Mountain High 

Name one thing that's more fun to do in the cold than when it's warm and I'll call you liar. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Viking in the cold and stay busier in the winter than during the lazy old summer. But it ain't easy out there. Try changing a tire with no gloves or climbing a ladder while wearing three layers of clothing. A guy can't even dig a decent hole. Beer not only turns to a slurry of ice, but the cans and bottles are liable to numb your fingertips if held for too long. Oh sure, skiing is a hoot. Shredding the gnar is pretty sweet, but if you get stuck on the LaVelle Lift in a gale, eyelids freeze crusty in a hurry and those sweaty under-layers turn to ice. Now, ice fishing is an alright time if you have a hut, a grill, infinite patience and three pairs of socks on (perhaps a snort of applejack, too). But there's one wintertime activity I'll never get: ice climbing.

It's like rock climbing but on ice. Climbers use an ice axe to gain purchase on cliffs, frozen waterfalls and so on. It's rock climbing made harder, colder and more dangerous. Chips and chunks of ice fall on the climbers as they make their way upward. If you're not an ice climber, this probably sounds daunting. However, if you're the kind of person who thinks that making your way up cracks and crags in the summertime is not only fun but a bit tame, maybe you should check out REI's Ice Climbing Basics class. They'll show you the gear you'll need to make your winter harder—because that's how you like it.

Ice Climbing Basics, at REI on Thu., Dec. 15 from 6:30 to 8 PM. 3275 N. Reserve St. Ste. K2. Free.

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THURSDAY DECEMBER 15

You'll be climbing up a wall at Freestone Climbing Center's Ladies Night each Thursday. 935 Toole Ave. 5–10 PM. $6.50/$5 students.

FRIDAY DECEMBER 16

If scrambling up Kakashe Mountain in the Missions sounds like a hoot to you (psycho), then holla at the Rocky Mountaineers and join Forest Dean for what promises to be a physically challenging morning. Did I mention the 5100' of elevation gain? 7 AM. For more info go to rockymountaineers.com

In case you didn't know, Missoula won a Playful City USA award (take that, Bozeman!), so we're going to celebrate with $1 entry to Currents Aquatic Center today and today only. It's cold out. Do this. 5–8 PM. 721-PARK.

Active outdoor lovers are invited to the Mountain Sports Club's (formerly the Flathead Valley Over the Hill Gang) weekly meeting to talk about being awesome, past glories, and upcoming activities. Swan River Inn. 6–8 PM. Free.

Hey Rocky Mountaineers, get your hineys down to your holiday party. Tell stories of past glories, bring a friend who may want to join your outdoor organization. 6–10 PM, or until your wife calls. Press Box, upper party room. Call Forest for more info at 240-7612.

SATURDAY DECEMBER 17

Who loves a discount? Big Sky Military Appreciation Weekend offers FREE lift tickets with military ID. Not good enough for you? I'm talking military dependants get 50% off. Deals on lodging and rentals, too. bigskyresort.com.

Tell your neighbors the aliens are coming and you seen 'em at the Montana Natural History Center's Night Sky Astronomy Evening. Clear skies, celestial objects, telescopes and hot chocolate, too. 120 Hickory St. 7–10 PM. $5 suggested donation.

MONDAY DECEMBER 19

At Slacker Mondays, from 6 PM until close, slackline fans can come to Freestone Climbing Center at 935 Toole Ave to test their balance. $13/$10 for students. Visit freestoneclimbing.com.

Be a better boarder or skier and learn to tune your gear at REI's Basic Ski and Snowboard Maintenance Class. Stay sharp, stay waxed. Leave the boards at home for this one. 6:30–8 PM. Free. Call 541-1938.

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 21

Let Kalispell Parks and Rec handle the kids over Christmas break during Freeze Out Camp (kinda sounds like something the Old Stinky Trapper once experienced up in Leadville). Tons o' fun kid activities planned. Bring lunch, a snack and dress for the weather. Kindergarten–6th grade. 7:30–5:30 PM. $25 per day or $20 with resident ID card. Call 758-7975.

THURSDAY DECEMBER 22

Let Kalispell Parks and Rec handle the kids over Christmas break during Freeze Out Camp (kinda sounds like something the Old Stinky Trapper once experienced up in Leadville). Tons o' fun kid activities planned. Bring lunch, a snack and dress for the weather. Kindergarten–6th grade. 7:30–5:30 PM. $25 per day or $20 with resident ID card. Call 758-7975.

You'll be climbing up a wall at Freestone Climbing Center's Ladies Night each Thursday. 935 Toole Ave. 5–10 PM. $6.50/$5 students.

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