Glacier on Skis: Shelter in the Snowpack
Sunday, March 19, 2017
For most of the year, the plants, animals and mountains we love are blanketed in a layer of snow. To some, this winter landscape is cold and inhospitable. Join the intrepid few who adventure in the snowy peaks on an expedition to discover the secrets of winter living. Learn how animals and plants use the snowpack to their advantage. Gain insight into the lives of these cold-weather critters through interactive activities in snow-science and snow-caves, avalanche conditions and the science of the snowpack. All the while, hone your winter travel skills on a challenging course at the intersection of the Rocky Mountain North-South corridor and the East-West plains to mountains corridor of Marias Pass.
Meeting time: Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 9:30 AM
Meeting place: Summit Campground Parking lot at Marias Pass
Itinerary: We will meet at the Obelisk in the Summit Campground Parking lot at Marias Pass. After an introduction to our instructor and an overview of the day, we will cross the railroad tracks and ski one mile north on the Continental Divide, stopping periodically for animal tracks and sighting and learning to test the snowpack in various locations.
We will then tour west on the Autumn Creek Trail, exploring the interaction of snow, sun, wind and vegetation on Glacier’s winter animals. We will study their shelter and habitat by creating our own snow-shelters to simulate winter dens. We will use our snow travel and snow-science skills to evaluate snow conditions and spot for animal signs back to the trailhead. This course will begin and end at the trailhead and will not be cancelled due to weather.
Food: Students are responsible for their own meals. Please bring a sack lunch and ample snacks (fatty foods will keep you warm).
Required Equipment (all seasons): Warm Layers
- Warm and sturdy winter clothes for skiing, stopping and snow-projects
- Waterproof shell with hood
- Waterproof pants
- Backcountry ski touring gear that can kick and glide on flatter terrain
- Waterproof winter gloves or mitts
- Spare pair of waterproof winter weight mittens
- Avalanche shovel (optional)
- Avalanche probe (optional)
- Snow saw or pruning saw (optional)
Physical Requirements: Six-mile ski tour. Advanced beginner or higher level of ski capability.
Transportation: Please arrive at the trailhead in your personal vehicles.
Winter: An Ecological Handbook by James C. Halfpenny
A Beast the Color of Winter: The Mountain Goat Observed by Douglass H. Chadwick