South Face, Gallatin Peak, Madison Range, Montana


Skiing the South Face of Gallatin Peak in the Spanish Peaks of The Madison Range

USGS Quads: Gallatin Peak, Lone Mountain
Summit Elevation: 11,020′

(Here is a trip report about hiking Gallatin Peak)

In early May 2012, Micah Swanson and I decided to head into the Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness to ski the highest peak in the range – Gallatin Peak. Gallatin Peak is visible from Bozeman and from Big Sky Resort. It’s tempting SE face is a perfect pitch and holds snow late into the spring skiing season.

Topo Overview of Madison Range
Topo Overview of Madison Range

Skiing Gallatin Peak can be done in a day, but it would be a massive day. Micah and I decided to make it a multi-day trip. We took a round about way to Gallatin Peak. Starting early in Beehive Basin we skinned up the Basin to the north saddle where it joins Mirror Lakes and the South Fork of Spanish Creek. Then we skied some lovely snow down and skinned up to Summit Lake – a spot with outstanding views of Gallatin’s Southwest face.

A short skin and quick bootpack on firm snow got us into Hellroaring Basin, where we camped in the trees near the base of the SE face. We pitched the tent and got ready for an early morning.

The next day we started out skinning, but quickly switched to crampons. The snow was mostly supportable, but would sometimes collapse underfoot making for unpredictable steps. Eventually we summited Gallatin Peak at 11,020′. The views were outstanding. There is so much to ski in the Spanish Peaks – none of it easily accessible. There were great views of both the Bat Ears and glimpses of Hanging Garden.

When quickly clicked into our Dynafits and had some route-finding decisions. We ultimately skied a short section of the East face before rounding the shoulder to the SE Face. This allowed us a short down climb over unstable rocks. Once on the face, we made the well deserved turns back to camp. The SE is face is a wide opening face that has a consistent pitch for the entire 2000 vertical feet. Safe snow conditions that had nicely softened in the morning sun made for epic conditions.

We quickly broke down camp and started the long walk back to Beehive’s busy parking lot. There is a beautiful and safe ramp heading out of Hell Roaring to Bear Basin. The ski into Bear Basin was bushwhacking and we maneuvered all the way to the base of Spanky’s (the ultra classic line near the Beehive Prayer Flags).

It was a long slog out as temps quickly warmed the snow. Skiing down the Going Home Chute was the last leg of the journey. At the car, we exchanged high fives and there were smiles all around. Gallatin Peak. Check. Definitely a line I want to ski again.

We skied Gallatin Peak on May 7-8, 2012.