Mountain High 

With recent temperatures doing their best to avoid equilibrium, there has been some confusion as to exactly which season we find ourselves in. Strolling to the Food Farm in a T-shirt yesterday, my mind was transported to a cornea-scorching summer day, making the mere thought of long underwear enough to start the sweat a-rolling. Not 48 hours earlier, I’d struggled to make headway in that favorite Missoula amalgam, the tornado-blizzard. If it’s an answer you seek, look to the stars, or the Advice Goddess. All I can offer is a slate of cold-weather activities in hopes that the weather continues to conform.

This week, Big Mountain hosts the Doug & Rollie Smith Memorial Downhill event, beginning Thu., Feb. 8, and continuing through Thu., Feb. 15. These races, which are part of the NOR-AM super series, will be held on Big Mountain’s Ursa Major race course. The stakes are high. Competitors with the best times in their Super G run, along with their slalom run, will win a place on the World Cup Circuit. There’s an extensive schedule of events, so should the chance to witness some incredibly fast and technical downhill float your boat, call 862-2911.

On day three of the extreme competition up at Big Mountain, a downhill event of only slightly lesser intensity will take place near the Idaho-Montana border. The Rocky Mountaineers ignore warnings about the effects of passionate rivalry on child development when they host Kids Sled Day at Lolo Pass on Sat., Feb. 10. Sledding, skiing and snowshoeing are the orders of the day, followed by interpretive soaking at Lolo Hot Springs. Call Julie at 543-6508.

If the idea of spending the day with a heap of children in snowsuits sounds like a punishment fit to cap a Greek myth, here’s one of your infinite remaining options: Missoula Parks and Recreation offers continuing education in the form of their Snow Shelter Building Class at 9 AM on Sat., Feb. 10. Transportation, equipment and instruction will be provided for the reasonable fee of $40. While the class is meant for adults, kids above the age of 10 can attend with a grown-up. The day begins at Currents in McCormick Park.

Bridger Bowl returns our focus to skiing with the continuation of their Telemark Community Race Series. On Sat., Feb 10, get in on a telemark race with a “mountaineering twist.” Whether this means they’ll be dropping skiers blindfolded from a helicopter with only a compass and a granola bar is unclear, but you can find out when you call 587-2111.

Speaking of free-falling, Big Sky requests your attendance at the Dummy Jump on Sat., Feb. 10. Teams will design and decorate crash test dummies and send them on their way toward a giant kicker on the Ambush headwall, after which their flight will be judged on style, distance and explosion upon landing. Call (800) 548-4486.

Blacktail Ski Area hosts two days of Northern Division Masters Races on Sat., Feb. 10, and Sun., Feb. 11. They’re calling it the Spencer Special, and all I can determine is that the races will include giant slalom and maybe regular old slalom too. For Pete’s sake, call 844-0999.

In this writer’s opinion, Lookout Pass wins the “most interesting stuff going on this week” prize, which offers no monetary compensation, just bragging rights. On Sat., Feb. 10, not only can you try out snowboards and telemark gear during their Demo Day, but you can also compete in their Big Air Contest. Entrants will be encouraged to hurl their bodies skyward, with prizes going to those with the greatest style and hang time, which you can assume means that you need to land well. As if that weren’t enough, the Winter Games of Idaho continue on Sun., Feb. 11, with the Slope Style Competition in the newly redesigned Exit 0 Park. Shred and slide on rails, boxes, hits and surprise features for fame and glory. Both days feature the riotous tunes of Missoula’s Victory Smokes, so there’s every reason to call (208) 744-1301 and get on over there.

Further on down the line, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wolf management specialist Elizabeth Bradley will give a presentation on wolves in Western Montana on Mon., Feb. 12, at the Five Valleys Audubon chapter member meeting at 7:30 PM in room L14 of UM’s Gallagher Business Building. The event is free and will focus on wolf restoration efforts and issues surrounding conflicts between wolves and livestock. Call 327-1525.

Now that the snow is melting, or at least between blizzards, we can get back to the notion of bicycling with a presentation about biking through Bhutan at 7 PM on Tue., Feb. 13, at the Missoulians on Bicycles meeting at Adventure Cycling Headquarters, 150 E. Pine St. Missoula Bicycle Works’ Alex Gallego will regale attendees with tales of his recent two-wheeled trek after the business portion of the meeting gets squared away.

Get your amorous self to the Rocky Mountaineers meeting on Wed., Feb. 14, at 7 PM at Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St. Paul Jensen will present the slide show “The Canadian Rockies—Many Years, Many Climbs,” a testament to his love affair with granite, at the conclusion of the business festivities.

And until next week, dear extreme reader, keep me in your thoughts and in your “sent items” folder.

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