For many teenagers, adolescence is a blur of food extraction from exorbitantly large braces and cringingly uncomfortable dinner-table discussions about the pubescent body. A lucky few, however, are blessed with friends or relatives who love nature and all of its intricacies and are introduced to the vertical alpine world at a young age—and from that point on, the adventures and misadventures they experience in the hills provide self-confidence, direction, and a host of other benefits. This year, the Montana Mountaineering Association (MMA) is offering just such an opportunity to adolescents in the Gallatin Valley. The MMA Junior Alpine Team began its journey last fall by rock-climbing with MMA’s qualified and experienced instructors. In the year-long program, kids progress from rock-climbing to ice-climbing to backcountry skiing/snowboarding; the culmination of all of their efforts is planning and executing an alpine adventure to the Tetons in June. All the while, these budding alpinists learn about knots, harnesses, ropes, anchors, belaying, rappelling, and self-rescue techniques. They will also be participating in a Wilderness First Aid seminar this spring, and held a “Sandbag Sufferfest” fundraiser scaling Spire Climbing Center’s routes with a heavy pack this past February. The team has been meeting one evening a week for instruction, and every other weekend for an adventure on rock, ice, or snow. Instruction is free, and by fostering a safe and relaxed atmosphere the team has an opportunity to learn through self-discovery and from their peers, in addition to the instruction from MMA’s knowledgeable staff. A new team will be formed this fall. For more information, visit Montana Mountaineering’s website at www.montanamountaineering.org, or call Erin at 522-0659.