The Frank Open 2021

Bonanza to Fenn Ranger Station.  Saturday April 24th, 0600 MDT. (?)

That’s 126 straight line miles.

Here’s what is in my head about this.  First, that is a big route.  Probably close to 200 miles on the ground.  Second, that time frame has the obvious potential to be quite challenging.  Third, and most important, I don’t know much about the area.  I don’t know which trailheads are plowed regularly, which roads get lots of snow machine traffic, how the more open terrain does or does not melt off come early spring.  I have my guesses about all of these things, but a decade of the Bob Open has taught me repeatedly that guesses aren’t ideal for the organizational aspect.  Adding to the complications, the shuttle from one end to the other is massive, and even six months out we’d all be fools to expect anything in particular of the Coronavirus.

For all of these reasons the Frank Open really isn’t going to be an Open in the sense we’ve come to expect.  Even moreso than usual, this is a route I’ve been eyeing for a long time, and if other people want to get in on all or part, that would be neat.  Ideally, and with health concerns permitting, we’d be able to figure out a way to make the driving less irksome.

This is almost a packraft mandatory route.  There are a handful of ways to use bridges, but the rivers (and in late April I assume streams) are several notches bigger than in the Bob.  I chose the start point based on things I want to float, which brings up the second complication, river permits.  Having one for stretches of the Middle Fork will make a lot of sense in many cases.  As of today, there is almost full availability for the relevant week.

This will also be a ski or snowshoe mandatory route, though I am guessing that in a normal year there is a surprising amount of dirt walking to be had.

Interested?  Get in touch.


10 responses to “The Frank Open 2021”

  1. Very interesting. Would love to attend if covid allows (e.g the border re-opens).

  2. I live in a small town near the start of the route and spend a lot of time in the Frank Church on foot, in packrafts, and guiding rafts. I’d be willing to offer any advice if it would help.

    I’m not that familiar with the Bob Open routes, but this seems super ambitious! It would be full on for sure.

    Thanks for mentioning the permitting. For expect packrafters the obvious route of least resistance would be a Middle/Main link up which would require two permits. While red tape can be frustrating, I generally respect the way these rivers are managed and hope participants respect the rules.

    1. Yep.

      My motivation for putting this out right now is so folks can snag the currently easy to get Middle Fork permits as needed.

    2. Chris,
      What’s the easiest way to get a hold of you? Thanks Tom

  3. Interested. As a Canadian I’d probably have to fly if the road border is closed.

  4. Long time fan. First time poster from back east. That date doesn’t fit into the schedule, but I’d love to connect with someone on the planning side to see how they go at a route like this. How trails, rivers and roads are linked up to cover the distance. All about the learning.

  5. Jeffrey Creamer Avatar
    Jeffrey Creamer

    Will this be a recurring event or is it a one-off? I might be interested in ’21 depending on shuttle logistics.

    1. We’ll see what happens Jeff. Depending on how the world progresses this April may or may not be a good example for gauging interest and how logistics can work out.

  6. Jonathan Byers Avatar
    Jonathan Byers

    Just spent a few days out along the main Salmon doing some scouting, even though I don’t think I’ll be able to pull off this trip this year. A few patches of snow down around 4200, but it doesn’t start in earnest until ~7k. To be honest, given the river levels and snow line, right now would be a perfect time to go for a route like this.

    1. Due to scheduling the Frank is not an option for me this year, but looking at the data trends I wonder if earlier April might be the way to go.

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