Mountain High 

Cooler weather has Montana’s snakes—rattlers, racers, rubber boas and the like—getting ready to slither deep into the earth for a long winter’s sleep. In tight clusters they’ll wait for a direct sun to warm the rocks and eventually their cold, thick blood, sending them into a mating frenzy that can involve scores of serpents twisting in orgiastic clusters until, urges met, they head out, solo.

But while the early-season snow flies and most reptiles begin considering their ancestral dens, Missoula’s most infamous reptile is heading toward his seasonal peak, a pre-winter frenzy that will have the cerebral cortex- and wheel-using crowd pumping more blood than any lizard this side of the Galapagos.

In other words, Jedzilla is coming.

In the season’s final installment of the only organized mountain-bike race that bombs down Deadman’s Ridge, heavily armored downhillers will be hurtling down what is billed as “The Sickest Downhill in the Northwest.”

But if you like to mix your downers with some uppers, there are also six-, 12- and 18-mile cross-country races through Blue Mountain’s extensive trail system. Race-day registration (Sept. 25) starts at 8 a.m., the downhill at 9 a.m. and the cross-country at 2 p.m. Call the cold-blooded organizer himself (531-1216), or log on to for more info.

But it’s not just lizards that are feeling the change of the seasons. If you’re someone who has recently found yourself outside of Bernice’s, mid-coffee, listening to someone ranting about how this cool and rainy September will soon evolve into THE SICKEST WINTER EVER BRO, be sure to catch the high-flying madness of Matchstick Productions’ latest release, Yearbook. Ringing in the ski-porn season at 8 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Wilma Theater, Whitefish homeboy Tanner Hall teams up with veteran cliff dropper Shane McConkey to deliver the latest from a production company known as the undisputed leader in winter shredography. This latest film claims to be a tribute to the best class of big-air hucksters ever, so show up with 10 bucks at the Wilma for what will likely soon be named “Ski Movie of the Year.” Log on to for the dizzank.

Western Montana doesn’t grow mountains much higher than 10,000 feet, forcing local high alpine junkies north to the Canadian Rockies, west to the Cascade volcanoes or east to Bozeman, where multiple ranges push significantly higher. Those looking for a low-oxygen experience should join the Rocky Mountaineers up Hilgard Peak, a remote, 11,316’ Class IV summit in the heart of the Madison Range. The party will be leaving Sept. 30 and returning Oct. 3, and interested climbers should bring backpacking and “second”-ing gear—a harness, a helmet and a belay device. Hikers interested in a non-technical trip can tag along, too, so call Steve Niday (721-3790) for more info.

Gung-ho mountain climbers with time constraints should instead join the New Rocky Mountaineers for a Sept. 26 push up the impressive Mount Calowahcan and/or Eagle Pass in the southern Mission Mountains. After trail hiking to the pass, scramblers in the group may continue up to the Class IV summit, a 9,061’ beauty formerly known as Mount Harding. Other options are available depending on the weather and group preferences, so call Gerald Olbu at 549-4769 with your two bits.

Speaking of speaking your mind, the Wilderness Society reported this week that 101 Montanans polled support drilling on the Rocky Mountain Front. That’s 101 out of 1,493 polled statewide, or less than 7 percent. Nationally the vote was even more decisive, with only 1 percent of 49,180 respondents supporting the idea of development in this pristine country. As public land management officials seek to divest power into the hands of locals, perhaps this survey can assist. Learn more or get active by contacting Cameron Naficy with the Native Forest Network at 542-7343.

Wondering how removing two dams and buttloads of toxic mining sediment a few short miles upstream will affect the lives of those living in or near the Clark Fork River? Then check out UM’s Center for Riverine Science and Stream Re-naturalization for a Sept. 23–24 conference designed to put you in the know. You can attend field trips to the Milltown Dam and Flathead Lake’s Kerr Dam, a reception and/or multiple workshops on dam removal by hydrology and geomorphology experts. For registration or other info, call Manny Gabet (243-4761) or log on to

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