Skiing The Bolivian Face on Peak 10602
Location: Peak 10602, Spanish Peaks, Madison Range, Big Sky, MT
Trailhead: Beehive Basin Trailhead – 7900 ft
Distance: +/- 7.75 miles round trip
Time: 4-5 hours
Aspect: SE – E
Top Elevation: 10602 ft
Vertical: 3200 ft (2700 to Peak 10602)
USGS Maps: Lone Mountain, Gallatin Peak
It snowed about 20cm in the latest storm cycle. Due to rapid warming and high wind loading, Jeremy Wood and I took it easy yesterday and skied low angle pow turns in Beehive Meadows. After a day of warm temps and bluebird skies, we were ready to head back out. This time Ben Werner, author of Backcountry Skiing Bozeman and Big Sky, joined us and we were heading out to ski the Bolivian Face on Peak 10602 – a line I first heard about from Mr. G. Downing.
With plans to hit the trail around sunrise, we were a bit behind schedule. Once on the trail, we enjoyed the cold temps and beautiful light on Beehive Peak and Peak 10602. We followed an erratic skin track through some crusty snow toward the head of the basin. It was amazing at the number of point release slides on South through West aspects that occurred yesterday.
We made great time to the saddle between Beehive Basin and Mirror Lakes – arriving there in just under 2 hours and 2100 feet. The final approach to the saddle offered up some very firm snow. This encouraged us to transition to crampons at the saddle as we enjoyed the scenery.
As we summited Peak 10602 after 2700 vertical feet, there were smiles all around – especially when we had a wildlife spotting – a wild pika amongst the moss spotted granite!
The views were outstanding – Gallatin Peak, Spanish Lakes, The Blaze, Beehive Peak, Mirror Basin, Big Sky Resort, and so much more. How can you not love a bluebird April day in the backcountry of SW MT?
Before we could drop in and ski the Bolivian Face, we had one final ridge walk/down climb. There was no boot pack set and we were all happy to have crampons and ice axes for this section. Exposure on all sides and stunning scenery all around.
At the sub peak, it was time to transition from crampons to skis. As we switched over, we all appreciated the views. Beehive Peak and the Hanging Garden Couloir looked extra steep. That’s an intimidating line.
We were all keen to ski the Bolivian Face. The Bolivian Face is a SE-E facing line. It’s the next door neighbor to the Peruvian Face. It’s shorter and not as steep as the Peruvian, but still super fun. The line drops from the sub peak approximately 1000 feet to the valley floor of Mirror Basin. It’s possible to milk this line for another 400 feet farther down valley, but it seemed unnecessary today.
We skied the line one at at time and found decently creamy conditions. We regrouped about half way down and then ripped the apron down to the bottom.
We quickly put skins on for the skin back out of Mirror Basin. It’s about a 400-500 foot climb. We all applied some Glop Stopper to our skins and hoped for a glop free ascent through the south/east facing oven. It was hot. Super hot. The snow was starting to get a bit sloppy. We’d timed our day perfectly. After about 20 minutes, we reached the Beehive Basin/Middle Basin saddle. It was time for the final transition of the day – back to ski mode.
The ski out was a mix of decent turns, heinous breakable, and low angle creamy goodness. It wasn’t even noon yet, but the temps were rising rapidly. The south facing Beehive Basin was getting sticky as we worked our way back down the skin track toward the parking lot.
With a bit of sidestepping, a couple of falls, and a bit of dirt walking we made it back to the Beehive Basin trailhead in about half an hour.
Our mission to ski the Bolivian Face in the Madison Range was a complete success. At the end of the day, we covered 7.75 miles and 3200 vertical feet in just under 5 hours. We were home in time for lunch. Good times were had by all. Got to love skiing in Montana.
View our route on HillMap.
Here are some additional photos from skiing the Bolivian Face:
The Bolivian Face was skied on April 17, 2015.