Mountain High 

In the momentary calm before winter’s inevitable storm of ski activity, and in light of the U.N.’s recent finding that greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized nations have increased 2.3 percent since the year 2000, I thought it might be nice, or at least honest and responsible, to ponder the environmental costs of our intentions this season.

Considering the global economy’s impending implosion under a rapidly warming atmosphere, one possible avenue of investigation goes like this: How much capital—in both the natural and economic senses—are we willing to expend to transport ourselves up hills for the purpose of coming back down? If snowfall trends head southward, is it okay to adhere to a White Revolution based upon snow-machines and precious water resources?

Most of the ski resorts in our vicinity have signed onto the National Ski Area Association’s (NSAA) Sustainable Slopes Environmental Charter, a five-year-old measure designed to keep the industry afloat and accountable in these changing times. The charter takes water resources, sewage treatment, wildlife, viewsheds and overall energy use into account, and outlines steps to take toward measurable goals.

Noble intentions, to be sure, and in no way am I intent upon busting your snowballs, but I wonder whether we’re simply on the verge of a new paradigm. Switching to ethanol, buying green energy tags and creating environmental coordinator positions will only take us so far. At some point, it may be time to revert to strapping on skins and getting your own fun-loving carcass up the hillside. To those hearty souls who do this already, I tip the self-righteous hat I currently find myself under.

In this season of eating, consider my little rant some food for Tryptophan-influenced thought in the coming week, check out the NSAA site (nsaa.org) for eco-skiing info and by all means, fire back with enlightened rebuttals.

Like some gang of psychic brothers-in-arms, along comes the Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Festival, which takes place at 7 PM on Fri., Nov. 21, at the Roxy Theater. Among the celluloid offerings is Leeward Cinema’s My Own Two Feet, a snowboarding documentary that differs from most in that it was filmed in wilderness areas off limits to motorized vehicles, with riders getting to their runs under their own power. By all means, support the Montana Backcountry Alliance with your $8 this Friday. Visit montanabackcountry.org.

And continuing in that same vein, I’m proud to announce another iteration of a once-wistful and now fairly troubling theme party: White Dog Productions’ Inaugural Pray for Snow Event begins at 7 PM at the Whitefish Armory on Fri., Nov. 21. The announcement was a bit cryptic, with the headlining band’s name oddly absent, but here’s what I know: Predactor Project opens for somebody, and a shuttle bus transports partiers from Second Street Pizza, as there’s no parking at the Armory. $5. Had a phone number been provided, I’d have happily passed it along.

Leaving slopeside concerns for a bit, we move our focus back to a present fixation with gobbling gobblers. The Montana Natural History Center hosts the Kids’ Activity Terrific Turkeys at 2 PM on Sat., Nov. 22, where all manner of games, learning and turkey calls to take home for canine irritation shall ensue. 50 cents for kids/$1 adults/members free. Call 327-0405.

The Montana Dirt Girls offer you a last chance to shed an ounce or two before turkey intake, as well as a final parting stroll on Mount Jumbo before it becomes an elk-only scene up there, with an invitation to meet at 5:45 PM on Tue., Nov. 25, at the east end of Cherry Street in the Rattlesnake. Visit montanadirtgirls.com.

My overly emotional preamble is backed up with some hard facts and first-hand observation when the Great Bear Foundation’s Dr. Chuck Jonkel presents a public lecture on Arctic topics at 6 PM in Room 305 of UM’s Forestry Building on Tue., Nov. 25. The peril of the polar bear, a report on his recent Arctic ecology field trip, some background geography and more await. Call 829-9378 or 243-4493.

From saving bears to saving trout, opportunities at altruism abound as Montana Trout Unlimited hosts a screening of Bozeman-based Confluence Films’ fly-fishing flick Drift at 8 PM in the Wilma Theatre on Tue., Nov. 25. With gorgeous footage from around the world, this is a no-brainer for those of us with fish on the brain. $7. Call 543-0054 or visit montanatu.org. 

And the award for potentially jumping the gun goes to Discovery Ski Area, conveniently located near Philipsburg. The resort, which is currently reporting a zero inch base of packed air with no runs open, plans to open on Thanksgiving Day, Thu., Nov. 27, at 9 AM, weather permitting. Catch all the excitement as they unveil the new Bighorn Freestyle Terrain Park, an event they plan to etch into your memory forevermore when they hand you your free, fresh-baked and hot Discovery chocolate chip cookie. I respectfully recommend visiting skidiscovery.com or calling 563-2184 before strapping on anything wintersport-related.

And with that, I’m off to pray for the reversal of several present trends, which could indeed result in a wonderland of frosty precip.
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