Thank You SummitPost

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Thank You SummitPost
Created On: Jun 5, 2010
Last Edited On: Nov 1, 2010


I’ve been a member of this climbing site since September 2005, not a particularly long time when compared to a human lifetime. But in the world of computers, and I believe SummitPost lives in that world, just short of five years could be considered an eon.

I first looked at SummitPost during 2004, searching for information on the mountains just west of the valley where I had just taken up residence, western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Unfortunately at that time little information about the Bitterroot Mountains was in evidence on SummitPost (or in print).
It took a year of hard work with no mountain climbing to build this

A year later, after I finished building our new home – yeah, it was me on the end of that hammer, beating nails into submission – I was more than ready to get back to climbing something other than ladders. I revisited SummitPost, hoping more information would have been posted during the past year. Wrong! And still no guidebooks for the Bitterroot Mountains.

It was then that I decided maybe I would be the one to write a guidebook for the Bitterroots. Hoping to discover if I was a good enough writer to make myself understood, I began contributing to SummitPost.

Using SummitPost's Voting System


Spend less time in the forums

and more time learning to

design useful contributions!

There have been many forum discussions about voting for pages – up, down, unfair, too many pictures, lousy descriptions, whatever. Well, rather than whine about the voting I made use of it. When someone voted on a contribution of mine, I asked for (and generally received) feedback. Then I incorporated that helpful information into further contributions.

One of western Montana's best climbers
Now, as most of you know who are regular contributors to this site, our membership includes some very intelligent and outstanding people. We’re not all world-class climbers, to be sure – I’m certainly not. But to one degree or another we all share a love of mountains. We’re teachers, doctors, engineers of every form, dentists, professors, auto mechanics, researchers, builders, administrators, the list goes on. And for the most part we are also students, students of the mountains and of climbing. What terrific resources!

Eventually, I discovered I could go only so far developing a page with the resident SummitPost tools. Others have reached the same conclusion. Of course it’s quite popular to piss and moan in the forums about the “poor page tools.” But where does that get you? Nowhere!

Instead of complaining I decided to teach myself HTML, just so I could improve my pages. Of course, everyone doesn’t have the time or inclination to do the same, but I’m happy I invested the time. I think my pages look better and the newer ones have received higher votes than my initial attempts. Positive feedback is always nice!

Everyone needs a
helping hand - sometime

I learned plenty from the people who voted on my pages. Rather than whine about a low vote, I used that input to improve my work. And you know what? After I did, I noticed other members were incorporating some of my design concepts into their contributions. Not only is that the highest form of flattery, but proof that the time I’d spent improving my work was influencing others to do the same. I choose to believe SummitPost has improved – at least a little – because I was willing to invest some time to make my contributions better.

Note: There is a lot of HTML knowledge spread among the members of this site, and most of them will freely share. All you have to do is ask. There are also several “how to” HTML articles (on this site) available for whose who wish to learn more. And, several excellent internet sites exist that are dedicated to nothing but HTML.

What I Learned About Page Design from SummitPost

What we all receive from the contributions of another member is readily available information. I can think of no other (single) place where so much information about mountains and climbing has been gathered. I, for one, am very grateful.

One of life's distractions
But, I should point out that information isn’t everything. Presentation counts. A lot! The least visited, lowest scoring, least attractive, and most boring pages on SummitPost are those that contain nothing but text. No pictures. No white space.

Think about it. As a culture we have an ever-shortening attention span – Email, instant messaging, texting. So when you design a page, do you expect people to wade through screen after screen of text? Or do you understand that presenting text (information) in short segments broken up by pictures and the judicious use of white space forces (allows) a person to focus only for short periods? Believe me, each of us retains information more readily when it’s presented in shorter, more manageable segments.

Benefiting from SummitPost

Stump and Lichen
Some of you noticed that I haven’t been very active on SummitPost during the last year – a few even sent me a PM, wondering why. My contributions have been minimal, practically non existent. I have an excuse. Remember that lack of a guidebook for the Bitterroot Mountains I previously mentioned? Well, that’s what I’ve been doing. Writing a guidebook.

I know some of you think that’s awful and believe there should be fewer guidebooks, not more. I disagree.

I don’t believe in trying to keep wild places secret. That’s been tried. And look what happened. Our forests, deserts, rivers, streams, lakes, and wild places have been exploited by those seeking a quick profit.

I believe unscrupulous mining companies would not have been able to exploit areas of the west if the general population already had a vested interest (an emotional connection) in those same lands. Nor would logging companies have been able to clear-cut vast areas of pristine forest if more people had realized how that activity was going to affect the water they were using for their crops, their livestock, or drinking.


Rather than trying to keep the earth's mountains and wild lands a secret from the general population we should be doing all we can to introduce new people to the joys of being in the wilderness and climbing mountains. I honestly believe that only when people experience mountains and wilderness firsthand will they feel “vested.” Only then is there any chance they will make an effort to protect the remaining wild areas of our planet from exploitation by those whose only interest is the extraction of natural resources for money.

Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel

Because I firmly believe this, one of my goals in writing a guidebook for the Bitterroot Mountains, was to encourage beginning and intermediate hikers and climbers to get off trail and on summits. I want more people to experience the same joy I feel when I’m on top of a mountain - to have an emotional connection to the Bitterroots. I'm doing my bit to help ensure the survival of the mountains I love.

While writing the book, I incorporated many things I learned while making contributions to SummitPost. Of course, the book includes good directions – I climbed every route at least once, many multiple times – maps, and route profiles. Not wanting to bore people to death, I incorporated lots of pictures (all full-color), plenty of white space, and interspersed the informational text with tidbits about climbing, local history, and yes, even a few life-lessons.

Topo Map

Route Profile

The Guidebook

The book is finished now and I’m back (on SummitPost). I would not have been able to write “Hikes and Climbs to Bitterroot Mountain Summits” without the techniques I learned during the past few years as an active member of the SummitPost community.

I strongly recommend that you make use of this vibrant community to enrich your life and the lives of the other members. Improve your contributions – it pays. Do your bit to introduce more of this earth’s population to the joys of climbing.

I want to thank each member who voted on one or more of my contributions. Whether high or low, every vote helped me learn. And to those who helped me with HTML, a special thanks. You know who you are.

It’s because of the help I received from SummitPost members that my book – three years of research and writing, the last of which was very intense – is currently the number one selling hiking or climbing book in Montana.

Michael Hoyt



Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-20 of 29

musicman82 - Jun 6, 2010 9:40 am - Voted 10/10

Well said

Great article Mike - thanks for writing this and congrats on the book!


Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 7, 2010 11:15 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Well said

Hey Tim, thanks. I appreciate you input.



silversummit - Jun 6, 2010 3:58 pm - Voted 10/10

A great read.....

Lots to ponder and much I agree with about writing for SP.

You have much to be proud of and I hope to hike in your mountains someday! Congratulations Mike for a book published and life so richly detailed in your photos!

Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 7, 2010 11:21 am - Hasn't voted

Re: A great read.....

Thanks so much for your compliments. But as to having "much to be proud of," well... I've long been of the opinion that most of what we do is because we can't help it -- both the good and the bad. Therefore, I don't feel "proud" when I've done (accomplished) something good -- a feeling of satisfaction maybe but not proud.

I hope you do make it to the Bitterroots some day. I'm sure you'd enjoy them as much as I do.



mvs - Jun 7, 2010 11:09 am - Voted 10/10


Teaching yourself HTML, writing a book, what great positive contributions! I also subscribe to the theory that wild places without sufficient "love" (that means people) will be coveted and exploited for profit. Thanks for the inspiring article!

Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 7, 2010 11:23 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent

Thanks for your compliments. I appreciate them.

Now if only more people begin to understand that wild places need more people loving them.



figurenine - Jun 7, 2010 11:59 am - Voted 10/10

Thanks for Everything

As a student at UMT I generally visit the Bitterroot 2 or more times a week. I have to say thanks for all your great articles that have helped me tremendously with trips in the Bitterroot, and given me ideas for trips that I otherwise would have never had. I look forward to picking up your book when I come back in the fall.

Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 7, 2010 4:24 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Thanks for Everything

Hey, thanks for the nice comments. I'm going to be doing a presentation at UM (Missoula) this fall (September 16th) -- part of the Outdoor Lecture Series. Maybe I'll get to meet you there.



figurenine - Jun 8, 2010 12:48 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Thanks for Everything

I'll definitely be there, I look forward to meeting you.


wyopeakMike - Jun 7, 2010 2:13 pm - Voted 10/10

Very well said

Hey Mike, great to hear from you again. I hope you return to this area again some day. Your post is very inspirational, especially to those who also dream about making a guidebook. I have to get a copy of yours and I hope to come visit one day. Have a great summer, Mike

Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 7, 2010 4:26 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Very well said

Good to hear from you again, and thanks for your comments. I am going to be over in your area again during July climbing with Bob.


Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 7, 2010 4:27 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent article.

Thanks. I'm glad you liked the article.



PAROFES - Jun 7, 2010 3:34 pm - Voted 10/10

Excellent text

Mike, don't worry about the writing, you're good!

Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 7, 2010 4:28 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent text

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.



imontop - Jun 7, 2010 3:50 pm - Voted 10/10

Interesting article

Congrats on the book.

Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 7, 2010 4:31 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Interesting article

Thanks. I'm happy you found the article interesting. That's what life is all about - interesting.



bakcast - Jun 8, 2010 5:45 pm - Hasn't voted


I'm wondering, what % of the mountains in your guidebook are in protected wilderness areas?


Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 8, 2010 7:39 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: %


I don't know the exact percent but am sure it is well over 50%. Why do you ask?



bakcast - Jun 10, 2010 8:45 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: %

Just wondering - I have mixed emotions on guide books & web sites like SP and their real vs. perceived effect on protecting areas that are off the beaten path. I'm pretty certain that a little bit of direction gets people into the hills who may not otherwise go there. I just wonder how much you have to provide to spark that interest and appreciation. After climbing for years in areas where anything and everything had a 'published' route, the last 10 years of exploring in MT have been great for the simple fact that I don't know what I'm up against when I get to the foot of a Mountain. No beta = more adventure and unknown which is exciting to me. Fundamentally that dilemma is the reason I haven't contributed more to the site. Still not sure what side of the fence I fall on as I certainly use the information I can get my hands on.

Don't get me wrong though - I really appreciate your quality posts, exceptional photography and willingness to be open about what the area has to offer. And congratulations - definitely something to be proud of! I hope to run into you in the mountains and look forward to picking up a copy of your book.

Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 11, 2010 10:25 am - Hasn't voted

Re: %

I believe I know where you're coming from. I also like being alone in the wilderness and mountains. But given the vast area of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and how much effort it takes to get "way back", I'm not very concerned about the route information I'm providing bringing many more into the wilderness. It's just too hard to get there.

It seems that more folks do visit the mountains on which I've provided information IF said mountains are close to a trailhead AND easy to climb. But, the mountain summits that require lots of effort to reach are not being visited on an increased basis. I still have those difficult-to-reach summits to myself (and others like me).

I'm guessing that for every 50 or so people who visit one of the "easy" mountains, only one or two will get the bug to explore farther into the wilderness. But what I hope is, that of those 50 people more than one or two will feel a "wilderness experience" and maybe, just maybe, gain a partial understanding of just how important wilderness is to our existence. I want a few other people standing beside me when the time comes to protect those wild places -- and believe me, that time will come.


Viewing: 1-20 of 29

Thank You SummitPost

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