Wish I Had Said That

"I learned long ago not to be intimidated by an absence of difficulty"
- John Gill

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."-Frederick Douglass

"If my thought dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine"-Bob Dylan

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sell it Out! (Warning: The Following is Montana-centric)

I have been reading lately.  Thank you, its been a big step for me.  Generally, I read whatever I can get my hands on.  It nice to try and absorb some fresh insights, perspectives and opinions.  Living in this culturally deficient area of the country can deprive one's mind of fresh nutrients for thought.  More and more though, I have noticed a complete lack of content in our precious area publications.  Its not that I expect any type of award-winning writing to come out of our local newspaper.  That is a lost cause.  From the rest we should expect a lot more.

Where are our good independent mags and papers?  Everything out there seems to be run by real estate agents.  No opinions, no viewpoints, no need to offend a potential advertiser.  The majority of the articles seem to be geared toward getting more people to move here, make everybody feel like a local, and in general tell the world how awesome it is to live in Montana.  I am waiting for the day when all my favorite backcountry ski zones can be described in detail and full color, every good fishing-hole a community event, where to bag a deer without trying.  Shoot, pretty soon we will see an article explaining where and how to go cut some firewood.   Wanna know where to go skiing?  Buy a map, go for a hike.  Live and learn.

One of the greatest things about Montana is that it is not like other places.  You can go rock-climbing here all day and not see another party.  There are numerous trails around that do not feel like glorified dog parks.  Backcountry skiing is still an adventure here, not just another sport to buy shiny gear for.  Is this changing?  Slowly but surely, all things do change.  The difference is that we do have a choice in the rates of change and the direction that it is headed.

In places like Big Sky, Montana (just up the road from Bozeman) it seems like change is on an accelerated track.  If there was ever a place that exemplified Montana, Big Sky is not it.  Carving a %1er community out of what was a prime mountain wilderness recovery zone is how its done in other places like Colorado, Tahoo, Whistler, Europe, etc.  So you visited Montana once on the suggestion of Warren Miller and thought it was so amazing you had to move here and promote it to all of your friends.  Damn, are you some kind of outlaw or something?  Thank you.  Everytime I go skiing into the Spanish Peaks I shutter inside.  I move faster to crest the ridge that will block that view.

I just want to read something interesting by a Bozemanite.  Is that so wrong?  There are plenty of former English majors out there who need work.  Lets get them motivated to use that degree.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Confronting Power

We are cruising into winter.  Woke up with a half-inch of snow encrusted around the South Cottonwood homestead.  The mountains are gathering their breath.  Wonderful!

Styles and morals in our recreational pursuits seem a little misguided.  While its all very good to hold opinions and values in everything we do, its just as important to remain flexible.  Like the reed of grass in the wind, bend but do not break.  At the end of the day these little self-guided adventures we go on in the mountains, deserts, and seas are merely a diversion from the reality of the world which surrounds us.  Painful as it is to admit, we are the lucky ones.

While recycling Ziploc bags until they fall apart is never going to solve the world's problems, at least it shows that an effort is being put forth.  Eating healthy foods without petrochemical additives is a sure way to prevent harm.  Whats the best health insurance plan on the market?  Exercise, low stress living, and eating natural/organic foods.  It is mind-boggling that society is searching for a cure for cancer, all the while the causes surround us.  This is not a debate.  Remain human.  Taking more drugs is only going to improve the health of the industrial drug/insurance beast.

As I hide here in Montana, the planes fly overhead burning their trails to more important places.  Kids are still willing to fight in NYC, London, Rome and elsewhere.  Power only responds to power.  What is power today?  Money.  Perhaps we should all pull-out of that little gambling casino they call the stock market.  Drop the money in your savings account.  That is force.   Don't buy that new car, another appliance, more clothes to replace the clothes that are not worn.  Growth for the sake of growth is a disease.

Put a stockbroker to work.  Hand them some shovels, a hammer, a pair of work boots.  Let them feel some true effort.  Learn to do something useful today.  Leveraging other humans futures is not a career...its a sociopathic illness.   These are beautiful times to be alive. 

White Squad II by Leon Golub

Live it!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yurting for a Hurting or is it Hurting for a Yurting

The light is green for some deluxe Yurt residing this weekend!

I have pulled through another heinous bout of the flu, the second one this season. Weird, after several years of non-sickness I get way-laid twice (twice!) in one winter. I call Bullshit on that!

Life is good in the Bozone all in all. Rock-climbing is picking-up again. We made it out to the Batholith last weekend with a good-sized crew and worked on some gnar. Feeling good on the stone.

I am really getting in-touch with the Bozeman Public Library as well. Its amazing how well read the homeless of Bozeman must be for all the time they spend here. Ah, the hidden secrets of Amerika. Seriously.

Mecca, Deschutes River, Central Oregon.
more mecca

Perhaps I will be back to this zone soon. Looking for work and Smith Rocks might be callin'. Love the Mecca zone, its probably all developed out and nobody is climbing there any longer. Perfect for me to squeeze in a few more FA's (first ascent) and fight with some rattlesnakes and eagles.



All photos from my friend Mark Deffenbaugh.

Alas, the powder calls and the Tobacco Roots are a gem of a place to watch the moon and stars.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sense of Place

Pounding the powder for three days at Hebgen and Quake lakes. It snowed everyday. Really did not have time for taking photos and the light was continually flat. That is the price you pay sometimes for skiing powder.

Getting into it...

...Camera not set-up for action photography....

...Playing around in the middle of a 1800' run

The mini-vacation is over. Time to fix some gear and get ready.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm not a ski bum

Don't call me that.

The past week has been dedicated to resting my frostbitten big toe for the first time in awhile. Progress is being made. Skipped all the wind/powder skiing since last week. Focusing on the job effort. Got a car that I'm getting going: '87 Suby. Like I do. Should be ready by Mon./Tue..

Its time to go skiing. Plans are hatched for more mega-sized ski tours and line-slaying these upcoming months. Beartooths/Tetons/Winds are being worked on along with a longer traverse (Mt. Holmes to Electric Peak?). Roger's Pass perhaps?

Climbing continues. Slowly. All minor/annoying injuries have been healed. Grip strength low. Leg power high. I must abide the plastic winter overlord more.

Welcome back to town Sam M.. Can't wait to hear and see about the travels.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Safety Meeting along the Deer Lake Ridge Traverse

Plenty of days for adventure in the mountains around southwest Montana exist in my universe. During the first week of February I took the time to revisit a tour I had gone on solo during my first spring in Montana, The Deer Lake Basin Traverse. Whereas six years ago I had been stymied by mass quantities of glob and a lack of endurance, this time around the mountains opened their passages to me in a kind fashion. Solo again I set off at the moderate hour of 8:30 in the morning. The tour basically consists of trekking up the first 3 or 4 miles of the Deer Lake trail out of Gallatin Canyon. Table Mountain is the first peak to ascent followed by a joyful traverse across 3 unnamed 10,000+ peaks and then a long eastward traverse on the Dudley Creek/Deer Lake divide with a steep north-facing ski run down to the mouth of the Deer Lake Basin.

Atop Table Mountain looking down at the start.

Looking southwards from Table's broad summit plateau the horizon opens up to one's eyes. Across the way I see the ski crux of the day. Picked out a fun, most challenging, and slightly safe line. A 600' exposed slope with a max pitch of 35ish degrees ending in a cliffband containing a group of several 45 degree couloirs of 400' length.

Looking at the ski "crux" of the traverse (The Sphinx in the background)

After some orientation on Table Mountain I headed off to the southwest.

Looking into the Spanish Peaks. From left to right: Jumbo Mountain, Beehive Peak, Blaze Mountain, and Gallatin Peak (in cloud).
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The wind was my constant companion as a small 400' ski brought me to a 1000' ascent to the first of three peaks forming the headwall of Deer Basin. Skis were taken on and off for the next several hours. Amazing views all around infringe their starkness on my retinas, the camera has become a secondary recording device to the neurons within my brain. The wind and clouds threaten to close down the visibility but nothing serious crops up.

Little ole' Lone Peak. The second ridgeline in from the foreground is the Dudley Creek/Deer Lake Divide.
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Looking back from the top of the divide peak between South Fork Hellroaring Creek, Cascade Creek and Deer Basin.
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Onward. From the same peak as previous photo. Some technical skiing to some sweet scrambling, all kinda exposed. Wilson Peak in the mid-ground with Dudley Peak along its ridge to the east.
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Eliminate climbing, choosing my own challenges. Stayed primarily on the rocks, at over a billion years old I tend to trust them.
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The traversing was taking some toll on me, mainly punching through faceted snow and banging my body parts on the mountains' spines. Alas the weather was looking bleaker and I had only an hour till the sun sank itself. To paraphrase the late Derek Hersey "wow this is cool, time to move on". So I move on with a quickened physical pace and the same smooth mental focus as 6 hours ago.

Darkness descends. The Taylor-Hilgards pulsate from the south.
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The camera was shuddered for the traverse to the skiing finale. After several ups and downs and transitions some skiing was at hand. After a initial ski-cut of the entrance to the top pitch, I charged headlong into some boot-top powder. Poking around along the bench above the cliffband I found one of the suitable couloirs and ski-cut it as well. Out-skied my sluff and eased into the runout zone ending in a quagmire of spruce/fir forest in the bottom. Quickly found where I had gone off-trail to skin up Table Mountain and was able to jam out the highway in under a half-hour.

Good times.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Taking and Receiving

Some current work by Z

A lazy art critic

The storms around Bozeman have been infrequent at best. This is how January can be in Bozeman. Its often best not to check the snow amounts in Cooke City at this time. That is a sure way to madness. I got down to the Hebgen Lake area (aka The Chicken Shack) three times in the course of 7 days last week. West Yellowstone has been getting hit consistently with moderate snowfall. Adding that with cooler temps and little wind and some sweet, sweet powder skiing is on reserve.

We choose to return to a pocket south of the Sanchez Bowl that I call the Trident. Very little traffic and the best fall-lines in the entire zone. All you have to pay is a steep and stout 1800' final skin that can be repeated numerous time and a track is never crossed.

Entering the Trident

Pillow lines coming in (Up)


Good Line

Across the bottom of Sanchez

This ain't no rando-race bitches

Sky Pilots

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ending the Month

Life continues to impress. I'm doing my best at being a jobless skier this winter while maintaining a steady stream of application and resume spraying. Plenty of obscenely beautiful days have been collected already.

The idea for a trip to Cooke City has emerged. That damn place is continually getting plowed by storms that don't even scratch Bozeman. Engaging search for a dog-sitter.

Ski Powder.

Things are looking up for the camera to be taken out soon.