2/28 & 3/2/2015 – Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much snow up in Northwestern Montana recently, but -on the plus side- the fatbiking has been excellent. The trails have generally re-frozen or melted out and there is a quality weekly night group ride through Glacier Cyclery that we’ve been enjoying. Also, Grete and I grabbed the “Galloping Goober” (you may recognize from the Idaho Hot Springs Tour and the White Rim) and borrowed him (indefinitely) from Jonny… so that Grete could have a bike for skiing access and general enjoyment! With all of these factors coming into play, I’ve spent a whole lot more time on my beloved Coutseau than on my skis as of recent!
We’ve learned that the real utility of the bicycles shine when used on snowmobile roads to access skiing that would normally be a toilsome and blistering affair merely hiking or skinning. Two recent outings – to Chicken Creek in the Whitefish Range and Greater Jewel Basin in the Swan Range – proved this idea thoroughly… We enjoyed a clear day and awesome views up Chicken Creek, and finally skied some powder between wind gusts in Greater Jewel Basin! Excellent days of exploration…
PS – I think she’s finally coming around to the idea of fatbikes!
2/15/2015 & 2/18/2015 – As many of you may know, Grete and I recently pulled the trigger and moved north to Whitefish, MT. Upon committing to a move, the whole American West dried up and got warm… and with it our ambitions of quality backcountry adventuring in our new home. Finally, after weeks of unseasonably warm temperatures and frequent rainstorms, a colder weather system dropped into NW Montana and locked up the super-moist snowpack. Although it wasn’t snowing (until today!), the skies cleared and we had the opportunity to stumble ourselves into a couple of excellent tours.
One of these was our first day of skiing (and Grete’s first day of her life) in Glacier National Park. We went in with low expectations and planned to merely “walk with skis on” up Going-To-The-Sun Road to enjoy some views. Thankfully, there was another trailhead where the road ended that led to either a backcountry chalet or a fire lookout. Being the clear skies we figured the fire lookout would provide excellent views so long as we could get there. A few hours and 4200′ later we arrived at the Mt. Brown lookout and were simply stunned with the terrain surrounding us! The real icing on the cake was getting decent skiable turns (dust on crust leading to sloppy cream) for the upper 2k’ back down. Yes, skis-on packs-booting on dirt trails was involved, but it was WELL worth it, as you will see:
A couple days later, we headed out to the “popular” Rescue Creek drainage in the Flathead Range, again with low-expectations exploring in mind. At the trailhead we met Charlie, a friend of good friends of ours from Vermont through a random twist of fate! The trail up to the base of Mt. Penrose was very firm and presented challenging skinning frequently. We easily booted from the saddle (with Mt. Nyack) up to the summit of Mt. Penrose then enjoyed the glorious weather and views for a good while. What glorious luck we had with weather! The sun had heated the SW aspect of the mountain enough to enjoy firm but fun skiing back to the saddle. From there, the turns back down the drainage to the trailhead were adventurous to say the least! All-in-all it was another great day out with a new a friend!
In conclusion, Grete and I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities of our new home! The spring looks to hold plenty of high-quality toiling and skiing given the size, beauty and challenge of the mountains in NW Montana… Its gonna be great!
I didn’t take my camera along much on last summer’s day trips, but still managed to get a couple photos worth tossing up on the blog… Here we have one of Grete’s favorite free campsites in Crested Butte (up past Gothic), a Bonnie portrait, and two photos from Grete’s valiant Steamboat Stinger race. During the two-day race, Grete rode her first 50-mile day and followed the next day with her first full marathon… recreational toiling at its finest! The photo of her cycling is during lap one (of two), hence the smile. The other photo is of her recovery morning the day following the races at our campsite on Rabbit Ear’s Pass… and the our little Airstream in its element! More pictures to come (as the editing continues)… Enjoy!
The photos below are a random assortment of miscellaneous shots from last winter. They include a couple images from patrolling, a handful of touring photos, and, even, another Bonnie portrait. The folks featured in the images are: Grete, Eli, Doug, Chris (Noyes), Mike (Vermonter), Will (son of Mike) and Rio… Enjoy!
Late April through early May – After the season had wrapped up in Utah, Grete and I headed to visit my folks in Seattle and to start work on our new summer home… A 1973 Airstream Argosy 24′. The project was all-consuming for roughly three weeks but we occasionally got out for quick hikes and brief escapes into the Cascades (to keep our sanity)! The photos below clearly illustrate where the project started and what work we put into it. In all, we repainted the whole exterior (special painted model of Airstream), painted a few interior walls, installed new laminate wood floors, built and sewed totally new upholstery, and installed a new “tiny tot” wood burning stove. It was an excellent project that required extensive teamwork and created a wonderful (mobile) home for Grete, Bonnie, and I! I’ll get some glamour shots up of the trailer eventually…
Also while in Washington, Grete, Cam, and I skied Mt. Adams (previously posted), skied Cinco-de-Mayo (closing day) at Alpental and the included ski photos are from (another) attempt at the Hidden Lake Lookout. The trip again included: big packs, a super slog, raining until tree-line, whiteout in the alpine, natural avalanches raining mysteriously from above in the fog, and another turn around and toil-out back to the truck… Maybe the third time’s the charm?
3/2/14 to 3/8/14 – There is a certain special trip ski patroller’s can work to experience and it is called an ‘exchange.’ The basic idea is that one ski area will trade two of its patrollers with another ski area’s patrollers for a few days. As a visiting patroller your goal is to keep up (on the hill and apres ski…), work as hard as they’ll let you, and ski as hard as you can. The awesome opportunity of these exchanges is that visiting patrollers get to ski some of the best terrain in great conditions with awesome guides for relatively cheap. Also, you have to party… a whole lot…
Trevor and I got the unbelievable opportunity to exchange with the young and legendary Revelstoke patrol. This HUGE mountain opened its doors in 2007 and has been causing stirs within the industry ever since. Its simplistic 4 lift system accesses a staggering 5,600′ of skiing and thins (non-existent) crowds faster than one can imagine. The patrol of this mountain was cherry-picked from surrounding BC and Alberta ski areas and is both young and proud of the mountain they call home.
Beyond that, the Canadians know how to party… and did not let us off with a casual exchange where well-slept skiers cruised groomers and mellow powder fields. Instead, they offered up daily avalanche mitigation work, nightly partying or activities (such as ice hockey), and even a day of heli-skiing with Selkirk-Tangiers! The exchange was a week I’ll never forget and the boys up there are characters who I would love to see and ski with again! Here are a few photos from the trip (note: too much great skiing to slow down and take good ski photos)… Enjoy!
10/10/2014 – Back in early October, Bonnie had been craving a big hike for a while, so her and I headed to the Seattle-area classic Mt. Si hike. Turns out the combined 8 miles and 3k’ of elevation gain was a bit too much for our beautiful big girl and she didn’t walk right for the next couple days… Here are a couple pictures of the mighty white adventurer who stayed happy and panting through a long day of toiling!