It’s river season, and this year it might be best to get started sooner rather than later. You know where to go for the whitewater: to our dear neighbor Idaho. Contrary to some public opinion, the state houses more than potatoes. It’s also known to have the most runnable whitewater in the country, and many of those miles run through wilderness. As the snow pack melts at record levels, rivers are starting to rise. The Lochsa, above Lowell, is running at 3.6 feet already. The Salmon is holding steady at 2.5 feet in Salmon, and the Selway is gushing at 7 feet in Lowell.
Fishing is also off the hook. And if temperatures drop (as forecasts predict) without any major rains it should get even better. The mighty Blackfoot is rumored to be a stingier fishery right now than the Bitterroot, Clark Fork and Rock Creek. We won’t give out your favorite spot, but keep on slaying ‘em.
On a somber note, Missoula and Western Montana lost another recreationist on Friday. Cal Williams, 23, was killed by an avalanche on The Vice President, a mountain in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park. Williams was standing on a cornice when it broke away beneath him and carried the man 2,000 feet down the slope. His body was found two hours later, buried beneath 2 feet of snow. “As a person, friend and athlete, Cal was an amazing human being. In the end, it was one of the few things more powerful than Cal that took him from this planet,” a friend, Dave Evans, said. Williams grew up in the Bitterroot and spent four years in Missoula before moving to Whitefish this year, Evans said. During his tenure here in town, Williams attended school, worked at the Trailhead and biked like a mad man.
Time to break out your road bikes and a bottle of anti-inflammatory pills: The 34th annual Tour of the Swan River West will return with the melting of the snows. The tour is touted as a social event, but peddlers are sure to be pressing their times as they ride throughout the Swan and back to Missoula. Missoulians On Bicycles is the event organizer, and will provide food stops, baggage shuttles and overnight arrangements so cyclists can enjoy the ride without worrying about the details. Beyond being a mere social event, the ride is also an annual fundraiser for Missoulians On Bicycles. The tour takes place on May 22 and 23. For more information and an application, visit tosrvwest.org.
Runners, we’ve got more races. Don’t forget about Thursday night’s Kim Williams Trail Run, a 5K that starts at 6 p.m. north of the stadium. Then, on Saturday, April 17, check out the 16th annual Grizzly Triathlon. The competition includes a 100-yard pool swim, a 20K bike ride and a 5K run. Heats start at 8 a.m. at the Grizzly Pool. Divisions are broken down into male and female, as well as solo and team. The entry fee is $35 solo and $90 for a team. For more information, visit fivevalleyvelo.com.
The Rocky Mountaineers are doing a snow climb in the Bitterroots this Saturday, April 17. The exact location has yet to be pinned down, but ice axes will be required and crampons may be optional, depending upon conditions. There will be no ropes. The trip leader, Steve Niday, wants all to know that he is merely a coordinator. “I will not act as a shepherd, and will not require that you go my way. If you want to go faster than me, great, you can break trail. I do not expect you to wait on me. The converse is also true. If the weather sucks, I am not going,” he wrote. For more information contact Steve at 721-3790.
Another Rocky Mountaineer trip is planned near town on Sunday. The hike will tackle Mount Sentinel, starting up Pattee Canyon and ending on the Kim Williams trail, via Crazy Creek. For more information call Fred Schwanemann at 542-7372.
The New Rocky Mountaineers will also be out in the field this Saturday. Their destination will lie to the north, as they ski out of the Middle Fork of the Flathead and traverse a loop near Stanton Lake. This particular backcountry ski is highly technical, involving a 3,000-foot climb and 2,500-feet of chute skiing. The route up is said to be secure from avalanche danger, and if the chutes are not skiable, participants will descend the same way they came up. Call Rick Hanners in Columbia Falls for more information at 892-8959.
Guess what? There’s a new climbing club in town: the Alpine Club of Missoula. The club has several outings planned for the spring. This week they plan to head into the local backcountry for either skiing or alpine climbing. The exact location will depend upon participant interest. For more information, contact the club president, Luke Casady, at 777-0190.
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