2020 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open
Mar 24, 2020 at 7:16 pm #3637636
Looks deep. Where did you guys go in? Looks great, cold but great. I’ve got some long weekends now so was gonna do an overnight or twoMar 24, 2020 at 7:33 pm #3637638
in at Gibson and up the South Fork of the Sun; below 6000′ snow was spotty- dependent on aspect, above 6000′- plenty of snow :)Apr 14, 2020 at 11:37 am #3641328
Hey y’all, long time lurker but planning on this being my first BMWO. Considering snowpack is still quite high, and in reading previous trip reports it seems like snowshoes will be smart. Is the consensus that the MSR Shift’s are the best option for moving quick on consolidated snowpack?Apr 14, 2020 at 1:55 pm #3641347
given their weight, tough to beat imo
occasionally there are times when more shoe would be welcomed, but the majority of the time they do the trick in the SpringApr 22, 2020 at 9:28 am #3642519
few pics from last weekends adventure in the Bob; there is still plenty o’snow! :)Apr 23, 2020 at 10:01 am #3642688Tom MBPL Member
That was an awesome trip thanks Mike. lots of snowshoe miles, soggy weather, and a ford at the north fork felt good. If raining the trails near Gibson res. will definitely test your resolve. 30 days to go!!!Apr 23, 2020 at 10:16 am #3642690
pretty much felt like an Open :)
definitely has the potential for some very muddy conditions on the exit!Apr 26, 2020 at 8:35 am #3643198
The sorry question has gotta be asked and I’d love y’alls input: what are the ethics of driving up from AZ for the open this year? People around me generally seem to feel that non-essential long drives and interstate travel are not super cool right now, but I feel like as long as my pre-trip prep is sufficient there’s no reason I couldn’t do the drive literally only stopping to pump gas and stretch my legs. So I feel like it’s probably okay, but I also know that assessment is self-serving and not especially grounded in any real public health knowledge. I know none of y’all are probably public health experts or professional ethicists but I’d love to hear your take.
The other question here is how people are gonna feel about spotting cars (which would entail some grouping of people spending hours in a car together)? AZ school year ends Memorial Day weekend so if the answer is not good I could just cache some food at Gibson and walk/boat back across the Bob to get back to point pleasant, but it would be nice to get a sense ahead of time about where people are with that.Apr 26, 2020 at 2:28 pm #3643236Patrick HBPL Member
There are 3 people in our group coming in from Texas. We are all interested in some sort of ride share – we’re flying in and renting a car in Missoula.
No one in our group has a concern about masks, ride sharing or anything else.
Looking forward to it,
– PatrickApr 26, 2020 at 6:58 pm #3643277James TaylorBPL Member
Will, thanks for asking. I’ve been wondering the same thing. I did the same thing a few days ago for a backpacking trip. I packed food for the road and only stopped my vehicle to refuel. It adds to the traffic on the roads, but for myself I see it as necessary from a mental health perspective. I’m a firefighter and I’ve been working 72-96 hour weeks and I needed some time off in the wilderness :) I could have done a compromised trip closer to home, so I felt a bit guilty but in retrospect I’m glad I did it.
I won’t be doing The Open this year, but I’ll share a little of what I know about the epidemic and how to be smart with regard to The Open for those who care to read on.
Testing in a controlled environment aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship revealed rates of asymptomatic individuals to be as high as fifty percent of those infected. That’s a crazy high percentage for a deadly communicable disease.
So that means that there are two groups of people who may have COVID-19: people with symptoms (like productive cough, shortness of breath, fever, etc.), and people without symptoms. I don’t have any symptoms, which puts me in the latter group, which means that I may have it and may be spreading it to others. Everyone who feels healthy may be in this group.
I don’t say this to try to make everyone limit their lives and live in fear, but rather to encourage everyone to do what is reasonable to protect others around them. Since there is no way to know if you have it, I strongly suggest that everyone not from the same household who shares a car wear a mask. Multiple people breathing the same air in the tiny confines of a car is pretty much the worst case scenario for spreading the virus. Wearing a mask during a respiratory epidemic says “I am aware that people are dying and I care about those around me.” I would make sure to have everyone on the same page with this before committing to any rides. Anyone who won’t wear a mask needs to be upfront about it.
As someone who is put at risk on the regular from this epidemic, who has taken multiple infected individuals to the hospital who will never come out alive, and as the husband of an immunocompromised person with multiple comorbidities, I feel the need to be responsible more acutely than most. I am living away from my wife in my basement for the foreseeable future, so that’s my level of commitment here. Having said that, I intend to drive to a backpacking destination again. There aren’t a lot of people who do what we do, and it’s my opinion that the risks can be controlled.
I would definitely like to hear the opinions of others, though. This may be our normal for quite a while.Apr 27, 2020 at 2:19 pm #3643424David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
Glad to see everyone is thinking and having the discussion about travel for the Open. I cancelled the mass start to make sure that exactly this would be happening.Apr 27, 2020 at 2:58 pm #3643432
Since my work is fully remote I’ve been pretty well and truly holed up other than making some drives to get outside. Given the choice between sharing a ride with folks who have just flown and hoofing it back to the car I would probably take the latter. I’d feel pretty bad bringing the thing back with me on the other end of the trip, and as James pointed out it’s very common to carry it asymptomatically so I wouldn’t necessarily know I was bringing it back. But I do think that as long I’m responsible when I’m out there and just stopping to pump gas I can manage the risks effectively.
Which means that the choice this year may be more mundane, whether the conditions look bad enough to push me but not so bad that I can’t get myself in the car for 18 for the sole purpose of suffering.Apr 27, 2020 at 7:19 pm #3643497
It’s a little hard to tell if you’re a troll or not, as this is your only post on BPL, but as a Montanan and a member of a volunteer SAR team, people with your attitude are not welcome here.
I’m not an epidemiologist so I’m not going to debate infection rates etc, but Montana put stay at home orders in place early and that has helped prevent our limited healthcare resources from being overwhelmed. The town’s you’ll be stopping through (Augusta, for example) don’t have any hospitals. Shelby, MT (pop. ~3,000) is an example of the damage just one person stopping through a small town can do. The economies of small towns in Montana were hanging by a thread before coronavirus, and the only way we’re going to keep functioning is to continue preventing the spread.
Additionally, if you do choose to do the BMWO this year, treat it as a no-rescue situation. In fact, leave your InReaches at home. If I get a callout for a rescue of some folks in the Bob on Memorial Day weekend, I’m hanging up the phone and spending time with my family.
If you choose to come here from out of state and put people at risk and need a rescue, tough shit.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk.Apr 27, 2020 at 7:48 pm #3643510Patrick HBPL Member
Yeah, not the intent of my post at all – but ok and thanks for all that stuff you wrote.Apr 27, 2020 at 10:56 pm #3643553
Ok, since I can’t know your “intent” what did I miss?
“No one in our group has a concern about masks, ride sharing or anything else.”
You’re coming here from a state that has a high infection rate to attempt an off trail shoulder season backcountry trip, and your comment expresses no regard for basic safety precautions. Unless your actual attitude is dramatically different than what your comments present, I stand by my assertion that people with your attitude aren’t welcome here.Apr 28, 2020 at 7:34 am #3643580Tom MBPL Member
I would offer you a ride back, however I’m not sure I could wait at the finish line that long :).Apr 28, 2020 at 7:45 am #3643581
Yeah but you’re starting on Wednesday
:)Apr 29, 2020 at 8:12 am #3643898
Haha oh god Tom if only you knew how neurotic and conflicted my relationship is to whatever traces of a race there are in this non-race. I appreciate the offer though :)
If I do make it up it would probably be to start on Sunday.Apr 29, 2020 at 9:40 am #3643928David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
For me the questions around travel to the woods and mountains are right up there as the most thorny brought up by the current pandemic. I imagine most everyone reading this is in the same boat.
First of all; it seems certain that the 14 day travel quarantine will still be in place in a month. Our governor has made it clear that highway patrol won’t be pulling over anyone with out of state plates to check, though there might still be national guard at the airports. Individual decision on this one.
I’m profoundly uncomfortable with the extreme localism which has become so pervasive in the last month about public land access. For me much of that rhetoric has been about the individual or communities fear, rather than substance. That being said, a big percentage of the COVID-19 cases in Montana have been due to folks coming back from out of state or overseas. In theory a few individuals being disciplined shouldn’t pose any increased risk. How far can that principle be expanded before human nature and fallibility does increase risk? No concrete answer there, but I think most people in Montana are rather nervous about what happens when tourist seasons ramps up.
The more direct concern Patrick and anyone else not yet familiar with the Open is the logistics of transport and bailing. Shuttling around has always been and will always be a pain. So to has been the inevitable unplanned exits to remote trailheads with no cell service and little traffic. Both in the Open and on other trips I’ve relied on the kindness of strangers when things went sideways. For obvious reasons I’d be hesitant to do so now. Folks new to the Open have, historically, had a higher likelihood of having to alter their trip plans, and that is something which is more fraught at the moment. Again, individual decision.
For my own part, I won’t be showing up at the planned start Saturday morning. I may or may not do a trip across the Bob that weekend. My fitness, and more significantly, my mindset have all suffered over the past six weeks. If I’ve learned nothing else over the past decade of doing these kinds of trips this time of year it is that stress in other parts of your life have a big impact, and that not having your mental game totally set is asking for big trouble.
The whole thing encapsulates how much the world has changed so quickly. Hopefully we can all have a big party Friday night in 2021.Apr 29, 2020 at 10:31 am #3643947
Good point re: bailing Dave. I thought quite a bit about the shuttle which is why I decided that a loop probably makes the most sense since I can take enough time to do it. But I hadn’t considered the question of a hitch if you did have to bail.Apr 29, 2020 at 2:24 pm #3644035
I preface this question with the fact that I am on the fence about this year. Your last paragraph sums the open up very well. Your fitness and your mental game absolutely must be on point to finish and/or get out of the Bob safely.
What is the plan for the start then? We all just keep our distance or is there a specific idea you had in mind?
I would also say that there is no shame in cancelling or postponing the event. I personally have had to cancel a large event I was hosting this month. Hard decision but the right one in my circumstance.
I will be eagerly watching the snow pack and weather as the date gets closer.Apr 29, 2020 at 2:35 pm #3644040
I think Dave’s post on his blog sums it up pretty well. No mass start as in years past. Instead plan on starting on a different day or different time.
As always, everyone is on their honor.
PS if anyone thinks I’ll do this in August when the passes are free of snow, river fords are to your ankles and the trails have been cleared, do it by all means, but please refrain from calling it the “Open” :)Apr 29, 2020 at 5:46 pm #3644102Matt LBPL Member
I am still planning on coming out again, unless anything changes drastically between now and then. This year will feel very different though … and does makes me question making the long drive and time taken off work … but it will be different because I will truly miss the opportunity to see the same people again as well as meet new people. Really, that is a huge part of the fun. Also, the “not a” race component also seems to help make it worth it!
I know Dave hit on it already, but seeing that the Montana stay at home order is being phased out, the only thing that would impact me is the quarantine. I am planning on traveling with my wife and dogs and only stopping as necessary, staying in a tent, and adhering to other public safety guidelines. As far as bailouts go, my wife is available to pick me up, so that concern shouldn’t be an issue.
I do hope that anyone new to this doesn’t take advice from above and leave their Inreach at home. JB, I understand this this is a trying time for everyone and emotions are high, opinions strong, etc, but there is a gentler way to be emphatic about an opinion. I can’t imagine turning down the opportunity to help anyone. I have literally spent YEARS “on call” 24/7/365 (minus vacations!) responding to high risk calls for service to individuals in need of help, regardless of my opinion of whether they deserved it and regardless of what I was doing at the time … sleeping, with family, inclement weather, etc. That being said, I (like most of the Open participants that I have met) plan on being truly self sufficient and engaging in appropriate wilderness behavior, as always.
I hope that everyone going has a safe and satisfying adventure! I look forward to the 2021 party!!May 2, 2020 at 4:41 pm #3644736Nathan SeymourBPL Member
As a long time BPL lurker, I stumbled upon the BMWO a few months ago (prior to the current COVID ramping up) and as a local Montanan, I will certainly be giving it a go along with three other friends I convinced to do it with me. Given that this is certainly “not a race” (and given the current situation with no group start time), I was wondering if the more experienced participants wouldn’t mind sharing some tips or even giving some insight on their planned route. For example, I’ve been plotting my route using Caltopo for months and believe I’m 95% settled on a route which is 99% on-trail (according to FS Topos), but I’ve never been in the Bob beyond a couple miles. Would anyone mind checking my planned route and letting me know if I’m crazy or am putting myself and three others in a predicament we’d rather not be in? If there’s any takers, I’d be happy to share my Caltopo url. Also…. Snowshoes or No?May 2, 2020 at 6:16 pm #3644754
Feel free to share, routes are not a secret to most on here. There are obvious routes, creative routes, and risk vs reward routes for those experienced enough. I as do some will usually share a tentative route and garmin device track info for people to follow anyway a few days before it starts. I personally am a conservative route guy, and for the record; 0-2 at the Bob.
Snowshoes are tough decision. depends on snowpack density and how the next few weeks weather goes. I’d hike a local area near you and see what it’s like over 7000ft for starters.
I would say, that if you have never been in the Bob or backcountry more than a few miles, this is not the time of year or place to start.
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