Mountain High 

We put on a brave face and stroll gaily forward, bummed but not wearied by the news of the death of beloved fashion designer and entrepreneur Liz Claiborne.

Her apparitional appearance in this particular issue of the Independent makes some loose bit of sense, but why, you ask, would Ms. Claiborne’s name grace this specific rough-and-tumble column?

The answer’s roots begin to show once we learn a bit about the Belgian-born descendant of William C.C. Claiborne, governor of Louisiana during the War of 1812.

Upon winning the Jacques Heim National Design Contest in 1949, the 20-year-old moved to New York City to begin her fabulous career in the fashion industry. By 1976, Claiborne’s frustration at the paucity of clothing options for working women led her to form her own design company, which made the Fortune 500 in 1986 with $1.2 billion in sales.

Still, you ask, why am I learning this?

Okay, the punch line is that in retirement, sometime Montana resident Liz and her hubby Art Ortenberg whiled away their hours giving their millions to environmental groups and international conservancy efforts, underwriting PBS’ “Nature” series and most relevantly—to us at least—throwing their monetary support behind the Montana Wildlife Federation’s efforts to protect the Seeley-Swan bioregion.

There you have it—give it up for Liz Claiborne this week as you dabble in the following:

Splash Montana gets this party started both right and quickly with Adult Appreciation Night, featuring all the wetness with none of the communicable childhood illnesses at 5 PM on Thu., July 5. Call 721-PARK.

Whitefish Mountain Resort, which you can find by going to the site of the former Big Mountain, invites you to the patio of their new Day Lodge for the first show in the free “Big Mountain Fridays” series at 5:30 PM on Fri., July 6, with The Burning River Band, featuring John Floridis. Call 261-6190.

The Rocky Mountaineers have no time for music—the allure of the spire drives them onward toward Grand Teton on Fri., July 6. Call 240-7612 or 721-6384 and bring rock-climbing, ice-chopping and sound-snoozing gear.

Or get up early and stay out late when the Glacier Challenge begins at 7 AM on Sat., July 7. The six-leg adventure race includes 5K and 10K runs, canoeing, kayaking, mountain and road biking, and is not for the weak-of-anything. To register, or maybe just get in on the food, music and awards ceremony at the end, call 755-4622.

The New Rocky Mountaineers want you for their Sat., July 7, rescheduled attempt at summitting the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness’ Warren Peak (10,463 feet), an endeavor requiring a 1,000-foot climb of a snow couloir using an ice axe. Be like Liz and call 549-4769.

For the kayakophobes among you, 10,000 Waves offers an alternative to living closeted by your fear. A Two-Day Youth Kayak Clinic begins on Sun., July 8, to be followed by a Clark Fork River Trip—instruction included—on Tue., July 10. Call 549-6670 to dip your paddle and learn about other class offerings.

The eighth annual Lake Como Family Fun Day—Tue., July 10 for the shut-ins—brings free food, books, swimming, sand castle contests, bubbles, firehoses wielded by real firemen and a visit from Smokey Bear to your neck of the lake. Call 363-2900.

For the anti-family among you, try this on for size: Paddle MT presents the class Solo Canoeing Demystified at 6 PM on Tue., July 10, which promises to cover “turns, efficient strokes and, of course, going straight.” Perhaps they didn’t get the memo. Call 251-0040 to sort things out.

Once you’re straight and narrow again—or maybe just queer as a football bat—you may want to try your hand at the kayak with a little help from your newfound buds at Paddle MT, where they provide the boat and gear during Introduction to Recreational Kayaking at 6 PM on Thu., July 12. Muster your desire to roll over and call 251-0040.

The Great Burn Study Group could use your help monitoring weeds, wildlife and trail conditions, among other things, during one of their summer monitoring trips. The group, which has been running trips since mid-June, asks volunteers to join experienced leaders for two- to four-day excursions, mostly in Idaho. Call 240-9901 or e-mail

There would be no winners without awards, and no awards without nominations—tote your share of the load when you offer up the names of your favorite avid cyclists and cycle shops for the Adventure Cycling Association’s four annual honors: the Pacesetter Bicycle Travel Award, the June Curry Trail Angel Award, the Sam Braxton Bike Shop Award and the Volunteer of the Year Award. Nominations will be accepted through Sept. 30, so visit or call 721-1776 x235 within the next two months or so.

Now get out there and make Liz proud.
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