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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spring Skiing: Lolo Peak, Pyramid Peak, and Matt Mountain

Matt nearing the summit of Pyramid Peak.

I'm always slow to transition between seasons, resistant of both the heat in spring and the cold in fall. With these last couple of 80-ish degree warm spells, the summer season seems to be upon us, and as usual, I am finding the heat to be oppressive, but I'm getting used to it. The valleys are green; pollen is in the air and my throat is itchy; and the sunscreen is flowing. Nonetheless, I'm still keen to get up where the snow lingers. Over the past week-and-a-half, I skied Lolo Peak, Pyramid Peak, and Matt Mountain. 

Lolo was the Sunday before last, on a bluebird day, and there must have been 30 people up there. I got a late start and was in a hurry to get up and down. On the way down to the car, I hooked up with Joshua Phillips and Aaron Teesdale, and we had some good conversation.

I did Pyramid with my friend Matt Roscoe mid-last-week, and we weren't in a rush, but got an early start and were back in Missoula by 3pm. The access to Pyramid is straightforward from Pyramid Pass trail head. Matt is my age, but he has young girls and is several years behind me in his academic career. Thus he's in a different stage of life than I am. As was the case when I had little ones, Matt is happy to recreate on the margins of life, only backcountry skiing a couple of times a year. I remember feeling the same when my kids were little, finding enough fulfillment in work and family that the activities that once defined me faded into the background. And honestly, I miss those times, when the kids were young and my duties were clear. But, I'm also happy to be free again, rediscovering my old (and some new) passions!

And finally, this week, I drove up to Condon on Memorial Day evening and stayed at Ashby Kinch's cabin. We chatted, hit the hay, and then drove back down to Seeley and skied Matt Mountain on Tuesday. Matt Mountain is just north of Pryamid Peak on the Swan front, and the trail that accesses it is quite close to the Pyramid Pass trail head. It was another nice outing, with great views into the Bob and some enjoyable skiing. Also, Ashby and I have a lot to talk about, as we are in the same stage of life: our kids are roughly the same age and we started at UM the same year. All in all, it was another great day in the mountains. 
Skinning up Pyramid.

Summit views into the Bob Marshall.


Walking the west ridge. In hindsight, we would have skied over to the south ridge and to the top.

Skiing down.
Lolo Peak

Pudge on Lolo's summit.
Ashby on top of Matt Mountain with the Bob Marshall behind him. I forgot my camera, so this is the only shot I have of the day, thanks to Ashby.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spring Skiing: Saint Mary Peak, Bitterroots

Pudge on the summit, looking south.
I was telling Jen today that I feel a bit adrift. The semester was so full, and now suddenly there's much less going on. To fill days with work, I've got to be self motivated, whereas during the semester, there was always something that needed to be done, and soon.

A while back, on a bluebird day, I went and skied St. Mary Peak in the Bitterroot with Pudge. It was a beautiful day, a straightforward ski, and only took about 1/2 day. 

Then yesterday, after the snow storm dumped over a foot of snow in the mountains nearby, I went and skinned up Snowbowl after a half day of work. I made my own skin track up, and tuckered myself out, the snow was so deep and wet. 

Needless to say, I've been enjoying the heck out of the spring skiing this year. I do, indeed, love the back country ski gear and the ability to travel in the high country in such a beautiful way this time of year.
And again looking north.

And yet again looking east.

And north toward the Missions.
Pudge at the top of Snowbowl.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Butte: Jack Mountain, Chancellor's Medallion, and Mountain Biking

The family up at Montana Tech.
I got an award last weekend from Montana Tech, called the Chancellor's Medallion. Many Montana Tech graduates go on to huge success in the oil and mining (and other) industries, but the current Tech Chancellor, Don Blackketter, wanted to also award people like me, who've achieved success in higher education, so he created the Chancellor's Medallion. It was an honor to get the award. I found out after the fact that one of my old Butte High/Montana Tech/Montana State classmates, Becky Johnson was behind nominating me, which makes the award even sweeter. Thanks Becky!

I went over to Butte for the festivities Thursday afternoon. In between engagements on Friday, I went and climbed Jack Mountain outside of Basin, Montana. Jack is a P2000 (2000+ feet of prominence) summit. I'd never been in this area before, and it was cool to see it. The route to the summit followed a road and was on snow, but it was a hot day, so the snow was unconsolidated making the outing strenuous and the skiing poor. Still it was good to get out and bag another P2000 summit.  

Finally, after commencement on Saturday, and a barbecue with an old friend, who happened to be there for the graduation of his son, Jen and I rode the Beaver Ponds and Toll Mountain from the top of Pipestone Pass. Butte has such great mountain biking, and the Beaver Ponds are where I got my start mountain biking back in the early 90s, so it was nostalgic to be back. 

Jack Mountain behind me.

Pudge on the summit. It was a tough day for him.

Jack Mountain summit, looking southeast, toward Bozeman.

Jack Mountain summit, looking northeast, toward the Elkorn Range.

The climb up Toll Mountain.

The Highlands from Toll Mountain.

Happy mountain biker on cherry Butte single track.