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Mountain High

’ve got spring in my soul. That waking-in-the-dark, birds-back-on-the-wires, rising-sap feeling is coursing through Comrade Calendar’s every fiber, from his head to his toes. It’s as though the snow surrounding my brain is melting, the glaciers that have held thoughts stuck like gravel on the terminal edge are receding, dropping their captives into a moraine of feverish spasm and abundant fecundity.

Before the chorus of “But it’s only March! We’ve not seen the end of Old Man Winter!” can issue from your collective mouths, rest assured that I still have some fun winter-esque activities up the pipeline for you. Allow me to elaborate:

Okay, so this first one’s not exactly a case in point, but bear with me. Your faithful outdoor herald has it on good authority that on Thu., March 15, the South Zone of Mount Jumbo shall reopen for you and your canid killing machines, though voice and sight control are still a must. Call 721-PARK for further clarification.

Actually, event number two here ain’t exactly snowman-building either. The Five Valleys Audubon Society fires up its Workshop for Beginning Birders with classes at the Missoula office of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 3201 Spurgin Road, at 7 PM on Thu., March 15, and Thu., March 22, with a field trip on Sat., March 17. The class is limited to 30 students, so call Shirley at 549-5706 pronto.

Here we go with the winter: Big Mountain kicks off three days of men’s and women’s skiing and snowboarding workshops at 9 AM on Fri., March 16. Lunch, video analysis and evening equipment clinic, après ski awards party and more await the willing. Call 862-2909 if that’s how you self-identify.

Next up, Moonlight Basin reminds us all that the official end of winter is not until March 21. The first annual Spring Carnival at Moonlight Basin takes off on Fri., March 16 and runs through Sun., March 18. In addition to all the skiing to be done, some of the carnival’s highlights include the Secret Skier Scavenger Hunt, Human Dogsledding Races, a Rail Jam and a Poker Run. Aim your Web browser of choice at

And we’re back to Big Mountain, where Sat., March 17, marks the start of the Nate Chute Hawaiian Classic, which has nothing to do with melting snow and Montana’s future surfing economy. The two-day event, held in honor of the well-known Whitefish snowboarder, features a banked slalom competition on Sat., and the state’s biggest boardercross event on Sun., March 18. Registration begins at 8 AM each day, there are awards for each of the many categories and the money raised goes to the Nate Chute Memorial Fund, which helps local youth in need. Call 862-2911, dig?

Despite our best carbon-introduction efforts, there is still plenty of snow in the high country, which means Stark Mountain is the perfect destination for the Rocky Mountaineers on Sat., March 17. You’ll need skis with skins for the eight- to 10-mile trip, and you’ll need a phone to call Alden at 243-4790 or 542-1966.

Riding a bike isn’t just for summer anymore. Missoulians on Bicycles prove you can bike in the dead of winter during the Happy Trails ride on Sat., March 17, when they make their way from Lolo to Bass Creek on the bike path. Meet at 10 AM in the K-Mart parking lot, or at 10:30 at the Lolo Conoco. Either way, call Lech at 543-4889.

Getting back to fluffy white stuff, Bridger Bowl offers the 26th Annual Pinhead Classic on Sat., March 17. This telemark event carries the theme, “Saints and Pinners,” mandates wacky costumes and offers prizes for everything but the fastest run. This year the event will benefit breast cancer research, so get in touch with Susan Byorth at or 493-6037 for your pledge sheet and further info.

Snowbowl wants to see how much you’ve learned this season: Best of the Bowl takes place on Sun., March 18, with separate alpine, telemark and snowboard divisions with awards based upon speed and style. Call 549-9777.

Speaking of speed and style, the Rocky Mountaineers are at it again with a mellow saunter around the Larry Creek Loop Trail in the Bitterroot on Sun., March 18. Call Steve at 721-4686.

In Discovery Ski Area news, the John Mollish Memorial Race invites skiers between the ages of 4 and 18 to compete on Sun., March 18, after calling 563-2184.

It’s never winter in a cave, so the issue is moot. The Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto of the National Speleological Society meets at 7 PM on Wed., March 21, at 129 W. Front St. for the program “Early Cave Explorations in Silvertip Mountain, Bob Marshall Wilderness” with Michael McEachern.

And with the inevitable melting of winter’s remains, the Comrade’s thoughts turn inevitably toward summer and the implicit opportunities therein. One such prospect is the Montana Conservation Corps, which offers young people above the age of 18 the chance to give back to the natural places we all enjoy starting May 21. The work is not without reward, and you can expect a living stipend, food allowances, an educational award and some cause for self-satisfaction to boot. Call (866) JOIN-MCC or visit

There you have it folks—wrap the kids up warmly in their mufflers before you send them over with those outdoor events, you hear?

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