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, October 7, 2017

And so it Begins- First tour of the season

Wow!  what can be said about an opening day such as this.  A few days later I still struggle finding words to describe it, unlike any I have experienced before.  Most opening days are filled with stoke from simply laying down a few turns, usually on a mellow slope that receives and holds early snow.  Its not the terrain that gets you excited, its the feeling of being out again, getting boards on your feet and the familiarity of doing something you love that has been distant for a few months.  Your just excited to be out sliding on fresh snow again, even if its only a handful of low angle turns.  It still makes you giddy to be going through the motions so familiar to your being. 
This experience was much different than the traditional seasonal starter.  Trading in that handful of low angle turns for serious, committing terrain in mid winter condition the first week of October.  To say it was a shock to the system and understatement.  Looking back at the photos and reliving the experience seems unbelievable and surreal.  From an outside perspective I would have trouble believing it was possible this time of year.  A committing run for the first of the season a quick way to shake the summer rust off the old legs.  The first few turns feeling mechanical and forced eventually gave way to the instinctual fluid motion of the turn so familiar to your legs mid season.   Although the physical act of snowboarding comes back to you fairly quick much like riding a bike, the mental act of snowboarding is delayed.   While my body remembered what it was like to make turns down a committing run after a handful of turns, my mind went into a whirlwind.  The experience felt surreal, as if I was in a dream state.  To this day it still feels like it didn't actually happen, like a wonderful dream.   It felt to good to be true and thoughts of luck and amazement overtook my mind that day.
Most first days are filled with issues from not having your mountain preparation and repetition on lock down.  Somehow the day went off without a hitch which is rare.  I owe much of this to the strong team I was lucky enough to join, and the local wealth of knowledge that Casey has for most areas in these parts.  I am still in amazement in the amount of ground he has covered in Montana with utter dedication.  Although it was my first day, winter has been good east of the divide and my partners had multiple days of good skiing under their belt already.   I think the success can be attributed to having such a strong, like minded crew.  

In the end three aesthetic couloirs on this beautiful peak were rode on a perfect day in perfect riding condition.   Just riding one of them would have been worth the 7 hours of driving.   For most tours you spend the entire day setting yourself up to ride one couloir of this caliber.  It may be some time before I have a day quite like this as couloir riding typically waits till mid winter but I am hopeful to be carving turns down tight rock walls again soon.  The icing on the cake getting out with such a strong team and sharing the experience unlike any other.               

3rd line in the morning light

1st line of the year

Cody 1st line

Casey ripping
Casey in the whiteroom

Line #2

Entering the pinch on Line #2

Up at line #2
Dropping Line #3
Line #3

Line #2

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Torrey Mountain-Pioneers

Relying on the air quality report is not something I am accustom to.  Typically the weather forecast is more my focus.  A summer riddled with smoke we found ourselves stuck in a high pressure, stagnant air pattern for the first week of September.  I watched all week as air quality deteriorated day to day.  Missoula was averaging 100-150 ppm most of the week, leaving one to feel luckier than the poor residents of Seeley Lake closer to an unfathomable 800-900 ppm.  Recreation plans looked grim anywhere within a 200 mile radius of Missoula.  Bummed out I decided to make no plans but wake up early in the morning and check the air quality report.  If the air was clean, I would get in my truck and drive to that spot.   I had to get out of it.   Morning came quick, and with it a report of clean air.  Today the destination was Dillon.  I set out early praying I could escape the smoke.  I started to doubt my decision most of the drive until to my surprise the smoke lifted 15 miles before town.  It almost brought a tear to my eye, the feeling that went through me as I could see blue sky's and mountains.  You don't realize how depressed you get when you cant see the mountains for 2 months and more than a mile for over a week.

For this day a trip to Torrey Mountain, a peak that has been on my radar for years, however just enough of a drive it has fallen by the way side.  I have the smoke to thank for the motivation to finally make it over.  Torrey (11,147) just 7 feet shy of its twin Tweedy (11,154) less than 2 miles away are two fairly big peaks.  Although they are only the 53rd  and 54th tallest peaks in Montana, if you exclude the Beartooth Plateau which harbors the first 41 tallest peaks in the state, only 7 peaks stand taller in the remaining ranges.  This fact alone always caught my attention and respect for these two peaks many years ago. 

The trip was great with beautiful views in all directions and clean, warm air.  I could not help but smile as I worked my way through the boulders.  Just as I neared the summit I remembered how fast storms can develop, something we have not had to worry about most of the summer.  With 1000 feet left to the summit I decided to push it and try to beat the storm.  I am not one for racing, or upper elevation lightning so as the storm started to develop faster than anticipated I found myself anxiously racing to the top.  I made it to the top but did not stay long as I heard the first clap of thunder in the distance.  I ran down the scree as fast as possible and got to tree line just as the storm hit full force.  It was and intense hour or so but I found myself eventually resting by the Deerhead Lake feeling lucky that the storm held back long enough to make it to safety. 

As I sit here during this week of rain and mountain snow its almost unbelievable It was only 1 week ago that the smoke and heat made the sharp transition to damn near winter in what seemed like a day.  I am still adjusting and in awe that we are currently smoke free?  Montana is a wild state.   


Saturday, September 2, 2017

One last walk in the Park

It has been a challenging summer.  Heating up right from the start followed by fires burning large portions of my favorite places to recreate.   Roads and trails getting closed down, evacuations, then and extended period of smoke filled valleys.  My well being typically a product of my weekend excursions I found myself becoming somewhat depressed.  Searching for the open forest that had clean air the new norm.   An opportunity arose to take a walk in Glacier National Park.  With somewhat cleaner air most of the summer up north I jumped at the opportunity.   The Sprague fire had still not blown up so we went for a walk.  The morning was crisp and the smoke had settled in the valleys.  Clear by Missoula standards but you could still smell the smoke in the air.  As the day progressed so did the winds followed by the smoke.  Mid way through the hike my mouth tasted like I smoked a cigar and my sinuses began to get stuffed up and run.  Lungs burning, a burn not familiar to me.  We sat at the top and took in the views until the smoke started to take them away.  On a typical day more hiking would have occurred, but having my healthy share of smoke it was decided to call it a day.  It was not until the day after that I felt lucky.   Lucky to catch one of the last days in the Park before they shut the road down, likely for the year.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mount Evans, Anaconda-Pintlers

Why do we climb mountains?  I ask myself this questions often.  A somewhat silly endeavor when you think about it from an outside perspective.  If you subtract the emotional/experience aspect realistically climbing most mountains is very similar.  Driving to the trail head, approaching through the forest until treeline is reached then climbing rock until you reach the summit.  Most trips are very alike from a physical perspective.  An especially interesting question when climbing peaks next to each other in the same range.  Although you likely took a new approach and reached a new summit, the views are only slightly different from the peak next to it.  The view from most summits is very similar, composed of endless miles of rock jutting from the ground.  So why do we do it over and over again? Why the repetition.  I have had people ask me, "Don't you get tired of climbing Mountains?"   For me the answer is a simple one. I climb for the experience and emotion gained that are achieved in the mountain setting.   This mountain setting provided numerous outlets.

Every trip, although similar has small differences which are a flicker in the day, however have a lasting memory burned into your mind.  You may spend hours walking all day and one discussion with a friend, or a challenging crux responsible for the success of a trip that you never forget.  The miles and footsteps fade, but the experience remains.  Every trip I can remember one or two things that are vividly etched in my mind, and often times it is not the euphoria of standing on the summit, or accomplishing the goal for the day. This mountain setting provides an arena for seclusion and removal from society/technology providing an outlet for reflection.  Setting goals and personally challenging ourselves keeps us motivated and fuels self growth.  This reflection and growth are the reasons for the repetition.

Its the small differences that come to mind when I think back on past adventures with a smile on my face.  For this adventure, a peak I have wanted to explore for a handful of years now.  I don't know why some peaks have more allure than others, but for some reason they stand out.  Some peaks you discover and they linger in the back of your mind.  They may not be the highest, but you think to yourself some day I would like to get up there.  Two small stand out deviations on this tour will not be soon forget.  The first a chance to combine three different disciplines, alpine biking, trail running and scrambling.  The second climbing extremely loose boulder size rock.  I have never experienced boulders, some the size of small cars, to be so loose.  Tip toeing around them a new type of route finding, one I can't say I enjoy very much.  Visions of a misplaced step setting off a boulder avalanche not something to let your guard down for.  Inevitable later in the day this exact thing happened and although small was enough to get the heart rate up.  1000 pound boulders rolling downhill in unison make and eerie sound.  Safely making my way down I stared in astonishment at the existing 60 foot deep apron of boulders stacked at the base of the north face in amazement.  This peak obviously sheds rock quite frequently.

A quick run down to my bike and a fun ride out the icing on the day.  The beauty and wild isolation of this underpopulated basin by myself an experience in its own right.