Mountain High 

As the weather warms, please be kind to your fellow Garden Cityites by keeping in mind that Spandex is a privilege, not a right. And while the pasty, fishbelly-white flab around Missoula’s collective midriff might remain a shade off golden for a while, it can, for the love of god, lose a bit of its bounce any day now. But whether you’re sporting a winter radial around the beltline or not, head to REI for a free fitness clinic called “Spring into Outdoor Fitness” April 7 at 7 p.m. Fitness expert Ryan Pratt will discuss injury-free training, heart-rate monitors and any specific personal goals you care to bring to the class. Admission is free and so are fitness logbooks, so call 829-0432 if you have any questions.

Climbers in search of an armchair experience should head to the Rocky Mountaineers’ next meeting April 13 at 7 p.m. at Pipestone Mountaineering to catch a lecture and slideshow by international climbing junkie Pat Caffrey, author of the tragically out-of-print A Climber’s Guide to Montana. Caffrey’s book has yet to be duplicated and is chockfull of detailed beta on some of Montana’s more challenging mountaineering routes. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures (MOLA) is registering campers for its 6th annual Summer Camp, and anyone looking to get the kiddies enrolled in midweek sessions of hiking, biking, rafting, canoeing, climbing, swimming, exploring and/or camping should check out the offerings. There are also adventure travel trips for teens and, new this year, programs for adults. Emphasizing leadership skills, self-confidence and teamwork, the age-specific instruction also encourages an appreciation of the natural world. Contact Porter at 240-2458 or log on to www.missoulaoutdoors.com to register or learn more.

While Missoula’s cycling community spans recreational riders to committed commuters to Spandex speedies, the pro-cycling group Missoulians on Bicycles (aka “Da MOB”) wants everyone with a desire to feel the wind whipping through their (helmeted) hair to join them on their “Newbie Rides.” Every Monday, pedal-happy folks with skinny tires are encouraged to join the pack as they zip about town avoiding potholes and working their thighs. Meet at The Big Dipper every Monday at 6 p.m., and look for the folks with uncomfortable shoes.

The MOB has two additional rides scheduled this week as well. On April 2, head out from the Eastgate Shopping Center at 10 a.m. on the “Deer Creek Sneak,” a 25-mile, half-gravel route with a good climb—call Kathy York (543-6274) for more info. Or join Deb Adams (728-0364) April 3 for the Potomac Awful Burger Ride. Leaving the Eastgate parking lot at 10 a.m., participants can count on an excellent, all-paved route along the Blackfoot River and a misleadingly named burger at the Potomac Bar and Grill.

The Silver Moon Kayak Company is hosting the National Paddling Film Festival Road Show, a celebration of paddle sports around the world at 7 p.m. on April 6 at the Flathead High School Auditorium. Featuring “select and diverse” films, the $10/head showing will help motivate paddle-ready folks for the upcoming season as well as kick back cash to American Whitewater, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the nation’s waterways. Call 752-3794 for more info.

Hey climbers! UM’s Outdoor Program is racking up and heading to Kootenai Canyon April 2 to teach the ropes to folks with prior climbing experience. Experienced guides will teach “Climbing Anchors 101,” a keep-you-safe, hands-on seminar that runs $30. Register by March 30 at the Outdoor Program (243-5172), and count on a full day (8 a.m.–6 p.m.) of cold fingers, ticks and equalized anchors.

The Outdoor Program is also gearing up for spring with a bicycle maintenance course running 6–8 p.m. April 5, 7, 12 and 14. Details are sketchy, but the $39 course should get your two-wheeler free of last winter’s grime and running like new.

If you’re more about getting out of shape than getting into it, might as well clean your closets of unwanted outdoor gear and get to the University Center Atrium April 5 to hawk it at the University’s Annual Used Gear Sale. If you’re willing to donate 15 percent of your profits to the Outdoor Program, you can drop off your miscellany between 7 and 11 a.m. and shop and/or stand in line from 12 to 5 p.m. Call 243-5172 for more info.

Beginning April 6 you can join angler George Kessel for a flyfishing class through UM’s Outdoor Program. The four-evening course runs $52; for more details contact the Outdoor Program at 243-5172.

The New Rocky Mountaineers are heading to one of my personal favorite summits April 2: St. Joseph Peak in the Bitterroots. Depending on conditions, participants can expect at least a long (icy?) trot up Bass Creek followed by an off-trail climb and/or ski on the massif’s south/southeastern ramparts. According to trip leader Steve Niday (721-3790), “An ice axe is advisable and crampons may be worthwhile” for this 6 a.m. trip.

Conditions for skiers have improved markedly over the past month, with a string of erratic but powerful storms doubling base depths on at least some of Montana’s beleaguered ski hills and forcing them into a “we’re open if it snows” game of late-season roulette. Montana Snowbowl has officially thrown in their (now-muddy) towel, but at the same time announced screamer, half-price deals for next year’s season passes: $224 adult, $203 student. Other hills have similarly excellent “Buy now!” deals, and Discovery Basin and Lookout Pass are both selling next year’s passes for $149, but only for a limited time. While Big Mountain has closed down early, snow-jonesing skiers and snowboarders will continue to climb The Big to earn their turns—the mountain reminds hikers and skinners that cell phone coverage is limited, rescues are performed by the sheriff, and you must STAY OFF THE LIFTS!

Interestingly, while most mountains have closed up shop, Blacktail Mountain in Lakeside is claiming to have the best snow around and has most of its mountain open. And for those willing to drive, the peerless slopes at Big Sky are 100 percent open, chockfull of snow and (as of press time) getting hammered with yet another storm. Regardless of where you ski, call ahead or look online for late-season deals, hours of operation and the best deals available on next year’s season passes. P.S. Having recieved three feet in three days, Silver Mountain will re-reopen again this weekend.

Send your outdoor play plan to: photo@missoulanews.com.

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