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: 21-29 of 29

pruniemae - Jun 9, 2010 11:10 pm - Hasn't voted

Excellent article

Mike, your account of your educational journey was most interesting. I'd love to visit the Bitterroots one day. IMO, you're right about using good layout to make a publication more appealing, long or short, online or in print.

Michael Hoyt

Michael Hoyt - Jun 10, 2010 11:39 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent article

Thanks for you positive comments.



vanman798 - Jun 10, 2010 6:45 pm - Hasn't voted

Nice Page

...and good information, and I like you attitude.

One thing I like to add to links that leave sp is a target="_blank". As in <a target="_blank" href="" >“Hikes and Climbs to Bitterroot Mountain Summits”</a>


WouterB - Jun 22, 2010 3:13 pm - Hasn't voted


Good article.


juneauhiker - Jun 23, 2010 5:01 pm - Hasn't voted


I just graduated from UM and visited the Bitterroots often while I was there. Your articles on summitpost helped me immensely to know what was out there and to decide what to climb. Thanks for your effort!


Haliku - Jul 13, 2010 6:00 pm - Voted 10/10


on a worthy accomplishment.


seth@LOKI - Jul 14, 2010 10:45 am - Voted 10/10

Thank You PH

Thanks you and congratulations Mr' Hoyt. I too have enjoyed most of the SP community and its vast resource.

I'll attend a discussion with the DOI (US interior) this Friday discussing ways to get more folks interested and active in outdoor recreation. I believe the DOI wants to increase the people's connection to wild places so that more stakeholders have a voice in land use issues. I believe folks spending time outdoors can help them become better humans through several facets of experiences only attained outside.


suddendescent - Jul 16, 2010 1:34 pm - Voted 10/10

The ongoing effort ...

Great retrospection !

Keep up the good work (in other words ,persevere) and you'll definitely be rewarded by those that can recognise it !

Summit post (but mostly MBpost) for me is the place to tackle dreams which materialise with a good descriptive image and the accompanying comments which sometimes include anecdotes with regards to my personal life being an orphan whose mother (Muguette Deschênes) a chronic alcoolic ultimately lost her life to the illness after so often complaining about those deemed as accountable for her problems seeing herself as someone unjustifiably the object of perduring latent intimidation leading towards a poisoned attitude in response to the oppression she felt the object of which culminated with the murder of the old lady she shared her room with in the psychiatric ward of the hospital in Sorel Quebec...

Matt Lemke

Matt Lemke - Jan 1, 2012 4:19 pm - Hasn't voted

Thanks you!

In my planning for this coming summer 2012, I am going to purchase your book. Since I'll have May-November off this summer/fall, I'll head into the Bitterroots! Can't wait

Viewing: 21-29 of 29

Thank You SummitPost

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