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With temps in the single digits at night, snow and ice have been getting progressively better and a fulfilling way to distract from no flying. Chris Gibisch and I got to take a break from work and spent a couple of days in the mountains making turns and swinging tools. The back country skiing has been fantastic in the Bitterroot so on day 1, we met up with a friend and went up behind the house, close to Lolo pass, for a few laps in the trees before waking up early the next day for a drive to Bozeman to climb. A couple of Hylite routes were reportedly in great shape and after doing what we came to do and rappels to the packs, we put our headlamps on and boot skied our way back down the trail to the truck, laughing and talking smack the whole way. Drove by full moon back to Missoula, arriving home last night at 11 pm. Good times, for sure.



With a priority shift in the last few years, It's been super fun reacquainting with climbing. Climbing allows the constant opportunity (just like flying) to be humbled, to feel small and to work on character. There is no faking. When racking up for a lead, you either do it or don't. Either way and for what ever reason, the decision has consequence and at the least, allows you to learn more about yourself. Limits are absolutely created and when those borders are defined and redefined, I learn that life isn't just what I make it, it's exactly what I make it. Just starting to feel the sea legs getting steadier and the motivation with Chris as a partner is high. Life is good and constantly getting better.


Chris firing Airborne Ranger

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Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight... It'll be cloudy at my house :(



Nearly three years since the last.

Coinciding with the winter solstice.

CLICK HERE

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The snow is dumping and the ice is forming here in Montana which spells no flying and the beginning of climbing season. I really enjoy sitting at the sewing machines, building harnesses for fellow pilots but it's nice to escape day dreams of thermalling in the sun to get the personal rewards that come from hard work in the mountains mixed in with some good old fashion suffering.



Climbing in the mountains here during winter is really special. There are absolutely no crowds and in fact, it's rare to see much of anyone after a long approach. There are lessons earned that sometimes take us to a place of understanding long forgotten, or in completely new ways because of the uncertainty of it. You don't know if the routes are formed or not, or, if a particular route is formed in a remotely similar way to what you have experienced in years past. Ice is dynamic. A moving crystal that creates a line of weakness to travel high on alpine walls which would otherwise repel us easily. Every year it's different and new. Climbing rock is fun but usually quite sequential, forcing you to do sometimes particular moves to efficiently navigate the route. Ice allows multiple lines and opens the chance to be creative and to use your imagination to discover what feels possible to you.


The flanks of Mt Edwards



Chris and I decided to go and have a look at the intimidating routes on the North Face of Mt Edwards in Glacier National Park. It was still fairly early season so we had realistic intentions and really just wanted to ski in to see what and how things were shaping up. Although, still early in terms of the "cold cycle" of our area, it was pretty late for any Grizzly bears to be out so we were a little apprehensive as we followed a big pigeon toed bastard into the circ. I kept wondering when it would turn off the trail but low and behold, we followed it for the 6 mile ski into the dead end circ we were planning to camp in. It was snowing and the claw holes were not filled in yet which meant, a couple hours max in front of us. It was pretty cool that he broke trail for us though because the further we got into the circ, the snow got pretty F*^&'n deep;-)





We ended up approaching the routes the following morning after hearing the unstable snow pack "whumphing" all night knowing that the avalanche hazard was most likely horrendous from a cold snap followed by a Chinook. After climbing 30% of the slope toward the wall, we dug a pit and confirmed that the slope was primed for wet slab avalanches so we clicked in and skied our way out.



After getting some more work done at home, my jones was far from satisfied so we post holed into the Mission mountains and climbed some local ice in full value conditions. Our friend Justin Woods met us at the trail head which made for lighter loads and a great "bro factor". Although it was not the adventure we look to find when climbing in the Park, it was really cool just to swing the tools and always great to climb with good friends.


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