I updated the information for the 2020 Bob Open just now. Removing the mass start option seemed to be the most responsible solution for the uncertainty surrounding the virus. This means that I encourage everyone for whom the circumstances in two months time make it safe to do the walk, be it the circumstances of ones family, community, or the extent one must travel. Or in 6 weeks, if such a thing suits them better. There is a robust snowpack up high, and it could well be a good year for an early May ski traverse. I also emphatically encourage anyone for whom this trek seems a stretch to stay home this year. All reasonable guesses point to the public systems in Montana being busy two months hence, making 2020 a poor year for the Open’s first rescue.
There has been much written in the past few weeks about how acceptable it may or may not be to go out and adventure, while Coronavirus is waiting to run through society. In the last 9 days, since school and then much public business, was largely shut down in central Montana I’ve been so preoccupied with waiting, adapting, and then waiting again that a matter so far distant as the Open escaped me until today. I’ve yet to form my own opinion, but have from the beginning been struck both by how socially entangled backcountry pursuits seemingly are, as well as how remote they are from the evident pillars of contemporary life.
The mass start has always made for great fun, and as the survey demonstrated Memorial Day is popular both for the holiday and for the conditions. My fear since the beginning has always been that the Open would be the victim of its own success. The fulfillment it has given me, through the learning and achievement of others, has been extreme, but further disbanding what little organization exists has always been the sustainable future. This year will tell all us fans of the Open what that might look like.