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Mountain High



To some it felt like a cruel joke, the surprise weather system that blasted through Montana last weekend, dropping nearly five inches of snow in the valley and more than foot and a half onto our blow-dried mountains. But while our mid-drought state is unequivocally hungry for snow, the timing of this first real dump of 2005 tasted in some circles as bitter as it did sweet. Montana Snowbowl, Discovery Basin and Blacktail Mountain had all planned to shutter their lifts on Sunday due to lack of snow, but all three are now gunning to stay open weekends as long as conditions continue to permit (or, you know, tease).

Snowbowl claims to have “too much snow to close” and will reopen Friday, March 18, continuing their “bring in two lift tickets and ski for free” promotion.

Down the road and hot on the heels of two dismal snow years, Discovery is calling March 18–20 “Limelight Days” in honor of its expert-oriented Limelight Chair. This deal is strictly for those holding a season pass or a Preferred Skier Card, so log on to for more specifics.

Logging on or calling ahead is a good idea for anyone looking to ski anywhere right now, for as of press time a volatile but unconfirmed storm is bearing down from the west and forecasts are calling for a wide array of results, from merely overcast to downright dumping.

The Jackson Hole Zone reported last week that Disney executives plan to run tours through Yellowstone as part of a new “Adventures by Disney vacation concept.” A family of four will pay between $5,600 and $7,800 for an everything-but-the-airfare yawner dubbed “Quest for the West.” Now everyone line up single file…no pushing…

Butts look better in climbing harnesses, and if you don’t believe it head to the University of Montana’s FRC climbing wall April 3. UM’s Outdoor Program hosts a climbing competition that day at 11 a.m., and any student with 20 bucks and a Griz Card should go hang around in the stimulating but safe world of vertical indoor climbing. Participants must sign up by March 18; call 243-5172 for the beta.

Five Valleys Velo is hosting the Sixth Annual Western Montana Spring Training Series, and they’re kicking it off March 19 with the Clinton Road Race, a 35-mile, all-pavement jaunt east of Missoula. Participants must register at Missoula Bike Works from 10:30 to 11 a.m. before heading out for the noon race, but you can expect a “mostly flat” eight-mile circuit and a $10 entry fee. If the weather really, really sucks—blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes—they’ll postpone or cancel it, but if it’s just plain cold the show will go on, so come prepared. This early season loop is open to all cyclists, regardless of ability, and is intended to give peddlers some early-season experience and a fitness boost through “low-key, fun races.” You can email for more details.

Missoulians on Bicycles are heading out March 19 at 10 a.m. from the Albertson’s parking lot for the Clinton Ramble, a 40-mile cruise along the nicely rolling Clark Fork River corridor led by Phil Stauffer (728-8262). Or hook up with Wayne Kruse (721-3095) March 20 at 10 a.m. outside Open Road Cyclery for the 18th annual Big Flat Mudflinger, a 35-mile mostly-asphalt jaunt around Missoula’s flat, western suburbia.

The New Rocky Mountaineers are heading up to Mollman Pass March 19 on a ski/hike/snowshoe endeavor, and they want you to join in the fun. Two miles north of the notable Mount Calowahcan, this 6,900’ basin is a favorite stomping ground of trip leader Gerald Olbu. (“Stomping” here is a colloquial term, and in no way implies the act of punching waffle-stomper prints into fragile alpine environs. Ahem.) The route follows a four-mile trail, gaining 3,400 feet of vert before dropping into a gorgeous snow-covered basin. The well-informed Olbu says “It should be quite enjoyable to ski around the basin.” If you agree, call him at 549-4769 to get in the loop.

Head up to Arlee March 19 for the Buttercup Scholarship Run, a 5K, 10K and 1-mile fun walk/run to help the Friends of Arlee Scholarship Fund prepare kids for college by emphasizing “mental health, academic excellence, cultural awareness and the fine arts.” Late registration is at 10 a.m., before the 10:30 starter’s pistol. A wide variety of entry fees exist, so log on to or call 726-0032 for the specifics.

The second annual “Spring into Action,” a 5K and one-mile fun run celebrating National Nutrition Month, gets rolling March 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Fort Missoula Museum. A complex array of suited-to-the runner entry fees also exists for this race, so call 329-5752 to get the scoop.

On March 20 you can hit the first-ever “Spring Run-Off,” a 5K road/trail/track race starting at 11 a.m. at Big Sky High School. Call Ben at 240-5074 for more info.

“Before there was a Missoula, Pattee Creek meandered across the valley floor,” says John Zelazny, executive director of Montana Trout. But “in less than a century, we’ve reduced it to a small, straightened remnant.” By adding bends, small pools and native shrubs to the waterway, the organization looks to bring “the look of a native trout stream back to Pattee Creek.” Come check out and/or help with the work March 15–18, or learn more by calling Zelazny at 544-7430 or logging on to

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