Author Archive


Shane Klippenes is a career Fire Captain/Paramedic with a love for backpacking and exploring the lesser known corners of Central Montana with his wife and three teenage daughters, who are constant reminder of what is truly important in life.

Winter Backpacking Montana

A basic primer on Cold Weather Camping

Text and Photography by Shane Klippenes

The idea of a winter backpacking adventure had borne so much promise, excitement, and intrigue while hatching the plans back home, next to a piping hot, cast iron wood stove with a steaming cup of Seattle’s finest at hand. Two weeks later, hunkered in a flimsy tent, tied off with 550 cord to multiple trees, bracing against 50mph wind gusts carrying chill factors far below zero, the challenge was no longer theoretical, but palpable. In retrospect, I did almost everything wrong on that trip. I brought a tent that wasn’t up to the task, carried too much food and clothing, and learned the hard way how ineffective melting snow as a water source can be. However, I walked away from that first adventure with a desire to get it right and the sense of satisfaction that comes from passing Mother Nature’s impromptu, high consequence tests.
Several years and many trips later, I’m still no expert, but I’ve been deeply bitten by the cold weather camping bug, have the memories and scars to prove it, learn something new about myself and the process every trip and embrace the solitude and breathtaking scenery that comes with exploring the backcountry in Montana’s most unforgiving season.  Sound like fun? Read on…

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Ski for Life:

Showdown Montana’s “Ski P.E.” Program

Text by Shane Klippenes  •  Photos provided by Showdown

Would you refer to a ski resort as “An innovator in the field of child health and physical conditioning”? Perhaps it would be appropriate if you were talking about Showdown Montana.

While fighting obesity and disease by encouraging children to put down the IPhone and “go do something” is all the rage these days, Showdown has been leading the charge since 1975, promoting skiing and winter sports to the youth of Central Montana through their Ski P.E. program.

Ski P.E. is a one day program (schools can opt to come multiple times) that includes equipment rental, lift ticket and a two hour class for a significantly reduced rate. This isn’t just an unsupervised day off from school either; students are placed into classes based on their ability level, instructed by long time Ski School folks throughout the morning, and turned loose to ski runs that are appropriate to their skill level after lunch.

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A Girl, a Gun & Her Dogs

“If you can keep him alive, you can have him”. Courtney Funderburk absorbed these words as she cradled the two day old English Setter in her hands and vowed to nurse him to health. Bailey, as Courtney and her Dad named him, required round the clock care for two months, including bottle feeding every three hours and a rotating “potty schedule” that few could understand or appreciate. As a result of this deep love and incredible care, Bailey gained weight and strength, and became intimately connected to his caregiver. As he grew into a healthy, energetic pup, the quality of his breeding and love of the hunt poured out of him, and it was obvious that he wanted to work the field. Training, direction and loving discipline molded him into more than a trusted companion; Bailey became a gun dog and hunting partner for life, one that lasted 14 years, and provided countless memories in the field and home that will never be forgotten.

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The Call to Hunt

On Point with seasoned fetch masters

It happened in an instant: the mallards that had been committed to the decoys flared at my movement, but not before a migrating greenhead folded at the bark of the gun and fell onto an ice floe. Daisy, my yellow lab and hunting partner, bolted from the natural cover of cattails and plowed into the slushy water. Her zeal for the hunt and the retrieve combined with an error in judgment on my part, erupted simultaneously to embroil her in a life and death struggle that I could only watch from the safety of the shore.

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