our heads down and continued up the trail eventually meeting up at Cutaway pass. The views from the pass, especially of Warren Peak were phenomenal. With only about 2 hours of light to spare we continued walking. We could see the trailhead way down in the basin. It looked further down then we anticipated and we soon found out the trail to Carpp Lake Trail head from Cutaway pass is by no mean a direct hike. It meanders around the ridgeline from the pass down one long switchback followed by numerous, very long mellow switch backs down the drainage. It was painful to walk and feel as if we were only dropping a few 100 feet every miles or so. Eventually the trail turned in what seemed like the wrong directing heading back towards Warren Peak. We were all pretty mentally fried at this point and it was very aggravating to feel we were walking the wrong direction. A little further and it eventually tied into the trail which heads out to Carpp Lake Trailhead. A lot more walking and a few run in's with some cows and we eventually spit out to the shuttle rig, cheering, while tired and excited at the same time, happy to have completed this traverse.

Trail to Cutaway Pass

Queener to Fish to Cutaway Pass Trail

This tour was one of my biggest outings to date. I had a pretty good idea of the access and route from previous scouting day trips, but in some of the sections previously untraveled, I definitely underestimated the challenging walking conditions. These mountains are rugged and likely ¾ of this traverse were off trail on rock just big enough that running and or very fast travel is not really an option. I would have liked to tag on the Little Rainbow-Goat Flats-Kurt Peak section as planned, however I don’t think we could have completed the traverse with our time frame had we taken this option. I think that a link up from Barker Lakes TH to Storm Lake TH in a day would be a committing, big, fun one day outing however adding on Mt Haggin is quite the backtrack. I also think the link up from Storm Lake Trailhead to Carpp Trailhead would be another amazing long day trip worth repeating. Regardless it seems hard to walk fast through these mountains and their loose rock. We discussed adding on Warren Peak prior to the trip to extend the trip, however the ridgelines don’t seem to cleanly connect to Warren peak and quite honestly it would add a sizable effort to add on either West Goat or Warren. I think better loops would exist in just this section of the range alone which seems to be rich with trail systems. This was an amazing, physically and mentally challenging outing which I will never forget. It was nice to check it off the list after years of dreaming of it. If I am ever to do it again however I would add an additional day of travel as it would be nice to spend more time in some of these beautiful corners of the range.

By the numbers we completed this traverse in 47.5 hours car to car with two overnight camps. The total distance was somewhere along the lines of 31-32 miles with somewhere around 13-13,500 vertical feet of climbing.