Mountain High 

With more than several bases to cover and limited space for maneuvering, I’ll limit the excess verbalism and cut out the sociopathological ranting entirely. We begin:

Ski resorts dominate the beginning of this week’s column, a claim supported by Whitefish Mountain Resort, which invites you to experience—or just watch—all the majesty and glamour of the Northern Division Alpine Championships, a three-day mash-up that begins on Fri., March 7. Day one involves a Super G race, while day two features the Giant Slalom and the whole enchilada wraps up on Sun., March 9, with your straight-up, run-of-the-mill Slalom contest. Get in on all the action when you call 862-2910.

Missoula’s nearby mountain of choice—Montana Snowbowl, that is—hosts the 20th annual Snowboard Jam beginning Sat., March 8. Registration for the slope style and rail jam contests begins at 9 AM, and with the requisite liability waivers, bib deposits and registration form business taken care of, we’re free to rock all day long to the sound of scraping, grinding and free-styling. Call Edge of the World Board Shop at 721-7774. 

Lookout Pass gives social climbers and gravity-bound speedsters a chance to shine when they host the Uphill Downhill Randonnée Race on Sat., March 8. Competitors put their grit to the test with two laps involving skinning up the mountain and then plummeting back down. An awards ceremony, with gender-linked categories and one for best costume, finishes the day off like a sweet nightcap. Call 769-7809.

In case you missed the recently posted video of a Marine tossing a puppy off a cliff in Iraq—no joke—Whitefish Mountain Resort grants you a second chance to witness airborne yet flightless mammals as they present a Freestyle Team Jump Show at 2 PM on Sat., March 8. The team begins warm-ups at 1, and the routine includes 30 minutes of solo high-flying aerials, with several instances of simultaneous and synchronized air-time. Great viewing is yours for the taking at the finish of the jump hill at the bottom of Big Ravine. Call 862-2971.

This ping-pong game of a weekend wrap-up bounces back to Snowbowl, where Bob Ward Demo day includes reps and equipment from K2, Elan and Salomon on hand for your pleasure on Sun., March 9. Take a few runs on someone else’s spanky-new gear—just don’t scratch anything—and speed up the process when you pre-register at Southgate Mall’s favorite outfitter. Call 728-3220. 

On Mon., March 10, UM graduate student Chris Hammond gives a talk at 7:30 PM in Room L14 of UM’s Gallagher Business Building on his work with the Montana Common Loon Ecology Project. Presented under the aegis of the Five Valleys Audubon Society, this lecture focuses on the fact that the bird, considered to be doing well globally, continues to experience hard times here in the Big Sky. 

The UM Outdoor Program frequently offers classes and trips for folks with no connection to the school whatsoever. A case in point is their upcoming Intermediate Playboating Surf Fundamentals Kayak Class, which begins at 1 PM on Tue., March 11. If you long to bob around Brennan’s Wave—or another, more natural standing wave, perhaps—and pull sick tricks with your little fiberglass hot rod, make sure you have some kayak experience and a solid roll before calling 243-5172.

The Rocky Mountaineers encourage you to blow off several days of work—or continue to be an independently wealthy rec-head—and join them on a four-day trip through the crest of the fantastical Teton Ridge. Tentative plans call for leaving on the morning of Wed., March 12, and there’s lots of gear you’ll need and decisions to make, so get the party started when you call Forest at 240-7612 or 721-6384.

Or, hang on to your job/remainder of your trust fund by instead attending an owl-watching trip on Wed., March 12, in which attendees meet at 6 PM at the Maclay Flats parking lot and the gregarious Larry Weeks leads the foray. Call 549-5632.

Bump the pursuit up a notch when UM graduate student Katie Mally gives the crowd at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., the low-down on her prickly research in the Bitterroot with the lecture “The Careful Art of Tracking Porcupines” at 7 PM on Wed., March 12. Call 327-0405.

The Rocky Mountaineers extend an invitation to their monthly meeting at 7 PM on Wed., March 12, at Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St., where Scott Johnson presents a wildlife lecture on his work with Mongolian wild sheep, ibexes and other creatures. Call 721-4686.

Finally, the loony birds at the Audubon Society top off their week’s events with the first meeting of their workshop for beginning birders at 7 PM on Thu., March 13, at Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 3201 Spurgin Road. There’s a $20 fee, and you can register for the two class sessions and Sat. field trip by calling 549-5706.

Over and out, hill-stompers—go get ‘em.
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