Mountain High 

If you're an outdoors gear packrat, I bet you have stacks of tents, down jackets and boots sitting idly around your house or stuffed away somewhere in your garage.

This week, you have the chance to unload some of that gear for a good cause: On Sat., March 20, the Nature-Link Institute begins its Gear for the Garhwal drive, which runs until Fri., April 30, with drop-off locations at UM's Outdoor Program, Pipestone Mountaineering, The Trail Head and Aerie Wilderness Medicine.

If you're unfamiliar with the institute, here's a rundown. It's a locally based, sustainable nonprofit study abroad organization that, since 2005, has offered an accredited summer course for UM students to study within the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in India. In that time, it developed a relationship with Mountain Shepherds, a community-run, eco-tourism organization located in the reserve that is owned and operated by 44 local youths.

And here's where your old sleeping bags, backpacks, boots, climbing gear and technical shells come into the picture: On May 18, UM students will hand deliver a duffel bag full of your gear to the Mountain Shepherds. According to the organization, the act of giving has helped to jumpstart this grassroots organization so that it can provide high quality services to all kinds of international and national markets. Visit nature-link.org and call Eric at 370-2294.

With that, let's jump into this week's events. The first is a reminder from Missoula's Parks and Rec that Thu., March 18, is the final day to sign up for a snowshoe adventure at Marshall Mountain, which occurs Sat., March 20, from 10 AM–3 PM. $12. The excursion is for those 12 and up, and covers backcountry terrains and avalanche awareness, among other things. Call 721-PARK to register and visit missoulaparks.org. Also don't forget a fly tying class on Thu., March 18, taught by experts at Missoulian Angler Fly Shop, 401 S. Orange St., which starts at 7 PM. $7. RSVP by calling 721-PARK. Or you can tune into monitoring on Thu., March 18, when the Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup presents a lecture by Mike Mitchell titled "Monitoring Wolves in the Northern Rockies," which starts at 7 PM at the Ninemile Ranger Station, 20325 Remount Road. Free. Visit ninemilewildlife.org.

On Fri., March 19, witness slick spins and impressive jumps by well dressed peeps during the Missoula Figure Skating Club's Glacier Challenge, a figure skating competition which runs from 1–6 PM at the Glacier Ice Rink, 1101 South Ave. W. Free to spectate. The Competition starts again Sat., March 20, and begins at 8 AM. Visit missoulafsc.org.

Later on Fri., March 19, skip a trip to your local watering hole and instead get buzzed in the great outdoors when the Rocky Mountaineers lead a jaunt to Mt. Haggin in the Pintlers, which starts with a drive towards Anaconda just after work. A plan to camp that night at Hearst Lake is in the works, with the climb occurring Sat., March 20. Contact trip leader Chris Dunn at hammaneater@gmail.com and visit rockymountaineers.com.

On Sat., March 20, even those with gluten intolerance can sign up for the Wheat Montana 5K, a race that benefits Missoula Aging Services which starts with registration at 8 AM at Wheat Montana, 2520 S. Third St. W. $16/$14 advance. The race starts at 9 AM and consists of a 3.3. -mile loop near Big Sky High School. Call Sara at 546-1619.

Of course, a day of competitive shredding on pow is always an option Sat., March 20, during Montana Snowbowl's Best of the Bowl race, which features alpine, telemark and snowboard races judged on speed and style starting at 1 PM at Snowbowl, 1700 Snowbowl Road. Registration is free. Call 549-9777.

These next guys are the ultimate backcountry party hounds: The Montana Backcountry Alliance hosts its Lolo Luau Party at the Pass on Sat., March 20, at noon at the "Clear Cut," two miles before Lolo Pass. Free. Expect barbecue fixings, a skin race and a radical time. Visit montanabackcountry.org.

Or pedal hard when you join Missoulians on Bicycles Sat., March 20, at 10 AM for the 30-mile ride known as the Frenchtown Frenzy for Fries and Frolic. Free. Call Tom at 728-8319 and visit missoulabike.org. MOBI has another ride Sun., March 21, so you should check their website for details.

The bird truly is the word for your kid age 5 and up during the Montana Natural History Center's (MNHC) Saturday Kids' Activity "Springtime Eggstravaganza," which starts at 2 PM at the center, 120 Hickory St. $2/free MNHC members. Call 327-0405 and visit montananaturalist.org.

Boating and sea scouting meet and greet with Montana's U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Sat., March 20, during the Sea Scout Ship 102 sponsored event "Meet the U.S. Coast Guard," which runs from 1:30–4:30 PM at the American Legion Hall, 825 Ronan St. Free. Expect a host of demonstrations from Team Coast Guard, and find out more by calling Chris at 549-3090 and visiting seascout.org.

Later on, swap stories with your fellow outdoors friends on Sat., March 20, during the Hellgate Hunters and Anglers' fourth annual Wild Night for Wildlife, which starts at 5:30 PM at Fort Missoula's Heritage Hall. $20/ free kids under age 16. Price of admission includes a membership to the conservation organization, plus appetizers and plenty more. Call Tim at 543-3144 and visit huntingandfishingjournal.org.

On Sun., March 21, watch thousands of avians migrate into Montucky during the MNHC's "Snow Geese Migration at Freezeout Lake," a full-day excursion that runs from 7 AM–6 PM, starting with a meet up at MNHC's headquarters, 120 Hickory St. $40/$30 members. RSVP by calling 327-0405.

Finally, impress your friends at Burning Man with your astonishing navigational skills when you check out Missoula Parks and Rec's Maps and Compass Skills class, which meets Wed., March 24, at 8 PM at Currents Aquatics Center, 600 Cregg Lane. $10. Call 721-PARK.

Now go on and get to diggin' for your old gear.

calendar@missoulanews.com.

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