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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring Skiing: Sweeney Peak, Bitterroots

Pudge on Sweeney's summit looking at Lolo Peak.
In my quest to keep skiing deep into spring, this past Saturday I went and skied Sweeney Peak, while Jen did the Montana Hell Ride and Ellie was hanging with friends. It's the right time to ski Sweeney, as you can drive to the trailhead, where the snow begins. Because the trailhead is high, the elevation gain isn't too monstrous, at 3500 feet. The route to the summit follows the summer hiking trail to a saddle, at which point you head off trail and follow the east ridge to the peak. Along this ridge, there's tons of great looking skiing in the north facing bowls, but I was alone, so I skied the ridge back down, saving more interesting skiing for a day with a partner.

Selfie with Little St. Joe (left) and St. Joseph Peak (right).

And the peaks again without me blocking the view.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring Skiing: Gash Point and Trapper Peak, Bitterroots

The group on the summit of Trapper on a blue bird day.
During the winter, I did most of my skiing at the resort, but since they've all closed, I've been trying to get out into the back country once a week. Two weeks ago, I went up to Gash Point, which I last visited two years ago on snowshoes. After summiting the peak, I skied mellow slopes down, saving the steeper bowls for a day with a partner. This past weekend, I joined The Rocky Mountaineers on a trip up Trapper Peak. Alden Wright has organized a spring trip up Trapper for over 15 years and turned 75 years old on the day after this year's outing.

I love getting up into the high mountains this time of year. The peaks are chock-full of snow, making them as beautiful as during any other time of year. The snow also becomes more stable in the spring, making travel easier and avalanche conditions less worrisome. And of course, it's great to be making turns well into spring.

Summit bench mark.

Laurie Stalling reaches the summit.

Ed Stalling follows soon after.
The rest of the group approaches.
Summit chillin', literally, it was cold.

Dave Patterson and I are both Professors in the Math Department.
Heading down: Piquett Mountain in the background.

Gash Point summit selfie.

And Pudge.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Trip to Butte and Fleecer Mountain

Fleecer about a mile or two in from the car.
For the past several years, I've been thinking that I need to make more of an effort to visit my mom in Butte. It's a stages of life thing: my kids are getting older (this month Alex will be 20 and Ellie 17) and need me less, while my mom is also getting older (she's now 67) and would like me to visit her more. So last weekend, I took a quick trip to Butte, skied Discovery on the way over, hung out with Mom in the evening and the next morning, and then bagged Fleecer Mountain the next day before heading home. 

Fleecer is a high prominence (2000+ feet) summit to the southwest of Butte that you can see from uptown. It sits massive to the west of I-15 about a 20 mile drive from Butte. To get to Fleecer Road, get off of I-15 at the Feeley Exit and head west toward the peak. It's a nice place to go this time of year. I was able to drive, easily, to about 6400 feet on the Fleecer Road. Then the last 3000 feet to the summit took 2.5 hours on foot, then snowshoes. There was another group on the mountain, who had snowmobiled part way up and then switched to backcountry ski gear. I regretted not bring mine, but it was a great day nonethless, and an enjoyable trip to Butte. I look forward to more of the same in the coming years.     
The Highlands to the east of Fleecer.
Looking north toward Deer Lodge and the Flint Range from the summit. Mount Haggin is on the eastern edge of the picture.
The Pintlers from Fleecer.
The Pioneers to the south from Fleecer's summit.
A panoramic video from the summit.
Words to live by hanging from Mom's bathroom wall.