Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lil Smokies Meet Steve Martin

Sparkered front and center on standup bass.
Lil' Smokies

One of the great parts of belonging to a group like climbing is hearing about the interests and activities of others in the community. But no matter what you did last week, it's probably a safe bet you didn't hang out with Steve Martin in a tour bus, and then play a set in the band that opened for him at Osprey field. Not unless you're Scott Parker.

A lot of people know Scotty as a V-double-digit bouldering, 5.13 crushing climber. Or at least as that "tall guy" who warms up on red problems at Freestone. For those who don't know, he's also the bass player and a vocalist in the excellent Missoula-based bluegrass band, Lil' Smokies. Thanks to a swell of support from their fans, Lil' Smokies received the most votes in a recent contest and earned the honor of opening for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers at last Friday evening's concert.

The crowd was awesome and the Lil' Smokies killed it! Well worth hearing them play any time you have the chance. The band that followed was pretty good too... Way cool, Scotty!!

Steve Martin (white pants) and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

(Cameras weren't allowed, so we had to go with these images from the smart phone.)

Cool clouds, no rain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kalispell Montana Rock and Ice Site

source: http://www.meetup.com/MontanaRockandIce/
Earlier this year we had an entry in the Links sidebar, bottom right of this page, for a Kalispell climbing blog. At the first of June, the blog part of that went away as we changed the hyperlink to take you to a Meetup site instead. This was the result of a message we received from Chris, up in Kalispell, who is the group's main contact.

We've been slow in announcing this change, but wanted to give everyone a heads-up that you can connect with Kalispell and other area climbers by signing up at the well-established meetup.com and joining the group Montana Rock and Ice. Most of us are aware of Koocanusa's Stone Hill climbing, but the Kalispell group has a lot of other lesser-known crags worth checking out. Tim Karst swung by one a couple of months ago and reported it looked like some good climbing in a nice forested setting. The meetup page is a great starting place to get the beta on their local areas.

From the Montana Rock and Ice meetup's page,
This meetup is for all climbers, both rock and ice, and both newbies and experienced. We love to climb and love to share our experiences. We are located in Kalispell and we take trips all over Montana and Canada and we also organize trips to destinations including Red Rocks, Joshua Tree, Smith Rock, City of Rocks and more ....

This is a meeting place for those with an interest or passion for climbing: trad, sport, boulders, indoors and outdoors!

If you love to climb, join and say hello!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Braxton for Summer

Kurt nearing the top of Cowboy Variation

Braxton Roof Rock is a (literally) cool place to climb on Lolo pass. Not in the Falcon guide, it's a word-of-mouth crag that sits under the radar. But with a 2-minute approach off Highway 12, plenty of trees, a steep main face that goes into shade during daylight savings time around 5pm, not to mention after-climbing burgers and beer 2 miles down the road at Lolo Hot Springs, it makes an ideal evening destination for summer months.

Three years ago a few of us got motivated and upgraded the existing lines plus added a few new routes, extensions and variations. There were several excellent climbs already on the main part of the crag but they had chain links in place of hangers. Keith and Dane took a Saturday to replace the links. (The studs themselves were fine, and nothing was changed in terms of the location or number of bolts.) Of the new lines we added, most notable are Bear Hug Arete (aka Grapplin' with a Grizzly), Unnamed Direct, Cowboy Variation and Rat Mitten Extension.

Bear Hug ascends an improbable blunt arete and requires an interesting mix of technique and power. It’s in the 12b range. Unnamed Direct gives a mixed bolt/gear start in the 11c/d range to the existing "Unnamed Route" that itself is one of the best 10d's in our region. Cowboy Variation ventures off Unnamed on the other side and heads up to the left edge of the main roof. It's named for Missoula Rock Garden alumnus Mike "Cowboy" Day who sussed it and gave it a brushing a year earlier. And Rat Mitten Extension takes the existing sinisterly tricky 10b Rat Mitten farther up the rock to finish beneath the roof, leaving the original anchors below the obvious v-slot for those who want to stop there.

In addition, there are 2 bouldery top rope problems that have yet to see an ascent. Their anchors are reached by traversing right beneath the roof from the top of Rat Mitten Extension. Keith also scrubbed a nice problem on the large boulders below the climbs. There's room for several more problems for someone willing to put in a little cleaning effort.

We put together a quick topo listing the routes we know of. Note that we were only able to find out the name of one of the existing lines, Rat Mitten. For the others we used names like "Unnamed" and "Legacy Crack." If the original names ever come our way, we'll update the topo.

So when it's hot in town and you're itching to get out, jump in the car late afternoon and head up to Braxton to enjoy the shade, the trees, and a small collection of quality climbs. Maybe we'll see you there.

Bear Hug Arete

Bear Hug Arete

Unnamed Direct

Rat Mitten Extension