Tuesday, December 27, 2011

the hill

well, the big has opened a few runs, and things are okay, but marginal is really the best i can give it. and with lots of natural objects to avoid,to go with all the ants flying down the hill, it is a bit dicey up there. but, it is still outside, in the fresh air, making turns and getting exercise, so it is better than spending all day on this machine. add it both uphill routes are open, and it is worth the drive.

still, we are missing nordic dramatically, and really need some valley snow. it will come, i know, but i am really missing it, and the dogs needs some powder to play in too.

Friday, December 9, 2011

skiing anyone?

well, i have found a bit of skiing in the BC that is not too bad, and in fact, is quite good. but, since i did not go there on my own volition, i cannot say exactly where, since i have been reprimanded for this practice before. but let's just say the places that are okay right now are the same ones we often go to early in the season, when other prospects just have too much bushwacking to justify the effort. anyone got a heli?

our beloved mountain continues to lack snow, but i did ski down the face on tuesday, and it was okay. thin and risky, but decent turns. Tony Matt now has enough snow, and has had enough groomer traffic that it is skiable to the bottom, so this becomes a more viable option. with the resort opening tomorrow, we are really going to need to add snow, as the weekend will certainly trash what is there.

if you have time and some money, head north, as much of BC continues to do well, as a massive high pressure system out in the pacific has pushed storms to the north, not allowing them to make it to us. "none shall pass" as the saying goes in the old Monty Python flick.

so that is really all there is right now. can probably still get on the bike if you want to fend off the cold and a bit of snow, but i have resolved to leave mine in the carport, hanging for the winter, happy with a good summers use.

Friday, December 2, 2011

early december

well, the snow has not come yet. not really, and the mountain has officially delayed its opening. time for a few more hikes up the hill, but man, come on ullr, we need some help here. time to burn a few pairs of skis, i believe. i will do my part this weekend.

in the meantime, the biking has been holding up. sure, biking in december is not on the top of my priority list, but there it is. the trails are dry and clear. it is outdoors and it is exercise, so it remains better than sitting and waiting for la nina to hit.

or, go north, as much of canada is apparently getting pounded, so now is as good a time as any to get out of WF and hit the road.

more when it snows.

rich marriott

hello all,

sorry for such an informal, mass email. yesterday, reading the pilot (proof that every now and then you can read something of worth in this "rag"), i saw a story on Rich Marriot. he has a rare cancer that is affecting his immune system, and of course, his insurance (how many of us have insurance we "assume" will be there when we need it. but of course, we don't need any kind of fix to our health care system) is refusing to cover much of his expenses. many of you may not know him, but if you have ever skied off the Big Mountain, i bet you have heard names that are directly tied to him, or he was part of (ex. Marriot's, Chicken Bones, Deviled Egg). anyway to keep this short, there is a fundraiser tomorrow night, Saturday, December 3, at the Moose Lodge in Whitefish. Starting at 5 pm, it is a chili dinner, with music (the Bad Larry's), live and silent auction and more. this is one of those "must" events, in my mind.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I have been putting off writing, waiting for something really exciting to write about, but so far, not really. sure, there is some skiing to do, with about a foot at the top of the hill and a run or two that have seen some skiing and snow machine action. but really, it just is not winter in the mountains yet. i for one, am digging deep to hold off my impatience. in the meantime, i have been playing some hockey and still riding a bit. might even to today. i have been to the top of the hill a few times, so i know it is skiable, but it is more for the exercise. but the weather looks ok mid week for a few inches, and it really will not take much to get something worthwhile. but the area opens on saturday, and unless the storm is way bigger than expected, it will be a slim opening and the conversation at the Stube will be better than the turns on the hill.

but the la nina winter is still on a collision course with our neck of the woods. western AK has been getting hammered, and some avalanches have been rumbling in utah and the bozeman area. i just keep thinking that we just need to break the high pressure and get the precip started. once it starts, i think it will keep going well into january,and hopefully beyond.

i have recently been pricing and looking at beacons and avalanche airbag systems. the top of the line Ortovox, (which i won one of at an auction) is only $350. yes,that is an only preceeding that price. beacons have been well over $200 for twenty years, and this thing (and other top of the line beacons) are pretty amazing. the airbag systems still have a way to go. they are priced at over $1000 and all seem to weigh upwards of 7-8 lbs. although this is the system of the future, it still needs to come way down in both price and weight. so get a good beacon, perhaps an avalung and the proper knowledge, and ski like the bastards who are threatening to dismantle this control (conservatively).

ok, more as soon as it snows. by the way, Issak Walton trails are up and running. not sure if all of it is open, but it is something, and they do a great job grooming there. worth a day if your ski jones is getting the best of you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

nice and cold

November! Cold! But so far, the weather has been mostly nice, and even the bit of rain has been sporatic and not overwhelming. So that means we can still get out and hunt, bike, fish and play. Sure you have to dress for it, but what else are you going to do in November? Sit at the bar and wait for snow? OK, that might be a good enough answer for many of you, but I still like to earn my beers, so I am going to keep playing outside and getting ready for winter as long as i can, then it will be time to don the skis (currently getting an early season tune for cheap).

The nice weather has allowed me to continue some of my gardening work. Although I am ready to put down the shovel and tools, it is nice to continue with some income. Plus, i have not finished here at my own place, so again, the bar will have to wait.

Another Halloween has come and gone. We made it downtown for a couple of hours, but if you are not really fired up, ready to party and become part of the scene, the novelty wears thin quickly. So we took a gander at the great costumes, had a drink, made the rounds and headed home. Am I getting old or what?

This past Sunday, the WF trail Bike Patrol had our final official patrol on the trail for the 2011 year. We rounded up nearly half our patrol, plus a few friends, and road the trail from the Lion Mtn. start to the new TH out near Woods Lake. Then we negociated our way thru the laborinth of old roads and trails to the north end of the lake and finally to an old cabin on the lake owned by the father in law of one of our members, for a BBQ, bonfire and cold beverages. The rain held off and we had a great day and afternoon. Oh, if it were 25 years ago or more and perhaps a few of us could afford a lakeside property, we could do something like this more often. But it is 2011, and even after two plus years of bad real estate times, lake properties still hit the 7 digit prices. Our group of 11 would need half a mil each to buy the property we played on, at its current asking price.

Anyone got some money lying around?

OK. The forecast continues for a big La Nina, from December thru Feb, with mild but continuing La Nina affect thru the spring months of March, April and May. Much like last year. The glaciers up in the park even added some mass this year, if I heard Dr. Fagre correctly on the news last night. Not that I think they are going to last thru my lifetime all of the sudden, but perhaps long enough that I can no longer reach them, as my legs get too old to take on such tasks.

Alright, I hope a few people are still reading, and starting to read more, as winter is the time most tune in. I always want to hear some stories and hints to the goods.

Monday, October 24, 2011

fall colors

well, i finally got in my favorite fall ride, Reid Divide, on Saturday. we drove to the pass, as the weather was less than perfect, to keep out time on the bikes minimal, and try to not get too caught out in the rain. it worked out well, as we finished 10 minutes ahead of some strong rain and dropping temps. unfortunately, we had arranged a shuttle with my wife, but my time estimate was off by an hour, so we huddled under the bridge in the Tally Lake campground for an hour. fortunately, we had dry clothes, and cold beer (really needed that, right?)

the colors were brilliant, and the day started off with a beautiful surprise, as medium sized dark grey wolf ran across the star meadow road just ahead of us. Awesome! i did not however, report this siting to the hunter i spoke with later, as he proudly festooned his truck with a "save an elk, kill a wolf" sticker. the selfish human race.

yesterday i rode with a buddy who spends his summers on the east side, working trail for the park. gone for the summer, and rarely on his bike, we drove to the new parking lot at the Beaver Lake road, and rode the entire new northern section. again, perfect colors, just a bit of rain, and perfect tacky trail conditions. this is just a great time of year to ride, and a good time to take the dogs too, as it is not too hot, and plenty of puddles and damp underbrush. of course, it is hunting season, so if you are somewhere where there are hunters, dress the pup up in some colors, and perhaps yourself, as some of those folks out there with high powered rifles are not always so careful about what they are shooting at.

spent the afternoon yesterday helping with a garlic planting at Purle Frog and today i will get mine in the ground. probably about a week left to do that. the weather is supposed to stay warmish, but unsettled. good for finishing fall chores and getting the garden put away. also good for keeping the brilliant splashes of yellow and red around just a bit longer.

and with unsettled weather, comes the hope for an early and long winter. i always hope to max out my fall thru october, then just wait for the goods. should they come early and often.

Friday, September 16, 2011

a couple of things to take a look at. both are awesome. and the first could be even more appropriate given the second. sorry the links are not highlighted, but at this time, i do not have time to work it out. but you can highlight, copy and paste into browser. hope to see you all. cbm


Synopsis: La Niña conditions have returned and are expected to gradually strengthen and continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2011-12.
La Niña conditions returned in August 2011 due to the strengthening of negative sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (Fig. 1). With the exception of the far westernmost Niño-4 region, all of the latest weekly Niño index values were –0.5oC or less (Fig. 2). Also supporting the return of La Niña conditions was the strengthening of the below-average subsurface oceanic heat content anomaly (average temperature anomalies in the upper 300m of the ocean, Fig. 3), in response to increased upwelling and further shoaling of the thermocline across the eastern Pacific Ocean (Fig. 4). The atmospheric circulation over the tropical Pacific continued to exhibit La Niña characteristics, but remained weaker and less canonical than the wintertime atmospheric patterns. For example, convection continued to be suppressed near the Date Line, but remained south of the equator, while convection was only weakly enhanced near Papua New Guinea (Fig. 5). In addition, anomalous low-level easterly and upper-level westerly winds persisted over the central tropical Pacific. Collectively, these oceanic and atmospheric patterns reflect the return of La Niña conditions.
Over the last several months many models have predicted increasingly negative SST anomalies in the Nino-3.4 region during the upcoming Northern Hemisphere fall and winter. However, the majority of models continue to predict ENSO-neutral conditions for this period (Fig. 6). The NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFS) has performed quite well over the past several months (Fig. 7) capturing the recent decrease in SST anomalies. The better model performance, combined with the historical tendency for significant La Niña episodes (as in 2010-11) to be followed by relatively weaker La Niña episodes, leads to increased confidence that La Niña will persist into the winter. While it is not yet clear what the ultimate strength of this La Niña will be, La Niña conditions have returned and are expected to gradually strengthen and continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2011-12.
Across the contiguous United States, temperature and precipitation impacts associated with La Niña are expected to remain weak during the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere summer and early fall, and to generally strengthen during the late fall and winter. During September-November 2011, there is evidence that La Niña favors an increased chance of above-average temperatures across the mid-section of the country, and an increased chance of above-average precipitation across the Pacific Northwest (see 3-month seasonal outlook released on 18 August 2011).
This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA's National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts for the evolution of El Niño/La Niña are updated monthly in the Forecast Forum section of CPC's Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 6 October 2011. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to: ncep.list.enso-update@noaa.gov.

Monday, September 12, 2011

ovando and more

well, the ovando farmhouse is done!! finally. now i need to find some vacation renters. for more info, look it up on VRBO or take a look at www.sunsetfarmhouse.com

we were able to spend a long weekend in ovando for Labor Day. and labor it was for me for the first two days. but it is finally over and by saturday afternoon, i was relaxing with multiple friends, swimming and playing ball at Browns Lake. but the real highlight, was as always on Sunday.

Sunday of Labor Day weekend is the Helmville Rodeo, for 41 years now. This is a true rodeo, with some pros, lots of families and family events, and no hype or fanfare. Just old fashioned cowboys and real people drinking cold beer, eating hot dogs and hamburgers, sitting in the sun (or shade for those that got there early enough to get into the Grand Stands. Next year!) The people are friendly and it just seems like a step back in time.

This weekend was the 2 Bear Marathon. MA was the race director, so of course, I had to help out. Even if I wanted to run, I could not. But what a great excuse not to anyway. The race went off without a hitch, there was a nice moment of silence for those who passed away ten years ago in that horrific incident in NYC, and for the firemen who bravely charged in while others desperately ran out. Man, have you ever asked yourself, if that were you, could you have done that? I am just not sure myself.

Since I was on the race section that is on the new Whitefish Trail, my group of marshalls and I got to ride to our posts, and when the last of the runners had passed, well, what else could we do but ride our bikes a bit more. It made the early hours and loss of a valuable Sunday morning sleep in worth it, and by noon we were drinking well deserved beer.

So now the sun is fading each day a bit earlier, days are sure to get cooler, and the last of the summer garden crops will have to be harvested. And when all that is done, and the wood is put up, it just might be time for Winter!!!!

I for one, am ready to ski.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

more riding adventures

it sure was a fun summer doing the race league up on the big mountain. but it had its consequences. MA took a few hard falls, but managed to finish each race, but her last fall is a costly one. falling hard on her wrist near the end of her second and final lap, she tore some tendons, and now has to have surgury. no riding for another 4-6 weeks.

then i had my hardest fall in recent memory. i got tangled up with a rider faster that me, as he tried to pass. i mistook what side he was on. once we collided, our handle bars got tangled, and there was no corrective action. over the handle bars we both flew, and had we been able to go in slow motion, it could have been an outtake from a Jay and Silent Bob movie. "boy, this is going to hurt, isn't it?" "sure will, got insurance?" "hope the bikes don't break". then wam and a cloud of dust, massive scraps, bruises and ego busting. i heard it described as "epic" from a rider behind us who saw the entire thing.

so after my initial thought to go straight to the bar, my competitive side came back. i quickly tried to get back on my bike, as i heard a wave of cries of "Noooo" and get out of the way, from the second group coming at high speeds down the same hill i had just nearly died on. to stay in their way would be to cause another accident, with more people. i jumped off the trail, and now my adreneline was REALLY pumping. back on the bike, but it did not work. i had not taken a look at it. the chain was off, and later i found out i had broken a spoke. still, i took to the coure again, just ahead of my crash test dummy, whose handle bars had twisted 180 degrees. out group was far gone, the second group was mostly gone, but we were ahead of the third group. eventually i got my head back in the game, caught just one from our group, but finished the race, cleaned myself up, and headed to the Stube, to find out on closing night, the Beer Was Free!! i think i deserved it, so helped myself to a few, and made a pretty good night of it.

there is no moral to this story. just some fun and hard lumps.

and still plenty of time left this year to head into the hills and get in some big mountain rides.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


well, august is running by in a hurry. we are finally into some hot weather, though my friends visiting from Memphis continue to insist it is not "hot". well, sure to them. but they also refer to this time of year down there as "hell".

i really do not have that much going on, as i have been scrambling to finish my wonderful place in ovando, which now is done and looks amazing. soon it will have it's own site, as i hope to rent it out on a nightly basis. think: fishing, hiking, hunting. okay, so that is all of montana. but this one is a bit more quiet, a bit more real. a bit more like "real" montana.

i do want to include a story that was recently submitted to me. as i hope any of you still reading this know, i am the "Bike Patrol Coordinator" for the new Whitefish Trail. we have 15 patrollers, and many of us just took our first aid and cpr courses this spring. two of our new patrollers were up close viewers to what could have been a massive injury, as well as first responders. please read and enjoy.

My self and fellow patrol Erin were spectators at the Lone Peak Revenge Downhill Race on Aug 14th in Big Sky, Mt. There were probably 50-60 riders in the event, with multiple practice laps and two timed runs down a double black diamond trail. Erin’s husband, Noah Bodman who is a very experienced rider mentioned that it was probably the toughest course he has rode this race season and is more difficult than our local DH trail Runaway Train. There were 1minute intervals between each rider. During the second lap of the event a Category 1 rider, 19yr old Bridgett LeBer went over the handlebars directly in front of Erin and myself. The area was probably a 30degree washed out slope with intermittent rocks and roots. She got about 10-12ft of air and landed on her left side and head. Immediately she started to scream. I jumped up and started to work my way down to her. Erin went for help from the local bike patrol/ski patrollers stationed above us with a pickup and backboard. When I got down to her she was shitting up and I could tell she was in shock. I did a quick assessment asking her name and age. I could tell that she probably had a concussion but no broken neck. She wanted to lay down in the trail. The race was still going on, I had to work quickly to get her off the trail so another racer did not crash into both of us. It was a hard decision to make because I could tell that her helmet visor was broken and she could possibly have a neck injury. It would have been hard for a racer to miss both of us and if they hit us would have caused more injury. So I helped her up and we moved 5ft to the side of the trail. I laid her down next to a log to help brace her body and her head. Again I did an assessment asking her name age and the day, where she was at and what she was doing. She had a slight concussion and some of the shock was wearing off. She wanted to finish her run, I told her that it was not a good idea because her helmet was broke and she has a concussion. Here left wrist had a sprain, but it was difficult to tell because she had elbow pads that reached down to her forearm. About 2-3mins after I moved her to the side of the trail, the patrollers showed up. I gave them a run down of her stats and what happened.

Basically the patrollers started completely over with their own assessment of her. When he asked her what her name was, he repeated her name incorrectly at Brittney, she caught it and said no it’s Bridgett. I immediately picked up on this and thought to myself that this guy was really experienced and did that on purpose. We looked at her helmet and made the decision to take off her helmet. Spending about 5 more minutes with her, we walked her down the trail a short distance and loaded her in a pickup for the bottom. She asked me on the way down how the wreck looked. We knew then that she would be ok. Bridgett just ended up having a sprained wrist that the patrollers mobilized with a smaller Sam Splint with a thumbhole. I saw her during the awards and she thanked me and had a smile on her face. It was here that I knew the training that I had a bike patroller, helped out during an event away from home. It was very rewarding to be part of the team that helped this girl out. I learned quite a bit from the experience and believe that it made me a better patroller.

Erin was able to locate the patrollers, stop the race, and find this girls mother and boyfriend. She had the difficult task of running up the steep, heavily wooded terrain. After the incident we debriefed each other and were excited that we were able to help.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

more action

it has been a fun filled week, despite a decent work load and trouble in the home garden (ie. i just cannot find the time to weed the damn thing, and some of the desired plants are suffering. may be time to go to raised beds and drip irrigation)

sunday was the foys lake triathon. a "paddlethon". canoeing or some form of water transport, but not swimming, a mtn. bike ride and a trail run. all in all,it went well, but the run (for this non runner) was not what i would call fun. but i was only passed once on the run, and it was early, by a team player, who was flying. otherwise, i think i did okay. once things got into the water, we all seemed to find our spots, and not much changed. after that, i passed a few folks on the bike ride, and one gal on the run. as with so many triathons, it is so much about the water portion. my wife did so much better (relatively).

i also did my last porter load up to Granite Park Chalet. with the heavy snow and lack of melt this year, they have only just begun to be able to get horses and mules up to this chalet. they still cannot get all the way to Sperry. so some of us humans have been doing the job. some money. i thought of it as "paid training". about as close as i could ever come to getting paid for an athletic endeavor. but we are done, as horses and mules can do what our team of four takes a week or more, in a morning. the crew at Granite was very happy to have its first fresh fruit, vegies and yogurt in over a month.

the fishing is in. just look at the rivers. looking smoother and more clear every day. finally.

and of course, the riding just remains great. still some issues for any high mountain epics, but otherwise, we are in the midst of a great summer of mountain biking.

any good stories out there?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

almost august

anyone still skiing? there is tons of snow to be had at logan pass, and word is it is suncupped but good. probably got some snow yesterday as well. floral park is still in, but is soon to be spotty. but you can ski to the first waterfall, and there is snow at the chalet.

i know there is plenty of snow at the chalet, as i have been helping porter weighty provisions to the granite park chalet, which has less snow than sperry. i may get to help carry a few last things to the latter chalet one more time as well, before horses can finally get all the way. there. not an exciting job, but getting some money to go power hiking is all right.

the rivers are coming down, so they are filling up with boaters floaters and fishers. RIGHT! it is time to swell, crash and fish. but don't kill the local fish, they need to live.

almost time to get out on some bigger rides, but the high country is still dubious. but there are several lower elevation rides calling out our names.

thursday night race league is up and running and offering some good competetion. i keep getting crushed, but at least i stayed ahead of my wife, who came in ripped up and bloody from a nasty fall. but she finished and actually did better than she had the week before. soon, i will be chasing her as well.

this sunday, the foys lake triathon returns. should be interesting for us, as we have not done much flat water boating. fulling expecting to come out of the water near the back. can i make up ground on tires or sneakers? but unless i drown or my bike breaks, i will finish and there will be cold beer.

and then it will be august!

Friday, July 15, 2011


yep, it is summertime and the living, though not necessarily easy, what with work and all, but certainly, the living is good.

trails all over the valley are in great shape. riding, running or just walking the dog. dry, smooth and fun.

thursday night race league started last night, with over 70 riders, of all ages, from single digits to me. at least i felt like the oldest out there at times. but it was fun and i am still alive. my wife did great as well, even if she added a few minutes going off course accidentally.

riding throughout the valley is fantastic, but we are likely waiting for another month before getting into the big mountain epics. but at least the weather is often cooler by late august and september.

skiing is still going on in many respects. the going to the sun road is finally open, so we all know what that means. and the big mountains have tons to ski, just be mentally prepared for the bushwacking that it takes to get into the places that have a lot of snow. i went up into preston park this past sunday, and there is plenty of snow. an easy way is to go up the gunsight trail, as the snow no longer comes down to siyeh bend. also went to granite chalet. up the trail about 3 miles (less every day) and onto skis for the rest of your visit. so much snow. a few guys are hauling supplies up there, as they cannot take mules or horses for some time yet.

i have heard the fishing is starting to come around. slowly, ever so slowly, the rivers are coming down and clearing up. and the fish are sure to be HUNGRY!.

which also means it is time to get the boats out. sure, the real boaters have been out for months, but for those of us that are recreational, fair weather boaters, now is the time. fast, fun big rapids, sunshine and warm temps.

anyone else love summer?

Friday, July 8, 2011


man, sorry nothing has happened, but life has been full.

for those who like to mtn. bike, it has been a great past few weeks. all the valley trails are in great shape, the weather has been outstanding.

the new WF trail is in fantastic shape, and some of the new trail is up and running, though not officially open. but it is going to be great. after next summer the single track will go all the way around the lake and to the road, or close by. then we will see. but this year there is another 5+ miles coming on.

still lots of snow up high, so many epics are going to be more in september than august. but a great time to ride, so get in shape and get ready.

thursday night race league starts next week, july 14, up on the hill. should be fun.

went up to fernie for a long weekend of riding. totally different than here. very technical. rooty! GREAT downhills! every bit as confusing as here.

for those who are into boating and fishing, well,you are probably troubled with patience. it will come, than go thru the hot months, so there is that advantage. i prefer august anyway.

hiking is coming around. the east side and the outer edges of the mountain ranges offer the best non snow opportunities. but if you like snow, well, go skiing! i have not, but am sure there are still many great days to be had and some epics to be found. and if the park road crew ever gets out of bed, we will be skiing all summer

i will try to write a bit more. need life to settle down. but summer is here, days are long. life is too fun to not get out and enjoy what montana has to offer.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

time to flood?

Just got a report for water and boating conditions on the Swan River, the Wild Mile to be exact. FAST! And with water likely to continue rising until the Whitewater Fest, it could be crazy. I remember a number of years ago when conditions were similar, and the spillover dam got bombarded with a load of down timber that broke thru the upper barricade and down over the dam. Those in the water were in dire peril, but no one that I know of got hurt. That is a pretty wild section anyway, so typically only top-notch boaters go there, but this year could be one of those years people get scared.

A birdie told me plowing on the Going to the Sun road is going very slowly, with little expectation of an opening in June. This has only happened once or twice in the past. Apparently, the road crew does not really read the avalanche report, but goes on older, much more scientific reports. Like “the weather will be warm and sunny this afternoon”. That means certain avalanche conditions. But not really until “this afternoon”. Think they could maybe get something done by noon or one? The road crews are still more likely to trust “spotters” than forecasts. A spotter literally sits below the workers and stares all day at known avy paths. If something happens, he yells out and calls quickly into his radio. Something like this might be heard, “oh shit, cover your head and take a big breathe, we’re both about to get…..” I love old school.

So biking has been great. Plenty of water on most trails in puddles and over full wetlands to help keep the dogs cool. The Whitefish Trail is in great shape, and sounds like the initial work is just about to begin for new trail this summer. I would guess we would have another 5 miles by August. A good early season ride for some real mountain feel is Beardance down south of Bigfork. Should be ready but no word yet.

And for those of you who have not started your garden yet, it is time. It is a late year, and no reason to despair if you are not in the ground yet. There is still plenty of time to get everything in. For more info, I now have a website for my gardening business, www.millerstillers.com . I plan to do a discussion page, next on my morning agenda, to talk about things to do. Take a look and get in the dirt and grow some of your own food or make your home more beautiful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the good part of spring

yes, we are in that time frame where everything is on, well, maybe not epic high mountain bike rides, but all else.
okay, the fly fishing is not at the top of its game, but nymphing should be okay for a long time. ask about at your favorite sports stores and fishing shops for more info, but i know the infatutuated ones are getting out.
biking has been great. tacky trails that are mostly cleared of snow. although pig farms could use a ton of clearing due to winter logging. if anyone is still reading this, i will post a potential unofficial gathering to help chuck brush, if we get one put together.

skiing is of course, still on. i did hike up the hill yesterday am, and found the top half nothing short of brutal. not quite re-frozen. hiking was slick and seemed like trail breaking with an unsupporting crust. and the skiing up high was difficult and dangerous. and with my dog who only understands going as fast as possible, under my feet, it was even tougher. usually i can just speed up, but with a crust layer, going fast was not my best option.

by the way, a very nice resort security guy drove by as i was preparing to leave the car, and mentioned the USFS has had a presence up there this spring and ARE writing tickets for dogs off leash. so at least have one ready. he said he could care less about the base area, what with no one there, but was just giving me a warning.

trail runners should be happy right now. cool days and dry trails.

but swimmers are still likely indoors, unless they are the super hardy type, more usually found on the coasts where they have nothing better to do.

okay, i am heading up the Bike Patrol, for the Whitefish Trail, and am actively looking for volunteers. please call me at 862 4281 or email at stilltelecm@yahoo.com

lastly, started up a website for my gardening business, if anyone has a need or knows someone with a need. www.millerstillers.com take a look.

and get out and play. later.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

part time spring

was last weekend our spring? no, i am sure not,but it was absolutely nice, even for those of you who want winter to last until july. and really, i can no longer say we are in "winter", i might call it springter. cool, damp and gray. rain that could turn into snow at any moment. trails trying to dry, but then getting wetter. mid elevation snowpack that really has not even begun to melt, and higher mountain snowpack that has been growing.

you all wanted "la nina" and now it will not let go.

that all being said, the skiing has been great. and if we could just get some stable weather, we might get some great peak opportunities.

trails are slowly drying. i finally got on my bike yesterday, on a trail. an update from others around town. the Whitefish Trail is in good shape. with many open areas from recent logging, and much of it on south facing slopes, a fair amount is in great shape. even towards beaver lake has been reported clear and ridable.
spencer mountain is ridable, if you are willing to walk thru and around a lot of snow. probably best to leave it alone for another week or so.
pig farms are somewhat dry and clear, but recent winter logging has many trails covered with debris and branch trimming. turns out, leaving fresh cut branches on the ground actually allows them to lose some of the nitrogen they have held in their greenery back into the soil. this is a good thing. but after about a year, the nitrogen is gone from the branches, and they become a fire hazard if they are not piled up and burned. so management of logging is not done yet. Or is it? i will be watching.

i don't think the trails on the big mountain are quite ready yet. maybe august?

certainly it would be a great time to head for some climbing, but again , the weather has not been too helpful. well, last weekend would have been perfect. would have been good for camping as well. cool at night, but not cold, and clear, so you would not have been scurrying to your tent right after eating. i am hoping for another break this weekend, but it does not look super promising.

anyone reading this. i am going to be heading up the new "bike patrol/ambassador" program for the Whitefish Trail. this will be a volunteer patrol, but should be a lot of fun and may have some basic training for first aid and bike maintenance, as well as some pro deal help thru IMBA. if anyone is interested, they can sign up at sportsman, glacier cyclery or great northern cyclery. they can also call heidi at Whitefish Legacy Partners, at 862 3880, or sign up on line on the WLP website. but the easiest way might be to just call me, chris miller, 862 4281.

hope to hear from a few. lets hope for some sunny warm days, and cool clear nights, and we can all enjoy the favorite things we like to do. (unless your favorite things is to go for long walks in 45 degree rain, which is by the way, our two dogs favorite thing, but not ours)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

winter, round two

winter is back!! with avengence.

i must admit i am ready for all things spring, but the weather is not cooperating, so what can you do? go skiing silly! sure,you may be over it, but biking, boating, fishing, etc really are not happening yet.

the easiest right now, is of course, hiking up the big. convenient, fast and amazing coverage. i am headed up shortly, as i need some exercise before a series of meetings (boo) and my other options are bleak. but should get some powder turns in.

then, most places of backcountry relevance are in great shape. a word of wisdom though, if you are planning on a snowmobile ride, think it thru. i can assure you, that spider bowl/basin, the machine is not justified. too much dirt, but not until we were sufficiently faked out and rode a solid half mile. after a mile of walking on dirt, we came by a suby parked just before the real snow had started. so some areas might seem good for a ride before a hike, but you may be wasting time and energy to get there. (all this after a frustrating morning getting my sled affixed to my truck, in a system not yet perfected. this in turn made me late, so driving a bit fast into c-falls to meet our friends at coffee traders, i got pulled over just as i was slowing down. today i seek out the judge to determine my punishment. so my hard luck concerning snowmobile days continues) after that the hiking went fine for another while, but as we got higher and steeper, the hiking became unruly and slick. very frustrating at all positions on the climb. so when we got to the first good place for descent, with nnw aspect, looking nearly perfect, we ripped hide and prepared for some turns. following the two gals, i was certain the turns would be bliss, as that is how they made it out to be. but it was not the case. there was a difficult and at times treacherous crust layer buried about 8-12 inches down. up high it was negociable, but got worse on the descent. finally, as new snow gave way to old, and lower elevation created more spring conditions, the skiing became a bit more consistent. this was not a day that anyone put in the record books, but we got out with smile and laughs and agreed to look forward to other more promising days ahead. at least, we all agreed, it was better than staying home and watching nascar.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

back to winter

well, peak skiing has probably not been the top of the list this past week, as winter has returned, with lots of new snow and more time in powder and the trees. after some too warm weather creating some gloppy conditions, things cooled off over the weekend and another foot has dropped.

with only five days left on the hill, it seems like some people are burnt out on winter and ready for spring, as it has been empty. sure, we could all enjoy some sun and spring conditions, but it is what it is, and the sun will come. i am ready to hop on my bike so much, but i guess as long as it is snowing, i am going.

of course, the end of the season always brings on some fun events, such as last frabert, pond skim ( the only redeeming value of the pond skim is it seems like income to our friend and bartending extradinaire, raggy) but i still miss the furniture race. unique to the world and crazy fun. sure, it was dangerous, but so is life. last day is always a blast. the party at the top, a huge crowd at the stube polishing off the last of scott's beer and perhaps their beer cards. and for those who still go, the patrol party is still a hoot. but don't drink and drive. take a cab. it is not like our city cops don't know what day it is.

then for employees, it is one more day, but for the rest of us, it is usually back to work, a bit of a hollow feeling knowing the lifts are closed and the comraderie that is winter and having one place to congregate is over. but summer, when it comes really makes this place special, so truly, it becomes just another season of the year to look forward to.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

last day of march

march always seems like the longest month to me. but it has stayed winter, at least in the high country, so most of the skiers should be happy.

yes, last post i talked about hitting the high/high country. but rain and snow continue to come, and the trees are the safer place to be. it has been wet, but with decent gear and the right attitude, there has been plenty of skiing and powder. yep, powder.

i admit i am ready to get out the mountain bike and hit some trails, but i have to admit, i am likely going to need to go desert bound for that, which is not an option this year. so powder, wet and cold, will be the dessert de-jour.

eventually the weather will stabilize (july?) and it will be time to get up high. until then, take what we got. enjoy the last few weeks of the mountain being open, enjoy a long spring of hiking the hill after it closes, get out into the real world of peaks and chutes when the time is right.

and then get out the dry suit and hit the rivers, the wet weather gear and hit the trails, and i am sure some rivers will show some good fishing opportunities, but not sure when. need to talk to the experts on that one.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


yep, spring has sprung, and the time has come to look for corn lines. sure, northern aspects still hold some soft snow, and with some additional yesterday, worth looking for. but now is the time to start thinking; Peaks!!

which is what i did with a small group down near ovando over the weekend. saturday found us a bit hungover, with crappy weather, wind and clouds. since we had snowmobiles, and i remain a novice, we thought of being sled neckers, at least somewhat. we drove from monture creek to seeley, with thoughts of sledding into town and having a beer. but due to recent logging activity, the trails near the main trailhead were obliviated, and we ended up turning tail and heading back, just in time for an afternoon squall. we logged over 40 miles, good for my experience, but maybe not so good for overall enjoyment for a group of guys who really will never be sledders. not at heart.

on sunday, with slightly more responsible adult behavior, we rose early and got a decent start, and with only a short drive and ride, were at the base of ovando mountain. certainly we could have picked a better route, but we are still learning the area down there. one thing is for sure, there is a lot of terrain, without all that much sledding to get one started.

we were lucky the sun hid around 11am, as the snow never really changed from its frozen, solid state. this mountain does not look that big, but is over 3000 vertical feet, and if you had a full day to expend, you could log some big miles and vert. but with mediocre (dust on crust) skiing, and the drive home ahead of us, we just did an up and down, found a much better route out than in, and were back at the sleds in no time.

montana just has so much space and mountainous terrain. the middle fork of the flathead is barely touched by our vast, diverse group of backcountry users, so when you get to less populated areas, (and believe me, ovando is just a bit less populated), there is a well, Ton of fun.

and one nice thing about sleds, you don't even have to wait to get back to the vehicle for your beer supply. they have a handy pocket for just such a beverage just under the seat. high peaks, corn snow and cold beer! sounds like springtime is in the air.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


yeah, it was a powder day. but please, do not call this one "epic" or even "great". it was a fun day with some new thick snow on top of a very firm old pack. occasionally you could float above the old crust, but mostly you knew it was there. that is just the way it is with spring skiing.
not to say i won't take it. 8" new is still a good time, and worth getting up early for.

the ski patrol saw lots of slab action of new snow and windload, and ted has a great video on the GCAC obs page. just when you maybe think, okay this one is solid again, come tap 28 from the shoulder,and watch out! the potential for big rippers propogating both across and stepping down the snowpack is outstanding. it might take some work, or perhaps a big face plant, but there is a fragility deep in the pack that calls for the utmost caution.

Monday, March 14, 2011

spring survey

there is survey online on the GCAC website, on surveymonkey.com try to find it and take it, it could be substantive with our forecasting in the valley moving forward. i tried to paste the link, but it will not let me, but it is easy to find. hope some of you will take the time.

skiing has gone into spring mode. may be some new snow coming, otherwise, go north side or wait for sun. not much else to report. i am busy trying to find fresh snow.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


while ugly in town, and likely to be rain on half the hill, the depth up top, might, just might be worth the drive up, for a few wet turns. i think i will sit it out until mid afternoon and go for max wet depth.

yesterday finally did something i have been considering since the whole uphill policy debate began last winter.

hike up at the end of the day, ski off into the canyon, then climb back up the backside. can they regulate this? i don't know, or care. it totals more actual climbing and hiking, more skiing, as you get a run into the canyon, and more peaceful. it is fun coming up the backside after hours. in the past, the only times i have done this were when i missed the last chair, and one time when the chair was down, and we had skins and said, f-it.

the skiing in the creek remains super good, but this new wet stuff could make it more interesting. will this rain finally cause problems with earlier freeze layers? probably best right now to let this storm cycle thru and settle, and maybe get some colder temps. but hey, do what feels best. it could be deep.

search and rescue and nordic ski patrol got called out late last night, as two snowboarders lost their way near Zip's Place cabin, up past essex. what were they thinking? no avy gear, and even worse, no mode of snow travel. they were boot packing, and were into waist deep snow and stuck. they did have the wherewithal to at least start a fire and hunker down and wait for help. they were found sometime after 2 am, and were safe and okay. apparently is was raining pretty hard, but at least they were not caught in an avalanche.

what does it take to get more info and education to the masses?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

another year older

yep, hit the big 51 yesterday, so did nothing special for this nothing special birthday. the skiing on the hill was only good on northern facing slopes, the rest, as best i could find, had been attacked by sun and warm temps. sure, i could have gone for a tour, but i actually had some job prospects to go thru, so i took a few runs in bounds, then got the dogs out to round meadows, which is in great shape, as are all nordic adventures right now.

after the epic turns in the canyon a week ago, this past weekend had given up lots of runs to powder hounds. the snow remained good, but to find an untouched line would take more time than we had, so our small group was happy to get what we could.

spent five days touring in the bitterroots, west of hamilton, out of the Downing Mountain Lodge. this old restaurants sits above 5000 feet, and offers slopes up to 8500 feet. high winds kept us off the biggest of the pitches early in the week, but there was great snow all over, so powder turns at lower elevations kept us more than happy. unfortunately this place is very rocky, and the slopes off the south and west sides of the high ridges are just so forboding in this regard, we avoided them for the second year in a row. these aspects seem to offer the biggest runs, but also put you into some potential traps. i believe these pitches really only open up in springtime corn.

our last couple of days allowed us to better explore the farther reaches, and on our final day, we really hit a nice big day, with multiple descents and lots of variety. also this year, compared to the paltry year of 2010, we were able to ski out the final run each day, and quite easily slide all the way to the cabin.

this lodge is worth a visit, as it is close, affordable and easy to get to, so bringing in tons of food and beer and other amenities is quite easy. but it is not really the place to go for people looking to max out on vertical and huge alpine expanses and big days. it is a place to get some fun and relaxing powder turns in, soak in the hot tub and crank up both the fire place and the wood burner.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

deep and light

after an incredible day on wednesday, followed by some very not so incredible day with super cold temps and more high winds, i headed back to the frontcountry and side country slopes of the Big today, sunday. it felt like a mid week day. basically no one was there, zero lift line, and new snow coming. this day really had the feel of the mid-ninties. the snow was super light, and probably piled 6 new by the four in the afternoon. but such light snow on firm packed powder makes for good skiing, but not great.

so what was great. why do i bother to write this after 10pm, when i have to get up at 4 am and head south into the bitterroots for the week? well, let's me just say,if you read this, before it warms too much, get your ASS into the creek.

waist deep, light, fast, face shots, reminiscent again of the mid-ninties. minimal tracks are still found, the snow felt stable , the wind had not affected the area. anyone who can, needs to get out there, because it is the highest level. "that was ORGASMIC" i heard one experienced skier (not under 25, by the way) say. it sure was.

enjoy the week. more snow is coming and with luck, no ra, ra, ra, oh, i cannot write it. you know.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


after some consultation with a couple of backcountry gurus, taking into account parental duties, and looking at some snotel sites, a small group of us headed north of WF to look for the goods.

i have sworn to secrecy the whereabouts of our trip, but it was certainly unknown to me, and i look forward to heading back with our hosts.

the snowmobile ride let us know from the start what was in store, as we hit nearly a foot of new on the trail right off the bat, and it just got deeper. as a complete and total novice, perhaps even beginner sledder, i just did what i could to keep our track on the road in out of the stuff too deep to drive. i did okay, only losing the track once, with a small flip on the side that was quickly righted.

our skin track was knee deep, but we found a super safe route thru the trees, and made pretty good progress, climbing 2000' in under two hours. only in the last 300' vert did we hit massive drifts, dense snow and "arduous" travel. (arduous, as reported by snow safety scientist erich from a week ago in the gcac obs page. check it out). the very first turn justified the effort, and i knew the day would be worth the hassles and cold everything.

with the advent of shaped then fat, then uber fat skis, it is harder all the time to find face shots. as a skier over 6' in height, there are extremely rare for me. but this was 800' of all face shots, and not much vision. twice i skied over rocks and trees i did not see until the last minute.

back to the uphill, and still colder than bejeezus, we quickly gained a saddle. but he ridge we needed to ascend would not be possible with the drifts and massive winds. so we moved forward on the lee side, and this went fine, just slow, as we moved thru myriad trees. finally we got to our point for our ascent, which would eventually take us right to our sleds. this was a long run thru trees and into a narrow drainage, that was so filled in, there was room to spare for our group of four. the snow was incredibly stable, and again, face shots reigned. our group leader mentioned it to be the deepest snow he had been in in many years. for me, make that about 10.

back at the sleds, we realized that the pre trip plan to be out in time to meet and greet kids home from school, would not be met, but we had been safe and travel had been hard. my sled partner decided to take a tow instead of a ride, which was fine, until i suddenly decelerated to clear my sideview mirrow (my sled is a huge four stroke, kind of a caddie of sleds). joel got caught up in the tow rope when i re-accelerated, which i did not notice until i had dragged him a hundred yards or more. fortunately, i was not going too fast, and he was fine and did not even threaten to beat the crap out of me, or push me out of the drivers seat.

back at the truck, after 5 pm, we were met with a beer (really, in below zero temps, and it still tasted great) i have been getting pretty good at loading my sled up my steep ramp, but when my first attempt came up a bit short, i over gunned it the second time, slammed my skid thru the cross beams of the head rack, and right thru the back window of my truck. with the heat cranked throughout the drive home, it never really got warm,but was tolerable. yet another lesson learned. okay, maybe i am a beginner sledder, but i took my lessons well, and look forward to my nest venture out.


man, it is cold as can be again. and with high winds, the ski hill is not even open (really) today. by my calculations, done by scientific memory method, this is our sixth snap with below zero temps.

an old adage and theory, of myself and others who have been here for more than a few years, it that once we get to about mid-feb, the worst of the weather is over, with little risk of these severe low temps. but the last couple of years has contested that viewpoint, and i find it hard to believe this is the last such arctic front we will see this year.

so while yesterday found some good to great skiing in spots (see the post that will show up at the top, next on my list of to do), the wind howled all night last night, and has certainly added to dangerous windload, scoured some more aspects and did some damage to our precious resource. that being said, i am sure there is some great skiing to be found between 4500' and 6500', in trees, where the wind affect was moderated or perhaps even enhanced the skiing. but i do not expect much in the alpine to be of any use for a bit, and travel in these conditions is nothing short of brutal anyway.

so dress warm, ski and travel safe and when you find the right spot, you will know it, because you will have entered the "white room" (no, not the one in WF, but the real one.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

race day

GREAT race at stillwater nordic yesterday. the fourth (or fifth) annual "broken-binding" 32 or 48 km skate race. probably had 60 plus participants and a lot of smiling, worked over faces. i know i am still stiff and tired, and i only did the 32. but the conditions were superb. fast, nearly perfect snow, except for the lake portion. this could be improved with an alternate return course that does not go over murray lake, but that would require the state to allow the stillwater team to build new trail, and that is likely just a bit too forward thinking for the logging first mentality that is anchored into the dnrc minds. not to get into politics or anything. just trying to keep it interesting.

so the race was great, tons of prizes, great food provided by lisa stiener. and since she was busy cooking, there was one less person ahead of me. my highlights were finishing, not coming in last, not getting lapped, and finishing ahead of rob m, who to his credit, had put in a pretty big day in the bc the day before. i had spend saturday, learning that you cannot drive a snowmobile, just like a car, without adequate anti-freeze, before the thing will overheat. no harm done, and a good lesson learned.

more snow in the forecast. we have not had too many amazing days on the hill, but two straight months of consistently good skiing, and great backcountry. lets hope the snow continues into march.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

big dump

one of our bigger overnight dumps. great skiing was had by all, and i do mean all. where do all these people come from? doesn't anyone work anymore? there were substantial lift lines until nearly noon. but it was great skiing, so not really that surprising.

got to ski a few runs with the great cody T. she is still as good a skier as there is on the hill. so it was quite a surprise to see her at the top of haskill's slide pulling a ski out of the snow. but there had not been some great head plant, just a malfunction of her bindings.

also had a great run into the canyon. new snow seemed totally bonded with the old, on all exposures, and the skiing was over the knees. with this somewhat heavier snow, there were not face shots to be had, but it was still deep and soft. with slightly colder temps coming in, and some more snow, anything over 4 inches could turn those turns into mid thigh face shots. or, just put on some old school skis and sink to your chest. you just might not come out, or worse, remember how to ski old technology. i doubt i can.

by the end of the day, the damage to the hill had been done. sure, it was still soft, and some deep searches into trees will still find some untracked spots, this place no longer offers untracked lines for days after a storm. so let's hope the snow gods hit the refresh button again, tonight, before the wave of president's weekenders arrive.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

melt down

holy end to the la nina winter. no not really, but it sure got warm. went off for the weekend, where it was also quite warm, came home to much ice, dirty snow and overall spring feeling. not too inspiring for mountainous skiing, so i took to the nordic track this week in hopes of competing at stillwater this weekend. if the new snow projected does not totally engulf the track, it should be great, and a cancer fundraiser to boot.

yep, new snow and some cooler temps are again on the way. started late this am. off and on right now, but forecast sure looks good. this might not be best for the aforementioned race, which would probably be best suited with a 2-4 new, cold temps and lots of grooming to make it super fast. which is more fun, and gets one off the track more quickly with less effort. a soft track could make for a slow, difficult slog.

but that would mean, POWDER! so, it really is a no lose situation.

unless it rains.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

more snow, wind and cold

the roller coaster continues. up and down, over and under, sideways and fast, the winter of 10/11 has been wild and crazy.

monday morning brought a fresh new 6" to the Big. enough in many places to make for deep turns, not enough in many spots to stop you from hitting the bottom. but overall, great skiing, and in the afterthought of winter carnival, super bowl and all around good skiing for many days, the crowds did not flock to fast or furious. it was nice to ski untracked all morning without feeling the pressure, or having to wait for long for the next chair.

i had full intention of hitting a lap or two in the canyon, but the after-affects of an "adult" cookie during the super bowl party we have every year, left my brain a bit fuzzy. somethings i can handle, beer, others not so much. anyway, i was content to ski the hill with a great group of gals. there are just so many strong skiers here these days, of both sexes. and the gear is so great, everyone just rips. super fun.

for some cardio, i took the dogs to whitefish lake. deep snow on top of an 8" thick ice makes for some good skiing. always feel a bit unsure out there, but it is such a beautiful perspective of the north valley. and fun to look up at the hill after a great morning, thru the backyards and windows of the rich and sometimes famous. beautiful!

when the winds picked up late on monday morning, the lift ride became increasingly uncomfortable. the immediate effect on skiing was pretty cool, turning newly wind-loaded slopes like the face into some good surfing. but ultimately, it was too cold for me.

yesterday went for a tour with a pretty hardcore group of middle aged men and women who still want to be in their 20's. start early, go hard, no breaks. but this group does not end the day with endless beers at the stube or somewhere else, but head back into town to pick up kids, return to work and regain their age.

we found some really good snow on multiple aspects, as the cold temps did not allwo the bright sunshine to affect snow quality. there are however, many new hazards. a result of the high winds that lasted over 24 hours. new wind load is as big a concern as a new dump, sometimes more. in this case we kicked off a few slabs, but they did not propogate, and in the somewhat mellow and protected terrain we had chosen, they really did not present a problem. just know the top 6-12" are not bonded, especially in the typical trouble spots.

some snow happening now, but not much really expected. we can always hope the forecasters are just off, by an inch or five.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


february and the skiing is easy. front country, side country and backcountry are all skiing great. very stable snow, soft and mid calf deep.

wherever you may be going, it is likely you are having a great time. add in some sunshine and everyone is happy.

today is the super bowl, but with the 4:30 start, plenty of time to get in a great day outdoors

okay, here is a story i just cannot not tell. yesterday, coming up the canyon road after a great ski, we ran into a USFS employee, one of our esteemed forecasting team. he was with a gal i assumed was their seasonal assistant, and they were doing some filming. i was excited to hear they were going to start including video in their forecasting methodology. but it turns out she was from a local tv station, doing a report on snowmobiling. so good for the USFS to be out lending a hand. spread the word, educate. but as they drove up the canyon road, after pit analysis in an area about as irrelevant as can be, the tv woman stopped to take some video of one of the more prominent of the "skook chutes". and where was she stationed. right at the bottom of the slide path. now, i understand she likely did not realize this was not a great spot, and the USFS forecaster was just down the road, on his way up behind her. i fully expected him to have her move off to a bit more safe zone. but he stopped and turned off his sled, and observed her filming. now, i understand the conditions are very stable, and there were multiple snowmobile high marks on the slope, but the entire top 60% was untracked, waiting for a skier to rip it. and if some skier had come and ripped it, and it ripped out, then the USFS employee and the tv gal were in the perfect spot to get annihilated. sure, unlikely, but possible. i would think, even if the chances of avalanche were zero, he would have moved her off this spot to a safer spot, just as a matter of course. set the right example.

and we wonder why our esteemed forecasting team continues year after year to be the laughing stock of the avalanche society.

any, be safe and have a great day and on into the week. the snow is great right now, so get it while it's great.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Arctic again?

i was prepared to talk about the great skiing, and then give an update tonight after a tour off the hill, but instead i sit at home and think about going to the wave for some exercise, and to not subject myself, and a lingering head cold to boot, to our fourth (or is it fifth) blast of arctic air. actually i am not sure if this is coming from the arctic, but it feels as though it is. with the wind and all

yesterday i took the am to go hit the track at stillwater. it was fantastic. when i hear of others carrying on about great groomed skiing, well, i just don't care. but getting onto a fresh groom on skate skis,now that is worthy. the course was beautiful even if the weather was not. just as i pulled into the parking lot, it started to rain. how many times has it rained this winter anyway? as another truck pulled in next to me, and we wondered if we would subject ourselves to the wet, i figured i had aleady driven the 20 minutes, i certainly deal with 30 of being wet. and then the rain stopped. it was fantastic. i kept it under an hour just so i could get in a full afternoon on the hill.

the hill was nearly empty on a saturday, so unusual. sure, we were fogged in, but it was snowing and the skiing was great. i can deal with those conditions way better than negative 300 with the wind chill going up the lift. later i heard the canyon and beyond were skiing great, having held up well thru the later week's warm temps. i was quite excited for today. and although i am sure there were many good turns to be had, i just was not ready to face this weather for a full 4-6 hours, so made the call by 8am.

now we get to wait and see how this wind changes safety.

once again, the proof of an adage an oldtimer told me years ago here, when the skiing is great, you had better go get it, because more than anywhere else,it czn change in a day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

great snow

after that bad rain about a week ago, creating as thick an ice layer you can find in a snowpack, but not as thick as the ice on beaver lake, the addition of new snow accompanied by some wind caused some appreciable avalanche conditions. but ss the snow continued to fall, it has more or less bonded with with ice layer, that has for the most bridged over previous bad layers.

so the skiing is great. avoiding wind deposits and rollovers should keep the traveller safe, and the rest is pure bliss. hopefully the warmish temps of wed and thurs will not too harshly affect this. because we found some very deep, very easy to ski, very fun snow on tuesday, and are looking forward to our next day out, either tomorrow or saturday.

Monday, January 24, 2011


as i sit writing, looking out my window as some new snow starts up here monday afternoon, i can only hope it continues to drop and build up for a nice mid week powder day. unfortunately i am house bound due to a head cold that just will not go away, and really attacked last night. savage.

the new snow seems to have settled well, and i don't really want to say it has bonded onto that super hard rain layer, it seems ok. not sure i will be jumping on top of any big pillows or steep shots, but there is some good powder skiing to be done. just part of a wacky winter.

i heard of a few good adventures, with mostly powder turns and not much movement in the snowpack.

winter carnival is coming up in less than two weeks. that always provides a few laughs, as does the horse pull coming up this weekend. it does not seem like there is really ever a break from some kind of event. just when you might think it is time to relax... but, how does the saying go?, "you can sleep when you are old."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

roller coaster

yep, that is our winter. a huge roller coaster ride. sub zero one day, perhaps rain a day or two later. some clear skis, some deep snow, but nothing has stayed consistent for more than 3 days. probably the most consistent weather has been the cold snaps, that have come often and stayed for about 3 days each.

if any of you read an earlier post, pre-ski season, about the "la nina" forecast and its likely affects, you might be wondering, "why all the rain". Me too. but it is only a forecast of likely conditions. it also discussed how to look at it like a deck of cards. a la nina winter was likely to have more aces come up. and this year, there might have even been more than four aces in the deck. well, so far, we have seen an ace or two, but just when you thought another had been turned up, after closer examination, it was a joker. a joker, for the card player, can be used as any card. but this deck is not actually in our hands, but being played out before us. so the determination of the joker is not up to us. otherwise, all the rain would be snow, we would have three feet in our yards, and not have ice on our driveways. (anyone else skating to their car or work?).

so perhaps the deck still has the extra aces and a few jokers looking our way. it is still early in winter, so no time to panic, just time to search the north sides for powder, be extra aware as new snow falls, and take what the heavens provide, because we can do nothing else.

and as i look out the window, i see some flurries beginning. hopefully the forecast of snow will prevail. sometimes our more sublime forecasts turn out to be our best.

lastly, i have not seen many (okay, none) comments or stories or reports. i hope you folks are still reading and getting out there. i have been out of town quite a bit of late, and sure could use some feedback and info. thanks.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

third time's a charm?

yep, we are entering our third sub zero temps snap of the season. i am sure there are more on the way.

no doubt skiing has been great, but i am glad i did not hear the term "epic" bandied about. the snow came in wet and heavy, and set up quick, making the ten new ski more like four. the beauty is, things are so filled in now, once the snowpack settles with this cold weather, and bonds, the backcountry could be just that, epic. but with high winds, snow loads could also be epic. multiple accidents occured in the snowmobiler's country, with one dead. i guess it is not the time to go jumping on cornices and convex rollovers.

with the mountain one hundred percent open, and the t-bar running, the high crowds of a saturday did not seem too overwhelming, unless you got caught in the 9ish traffic. otherwise, lines were minimal, given a ten inch saturday. and for those that skied into the canyon, snow was deep and seemed to be stable.

still, i have to wonder where the "3 feet in three days" came from. the big mountain website says 30 inches in the last 7 days, and my count from the phone line was 24 inches in three days (wed am to sat am). i do not think you can add the overnight+24 hour+daytime=total. just each 24 hour day added to the next.

personally, i am not sure how i am going to approach this weather. with high winds and cold temps, the skiing could be fantastic, but nervy in the BC, and below frigid on the chair lift. but it is beautiful out, and there sure is a lot of new snow, regardless how one does their accounting.

see you somewhere.

Friday, January 7, 2011

warming, then cooling

i asked for the skies to open up, and they seem to have done so. sure, it is not 10 plus a night, but with 2-6/nite, this is sometimes our best conditions. just keep accumlating a bit every night until there is knee deep everywhere.

okay so it is raining, and pretty hard. with luck, the la nina effect will keep temps just below freezing up in the high country. then, with the cooling trend about to set in, we might get a nice light snow on top of this heavy stuff. perfect!

after nearly a year of not skiing, due to a back injury that finally necessitated surgury, my wife, MA, has finally made it up on the hill again, and is loving it. today will be the third in a row, and if it is not tooooooo heavy, we will have a good afternoon, and go into the weekend feeling great.

i know that nw montana has some pretty wild weather (an old buddy of mine said of all the places he had lived and skied, including Vt. Utah, Wa. Co., this was the only place where the old expression "if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute" was actually true), but this winter seems really inconsistent. and this weekend seems set to continue that trend. temps warming thru the week, with a nice storm cycle, following over two weeks of very dry and mostly cold, here comes some more cold weather. just bouncing all over the place. as i look outside, it is raining and foggy. after a week in colorado, i remember why it became so popular back in the 60's - 90's, and why so many of us here thought it would never get popular or crowded here.

yesterday, while skiing, i noticed another thing that always makes me wonder. people who stop in places that are as likely as any to get them hurt. places that have a lot of traffic with little room to move and get out of each other's way. the worst is the traverse that comes out on top of the face and the beginning of inspiration. another is the end of Russ's St., just above the bottom chair one and four. and is it my imagination, or just my slight prejudice towards boarders, but the majority of these offenders of this dangerous policy seem to be the aforementioned SNOWBOARDERS! and given that quite often when they come to rest,they do so on their butts, taking up more room and making themselves less mobile. come on, fellow boarders, help these unknowing nincompoops a little advice, since certainly they will not listen to a crotchety old time skier like myself. thanks.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

happy new year and new snow

well, apparently the snow gods decided to wait for my wife and i to finish our travels and come home before opening up. i hope they unless the goods over the next several weeks.

we had a great trip to colorado, which has also had a fair amount of new snow, once you get past the front range. i got in a day at Arapahoe Basin, which is still a fantastic place to ski. the rumors before we got there were that it had gotten a bit warm, and perhaps we would be skiing scratchy, ice resurfaced snow. at 11000 +feet, on a mostly north facing slope. i could not believe it. and it was not true. the skiing was great. firm, mid winter snow pack. i think they are a bit spoiled up in their high country and need a blast of some real winter freeze like we often get when we get our annual rain to the top of the hill.

so without much new snow around here, i am guessing it has been pretty safe. i have not gotten any scary avy reports or incidents, so hope all has been a safe and happy holiday.

now come on skies, open up and unleash!!!!!!!!!!