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Bozeman, Montana – The Hans Saari Memorial Fund (HSMF), a grant-giving organization established to honor the life and values of ski-mountaineer Hans Saari, has announced the launch of its Ski Exploration Grant program. The Ski Exploration Grant provides ski mountaineers a unique opportunity to receive funding assistance through a program designed for and focused specifically on skiing. The grant encourages the development of skills and qualities consistent with Hans Saari’s approach to skiing and travel in the mountains. Saari believed that mountains are an integral part of the cultural and spiritual lives of the people who live amongst them and understood that physical pursuits are only a part of mountain exploration. The grant supports innovative ski expeditions and progressive exploratory projects in alpine environments while also encouraging the creative documentation of the experience through film, photography, writing and other media. The Hans Saari Memorial Fund was established in 2001, following Saari’s death while skiing in the Alps. Saari had gained an international reputation as a writer and adventure columnist. He was highly regarded for his ski expeditions, many of which yielded first descents from some of the world’s most challenging peaks. The mission of the HSMF is to foster an appreciation for skiing and its personal challenges, alpine environments, and mountain cultures by promoting ski exploration and education. Historically, the HSMF has supported avalanche education in Southwest Montana through grants to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center and by assisting ski professionals with continuing education opportunities. In 2007, the HSMF introduced a new scholarship program for individuals to accompany its grants. In June, HSMF awarded its first scholarships to three Bozeman area high school students who attended a five day Teton ski camp organized by Exum Mountaineering. Applications for Ski Exploration Grants are due March 1. 2008 Applications and additional information can be found at hansfund.org