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Rock & Rule

Safety guidelines for climbers.

by Chris Naumann

College students are known for being impulsive and thrifty, but sometimes—when rock climbing, for example—it pays to slow down and invest in your safety. Here are three simple things to think about: properly threading top anchors, doubling back your harness, and replacing old, worn-out gear. And, of course, don’t forget to wear a helmet.

Threading Top Anchors
Most climbing accidents occur at the top of a climb or during the descent. At the top of most sport-climbing routes in southwest Montana, you will find double-chain anchors (always consult a guidebook for specific anchor information). Once you’ve reached the anchors, clip in with a 24-inch sling girth-hitched to your belay loop, or two quick-draws for redundancy. Make sure that you clip into one of the bolt hangers or a chain-link other than the bottom ones, which you need to reserve for re-threading the rope.

Illustration by Emily Harrington

After you’re securely clipped into and weighting the anchor, call for slack and take up about four or five feet of rope. Tie an overhand or figure-eight knot in the rope and clip this to your belay loop. This important step prevents you from accidentally dropping the rope after you untie your lead knot. (Dangling from the rock 50 feet up with no way down makes for an embarrassing call to Search & Rescue.)

Illustration by Emily Harrington

Now you can untie your original lead knot and thread the rope end through the last two links of the anchor chains. Next, simply tie back into the end of the rope with the same knot you used for leading. Unclip and untie the knot securing the rope, and call to your belayer to take up the slack. Once you feel tension on the rope from your belayer, unclip the quick-draws and call to be lowered.

Illustration Emily Harrington

Doubling Back
Many climbing accidents occur because climbers fail to double-back through their harness buckles properly. Most buckles require the user to thread the waistbelt webbing completely through the buckle once and then back through again to lock the system. Always check your harness buckle—make it part of your tie-in routine. After tying in to the sharp end of the rope, take a second to assess the knot and confirm that your harness is doubled back. When belaying, always ask your partner if she is doubled back as part of your verbal routine.

When it’s time to replace your old harness, consider upgrading to a rig that utilizes a two-piece speed-locking buckle, which does not require the user to double back.

Replacing Old Gear
Though well-used gear may feel as comfortable as broken-in blue jeans, retiring hammered or old gear boils down to safety. There are two simple guidelines to follow. First, replace any piece of equipment that shows visible signs of damage: a crack in a helmet, frayed rope sheath, a grooved belay device. But most climbing gear will eventually need to be replaced even without explicit signs of wear. Which brings us to the second guideline: if you have any doubts about a piece of equipment, retire it.

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Although buying new climbing gear stings the wallet, the cost is nothing compared to a visit to the emergency room.

This article first appeared in Outside Bozeman in the Summer of 2016. Chris Naumann is a lifelong climber and former owner of Barrel Mountaineering.

High up South Cottonwood

Trial by Trail

Go-to mountain-bike trails. 

by David Tucker

Whether you’re new to biking or you’ve been ripping singletrack for years, Bozeman has something to offer. Here are a few classics to try out.

Mystic Lake: Choose Your Adventure
The beauty of the Mystic Lake trail is its variety; you can ride mellow Forest Service road and gnarly singletrack, all in one ride. If you’re just starting out, pace yourself with an out-and-back, anywhere from two to 18 miles up and down the dirt road. If you’re up for more of a challenge, make the ride a loop by adding the Wall of Death, a white-knuckle stretch of exposed singletrack.

South Cottonwood: Get in the Flow
If Bozeman has one trail that feels like it was built for biking, it’s South Cottonwood. Mellow climbs, flowy cross-country sections, and gentle descents make this a must-ride. Like Mystic Lake, it’s an out-and-back, so you can go for a short jaunt or an all-day epic. South Cottonwood also connects to History Rock, meaning you can add even more vertical to your ride if you shuttle. If you opt for this ride, we suggest starting from the Hyalite / History Rock side.

The colors of Chestnut

The colors of Chestnut.

Chestnut Mountain: Beginners Beware
Just east of town off I-90 is the trailhead for Chestnut, one of Bozeman’s more grueling climbs. Switchback after switchback, you’ll ascend to the top of a wildflower-covered ridge with incredible views of the Absarokas and Crazies. This ride is definitely for those in good shape, or those looking for punishment. Another out-and-back, the trail eventually connects to several other options; so again, as with many things in Bozeman, the size of the adventure depends only on your ambition.

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Camp Table

Camp Comforts

Items for backpacking season. 

by the editors

Minus a few extreme eventualities – snow, swarms of skeeters, a hungry griz sniffing around the tent – backcountry camping in the summer is a good time no matter what gear you’ve got. But a few small comforts and conveniences can go a long way. Here are a few items we haul into the woods with us these days. 

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Camp Table
Flat, smooth surfaces are always a commodity at a backcountry campsite, especially clean ones. Avoid grit on your spoon and enhance your outdoor kitchen with this featherweight table, which folds in half length-wise and packs into a slim sleeve that can be stuffed almost anywhere. Just a few extra ounces on your back keeps cooking items off the ground and organized, making the entire experience that much more enjoyable. This sucker’s surprisingly stout given its small size, and while snapping the legs into place takes a little trial and error the first time around, one use and you’ll be glad you brought this thing along. $35; gsioutdoors.com.

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GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Cook Set
Compact and light is the name of the game, and integrated systems are the modern standard. One of the best setups I’ve used is the Pinnacle Dualist, which, as the name implies, has everything you need for two people: boiling pot with lid, bowls, mugs, utensils, and room for stove and fuel, all of which fits together in a single stack, kinda like those nested Chinese boxes. Wrap it up in the stuff sack and voila, your entire kitchen (sans table above, of course) comprises less space and weight than your sleeping bag. $65; gsioutdoors.com.

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Wild Tinder Fire Pellets
A campfire is a primal experience, connecting us to our ancestors all the way back to neolithic times, as they gradually rose above the other animals. Fire played no small part in our development, so why not honor that heritage by keeping your fire-starting primal, too? We’re not talking about a sweat-inducing bow drill, but rather, wait for it… moose poop! Yep, cowboys fed fires with buffalo dung and you can start a campfire with ungulate crap, thanks to Wild Tinder Fire Pellets, which is moose scat dipped in parrafin wax – so it’s all-natural to boot. Made in Livingston. $10; wildtinder.com.

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Cheap Eats

Chowin’ for Cheap.

by Nora Mabie

Bozeman is packed with tasty places to eat. Sadly, your wallet isn’t as full as you’d like your stomach to be. Here’s how to chow on the cheap. 

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Breakfast
Bagelworks: Breakfast sandwiches are under four bucks. You can also stock up for the week with a baker’s dozen for only $8.55.

Chinese
Bamboo Garden & Panda Express: Chinese food by the bucketful, so get two meals for the price of one.

Pizza
Bridger Brewing: between 11:30am and 4pm, you can get a big slice for $2.75.

Sandwiches
Pickle Barrel: An MSU standby, the Pickle Barrel knows how to craft a budget-sensitive hoagie, and with a modest appetite, half a sub equals a complete lunch and half a dinner for under $10.

Burger
Eagles Bar: Friday night is Bingo & Burgers night. Burgers are $5.50 and come with beans or a salad.

 

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Car Trouble

Transportation got you in a bind?

by the editors

Having a car on campus might seem like a blessing, but before you know it, you’re fighting for parking, waiting in traffic, and paying an arm and a leg for gas. With that in mind, we suggest utilizing alternative forms of transportation. Here are some examples.

Bike
While Bozeman has a long way to go before it’s the bike-friendly Mecca it claims to be, riding around town does have its perks—exercise, for one. Plus, routine repairs are cheaper than gas and exploring by bike is a good way to discover a new town.

Bus
The free Streamline bus system (that’s right, free) can take you anywhere in town as well as to Belgrade, Four Corners, and Livingston, and up to Bridger on weekends in the winter. Buses start at the Strand Union around 7:30am on weekdays and carry on late into the night Thursday through Saturday. Visit streamlinebus.com for specific routes and times.

Carpooling
Carpooling isn’t just convenient, it’s economical, and a good way to make friends. It’s also practically required on weekends and powder days at Bridger Bowl. If you don’t have cash on you for gas, make sure you’re buying post-outing pizza.

Foot
The Main Street to the Mountains trail system, which started in 1991, is a great way to get around while avoiding busier routes. Pick up a map at the Gallatin Valley Land Trust office or at businesses around town more info on these convenient corridors.

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King of the Hills

Pray for snow.

by David Tucker

If you’re at MSU, odds are you’re aware of Bozeman’s endless powder possibilities. But where to start? Here’s a rundown of the area’s best downhill, Nordic, and backcountry options.

Ski the cold smoke.

Ski the cold smoke.

Downhill Dreamland
Closest to campus, and to many Bozemanites’ hearts, Bridger Bowl is the epitome of challenging ridgeline skiing. While it doesn’t feature the biggest vertical relief around, the tight chutes, deep powder, and down-home atmosphere more than make up for it. Bridger’s abundant “cold smoke” powder is legendary, but the mountain is more than just waist-deep stashes. Improved facilities mean beginners are welcome, so if you’re new to the downhill game, don’t shy away—before you know it, you’ll be hiking the Ridge with the rest of us.

Not to be outdone, Big Sky, just over an hour down Gallatin Canyon, offers world-class skiing and riding, with a larger variety of terrain for those seeking a little of everything. Or a lot of everything—with the recent addition of Moonlight Basin and the Spanish Peaks Resort, Big Sky is bigger than ever, and has the options to prove it. Forty-plus-degree slopes, gladed tree runs, endless groomers—you name it, Big Sky’s got it. Most days, your legs will quit long before the chairlifts.

If you’re looking to go a little further afield, but still want the convenience of lift-access skiing, don’t neglect any number of small-town hills within a three-hour drive. Red Lodge, Maverick Mountain, Teton Pass, Lost Trail, and Discovery all make for awesome road-trips that harken back to simpler—and cheaper—times.

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Bozeman is laden with cross-country trails.

Nordic Nirvana
Not into the downhill? Fear not—Bozeman has more cross-country trails than you could cover in a lifetime, let alone four (five?) years. Start with the in-town trails, many of which are groomed by the Bridger Ski Foundation, a local nonprofit. Make your way from the Highland Glen Nature Preserve’s mellow groomers up to the labyrinthine network in Hyalite. As with all things outdoors in Bozeman, there’s a trail for every skill level, so start easy and work your way up.

For a more formal outing, head to Bohart Ranch in Bridger Canyon. Here you’ll find one of Bozeman’s most storied outdoor institutions and over 30k of groomed trail, less than 20 minutes from campus. Want to make a weekend of it? Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky and the Rendezvous ski trails in West Yellowstone are great options for a close-to-home getaway.

Can't get much better than untracked powder.

Can’t get much better than untracked powder.

Backcountry Bliss
If crowds aren’t your thing, or you need an adventure that goes beyond the lift line, southwest Montana will still deliver. Now, part of the backcountry experience is finding secret stashes on your own, so we aren’t going to point you to any specific location, but rather remind you of some importance considerations to make before heading out. First off, get educated. ASMSU offers excellent avalanche-safety courses on the cheap, so there’s no excuse for ignorance. Secondly, respect begets respect. There’s nowhere you’re going to go that hasn’t been skied before, by folks who are much more “rad,” “epic,” and “gnarly” than you are; understand your history and venerate your predecessors. Finally, take advantage of your access. We’re surrounded by outstanding ski terrain and it’s all free for the taking—so get out there and explore.

Ten Minutes, Landscape, Night Sky, Stars, Colors

Ten Minutes a Day

The importance of taking time.

by Corey Hockett

As we move further into the 21st century, distractions historically deemed outrageous, are now becoming the norm. It is custom to check Facebook every 15 minutes, watch Netflix on the daily, and not leave without a phone charger. Rapid interruptions are now routine. News outlets are altering the way they publish information due to shortened human attention spans.  Sensory bombardment is higher than it’s ever been and it’s changing the way we live.

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Time management isn’t easy, especially in college. Juggling schedules, meeting deadlines, figuring out when and where to eat — where does it all fit? Assignments pile up and dates arrive faster than expected. And with the increase in tempo, stress levels elevate as well.

Thus, I propose a challenge: ten minutes a day. This year and here forward, devote ten minutes a day, everyday, entirely to yourself. And I don’t mean brush aside homework so you can burn one and play Pokémon Go. Forget the vibrating rectangle in your pocket. Free yourself of screen, social circles, and work. You’ll be surprised what it offers. You may become inspired or remember something you forgot. Modern day has taught us to switch our brains every few seconds, so ten minutes without disruption may seem like an eternity. But it’s not long at all.

Landscape, Perspective, Mountains, Backcountry, Adventure

The other day I was run down. My workload from three different jobs was overwhelming and I had family issues to deal with. I couldn’t focus and my mind told me there wasn’t enough time to get everything done. But after work, I went straight to one of my favorite spots on the Gallatin. I didn’t walk half-a-mile before I was out-of-sight of all human activity and when I found a good area, I sat facing the river against a blown down tree. I watched and listened, and within five minutes, everything was clear. Suddenly, my schedule didn’t seem that packed and my issues weren’t as big as I initially made them out to be — everything was fine. But what had changed? In the literal sense, nothing, but in my outlook, everything. I eased off the  gas for a mere moment and that was all it took for my perspective to relax.

Ten minutes. Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat will be there when you’re done, but for those ten minutes, simplify.  Instead of dedicating unnecessary concern to a frenzied world of cyberspace, let nature play in front of you. Give yourself a chance to have a thought you otherwise wouldn’t, or don’t think at all. Focus on the elements we so often take for granted — the westward wind, a chirping chickadee, your own heartbeat.

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I’ve since been back to that spot on the Gallatin multiple times, each occasion erasing my stresses. But it doesn’t have to be a river, it can be as easy as laying on a field outside your dorm room, whatever works for you, just take the time.

Everyday traffic isn’t going to slow down and social realms will forever be easy to join. Filter your sensory and remember what’s important. Don’t forget to step back once-in-a-while. If you want to find yourself, you’ve got to hang out with yourself. Take ten. You’ll thank yourself down the line.

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Powerhouse Profs

Learn from the best. 

by Lea Brayton

Students at Montana State hail from far and wide, gathering under the Big Sky to learn from decorated faculty whose achievements, research, and talents are tough to beat. Don’t miss the chance to study under one of these memorable mentors this year.

William WyckoffProfessor of Geography, Earth Sciences

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According to Wyckoff, landscapes are great teachers—and he would know, as he wrote the book on it. His latest publication, How to Read the American West: A Field Guide, focuses on the changing geography of the West. His philosophy stresses that people and place are cohesive, jointly transforming their environment. In his newest project, he follows the footsteps of Arizona state employee Norman Wallace to recreate landscape images from over 70 years ago.

Wyckoff is known for clarity of presentation and his articulate, passionate rhetoric. Kyla Jewel, junior at MSU, says his class was one of her most memorable: “Geography’s not always the most thrilling subject, but I liked that Professor Wyckoff was always enthusiastic about the material and that translated to the whole class.”

Wyckoff’s professorship is one to admire. He inspires true educational growth, teaching that “Learning about geography should ultimately take you out of your classroom, beyond your computer, even away from your books, and into the larger world which tends to be much more complicated, interesting, and unpredictable.”

 

Whitney HinshawDirector of Group Exercise, Recreational Sports & Fitness

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Athlete, coach, instructor, and director Whitney Hinshaw has always been involved in the world of athletics. With a dietetics degree giving her a strong health background and a master’s in higher education, Hinshaw is one of the lucky few who have successfully coupled passion and profession.

Relatively new to MSU, Hinshaw is focused and encourages her students to move outside their comfort zones. Her courses are informative and instructive; her stories of her own competitive experiences often relatable and humorous; and her spin classes likely to be difficult and invigorating. As an educator, she believes in something she calls transferable heart skills, which her wellness philosophy explains: “If you can train heart and mind for a trail race, you can train for anything educational, professional, etc. It’s all the same skillset. Training requires grit, persistence, discipline, self-control, and emotional intelligence—so does preparing for the professional world.”

Hinshaw is working toward her own personal goal of “50 by 50”—completing a half-marathon or similar competition in every state by age 50 (she’s currently in her 20s). So far she has seven states checked off. Run at the chance to learn and train with her this year.

 

Selena AhmedAssistant Professor, Health & Human Development

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With 17 different courses on record and teaching experience at six major universities, Montana State’s powerful “rising star” Selena Ahmed is bringing much-deserved attention to the Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems (SFBS) program. Her complex research looks at variations in agro-ecosystems—such as economic, environmental, and human factors—to discover better management practices and more sustainable solutions.

Ahmed is a big-time contributor to MSU’s research community, and she’s continuously heading up groundbreaking global projects. She has spearheaded research in nine countries and is distinguished for her work examining tea production, which she calls “a diverse and elegant system.” She’s currently studying local food choices in on the Flathead Reservation and the Tibetan Plateau.

Working closely with students, Ahmed encourages collaboration across disciplines and involvement in research. Recent SFBS graduate, Cory Babb, remembers the opportunity: “Her class was my first chance to actually take part in publishing research.” Keep an eye out for this inspiring intellectual on campus this year.

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Springs Break

Some like it hot.

by Corey Hockett

Soaking in hot springs, aka “hot-potting,” is a universal and timeless pleasure. Nothing beats the sensation of slipping into slightly stinging water, only to feel comfy and tranquil seconds later. Whether you’ve had a great day on the slopes, been in the library too long, or just have an afternoon off, these are the spots in which to soak your bones.

Lap of Luxury
For those into a well-developed, plush backdrop, check out these commercial pools for a luxurious soak.

Bozeman Hot Springs
Status: Developed
Access: Open to the public
Admission: $8.50
Location: 8 miles west of Bozeman

Courtesy_Boz-hot-springs2This massive facility recently underwent renovation and now has nine pools, both inside and out. It has wet and dry saunas, a fitness center, and campground. If you’re coming back from Big Sky or don’t want to travel far, this is your place.

 

Chico Hot Springs
Status: Developed
Access: Open to the public as well as to registered guests
Admission: $7.50 for adults; less for kids. Guests soak free
Location: 22 miles south of Livingston

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Located in Paradise Valley, just south of Livingston, Chico provides two refreshing pools and an assortment of accommodation options for overnighters. Check it out if your family is in town or you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway.

Norris Hot Springs
Status: Developed
Access: Open to the public
Admission: $7 for adults; reduced for kids and seniors
Location: 35 miles west of Bozeman

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This 30’ x 40’ pool is a collection of geothermal springs located near the Madison River. Dubbed “Water of the Gods” by the current owner, Norris has live music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Added bonus: be the DD and get in for free.

 

Simple Soaking
If you’re the less-is-more type, or prefer nature to civilization, these are your hot spots.

Boiling River
Status: Primitive
Access: Unrestricted (Yellowstone Park pass required)
Admission: Park pass is $35 for single vehicle
Location: 2 miles south of Gardiner

KimTashjian-BoilingRiver

Just inside the Gardiner entrance to Yellowstone National Park, scalding channels mingle with the cold river water to form the perfect temperature for soaking—and this set of pools is only a half-mile walk from the parking lot. This gem is a must, but expect crowds.

Potosi Hot Springs
Status: Primitive
Access: Open to the public
Admission: Free
Location: 8 miles west of Pony
Head to Pony and travel southwest on Potosi Rd. / South Willow Creek Rd. Follow the signs to the campground and then venture the mile-long trail back down the creek to the spring. It’s not the warmest pool around, but it’s sized nicely for a group of 6-8.

Renova Hot Springs
Status: Primitive
Access: Open to the public
Admission: Free
Location: 10 miles south of Whitehall
Head south of Whitehall on Hwy. 55, taking the Waterloo turnoff. The road deposits you a quarter-mile from the spring, where you can bathe in rock-lined pools along a side-channel of the Jefferson River. The river mixes with warmer thermal water in two separate hot-water seeps, creating a variety of soaking temperatures. Check the river flow beforehand; at high water, the pools can get washed out.

TKings Exhibit Complete

Museum in the Mountains

Get MOR out of your college experience.

by Mark Robinson

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the super-heated pyroclastic flow of rock and ash that destroyed Pompeii also devastated the opulent villas of some of Rome’s wealthiest citizens at Oplontis. Now all that remains of this seaside community are the artifacts of leisure and luxury.

Leisure & Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis Near Pompeii is an exhibit appearing at Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies (MOR) through December 2016. MOR is one of only three museums in the U.S. to host the artifacts, none of which had ever left Italy before now.

Museum of the Rockies MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

Like all exhibits at MOR, Oplontis brings the stirring history and unexpected wonders of our world right to the MSU campus. From a 60-million-year-old T. Rex and a working Montana homestead, to Native American culture and a planetarium that propels students into the outer reaches of the universe, the museum is an integral part of the learning experience at MSU. Students, as well as their parents, can participate in programming and lectures that stimulate the desire to learn, open minds to new ways of thinking, and shed new light on their interpretation of the past.

This school year alone, MOR programs and exhibits will allow students to delve deep into the civilization of ancient Rome, examine the heritage of Rocky Mountain peoples, or even to raise a glass of beer while learning about Montana industry—and that only scratches the surface.

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Another vital aspect of the museum is its seamless collaboration with MSU instructors and their coursework. Professors often bring classes to MOR as part of their curriculum, utilizing the museum’s unique resources to enhance student learning and engagement.

MOR offers discounted memberships for just $36 per year, giving students unlimited access to the exhibits, the Living History Farm, the Taylor Planetarium, lectures, programming, and more. The museum is also a part of the Association of Science & Technology Center’s Passport Program, which means members enjoy free admission to over 300 other museums across the country and around the world.

Student Life, Outdoor Advice