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Mountain High



Motor down the stretch of Highway 93 connecting Darby with Sula on a clear day, and a single prominent peak on the western horizon will likely catch your eye. Although this dagger-like spire is not the highest pinnacle in the Bitterroots, North Trapper Peak is undoubtedly the most impressive summit visible from the busy corridor.

A few hundred yards to the south stands Trapper Peak proper, the sole 10,000’+ summit in the entire range, which draws many people to its pinnacle simply because it is the highest peak in the range. Fortunately, that frees its northern neighbor—the more dramatic, more difficult North Trapper Peak—from the gotta-bag-it tourons cluttering up the ramparts of its popular twin. Mountaineers will find the surprisingly straightforward ascent route steep and stimulating as it steps up solid Bitterroot granite—definitely not the chossy piles for which the range is renowned.

If scrambling up this 9,801’ needle sounds like your idea of a good time, join New Rocky Mountaineer Gerald Olbu (549-4769) as he and his day posse push past some of the Bitterroot’s most tempting tarns on Oct. 11. The route will take you through golden subalpine larch and across a knife-like ridgeline before depositing you atop a truly extraordinary spire.

A quiet bike is a happy bike, and the cycling gurus at UM’s Outdoor Program (243-5172) have the tools, the beta and the experience to teach you how to silence your steed as Old Man Winter begins his annual assault on your bike. The miserable combination of cold metal, salt and unresponsive fingers can make maintenance a regrettable experience, and this four-evening course will have you fixing your bike right the first time. Sign up with bike repair superstar Garth as he empowers cyclists to take care of their own with workshops Oct. 14–22, from 6–8 p.m.

What’s the Last Best Place within the Last Best Place? Members of the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto club (NRMG) will tell you it’s the mazes deep beneath our feet. These folks dig roping up and rapping off into great subterranean voids and getting seriously muddy with a bunch of people upon whom their lives depend. NRMG has explored massive networks of tunnels, and want you to come along. If cold mud, impenetrable darkness and unmatched adventure is right down your alley, meet the folks Wednesday, Oct. 15 from 7–9 p.m. in St. Patrick Hospital’s Level One Conference Room A. Long-time Creature of the Darkness Daryl Greaser (721-2948) will present a PowerPoint program highlighting the rarely visited, water-carved worlds beneath Montana and Idaho.

If you failed to satisfy your barf quotient during this year’s homecoming weekend, consider the Hellgate Mountainbike Duathlon, held this Oct. 11 at Ninemile’s Kreis Pond. You’ll run 4K before jumping on your mountain bike to ride for 15K through rolling and rarely visited hills. Then, after you’re good and tired, you’ll finish the day off with another 4K run, at which point you can commence puking. This duathlon covers fun, interesting terrain and you can compete in team or individual categories. Fees run from $15–$35; for more info and directions, call Jeff at 728-5790.

If your pleasure lies in witnessing pain, not enduring it, consider being a spectator at the 22nd Annual Le Grizz Ultramarathon, a 50-mile soul-searcher that plugs along the logging roads above Hungry Horse Reservoir for the better part of a day. If you’re not yet registered, it’s too late to compete, but this brutal, all-day affair can be a fine spectator sport. Just find a good roadside location, sip slowly on an ancient brandy, warm your hands by the fire and remind yourself again just exactly why it isn’t you that’s running 50 miles in a single day. Call Pat Caffrey (677-2661) for more details.

The Rocky Mountaineers’ take a hiking trip up to the Stark Mountain Lookout on Oct. 12, a trip said to be ideally suited to families. This weekend is the last “to drive all the way to this lookout,” as the Forest Service closes motorized access to this and many other areas prone to winter/spring erosion to provide wildlife a winter home as harassment-free as possible. Rally the kiddies and call Julie Warner (543-6508) to join the crew.

Hey Ladies! The 20th Annual Blue Mountain Women’s Run benefits the Blue Mountain Clinic, with a half-marathon, 10K and 5K runs, as well as a 5K walk, a 5K “centipede,” and a 1-mile fun run.

The first races begin at 9:30 a.m., and day care is provided. There are multiple categories with multiple fees, so call 543-5197 or log on to to register.

Hey Guys! The 20th Annual Blue Mountain Women’s Run is for women, and as good as that sounds, you’re not invited to compete. HOWEVER! The event staff still needs volunteers to assist with traffic, water stops and the like, and this is a great opportunity to justify watching Missoula’s superior crop of female athletes compete in a prime fundraiser. And you can actually call yourself a volunteer, too. Call 543-5197 or log on to to do your part.

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