Saturday, December 12, 2009

Some very important words

Early this last week a bitter cold air mass dropped into the Missoula Valley. Temperatures plummeted -15F without wind chill. Unfortunately there was no snow so we had to look elsewhere. The girls and I were homeward bound for several days which provided some time to introduce them to some ski movies. They have seen them before but this film actually held their attention for more than a few minutes and that saying a lot :-). They are learning new words every day. But these three words: Ski Pow Pow, well they make this dad proud.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Red Bull Project X - Shaun White's Secret Halfpipe

When people spend two months to build you your own half pipe you might be good. When helicopters drop 30 charges to set off avies and work snowcats all night for you, you might have something going. Shaun White has it good.This project involves shaping a private halfpipe in one of Silverton Mountains alpine basins. The scale of this thing is mind boggling.

For all the videos and background on this massive undertaking check out

Saturday, November 21, 2009

End of my hunting season

I had a great season, saw a lot of great areas and animals. Unfortunately, with the exception of two antelope, no deer or elk found their way into my freezer. I was deadly close to elk a number of times, but the stars never aligned. My legs (and knee) benefited from all the hiking, bringing me one step closer to being in shape for the upcoming ski season. There's still a week left in the season, but I'm done and heading for family time in a warmer clime.....Newport Beach

<< Wolf tracks that I followed, looks like I had some competition. The other pic is a nice herd of 20 cows that wouldn't have had such a nice day had it been 24 hours later.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shelter from the Storm - a secret, illegal cabin in the backcountry of British Columbia

I stumbled across an excellent article on the Skiing Magazine website. Reading it gives you that warm feeling that only a backcountry skier knows. These guys have taken it to a whole new level. Pouring countless hours and passion into what looks like a one of a kind place (only its probably isn't).

Canadians seem to be able to call on on their "last frontiersmen" skills much better than we can down in the US. Or maybe it's the fact that they've got so much more undeveloped alpine ground to hide a place such as this.

At any rate, if you have 10 minutes, read this article and dream of the possiblities.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Florence man rescues dad from mountain lion

An interesting and hair raising story from the Missoulian. These guys and bears are really the only thing that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Usually these thoughts cross my mind when I'm walking in the pre-dawn slog into a spot. But apparently I should be worried all day long, as this happened mid-day. Story from the Missoulian:

Duane Cole believed he was on the menu when a mountain lion confronted him during a hunting trip in the Elkhorn Mountains near Boulder last month.

"I'm 64 years old and hunted since I was a little kid behind my dad," he said. "I'm a trail runner, backpacker and I've hunted by myself. I always heard they were more scared of you. I was 100 times more scared than it was."

The incident left the Colstrip parks and recreation supervisor shaken. His son - Florence resident Shane Cole - shot the lion, but not before a game of cat and mouse, Cole being the mouse.

The encounter comes on the heels of another Montana hunter's run-in with a lion near Wise River on opening day of the general big-game season. That lion was also shot.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, there is no statewide accounting of such encounters and shootings of lions.

"We have a couple a year," said Sam Sheppard, FWP warden captain in Bozeman.

It was a series of unusual events that put Cole in a pickle. He was elk hunting with his 41-year-old son Shane.

The son had a bull tag, while dad could shoot a spike bull with his general tag. Since Duane was hoping his son could fill his bull tag, he decided to leave his rifle in the truck rather than shoot a spike and possibly ruin Shane's hunt.

Since the walk they planned wasn't far, Duane also left his CamelBak backpack, which contained pepper spray, in the car. He was going to leave his cell phone, too, since there was no service. But Shane suggested they take their phones along in case they got service farther up the mountain and couldn't find each other.

The father and son then split up, walking parallel ridges about 900 yards apart. Along the way uphill, Duane picked up a straight piece of dry cedar as a walking stick.

"I can't remember picking up a walking stick before in my life," he said.

After walking a ways up the ridge, Duane turned around for no reason and saw the mountain lion about 10 to 12 feet away, crouched down and staring intently.

"I could tell he was ready to launch."

Shouting and shaking the stick, Duane tried to scare the animal off. But it didn't move. Then Duane threw the stick like a spear, hitting the lion in the ribs. It ran behind a cedar tree but didn't retreat farther. Duane quickly stooped down and picked up rocks, throwing them at the lion and shouting.

"All the things we tell people with bears, it's the opposite with lions," FWP's Sheppard said. Those confronted by a lion should stand tall, talk confidently, don't turn your back - and fight if attacked.

Finally Duane remembered the cell phone, pulled it out and called his son. With directions from Duane, Shane came on the run to help his father. The cat remained staring at Duane, so he backed down the ridge. When Shane arrived, he was winded from the run. The two were standing just out of sight of the cat. When the two started walking, they spied the mountain lion sitting on a boulder about 35 feet away.

Duane asked his son to shoot the lion, but he wouldn't do it, thinking it might be a female with kittens, so they kept on walking.

"We'd gone about 50 to 100 yards. I was paranoid at that time," Duane said. "I looked back and saw it coming in fast and low, straight at us from behind."

Duane yelled at his son, who turned and shot, hitting the lion in its side as it turned. It ran about 50 feet and died. Shaken, the hunters called Fish, Wildlife and Parks and were told to remove the lion's head and give it to the warden. They covered the body with branches and left it. Hunters are not allowed to possess the remains of a mountain lion killed in self-defense.

Duane said the cat, identified by a FWP warden as a juvenile, was about 6 feet long from head to tail and weighed about 100 pounds.

Looking back on the incident, Duane said he was scared but calm. At the height of the encounter, though, he completely forgot he had a 6-inch knife in his vest.

Although the father and son kept hunting the next day, Duane's experience haunted him.

"Every time I'd go under an old-growth tree or boulder, I'd take my rifle off safety," he said.

And he remains shaken by the incident.

"I always thought they'd hear me coming and get out of the way," he said. "But some of them won't get out of the way. In fact, they think we're dinner."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hunter missing for 2 weeks, found alive

If you've ever walked around in the woods alone, there is a pretty good chance you have at least pondered the thought of getting lost. I've only been lost once (in the San Gorgonio Wilderness) and the event only lasted less than 30 minutes. Nonetheless, fear struck a chord that day and I began to panic. Yet I had only cut a switchback (big backcountry no-no), I was quickly turned around. I eventually located the trail and a few miles later I finished up a 16 mile round trip.

But this guy took it to a whole new level. Casper hunter Travis McMahan spent 15 days wondering if they might be his last. The gist of it is he was scouting from his camp for a hunt, got distracted by an animal and turned around, found a sheepherder's cabin, and was eventually discovered by his father after the Natrona County, WY rescue team had ceased S & R efforts 2 days prior. In the end he was came out alive and that is ultimately what counts.

If you have a few minutes, the Billings Gazette article is well worth the read.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Santa, please! Snow car

Very impressive, but scary at the same time. Could you imagine these things roaming the mountains?

X-posted from

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Start of elk season 2009

Great day in the field yesterday. The only thing that could have made it better was if I had the cow tag or if there had been a bull. But, I'm considering myself lucky to have sneaked w/in 40 yards of bedded elk. After I was busted by the herd, I took this picture with my little point and shoot through the binoculars from long ways away.
Quite a few friends have done very well in just a week into the season. Two of them took nice bulls this week. A couple of other buddies harvested a couple cows and a nice buck.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One yard

Ran across this youtube video that is pretty exciting, I don't think it can get any closer. Back from our antelope hunt, maybe more on that later.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Antelope hunting 2010

Great trip with temps as cold as we've experienced in the 5 years we've been doing this camp. Temps dipped to close to 0 and opening morning at 5am was 9 degrees. Thank god for a pop up trailer with a furnace, sorry guys in the wall tent with a Mr. Heater :-).

I took 2 does, RS a doe, JG a buck and doe, the H's each bagged a doe or 2 as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Winter Weather Advisory

A little local weather action for W. Montana

734 PM MDT THU OCT 8 2009




But by the weekend the weather in Eastern MT should be clear and just a bit on cold side. Hoping it looks like this, just without the rain. Weather over there is looking pretty good, just chilly at night:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ultimate Ski Bum Blow your Mind Contest - Powder Highway

This is probably one of the better edits and creative ski related segments I think I've seen. And damn, what an opportunity for somebody out there. From the Powder Highway website:

One lucky Ski Bum will win a 3 Month Journey along the Powder Highway and have Free Lift Tickets at all of the Resorts, 15 days of Heli and Cat Skiing, Accommodation and Transportation provided. This place has long been a haven for Ski Bums from around the world. We're sharing that adventure through the experiences of one person - the Ultimate Ski Bum. No agenda, no job, just snow, mountains and a road that links it all together.

The Powder Highway YouTube Channel

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall snow in Western Montana

The "indian summer" we've been having this last month appears to have snapped in Western Montana. Looking at a few of the webcams on the passes, snow is falling this morning. Wooot.

Local news is saying: If El Nino reaches moderate strength - as expected, temperature and precipitation effects over the United States should strengthen in late fall and winter.

That would mean near normal precipitation, but below normal temperatures, through October in western Montana - followed by above average wintertime temperatures and drier forecasts as El Nino took over.

And according to the National Weather Service, the summer of 2009 was a record-setter.

Western Montana accounted for 10 daily records from June through August, six of them in the maximum rainfall category. Kalispell accounted for three of the rainfall records.

The new marks, starting in June, included:

July 27, Missoula, record rainfall of 0.6 inches (old record, 0.39, 1927)
Aug. 8, Missoula, record rainfall of 2.03 inches (old record, 0.44, 1999)
Aug. 14, Missoula, record low high temperature of 64 (old record, 66,1978)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Extreme MOP (Montana Otter People) Competition

Extreme MOP (Montana Otter People) Competition

X-posted from Flyfish Journal

It’s 5:30 a.m. here on the East Gallatin River about a mile from Manhattan, Montana, and Brad Colter is already in the water. Though the river is chilly with early-July run-off from the Bridger Range, Brad Colter is not wearing a wetsuit. In fact, Brad Colter is not allowed to wear anything. That’s one of the primary rules in the upcoming MOP competition. Brad files his teeth one last time, places his regulation MOP file by a beaver-chewed stump, then ducks under the deep water by a log jam.

A minute passes, then two, and just as I am about to head up to the Colter farmhouse to phone for help, Brad flops up on the opposite bank with a three-pound sucker in his jaws.

Brad is in training for the bi-annual MOP (Montana Otter People) competition to be held this August on the Smith River outside of White Sulfur Springs. While Brad holds the sucker to the grassy bank and strips its carcass with his teeth, he answers a few of my questions.

Keeler: How long have you been participating in the MOP competition?
Colter: Gack, hack, hack, spit, chew, gack.
Keeler: Brad?
Colter: Gobble, hawk, glorp, crunch, guzzle, spew, spurt. I’ll be right with you, spit, smear, wipe. Okay, what was the question?
Keeler: How long have you been doing this?
Colter: Doing what?
Keeler: Participating in the MOP competition.
Colter: This should be my fifth year, though officially it’s only my fourth. I was disqualified last year for biting an endangered west-slope cutthroat. The water was a little turbid and I couldn’t tell what she was till I had her in my teeth. I let her go but she left a blood trail and one of the officials spotted it.
Keeler: Who won?
Colter: Mildred Spunk. She ate four small whitefish, two medium suckers and a large brown trout.
Keeler: I notice you said, “ate” instead of “caught.”
Colter: Yes, catching is the easy part. Eating is where the skill comes in. You have to keep your teeth sharp, your stomach expanded and your digestive system in shape. In the WOP (that’s World Otter People) finals, a Japanese guy, Ken Nagano, ate ten large carp.
Keeler: Besides not wearing clothes and not eating endangered fish, what are some of the other rules for the MOP competition?
Colter: Well, we aren’t allowed to use our hands to catch fish, just our mouths, though on shore we can use our hands to hold them down while we tear off the flesh with our teeth.
Keeler: You mean you’re only allowed to swim up to a fish and bite it?
Colter: Pretty much.
Keeler: How is that possible?
Colter: Usually, I can do it by trapping them against a log jam or an undercut bank, though sometimes I’ll catch one sleeping, bite its tail and hold on.
Keeler: What prompted you to mimic otters in the first place?
Colter: I can’t say as I remember. Maybe boredom. Me and some of my friends used to get drunk and throw full beer cans from the sundeck of the Crystal Bar in Bozeman to see who could bean the most tourists, but that was too easy, and after a while we got tired of wasting good beer. Then one summer, maybe ten years ago, while I was jumping out from behind logjams to moon McKenzie boats, I watched an otter catch and eat a fish, and I thought, “Hey, I can do that.” After I tried it, it got to be kind of addictive. Then one evening while I was surfing the net, I typed in “barely legal,” and I found all these other otter people. Hurk! Hurk! Hurk! Buick!

At this point, I have to terminate the interview because Brad is blowing sucker chunks. It appears that Brad Colter still has some arduous training to do if he is to make a showing at the MOP competition this August.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gone baby gone - middle toe partial amputation

More exciting news about my toe.....On Wednesday, I met with the orthopedic Dr. and the surgeon to see whats up my broken toe. The Dr. consulted with the surgeon and told him that I wanted to get this thing healed up as quickly as possible and avoid complications in the future. And after a lengthy discussion, the best option we came up with was to amputate the end of my middle toe (basically starting at the bottom of the nail).

I didn't have to think to long about this, as I need to get it healed up for hunting season (see 4 weeks away) and of course ski season. My thinking is I can't live in the post op shoe for 8 weeks (and take off work) and risk it not healing properly.

Enter Thursday (the next day). Hot damn, well I went ahead with the surgery to remove the end of the middle toe at the knuckle. The procedure was pretty quick, taking about 2 hours from the initial IV to me coming out of my stupor. I've got a sweet Xray of the result (see below) and its all bandaged up.

The surgeon told me that he basically took some flaps of skin and the fatty toe pad to "reproduce" the toe. I should be looking fairly solid after about 2 weeks. The great thing I understood is now all I'm dealing with is a wound (albeit kinda serious) instead of loose bone.

I asked if they could put the toe in a little bottle of formaldehyde, he kind of laughed and asked if I was serious. He told me a story about a guy that had to have his lower leg amputated. He wanted to keep it, seem reasonable right? For the hunters out there, you're probably familiar with Big Sky Beetle Works. You might know where I'm going with this. So he took his leg and had it "beetled" and now I guess has it hanging on his wall. That is hardcore or sick or funny, something.

Anyway, all there is to do now is heal this wound up. I've been ordered to keep my foot up and try to stay off of it. Going kind of stir crazy around the house here with this forced vacation. But I guess the good thing is that it could have been a lot worse, like multiple broken toes or even my foot.

note: the official term for this procedure was a middle toe tuft amputation.

Here's a nasty shot of my nasty toe after the amputation. You might also be wondering what is going on with my big toe. Thats from a hike I did the month before, lost the toe nail. The amputation went pretty smooth and was sutured up with about 10 stitches.

As far as recovering from the amputation, there weren't many issues. I ended up hiking when we went antelope hunting (see post), only 1 week after the little sucker was cut off. I was easily hiking 5+ miles a day for 3 days and it gave me no problems. I just made sure I changed the dressings and keep my socks dry. The biggest worry was getting an infection. Overall it doesn't seem to affect the way I walk at all, and there's only been a few phantom pains.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mutants of WalMart

Holy crap, you'll either love this or you'll hate. Chances are you'll at least have a few chuckles and possibly roll across the floor peeing yourself. We know we've all been in Wal-Mart and seen one of these specimens, only wishing you had your camera. Well, these guys over at People of WalMart CLICK HERE have the ultimate repository of humor. This site will save you from having to stalk that dude with the sweet mullet, risking getting caught taking a picture and busting your grill.

Just one of the great mutants on the site. Make sure you read the captions, brilliant. I'll be taking my camera out next week :-).

It’s simple: We, uh, kill the Batman.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bow hunt teaser

Recently, a good buddy of mine finished a fantastic hunt in southwestern Montana. He was out for redemption after striking out with is bow on the ranch last year. This year his luck was much better. I'll be editing the hour and half of footage down to manageable video over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for the final cut. Enjoy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bad month for toes

The silent war against my toes has peaked (I hope). As I mentioned in the Hellroaring trip report my big toenail on my right foot got thoroughly worked over, with its last hurrah a week ago (the toenail fell off). It was quite a gnarly process. First the swelling around the nail-bed. Followed by the use of a sterile 1/16 drill bit, drilling into the nail to relieve pressure and fluid. And then finally a quick pull, removing the entire big toenail. It feels fine now, but it is not pretty, not one bit.

This entire summer and spring I have lived in flip flops and my bare feet making it a point to have as little on my feet as possible, enjoying the warmth while I can. I caffeinated, chased the twins and planned out the day. I decided to get my stuff together and sight in my rifle. As I pulled the targets from the cupboard in the garage, I struggled with something heavy on top of them. I pulled harder and out fell one heavy ass piece of metal. The trailer hitch (10 lbs of steel) fell directly onto my middle left toe. A flurry of expletives and grossly exaggerated faces sent my twin girls into a screaming/crying mess.

I gritted in severe pain and tried to assess the damage to my middle toe. After the initial pain blast died down, I attempted to bandage and stop the bleeding on that toe. The tip of the toe had a 1" laceration near the nail and something (either the cuticle or bone) was poking up through the skin. About 20 minutes later the blood started to really come on strong. I headed for the emergency room.

With a very short wait, I was admitted to a room for assessment. Luckily, I was treated with some liquid Loritab (highly recommended) which took most of the pain away. Shortly after, the x-ray techs took some photos of my foot. The doctor deduced that I had an open fracture of the distal phalanx. He put in two stitches and did a bit of reduction to try and place the bones back together. I have to follow up with the orthopedic specialist next week to check on the healing process. Sounds like there is a good chance the tip of the toe may not heal back together, but with supposed little consequences.

If you got any tips (no pun) on healing a broken toe, holler at me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ahhhh winter

A random photo from the interwebz. I love it. The photo is reported to be from the Kitimat area in northwestern British Columbia.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Station fire timelapse - southern california burning

Some very impressive time lapse photograpy of the Station Fire in Southern California from Brandon Riza, check out

And tragically, from the Billings Examiner:

Fire officials announced yesterday that the Station fire, currently burning in Angeles National Forest, claimed the lives of two firefighters Sunday afternoon. The deaths occurred when the firemen's vehicle ran off the edge of a mountain road while they were working to control the intense flames near Mt Gleason. Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant made the announcement after the families were notified.

These were the first two deaths caused by the fire; several civilians were previously injured after failing to evacuate from their homes near the fire.

Meanwhile, the fire continued to rage through Sunday night and Monday morning consuming more than 85,000 acres of land. With only 5% containment, the fire is expected to continue growing in all directions. Estimates for full containment have now been pushed back to September 15th......

While the Station fire rages in the Angeles National Forest, a second fire erupted in the San Bernadino National Forest. Dubbed the Oak Glen fire, the blaze started Sunday afternoon and quickly expanded to burn close to 1,000 acres by Monday morning. Starting in the hills just south of Oak Glen Road, the fire's potential to expand even more is great given the terrain and continued hot weather across Southern California.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tortured feet and trout

As I write this, my blisters and toenail have finally started to heal from the hiking trip last weekend. A couple of buddies and I hiked into a drainage north of Yellowstone National Park. Our mission was to scout the area for the possibility of a backcountry elk hunt (during the rut), catch some fish and avoid being mauled by a grizzly. We hit the heavily traveled pack trail just a bit east of Jardine. The trail gained 1000ft and descended 2500ft over 12 miles. We took a nice lunch break on the pass and had the opportunity to watch a grizzly bear frolick through the meadow. It went something like - "Hey stop, whats that?" "I think its an elk butt" "Really?" "Nope, its a griz - shit". A shot of adrenaline hit our veins as we all checked our bear spray. Sixty yards was close enough. Five minutes later we bumped into another bear, this time it was a black bear only 25 yards off the trail, time to keep moving on.

The descent ambled through alpine flats, crossed streams, snaked through dark patches of timber and finally broke out into the open scorched area that had been burned in the fires of 1988. During the lunch break I noticed a few hotspots on my feet and liberally applied some moleskin. It seemed that both my street shoes and my socks had seen better days. I had a hole working in the heel of my sock and a chunk missing out the heel of my shoe. The downhill kept on pounding and the pitch also took a toll on my right big toe I would later find out.

We set up camp in a big meadow near the Hellroaring ranger station. With the creek nearby, dry firewood everywhere and 2 flasks of Crown we had no problem settling in for the night. The bells on the packers horses in a nearby camp clanged away under the starry night.

The next day we made a 8 mile loop further up into the basin to check out the fishing. Half way up there I again stopped to assess the damage to my heel. To my surprise I found a silver dollar sized piece of skin had chosen to part ways with being attached to my body. The next remedy involved what I should have done in the first place, duct tape. We hit the meadow in a high valley and stumbled onto another bear. This guy looked to be easily 300 pounds and was lumbering along next to the creek, as if looking for an easy fish. At first we thought he was a grizzly however after zooming in the photos I took, I think it might actually be a black bear. See what you think and let me know eh? After watching him wander off through the willows, we sat down to have some lunch. One eye on our sandwich and one eye over our backs.

A primetime fishing hole beside us cut the lunch short and we started to sample the goods. I think we pulled 30 fish out of a 75 foot stretch of river. They averaged 8-10" with a dozen or so at 16". All of them cutthroat with great spirited fights. The next quarter of a mile turned up excellent cut banks stacked with hungry cutties. We must have hooked 50 fish a piece with many more strikes and refusals. I had never experienced so may refusals, the fish would often times bump the fly once then hit again only spitting it out a second later. Patience was the key.

We followed the trail back to the trail and found that something larger was also using the same trail. Some bear tracks that measured up to my foot. Unfortunately we never did cross a single elk track or see any elk scat. We fished some great canyon sections back near camp and turned in for the night, dreaming of the 12 tortuous miles ahead.

The next morning I made one of the best decisions yet, I opted to hike out in my Chacos. With a piece of duct tape over the missing pieces of heel, it was money. It definitely proved that those sandals are a worthy tool besides just lounging once you get to camp. As it so often seems to happen, the rain began to fall on the hike out. But it was a perfect cool down to a 32 mile trip into paradise. The beers that put on ice at the trailhead......yeah they tasted okay.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic - one nutty race

Andrew Skurka, Bobby Schnell, and Chris Robertson hike and packraft 180 miles in 3 days 18 hours across the eastern Alaska Range to place first in the 2009 race. They started with all the gear and food they needed to finish; no aid stations, support crews, or caches were allowed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sayulita, Mexico

Almost one year ago, some great friends of ours visited Missoula from a far off Alantic island. It was a bit of a homecoming for them, visiting the town where they had grown fond of each other while jumping from perfectly good airplanes. They had a hankering for cool mountain air, good tunes in the street and fantastic trout fishing in crystal cold waters. Low and behold they dropped a proposition on us that seemed far fetched at the time, but a few days later was total reality. Let's go to Mexico.

Our tickets out of Western MT were booked in the dead of winter. Which in some cases I'm sure contributed to the overall success of the trip. White blasted the land and the mercury hovered in the twenties, who wouldn't want to go to Mexico? The promise of 90 degree temps with the equivalent in shirt-soaking humidity sounded like the perfect remedy to winter's cold clutch. Never mind the soon to be 21 month old twin girls that would surely attempt to take over the cockpit while en route to our destination.

Oh the preparation, you have no idea my friend. We analyzed every possible toddler necessity one may need while in a 3rd world county. In the end after a massive heap of baby gear, medicines and clothes were sorted on the bed, we crammed it all into two suitcases and maxed out our baggage weight (50lb/bag). Distractions for the kids on the plane were priority numero uno (that's number one for those the don't speak Espanol). Let it be known that you should not underestimate the power of a 50 cent Winnie the Pooh wrapped in a gift sack. These little gems ran interference on the kids like nobody's business.

Three legs on the plane dropped us into Puerto Vallarta. After which we hit up the Mega SuperMarket and stocked up on 20 pounds of chorizo, drinkable yogurt and diapers (Okay, a few other items were added to the card). We learned that efficiency in a mexican super market and paying with traveler's checks do not go hand in hand. After solving the dinero challenge, I was greeted with another. One of the girls decided that the foreign smells and heat did not agree with the bottle of milk she had finished 2 hours earlier. T was unfortunately wore the brunt of her upchuck. Prior to that moment I did not know how to say "Clean Up on Aisle 7" in spanish.

The winding jungle road out of Puerto Vallarta north was a great introduction. We topped the rise and dropped down into the great town of Sayulita. Our driver knew the name of the house we were staying at, didn't even need an address. After 18 hours of travel it felt muy bueno to be setting up shop at the casa. Sounds cliche, but the place had sweeping ocean views from the patio/hammock with ocean breezes blowing through the palm trees.

The next 2 weeks or so were mainly spent something like this; walking down to the beach at dawn to try and catch a wave, lounging by the pool in the sweltering mid-day heat, sucking down Pacifico's laced with lime, sampling the best fish taco's at great little restaurants, enjoying the surf and sun at some great beaches, and constantly pondering what else we should put on the tortillas (I should have brought a case of those home). Another cliche, it was good to leave all the worries at home.

The sounds and sights of a different culture were refreshing. The slower way of life, cobble and dirt streets were perfect. My only recommendation is that they place air-conditioned booths every 300 yards for gringos like myself. I would then be able to dry my sweat soaked clothes and avoid all moisture related sores and diseases. JK. Our whole crew had a great time. A six year old learned to surf; twins developed a fine taste for sand and to frolick in the ocean spray; a land locked mountain boy caught some waves and landed a monster 30lb dorado; and parents relaxed and watched as their kids enjoyed a new world.

And I even came home a smarter man. I learned that passing on corners is not a good idea, making coffee with mexican tap water speeds up "Montezuma's revenge", the key to fish tacos is fish, mexican speed bumps are big, watching sheet lightning on the roof is exciting, wearing sandals where scorpions lurk is a good thing, and last but not least - Mama is always right. I could go on but hopefully I'm painting the picture that this vacation was just plain kick ass.

And finally, the fish that made my year, a 30 pound dorado (aka Mahi Mahi, dolphin fish).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fouth of July with a little flavor

We had a blast celebrating the US's independence. As usual, shenanigans were the name of the game. But in the end no one got hurt, except for maybe the chicken. But even she turned out just fine. Just don't go hunting w/ that guy that has potato gun in the last scene, I think his aim might be slightly off.

**You'll want to wait a few minutes for the video to load, press play then pause it and go get a beer***

There some recent pictures over here too -

To all the haters

If you don't like it, why do you continue to come back?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Montana and Idaho fire forecast calls for increased activity

The skies to the west of Missoula looked a bit smokey last night, most likely from the agricultural burning over in Washington and Idaho. But it made me wonder enough to look at the National Situation report. In the news over the last 2 weeks there have were two articles pointed to the possibility of a hot and smokey summer.

Missoulian article: Fire forecast calls for more activity

excerpt: The coming wildland fire season will be slightly more active than normal in western Montana, authorities predicted this week.

Idaho news: Idaho fire season expected to be very active
A dryer than normal spring has setup Idaho for a what could be a repeat of 2007 when 346,000 acres burned in the Boise National Forest.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lou Dawson reviews Stepping Up (2nd edition) on

Recently Lou Dawson over at Wildsnow was kind enough to have a look at the book Sam Cox and I put together, Stepping Up (2nd Ed). We thought who better to review the book, but the man who has written six books on backcountry travel in the Colorado high country. The ski industry is always a great place for networking.

Lou had some great compliments about the book such as, " The amount of detail is stunning — obviously of biblical import for anyone aspiring to be a disciple of “The Ridge.” ". But he also had a point of critique which I can only agree with - "...overall lack of historical anecdotes about the individual routes...". This is certainly something we can work on in the future. Thanks for everyone's support on this project, it's been a lot of fun.

Follow this link to the review on WildSnow >

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lochsa River rafting carnage #2

Last year I posted a link to a great rafting carnage video from the Lochsa, which is in Idaho, just over the hill from Missoula. The same fine folks, Lochsa Info have put togther another great video this year. I need to get over there and get in my kayak.

The flow is on!

Monday, May 18, 2009

New waterfall record in a kayak, 186 feet

In March, Brazilian Pedro Oliveira ran a 127-foot falls in Brazil breaking Tyler Bradt’s former 107-foot record (alexandra falls, NWT canada). There was huge media coverage worldwide about Olivia’s record. While most people imagined this record would stay for a very long time, Tyler Bradt just ran the 186 ft (nearly 60-meter) Palouse Falls in Washington State, smashing Olivia’s record by 59 ft!!!

Looks like Sports Illustrated took down their video, so the new one can be found here >>>

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crazy street riding - Danny Macaskill

A friend recently sent this video to me off of youtube. This guy makes me feel like an old lady on a tricycle. But seriously, this guy Danny Macaskill is flat out impressive and insanely skilled at what he does. Some of the clips that really impressed me are at 3:05 and 4:30. Enjoy.

Filmed over the period of a few months in and around Edinburgh by Dave Sowerby, this video of Inspired Bicycles team rider Danny MacAskill (more info at features probably the best collection of street/street trials riding ever seen. There's some huge riding, but also some of the most technically difficult and imaginative lines you will ever see. Without a doubt, this video pushes the envelope of what is perceived as possible on a trials bike.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flipped on Lochsa Falls

On Sunday we loaded up a cataraft and a 15 foot raft and headed over to the Lochsa. Leaving Missoula we knew might not have the best weather, but it was better than moping around waiting for it to get better. The catraft would be leading the way with my buddy at the oars of the raft that my buddy and I would be in. Our rower had been down the Lochsa quite a few times but never actually "in charge". So going into it we knew might be getting a little more wet than the rain.

Flows were around the 3 foot range which is a good intro level for the Lochsa. A drizzle at the put in and 45 degrees, we pushed off. All the rapids leading up Lochsa Falls were run clean. We followed the line of the cat raft, dug in hard to get over the falls wave. The next thing you know, we were going over. The raft ended up pretty much in the eddy right below the wave, so we didn't have to swim too far. I somehow ended up with both paddles luckily. We righted the raft and jumped back in.

No matter the weather, its always good times on the Lochsa. These pictures were taken by Rapid Action Photography. And as you can see by the quality, I was too cheap to pay for the prints. You get the picture of what happened to us at Lochsa Falls.

Texts from Last Night

This would be the part where this blog changes seasons and possibly shape/form/taste. After yesterday's rafting trip down the Lochsa with a few buddies, I think I am finally relinquishing my skis. There is a chance I may get out a couple more times, but for the most part I am ready for water and warm weather.

So in that name, I bring you this tasteless and mindless humor. There is some funny shit in on this site if you have a few minutes to browse it. It really makes me want to bone up on my texting skills and start surprising people with my telephonic funniness.

Here's a sample of some of the goods I found:

(662): I scissor kicked a one legged man last night.
(662): He was trying to put me in handcuffs.
(1-662): You have my attention.

(301): I'm sorry my penis didn't work

(217): I'm trashed wearing your mom's snuggie. She says hello.

(517): I thought I drunk dialed Adam last night and left him a voicemail. I just checked my phone. I realize I left a drunk voicemail with my son's teacher.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wildlife Photos from 93N Camera Monitoring (Ravalli Hill)

These photos came throught on an email the other day and thought they were pretty impressive. Especially the one with the 2 mountain lions walking side by side. The photos are from a motion activated camera monitoring critters using one of the wildlife crossings installed on the improved Highway 93 by Ravalli, north of Arlee. Arlee is about 20 miles north of Missoula, MT.

The tunnels effectiveness were researched by UM biology Professor Kerry Foresman. You can read more about the research here. The tunnels have also been installed on Hwy 93 south of Missoula.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hanging on the edge - sketchy ski plane "landing"

I thought this was pretty impressive. A guy over on the TGR boards posted this thread and took this great picture. He was out flying somewhere near Talkeetna, Alaska (I believe) when he took this picture from the air.

If you look closely you can see the plane on the left, holy crap. The story as near I can tell goes something like this:

"these guys are way fucking lucky, they had intentions of skiing, but messed up the landing big time...Coming from the direction that they did, you land on a fairly steep incline and it kind of rolls over to the edge of this cliff, and as the picture shows, you cant really see the edge until it is too late, the plane is held there by the wing in the snow and one ski....A good stiff wind (like the one blowing last night) would send this thing 4,000ft straight down the cliff to the bottom...I still cant think of how they got out of there without tipping that thing off the mountain.....The pilot actually crawled back in the plane and radioed for help, this is just outside of town so a helo was dispatched pretty quickly..."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Freedom Riders

While I'm not quite sure my brain is fully accepting the fact that winter is over, I can say that I am ready for some warm weather. The forecast is calling for near 70 temps in Missoula by Sunday. Lower elevation trails are drying out for riding. My first mtb ride was last week up the Sentinel trail. I'll need to get my biking muscles back before I can truly enjoy it.

Anyway, I ran across this over at the blog, The Goat. KGB Productions is premiering their new mountain bike film, Freedom Riders, tonight at Sea Otter. It’s a true story of a core group of riders who formed an against-all-odds relationship with the Forest Service and created the first freeride specific trails on public lands in the lower 48.

HD High Def Freeride Mountain Bike Movie DVD Trailer from Freedom Riders The Movie Freerid on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Surpise attack - The Canyons

Last week we seized the day and made a last minute trip to The Canyons down in Utah. T's sister was taking her family on a spring break ski trip at The Canyons. Turns out it's much cheaper and easier for that matter to get from FL to UT rather than MT. Without her knowing we loaded up the babies, lots of gear, put in a DVD to distract the kids and headed out. Dry roads meant smooth sailing for the eight hours down I-15.

We arrived and tried to figure a way to surprise everyone. After all was said and done, my nephew was floored when we answered a knock at the door and found 2 little cuties standing at the door. T and I got a day to ski together with our nephew and we sampled some great snow. The Canyons had rec'd 11" the day before, 5" the day we skied and 5" more the second day we skied. It's a different world skiing swanky 6 pack high speed lifts when you are used to 30 year old slow ass Riblet chairlifts (see Snowbowl).

The second day I met up with a local shredder and got the ultimate tour of The Canyons. We headed up the hike off the 9990 chair and skied some great snow on the four runs we did. I had a binding malfunction on my 8 year old Fritchi Freerides on the first slackcountry run, so the rest of the day I busted crud on the Pro's.

Thanks to everyone! Thanks M and T, Toby, T, and Black Diamond for great customer service.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Slednecks highmarking set off huge avalanche

I came across this crazy video of a sledneck making a insanely stupid highmark somewhere in Canada. I'm not sure of the outcome, but it appears that he made it out. Watching the 'bilers at the bottom beating feet out of there is kind of comical in a scary sort of way. One thing I am sure of, that guys pants are stained with brown.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Massive crown in Gulmarg, India

Holy balls. I stumbled across this image which was taken at Gulmarg, India. From what I can tell they recently had a pretty big storm.

This puppy let'er rip. I couldn't find many details, only that it was a 18 foot crown! Not sure on whether it was natural or done under control work. But all I can say is, WTF?

Gulmarg came onto my petty little radar about a year ago. I think the Euros probably have been going there for quite a while longer.

If you haven't heard of Gulmarg before, here's a few links etc to get started. Myself? I'm doing some research and am thinking that this trip is in order, sometime in the near future. There is something really cool to me about traveling to a 3rd world setting and shredding some pow.

Who's in?


The Line of Control <<<< href="">

Ski Himalaya

Gulmarg facts

Lets go.........Matt, Steve and Nate I'm talking to you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Full Tilt boots

Huh, maybe I've been asleep at the wheel, I 'm really not sure. This boot company slipped by me, probably somewhere along the line while I was worried more about where my daughter's snuggie was.

Anyway, my buddy Sammy just sent over a link to me to the Full Tilt website (see where these guys are putting out some sweet looking boots. As many remember Raichle was pretty damn popular, cult status to many. I however, have never experienced the supposed luxury of these boots personally. Perhaps after the Technica's give out, I'll give'm a whirl.

Full Tilt boots managed to get the coveted rights to the old Raichle Flexon, even though Dalbello's been making the Krypton boot for a few years. The new Full Tilt boots are exactly like the old Flexons with only a couple changes (mainly the liners been upgraded with more modern material). Full Tilt actually acquired the original Flexon mold.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yurtski yurt trip

This year myself and 3 other buddies reserved the Yurtski yurt up in the Swans for the third year in a row. It seems to becoming an annual tradition, one we all look forward to. The yurt sits at about 6900 feet and very close to great skiing. The peaks and ridges around yurt top out at 8100 feet with most runs being in the 800' vert range.

We have been pretty fortunate each year we've been on the snow conditions. In 2007, the snow was great too, check out this video from that year. The 2008-09 winter in W. Montana has been a bit hit or miss this year, but we timed this trip pretty good. After a long dry spell, we arrived at the yurt with sunny skies. They morphed into a pretty constant snowfall for the next 4 days, nothing huge but enough to soften things up.

Two of us got into the yurt at about noon the first day and wasted no time getting out to sample the goods. A friend of ours had the yurt for the previous 5 days, so he lined us out on where the good skiing was. He also had a keg of beer which we did our best to help lighten the load for the ride down.

The next 3 days were pretty fricking nice. Each morning we'd wake and cook damn good breakfasts (sorry Nate for having to cook on your birthday) and get right after it. Most of the ski time was spent off the backside in the dark north trees. The sun hardly touches this snow, so its always consistent. Avalanche danger was moderate, but the south slopes were very sun affected with a nasty crust on it.

I put together a little video from the trip. Bear with it, there is not a lot of variety just good mellow tree pow. Like I said we spent a lot of time in the trees where the snow was good and the visiblity managable. Enjoy

Dark Force from O.P.I. on Vimeo.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March powdah

This last week has been filled with some highs and lows. But mostly highs, especially today's 16" of fresh March powder. Mid last week I got a call from some friends that were headed to Alaska Rendezvous Lodge outside of Valdez, Alaska. Turns out a couple that was going with them cancelled, thus losing their very $ deposit. It looked like I might be able to "use" their lost deposit. I scrambled at the chance, looking at last minute flights etc. I had even contemplated renting a car in Anchorage and driving the 5 hours to Valdez and then possibly sleeping in the car, existing on bar food-- all just to keep it $omewhat reasonable. Well, in the end I realized that I was not a doctor or dentist, only a lowly fireman that should probably just stick with the local Montana backcountry, at least until I win the lottery. Enter today...

Storm warnings had been issued and we finalized the logistics for the day. I met up with a buddy in the Bitterroot and we headed south. White curtains pushed hard against the peaks surrounding the valley. Huge flakes dropped out of the sky and we made slow time going up the pass. Did I say huge? We contemplated parking out on the highway, the lot was looking a little too deep. But alas, a quick bit of courage showed us the way and we unloaded the sleds. Finally, winter was back. It seemed like it had been too long.

Off the backside, we delightfully devoured deep deliciousness. Upon parking the sleds there was about 8" new. The skies continued to dump all day long, with the wind helping to fill in our skintrack on each run. By the time we got back to the truck, 8 more big ones had stacked up. Sixteen inches of March powder followed by Bitterroot Brewing IPA, come on. Does winter need to end?

**Slideshow, if you don't have Flash you may only see a white box below

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Proposed Avalanche Danger Scale Survey‏

If you have a few minutes and care about avalanche forecasting, take a look at this email from the West Central MT Avalanche Center:
This morning I posted a link to a survey that asks specific questions
regarding the current and proposed language in the Avalanche Danger Scale
used in the US and Canada. A group of avalanche forecasters met last fall
and basically agreed to the change (with some tweaking) which you'll see
within the survey. This survey is a focus test of the proposed scale. It
takes about 15 minutes, is kind of fun and is your chance to weigh in on
the avalanche danger scale. You'll also have a chance to win a prize!

Here's the link:

Thanks! Give me or Dudley a call if you have any questions regarding this.

Steve Karkanen
West Central Montana Avalanche Center

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I need to go here some day

The Don Sheldon Mountain house in Denali National Park looks unreal. I stumbled on a great trip report from last year on the TGR site. This place looks endless, but a spot that you need need to have some serious skills. I'm dreaming about one day in the future..........

Here's some basic info that I scraped up. There's not a whole out there on it, but I'll be putting this one in the back pocket.

Don Sheldon Amphitheater—a 25-square-mile icefield fed by a half dozen glaciers. The reservable Don Sheldon Mountain House that’s perched on a narrow ridge between glaciers. Most of all, when the frequent fog and clouds clear for a time, the southern flank of Denali presides over all and you’re closer than most people ever get.The tiny, one-room Mountain House is reservable by calling Roberta Sheldon at Alaska Retreat but is often booked solid a year in advance.

Check out a lot more great pictures in this thread: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

Some great pictures >>

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Delivering the goods

Heading out for Bozeman bright and early tomorrow to go peddle some books. Lots of phone calls to all the BZN shops, lots or orders. We're psyched to have it on the shelves again.

Not sure if they'll be time to ski Bridger while I'm down there......we'll see

Monday, February 9, 2009

2nd edition: Stepping Up - A Guide to The Ridge at Bridger Bowl

Here we are nearly 10 years after I thought about putting this book together. We now have an updated version of Stepping Up. It's hard to believe that the book will be out on the shelves in about a week. We had thought that we might not do the 2nd edition for a few more years. But things change, and I made a decision in December to rally. I spent some long days and nights at the computer in order to get it out this winter.

Stepping Up – A Guide to The Ridge at Bridger Bowl was released in March 2005, and the first edition was entirely sold out by the end of March 2008. The book contains a foreword by Scot Schmidt, interview with Tom Jungst and closing by Dr. Robb Gaffney. Stepping Up received excellent reviews in Couloir Magazine and Outside Bozeman, it was also mentioned in Powder Magazine and The Ski Journal.

For the second printing, we have increased the amount if images in both the photo insert and body of the book, as well as made revisions to accurately reflect changes that have taken place at Bridger since 2005. Areas of interest are the Fingers, High Traverse and The Ridge. The book is 102 pages and contains 90 quality images (including pictures of Scot Schmidt, Doug Coombs, Tom Jungst, Jim Conway and other local riders). We are expecting the book to be available at local retailers in 2 weeks, you can also order a copy on our website: If you have any specific questions, please drop us a line,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cutting up the meat

Skiing is slow these days, we're all waiting for the next storm. W Montana really hasn't had any snow (at least more than a 6" dump) for about a month now. We're moving into our 2nd solid high pressure/inversion situation. This week its supposed to be in the 40's in the mountains. The snowpack has stabilized and has a nasty crust on almost all aspects. We're ready Ullr, anytime.

Here's a little video that I put together this fall of J and I butchering the cow elk I got on opening day. Yeah I know this is boring, but I am bored too. And you must be too if you are reading this.

Elk butcher 08 from freakofsnow on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sled trigged avalanche POV

Um, can you say lucky? I've got a couple other words for it too, but I'll let the video do the talking.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

3 avalanche fatalities in SW Montana

Yowzer, yesterday was not a good day for the backcountry in southwest Montana. According to the Gallatin NF Avalanche Center there were three avalanche fatalities. There has been a lot of bad things happening out there, you can check out this season's accidents over at the website ( I believe with these recent deaths, the tallies are: USA Fatalities: 16, Canada Fatalities: 13; Total Fatalities: 29.

Here's the write up from the Gallatin AC site:

Yesterday there were three avalanche fatalities in southwest Montana, two outside the advisory area and one within. One avalanche fatality occurred in the mountains north of Cooke City near Daisy Pass. This was a massive avalanche, and we have few details. Doug and I will be going to Cooke City today for an investigation and will have more details in tomorrow’s advisory.

Another avalanche occurred near Mt Jefferson in the Centennial Range. The victim was wearing a beacon, but was buried under 8 ft of snow and it took 30 minutes to extricate him. More details can be found at:

A third avalanche fatality occurred in the Gravelly Range near Black Butte. This avalanche was 200 ft wide and ran 75 vertical feet. It occurred on an east facing slope at 9000ft. A group of 14 riders met in a meadow and noticed someone from the group was missing. They searched for him and found his sled in avalanche debris at the base of a small slope. Everyone was carrying rescue gear and began a beacon search. They immediately detected a signal from the victim’s beacon and found him under 2 feet of snow. Once they got him out of the debris they performed CPR. The victim was buried for approximately 15 minutes. This was an experienced group of riders well equipped with rescue gear and aware of current avalanche conditions with no intentions of climbing steep slopes.

Photos of this avalanche are posted at:

A video clip can be seen at:

Meanwhile, over in Western Montana the snowpack seems to be stabilizing. The Friday report from the Missoula Avalanche Center rated LOW on most slopes and at all elevations. Moderate rating on some terrain features such as wind loaded slopes steeper than 35° or areas where the snowpack is shallow with rock outcroppings where it would be easier to collapse through to the weaker facets near the ground.

A few friends and I toured out behind Snowbowl on Friday and found their reports to be accurate. We dug a pit on a S aspect at 8100ft and found a RB6. In general the snow was consistently bonded, but faceted near the ground. We found evidence of some large slides on similar aspects that looked to have occurred sometime last week. These slides ran to the ground, with crowns of 18" to 30" and widths of ~150 yards. Riding conditions were good where the sun had warmed up the snow. Here's a few pics of the fun.

Be safe out there. My sincere condolences to the families and friends of these recent tragedies.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Years Eve present

Rode the 'Bowl yesterday on the eve of 2009 and had a great day that ended with a bang. Although only one inch was reported at the morning phone call but the storm looked to be coming in hard that morning. I lucked into first chair and enjoyed some perfect storm riding all day long. After lunch the wind began to pick up, I noticed on a few lift rides that it was actually snowing at a 45degree upward angle.

I heard some patrollers talking about some large trees falling in the bowls and in Far East. The next ride up the chair lift, me and buddy were casually talking. Next thing we hear a loud cracking noise coming from the nearby trees. Oh shit is all I could think.

Then we see a 50ft tree breaking off at the stump and falling towards the downhill chair cable. It landed right next to the chair in front of us, exploding needles and branches went everywhere, nearly missing the lady on the chair. The tree then hung on the cable as the lift continued to spin, it bounced a few times and fell to the ground. As a result the chairs on that side were bouncing wildly and swinging to horizontal. I grabbed the chair like a little girl and at the same time contemplated jumping. I thought for sure the chair was going to derail. Turns out we made it to the top, where I promptly informed the top shack. The chair was shut down for the rest of the day.

Never a dull moment at the Bowl. Below is a "re-enactment" of the situation. Thanks to Jesse K for the pic (taken today).