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Mountain High


About this time of year, Mountain High becomes a lot more like Snow Report. Let's get week one over with.

There's a smattering of mountain openings to report: Lost Trail seems to have won the race to the starting line with their early opening on Sunday, Nov. 13; add about another 2 feet of snow since then and, well, I'll be there on Saturday, Nov. 19, when they open again. And I'll be sure to pack a lunch since there'll be no kitchen or other services, just lifts and lots of snow.

Lookout is also chugging along, reporting 14 inches at the bottom and near 3 feet at the summit, with skiing on the front side of the mountain and their usual Thursday to Monday schedule in effect, but at reduced rates.

Finally, Big Mountain plans to open this weekend, maybe on Saturday, maybe on Sunday. Right now, they say there's 30 inches at summit but only 6 inches at the base; that means you can expect one chair to run, serving nine marked runs, none of them suitable for beginners.

As for the rest of Western Montana's finest, no one is calling you down to the mountain. Discovery is reporting only a foot of snow at the base, but they're aiming to open on Thanksgiving Day.

Great Divide plans to open one run Saturday and Sunday at per run or for a day. Big Sky, Moonlight Basin and Bridger Bowl are all waiting patiently for weather. And there's not a peep so far from Snowbowl. But these things change quickly, so keep your eyes to the skies.

Not all the action is on the snow, although that's certainly the direction things are trending. One exception occurs at 11 AM on Saturday, Nov. 20, when the Upper Rattlesnake Valley becomes the course for the 2nd Annual Rattlesnake Bridge Run, featuring both 10-mile and 5K races on the roads and trails of Missoula's backyard gem. So if you like to enjoy the Rattlesnake by speeding through it, register for the race at

Also attempting to squeeze in some recreation before the winter sets firmly in are the riders of the Starry Night mountain bike rides, which continue on Thursday, Nov. 17, with a trip to Blue Mountain; meet at the main Recreation Area parking site, and you can figure out from there if the snow's too deep to venture out. There'll be a backup plan just in case. Check out

item.917 for more info.

This event's about snow, but it won't require you to bundle up because it takes place inside. Montanans for Quiet Winter Recreation sponsor a 7 PM screening of Sanctified, a film that uses backcountry skiing to broach issues concerning the environment, at the Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave. Admission is and, from the name of the sponsors, I'm sure you can figure out if you want to make the donation.

And now, back to the events that are likely to land you in the middle of the white stuff.

The New Rocky Mountaineers head to St. Mary's Peak in the Bitterroots on Saturday, Nov. 19, for some snowshoeing. The trail gains 2,500 feet on the way to a lookout tower where you can drink hot chocolate, but you'll be working your way through a couple feet of snow on the way. Call 540-4769 to find out who's bringing the cocoa.

The Rocky Mountaineers also have something up their sleeves on Saturday, Nov. 19. It looks like a trip headed in the direction of Little St. Joseph Peak, leaving from the Bass Creek trailhead, where there's sure to be enough snow that wearing sandals is just a dumb idea. Call 721-4686 if you want more information, or just to chat about future trips.

And if you want to avoid being buried by snow, it might be a good idea to check out the UM Outdoor Program's avalanche lecture planned for 7 PM, Thursday, Nov. 17, in the North Urey Lecture Hall on the UM campus; that session will be followed by a transceiver clinic on Saturday, Nov 19, from 9 AM to 2 PM, which ought to help next time you have to rescue someone. Call 243-5172 to get details on these free sessions that you need to check out before heading out.

So that's it for this week-just a few non-winter rec events clinging to the schedule and an increasing need for pledging allegiance to the snow gods if you want to spend any time outside. If figuring out how to enjoy several weeks of winter seems intimidating, check back with the Indy next week, because we just spent a few hours and a couple gallons of beer coming up with a whole pile of recommendations.

If you've got ideas of your own, just lemme know so I can pass them along.

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