Mountain High 

Right about now, with incoming President Obama’s call to service and cohesion ringing through your head, it’s understandable that you’ve spent these past days pacing your apartment, looking for a way to bring your own special gifts to bear.

Along comes the Forest Service and Missoula County to the rescue, as usual. The two are aiming their collective bureaucratic power at the creation of a Resource Advisory Committee (RAC), which might be just the ticket for the expression of your civic dedication. The fifteen-member RAC, which also sports three alternates, will make recommendations on projects that provide benefit to Forest Service land within Missoula County. They’re looking for folks with an interest and/or background in resource management and a willingness to collaborate with people of various backgrounds and opinions.

For the rest of you, more details are to be found on the Interwebs at https://wwwnotes.fs.fed.us/r4/payments_to_states.nsf. It takes some digging to find all the qualifications and the actual application, so call Bob at 258-4758 if you want a human to walk you through it all.

And with that out of the way, here’s a look at the press time conditions at area ski hills. Montana Snowbowl, currently boasts a 72-inch base at the summit, a full 100 percent openness and plenty of snow for everybody. Heading north up the compass rose, Blacktail Mountain is also fully open, with a title-snagging 76-inch base. Oh, snap! Here comes Whitefish Mountain Resort (WMR), whose Wed. and Thu. race leagues have been underway for a few weeks now, where a 79-inch base is enough to take the cake.

Philipsburg’s Discovery Ski Area sends us word of their, uh, impressive 50 inches of pow pow, which they more than make up for with College Day on Fri., Jan. 16, which means $18 lift tickets for those with student IDs. Weighing in with a relatively more impressive 52-inch base, Moonlight Basin assures all winter sport enthusiasts that size really doesn’t matter. And if that’s the case, then Bridger Bowl’s alleged 157-inch base certainly doesn’t mean they’re your best bet for getting totally lost in a pile of powder. Hell, with their 73-inch base and 150 runs, Big Sky Resort can hardly be considered a slouch…

Of course, some of us are already so over ski season. We’re looking forward to a certain April event, the GrizzlyMan Adventure Race. The combination whitewater paddling, trail running and mountain biking endurance challenge is the twisted stepchild of the Rocky Mountaineers, and takes place on April 25. In order that you might better prepare, REI-Missoula presents the first of three race clinics, “Intro to Navigation and Orienteering” at 7 PM on Thu., Jan. 15. It’s free, so there’s really no need to call 829-0432.

An indoor nod goes to the Sierra Club, which hosts the two-day conference The Heat is On: Managing Our Resources in the Face of Climate Change, which begins at 7 PM on Fri., Jan. 16, at the Holiday Inn-Downtown at the Park, and continues with a full day of presentations and discussions at 10 AM on Sat., Jan. 17. It’s free, too. Call 549-1142.

But why bemoan the fate of our species when you can instead celebrate Bridger Bowl’s 54th Birthday on Fri., Jan. 16, with an offer for the sustainable-minded: Everyone carpooling to Bridger with at least three (3) people in the vehicle gets a $15 lift ticket, plus preferential parking and other sweet deals. Visit bridgerbowl.com.

Saturday’s blowing up. It begins at 9 AM in the UM Adams Center parking lot, where you’re invited to meet up with Denver Holt for an Audubon Society Owl Trapping Field Trip on Sat., Jan. 17. While you don’t get to keep the owls, you’ll learn more from one second gazing into their bottomless orbs than from a lifetime of reading Mountain High columns, trust me. Call Larry at 549-5732.

Also on Sat., Jan. 17, the Rocky Mountaineers lead a pilgrimage to the Seeley Lake cross-country trail system, in regards to which you’re asked to contact Jim at 626-2471 or jim@frenchtownpt.com.

Rather than that, stick around the Hub o’ Five as Snowbowl hosts the three-day Northern Division Freestyle Event from Sat., Jan. 17–Mon., Jan. 19, which brings top skiers for mogul, freestyle and jumping contests. Be the spectator you wish to see in the world, and cheer on the next batch of winter superstars. Call 549-9777.

In an oddly irreverent maneuver, WMR honors American’s civil rights legacy with the first annual MLK Jr. Holiday Fishtival on Sat., Jan. 17. Strangely enough, not much on the schedule has to do with equality, human rights or race issues, but you can get in a whole lot of skiing, snow skating, poker running, pub crawling, music listening, dog sledding and more. Call 862-2910, or visit skiwhitefish.com, and let’s keep this on the DL around Al Sharpton, ‘kay?

Finally, the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., proudly presents the good Dr. Christopher Servheen, whose lecture, Bears of the World, describes the status, biology and distribution of our planet’s eight remaining ursine species at 7 PM on Wed., Jan. 21. $4. Call 327-0405.

And with that, I’m Audi 5000, y’all.
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