Mountain High 

In the world of ski films, the focus is generally consumed by "steeze"—also known as style and ease. The gravity defying tricks and college party attitude of those kinds of films is entertaining, but this perspective often lacks one ingredient: soul. That same component, however, comes across perfectly in Sweetgrass Productions' short film Desert River. The flick follows a group of skiers as they trek through deep backcountry snow in order to find the perfect line, and it offers a surprising amount of depth and maturity, successfully conveying this passion as an art, not a party.

Desert River is just one of a handful of films featured during The Backcountry Film Festival, which hits Missoula this week and showcases films from grassroots filmmakers intent on coupling backcountry riding with important environmental issues. Other flicks slated to screen cover topics like forsaking mechanical transportation in the quest for untouched slopes in Deeper, and the impact of climate change on whitebark pine populations in Whitebark Warrior.

Besides a night of sweet outdoors films, proceeds from the festival go to support the Missoula Backcountry Alliance, a local nonprofit dedicated to advocating traditional, human-powered backcountry recreation.

The Missoula Backcountry Alliance presents The Backcountry Film Festival Thu., Feb. 10, at 7 PM at the Roxy Theater. $10. Visit montanabackcountry.org.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 10

Wet your adventurous mind when paddler Doug Ammons presents "Wildwater–A Love Story," a presentation with Ammons that features a screening of his award-winning film of the same name, plus comments about his whitewater adventures, starting at 7 PM at UM's Urey Lecture Hall. Free. The talk serves as a fundraiser for Friends of Dolpa, a charity that supports schools in the poorest and most remote part of Nepal. Visit friendsofdolpa.org.

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11

Have a bloody mary or two and check out three days of slalom races from some of the best young skiers in the area when Montana Snowbowl, 1700 Snowbowl Road, hosts the Montana Ski Education Foundation Classic, which runs today through Feb. 13. Visit montanasnowbowl.com or call 549-9777.

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 12

Let your soles take control during Run Wild Missoula's Scrumpy Jack Scramble, a two-person by two-mile relay race that begins at McCormick Park and benefits Hellgate High School's Cross Country team. Rush to runwildmissoula.org for details.

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 16

Learn how to lead while rock climbing when UM's Outdoor Program presents its "Rock Climbing Leading and Beyond" class, which meets from 5–8 PM on Feb. 22 and 24 at UM's climbing wall and focuses on rope management, clipping, ratings and guide books, falling, cleaning a route and other topics. $30, cost includes instruction, gear and coaching. RSVP by Feb. 16 by calling 243-5172.

Learn what sliding and gliding is all about, and get one heck of a workout, when UM's Outdoor Program presents a "Beginner Cross-Country Skiing" class, which covers basic techniques and includes a ski outing, beginning with a pre-trip meeting at 6 PM at the Outdor Program, in UM's Fitness and Recreation Center. A ski day follows Feb. 19. $30, includes instruction, rentals and transportation. RSVP by Feb. 15 by calling 243-5172.

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