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Mountain High

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The Native Forest Network hosts a Northern Rockies Nature Forum on “Bears, Ecosystem Integrity & Habitat Connectivity” Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Missoula Public Library’s Large Meeting Room. Rupert Pilkington with Ursus International will talk about how ecosystem integrity and corridor connectivity is integral to bear survival. The Northern Rockies Nature Forum is a FREE community-oriented series on the ecology, biodiversity and restoration of the Northern Rockies, and future presentations will be held March 2 and March 29. Contact Cameron at 542-7343 or email cameron@wildrockies.org to learn more.

Glacier National Park botanists Tara Carolin and Jen Asebrook present a slide show on “Plants and Ecology of Glacier’s Eastside Grasslands” Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. for the Flathead Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society at the Mountain View Mennonite Church in Creston. Free and open to the public, the discussion will summarize a three-year study of the plant and wildlife communities in Glacier’s eastside grasslands. Historic and modern photographic comparisons highlight some of the more dramatic changes, and GNP restoration biologist Joyce Lapp will provide the lowdown on volunteer opportunities with the park’s native plant nursery. For more info or directions, call Rachel Potter at 892-2446.

The Rocky Mountaineers have multiple adventures planned for this week, including a moderate multi-day ice climbing epic in British Columbia Feb. 11–13. Preparations have likely already been made, so if this is up your alley, call trip leader Jim Cossitt (756-6818) asap.

More moderately, Jim Goss (822-5000) has rescheduled a cross-country ski trip on logging roads outside of Superior Feb. 12, with the route to be determined by snow conditions and participant interests. Dinner and hot tub options are available, too, so call for directions, times and potluck ideas.

Other crosscountry ski options are available, too. Fred Schwanemann (542-7273) is heading up the Autumn Creek Trail in Glacier NP Feb. 12 and 13, with two point-to-point ski adventures planned near Marias Pass on the park’s typically snowy southern border. Conditions are variable at press time, however, so bring hiking boots in addition to foul weather gear—all of which can be dried out overnight since the party’s staying at a local B&B.

The West Central Montana Avalanche Center is teaming up with Lolo Hot Springs Resort to put on a free transceiver clinic Feb. 12 for backcountry users of all abilities. The basics of both analog and digital transceiver use will be covered, so bring yours or use one provided by the center to get in the know. As of press time Lolo Pass was reporting record low snow depths, although there’s certainly enough snow to hide the Pieps and brush up on these imperative skills. Meet at the resort’s café at 10 a.m. before heading out with the experts. E-mail Steve Karkenan at skarkenan@fs.fed.us for more info.

Friends of Lolo Peak is a group of pro-wilderness Montanans opposed to allowing further commercialization of the Bitterroot’s most-ogled roadless area, Lolo Peak. They’re committed to blocking chairlifts, restaurants, condos, water fountains, golf courses, advertisements, snowmobiles and other frivolities from cluttering up the highest snow-covered treasure visible from Missoula. Hunters, anglers, backpackers and climbers have been enjoying this area for generations, and members are concerned that increased traffic could compromise the wilderness characteristics of this sensitive alpine gem.

So to counter the professional presentations coming out of the Bitterroot Resort’s P.R. channels, the Friends are hosting a public meeting at the Missoula Children’s Theatre Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. There will be a slideshow, discussions and displays outlining the impacts of this proposed development.

And whether you’re keen on the idea of lift-serviced access to Lolo Peak or not, show up to witness Mario Locatelli, aka “the Mountain Goat of The Bitterroots,” put up a slideshow of epic proportions. Learn more at www.lolopk.org or www.skibitterrootresort.com.

The world of lift-serviced skiing is experiencing a good news/bad news season. The bad news is that no area has received more than a few inches of snow over the past week; the good news is that as of press time only one hill in the region remains closed due to lack of snow and/or unseasonably warm temperatures—Libby’s Turner Mountain. And while some hills are claiming as much as three inches of fresh snow, calling ahead will serve the skier or snowboarder well before jumping in the rig and trying to eek a day of skiing out of rough, patchy conditions.

The dismal snowpack and fluctuating temperatures are motivating ski areas to drop their ticket prices to entice skiers to the slopes, and budget-conscious schussers are able to score discounted tix from some resorts—like $18 at Discovery Basin and $25 at Silver Mountain.

Continue your prostrations before the snow god Ullr, and then send your outdoor info to: photo@missoulanews.com.

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