Mountain High 

Every time you turn on a light, boot up your computer or use any other source of electricity, it's likely coal was used to create that spark of energy. In fact, info from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates the American energy industry consumes about 93 percent of coal in the United States. So, we use a lot of coal, but do we even know the environmental costs of mining the stuff, especially when it comes to mountaintop removal mining?

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARLASSEN

On Thu., Nov. 12, at 7 PM, you can find out when Missoula's chapter of the Sierra Club presents a free screening of the documentary Coal Country at the Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave. The doc explores how mountaintop removal of coal in the Appalachia is affecting nearby streams, forests and communities. Brad Hash, a regional rep from the Sierra Club, will also be at the screening to discuss the use of coal and coal power as it relates to Montana. Call the club at 549-1142 or e-mail brad.hash@sierraclub.org.

Once the film stops rolling, I'm guessing you'll be enlightened and perhaps outraged by witnessing the destructiveness of this kind of mining. Well, I think you should ease your mind a bit by sleeping on it and then pampering yourself on Fri., Nov. 13, by signing up for three Kayak Roll Clinics. These clinics, which cost $65 altogether, intend to help you fine tune your rolls and occur on Nov. 17, 19 and 24 from 8:30–10:30 PM at UM's Griz Pool. Call 243-5172.

Afterwards, enjoy the rest of your Friday and kick yourself into prime chillaxation mode through Saturday in order to decide if you want to join those ascension masters known as The Rocky Mountaineers for three scheduled hikes, all on Sun., Nov. 15.

The first is a mountain bike trip up Mount Sentinel that's estimated to be about three to four hours in duration, whisking you up to elevations as high as 3,000 feet. If you're interested, meet at the corner of Maurice and Daly streets at 7 AM with your mountain or cyclocross bike. Also, be sure to bring warm clothes and a bike light. The plan might change if there's too much snow, so be sure to contact trip leader Joshua Phillips with questions at 543-0898 or e-mail him at mtsurveyor@gmail.com.

The second trip is an easy hike up Blodgett Canyon, in the Bitterroots, and is estimated to be 10 miles in length. Meet at the old Big Lots parking lot at 7 AM to carpool to the spot. E-mail trip leader Chris Dunn at hammaneater@gmail.com.

The last trip on Sunday is scheduled for Lolo Pass, where you'll hike, ski or snowshoe depending on conditions. Details are still in the works, so give Julie Kahl a call at 543-6508 to find out when and where you'll meet to head to the pass. As always, you can keep up to date on all mountain excursions with these folks by visiting www.rockymountaineers.com.

After revitalizing your legs, give your eyes a workout at the University Theatre at 6 PM Sunday with a series of awe inspiring outdoor films which run the gamut from skiing, bicycling and more during The 2009 Banff Festival of Mountain Films World Tour. Tickets are $15 at the door or $12 advance at all GrizTix outlets, or at the Trail Head. Call 243-5172 and visit the film fest's online home at www.banffcentre.ca/mountainculture/tour/.

If you're in the Flathead, you'll also have a chance to catch this tour when it screens at Flathead High School in Kalispell at 7 PM on Nov. 17 and 18. Tickets are $12 and are available at various locations including Rocky Mountain Outfitter in Kalispell and Runner Up Sports in Whitefish. Visit www.flatheadnordic.org.

On Mon., Nov. 16, those of you who dream of cliff-hucking on well waxed skis—but don't have the knowledge to properly wax 'em yourself—should sign up for a ski maintenance class which meets at 6 PM, Wed., Nov. 18, at the UM Outdoor Program's bench in the Campus Recreation Department. The one-hour class costs $5 and includes instruction on how to wax and sharpen your ski edges. Call 243-5172.

Later that night, males and females between the ages of 14 and 21 with an interest in aquatics shouldn't disregard an open house at 7:30 PM for Ship 102, Western Montana's Sea Scout unit, at the American Legion Hall, 825 Ronan St. The free shindig includes pizza and info about Sea Scouting, which includes activities like sailing, boat safety, scuba diving, river kayaking and more. Call Chris Roberts at 549-3090 or e-mail him at croberts@powwowcountry.com for more info. Also visit www.seascout.org for the skinny on the org.

Then on Tue., Nov. 17, get some tips on avalanche safety for your upcoming winter expeditions during an avalanche awareness lecture at 7 PM at UM's Urey North Underground Lecture Hall. The free talk is presented by experts at UM's Outdoor program and the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation. Call 243-5172 or visit www.missoulaavalanche.org.

Once you've figured out how to avoid an early burial by snow, increase those creases in your brain tenfold on Wed., Nov. 18, by learning about beetles at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., during the 7 PM lecture "Beetles and the Secrets Behind Animal Weaponry." The $4 suggested donation gets you prime info from UM grad student Annika Johns, who plans to discuss the rhyme and reason behind their large horns and other bodily armaments.

Now that you've amassed enough mental and physical outdoors ammunition for the week, be wise with it and don't wear yourself out. Save some of that energy for my next round of recreational bullets.

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