Montana Jamboree

People generally don't associate Boy Scouts with ice climbing. But Bozeman's Troop 679, composed of eight boys all around the age of 14, is far hardier than most: last winter, the boys went ice climbing with Ron Brunckhorst, a world-class ice climber and Climb Montana guide. Ron showed the troop (and a few lucky tagalongs) a wonderful—albeit freezing—day on Fat Chance and Thin Chance in Hyalite, near Palisade Falls.

Ron displayed superb skill and incredible patience leading and guiding, but also brought down the ice hammer when necessary (“The next person who takes the crampons off the ground ninja-style is done!”). He even managed an impressive calmness when dealing with the various mishaps instigated by a group of beginners, even laughing with the scout who not only put a hole in his rope three times, but also managed to lose his crampon. (Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.) Ron made all of us feel as if we had some aptitude, encouraged the boys waiting to learn new rope techniques, and even gave a few tips for sliding down the hill of ice below us without losing an eye.

Troop 679 was a pleasure as well. It’s inspiring that Boy Scouts are changing with the times, adapting into new sports previously considered too dangerous. In addition to camping once a month and the typical leadership camps, they have been learning to cook, ski, and more. They may still have those goofy uniforms… but hey, I think our hardcore Bozeman Boy Scouts can actually pull them off.