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The Bob Marshall Wilderness Open
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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 11/05/2011 12:13:31 MDT Print View

If you've gotten this whole backpacking thing fairly well down and have been wondering what's next, I have an answer for you:

A speedy, mass-start, unorganized traverse of the Bob from east to west over Memorial Day weekend. The Open is just that, so anyone may come. Conditions will be exceptionally challenging, perhaps the "worst" to be found all year, so that should be taken into account. I did a traverse of a shorter, less-challenging route this time last year, and in some respects it was harder/more dangerous mile-for-mile than the Wilderness Classic.

I'll gladly answer any questions here or on my blog. For those interested, we'll discuss transportation logistics closer to the race start.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
neat on 11/05/2011 12:46:08 MDT Print View


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: The Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 11/05/2011 13:58:46 MDT Print View

That has the making for an excellent trip report from all entries.

Eric Swab

Locale: Rockies
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 11/06/2011 14:14:37 MST Print View


Thanks for putting this together, I enjoyed reading about your Alaska experience. My uncle did the classic several years ago and I have always wanted to give something similar a try.

Will using a pack raft be essential to completing the event? Does "Suggested equipment would include, but is certainly not limited to, gear (and knowledge) to deal with flooding rivers" mean yes?

Highly considering joining the adventure.

Edited by ericswab on 11/06/2011 14:43:32 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
packrafting the open on 11/06/2011 20:43:39 MST Print View

I specifically chose this route for the first year because a packraft is not essential. While cool, they're darn expensive and I was on the outside of packraftland looking in for quite some time too.

If you go raftless there will be a few river and stream crossings you'll really want to scout before hand, but there is also one pack bridge where you'll really want it.

Eric Swab

Locale: Rockies
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 11/07/2011 06:04:09 MST Print View

Thanks for the forethought and insight, sounds like you have been thinking about this for quite awhile.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: the Open on 11/07/2011 18:49:11 MST Print View

I've been planning this for a while. While much of the area traversed will be new to me, much will not be, and the vicissitudes of that time of year are quite familiar. There are at least several co-equal route options, which might be best will depend on conditions (progression of snowmelt, presence or absence of recent snow) and personal preference. The terrain traversed will be impressively varied, and I'll be quite surprised if you see anyone not associated with the Open once you get into the wilderness proper.

To be clear: if you've got the wilderness chops and fire in the belly, I want you to come do this. It'll be awesome. Flying into MT is expensive from just about anywhere, and the start and finish are both quite remote. I've got plenty of ideas to make these things easier. If ~20 people fly into Kalispell to do this, you can all camp in our backyard before, and we'll pool funds and rent a van to get us all to the start. Etc.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: re: the Open on 11/08/2011 15:21:36 MST Print View

Sounds like a blast...definitely might be interested...

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re:re: the Open on 11/08/2011 15:32:47 MST Print View

The mud slogging you did recently is perfect training!

Cyrus Dietz

Locale: Midwest
Re: re: the Open on 11/16/2011 20:17:12 MST Print View

Would love to be part of this one. I have covered a couple hundred miles of trail on the eastern side of the Bob, but have not made it much west of the white river.
I will be watching the snow build this winter. With the snow this year the benchmark trail head was not accessible till the middle of June and the white river pass was still covered with snow on the fourth of July.
Please keep me posted on your plans as they develop and I will put this on my calendar.

Edited by CyCalvin on 11/16/2011 20:20:39 MST.

Ben Egan

Locale: The Grid, Brooklyn
Highly interested on 12/21/2011 18:48:22 MST Print View

When I saw you're original post on your blog, I got very intrigued. I'll be following the progress. I've considered doing a Yo Yo--fast one way and a slow return. Because as I saw written on your site: if not now, when? Silly question but I'm not so sure: vertical ice climbing with double axes won't be necessary, will it?

Thanks for setting a date so far in advance.

Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
... on 12/21/2011 22:45:40 MST Print View

scares me a little, but I want to do this.

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
Am I crazy? on 01/14/2012 10:45:20 MST Print View

Ive been dreaming about doing the Bob Open ever since you posted it but in the last week Ive started actually considering doing it.

My problem is, I have ZERO experience with this kind of conditions. I live in Georgia where the most snow we get is a few inches and I have never hiked in it. I've thru hiked the AT and hiked through a few inches of snow in the Smokeys but nothing comparable to what I assume we will see in Montana.

I also dont know much about the area, the only Western hiking I've done is the Colorado trail.

SO, just for some preliminary info does this sound like a general bad idea? I have no intentions of doing this trip by my self, I'd love to be able to hike with someone with some real experience to guide me.

Anyone else in the same boat?

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Am I crazy? on 01/14/2012 17:53:28 MST Print View

I'm with you Tyler. I'm strongly considering it too, and even though I live next door to the Bob, I just moved to Montana. So it's pretty daunting for me as well.

So even though it's scary, it is tempting. Right now, though, the snow pack here is very low (we're supposed to be getting a lot this week, but it hadn't started in Glacier at lunch today or in the valley yet. It may not be as hazardous as Dave's trip last year.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 02/01/2012 08:37:19 MST Print View

I started planning my route last night and I ordered the Cairn Carto map. I'm stoked.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Bob Open on 02/01/2012 09:45:52 MST Print View

Tyler and Clayton, I didn't see this until just now. As you can imagine, it's a rather impossible question to answer, and comes in a few different parts.

Depending on what the snowpack does, and even more on when it begins to melt, the complications directly related to snow are several. One is floatation, but anyone can snowshoe. Another is traction, and those with no experience with alpine snow travel will want to plan their route accordingly. It's quite possible to stick with mellow terrain on this. Much the same can be said of avalanches. The most likely difficulty, again depending on the pace of melt, is route finding. Once you get more than 5-6' of snow following the trails in the Bob gets a bit complicated, especially down in the spruce. Up high there should be enough snow to make straight-line travel unproblematic, but you'll want to find the trail as you drop lower least you end up bushwacking and dealing with 2-3' of rotten isothermic snow at the same time.

Previous experience helps a lot with all that, but (and I say this with trepidation) a mentally and physically strong pair or group would probably do just fine (ie be scared occasionally but make it without danger).

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
RE: Dave on 02/04/2012 10:17:39 MST Print View

Thanks for the response Dave, some metered encouragement is good. As my summer plans pan out its looking more and more likely that this could be a possibility for me logistically. I will definitely be doing some research and closely watching the snow reports.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Wilderness Open on 02/25/2012 09:24:28 MST Print View

Bump for event specific discussion and planning forum:

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: re: Wilderness Open on 03/07/2012 22:10:35 MST Print View

Is this thing still happening? Any new news on it?

Sean Staplin
(mtnrat) - MLife

Locale: Southern Cdn Rockies
I am on 03/20/2012 20:50:28 MDT Print View

I am seriously considering doing this if it is still on. Not too far for me to go.