The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide – Your Guide To Backcountry Skiing In SW Montana
Southwest Montana has hundreds of thousands of acres of wild mountains. It’s a backcountry skier’s paradise. This region is a bit of a hidden gem. There aren’t too many people. The snow is incredible. The mountains are vast. And it’s awesome.
The amount of ski terrain in SW MT can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, Ben Werner published The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide. The iconic yellow book featuring a cover shot of the Fin can be found on backcountry enthusiast’s bookshelves and trailheads across the region. Mine is dog-eared and well worn. It’s a valuable resource for anyone wanting to explore the skiing potential around Big Sky and Bozeman.
The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide covers 25 routes in 6 mountain ranges. There are ski lines in the Greater Gallatins, Hyalite Canyon, the Madison Range, the Bridger Range, the Absaroka Range, and the Beartooth Mountains. It’s a massive area to cover in such a tiny book, but it covers the same region that the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center covers in their forecasts.
Werner did an excellent job selecting all types of ski lines. There are mellow lines like Beehive Meadows or Telemark Meadows mixed in with big lines like the Sphinx or Black Mountain. He also lets you in on little snippets of local knowledge like where to bring fat skis or when to avoid a full trailhead.
Werner has obviously skied every line in the book. Each route includes an overview, avalanche information, directions, maps of the descent, statistics (aspect, elevation gain, skiable vertical, distance, annual snowfall, avalanche terrain danger, etc.), and GPS waypoints. The book also includes a handful of fun photos, a glossary, backcountry safety information, typical snowpack description, and outfitter information.
My only issue with this book is that I find the maps somewhat hard to read. They appear to be images from a 3D mapping software, like Google Earth, that has been shaded and marked. They are certainly useful, but personally, I need to always compare the featured maps to my trusty USGS topo maps.
There really aren’t many backcountry ski guiding services in this area. So it’s nice to have a local guide book for SW MT to help people discover new zones. A guide book like this helps to solidify names of ski lines amongst the general public. It’s nice to have everyone on the same page. There aren’t really any other ski specific guide books for this area, unless you count Turiano’s Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone: A Mountaineering History & Guide, which everyone needs to read at some point.
The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide came out for the 2011/2012 winter. It’s an ideal book for people who are new to the area or for long time locals looking to explore. The ski routes are spread through a massive expanse of endless mountains. There is certainly more to these mountains that just what’s in this book. Start with one of the tours featured in Werner’s book and you’ll easily spot more lines that you’ll want to ski too. There’s enough skiing in the area to last several lifetimes.
You can get a sneak peak of The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide at BozemanSkiGuide.com. There are a few free routes on that site so you can see what the book is all about. If you’re planning to do some ski touring, this book is definitely worth the cost of $39.95 (or $29.95 for the Kindle version).
Enjoy the backcountry in SW MT responsibly. Just don’t tell your friends about how great it is. Be safe.