Skiing The Peruvian Face on Peak 10602 in the Spanish Peaks
Location: Peak 10602, Spanish Peaks, Madison Range, Big Sky, MT
Trailhead: Beehive Basin Parking Area – 7900 ft
Distance: +/- 8 miles round trip
Time: 5 hours
Top Elevation: 10602 ft
Vertical: 4200 ft (2700 to Peak 10602)
USGS Maps: Lone Mountain, Gallatin Peak
It’s the middle of April and Jeremy Wood and I were off on another ski adventure. We loaded up the truck and were skinning past the Beehive Basin Trailhead sign by 6am. The forecast was for warm temps and bluebird skies. Our objective for the day was the Peruvian Face on the E-NE side of Peak 10602. There’s a great photo of the Peruvian Face on MTSplitski.com.
After making an attempt on the Hanging Garden yesterday, we were a bit tired as we paced our way up Beehive Basin. We set a steady march and moved quickly through the rolling meadows of Beehive. It was an uneventful walk – as thing should be when you’re skinning before the sun rises.
After 2.25 hours and 2100 vertical feet, we reached the saddle between Beehive Basin and the South Fork of Spanish Creek (which I always call Mirror Basin). The saddle is just below Peak 10602 – a peak named for the elevation listed on the Lone Peak Quadrangle.
A heavy layer of clouds shrouded the peaks in all directions and a blustery wind quickly cooled me off as I sipped water from my MSR Dromlite. As I shivered quietly in the dawn light, I wondered where my bluebird skies were. Due to the chill, we motivated to keep moving asap.
We set a skin track up the planar, south facing slope of 10602 and quickly reached the summit. The visibility was in and out – as if the sun was trying to burn off the clouds. It just seemed like the weather was just playing with us.
From the summit of 10602, we had to down climb a thin and snowy ridgeline. The bootpack was in, the snow was soft, and I had my Black Diamond Whippet in hand. For the most part, deliberate steps made for easy going – although in different conditions my Sabertooth Crampons and Raven Ice Axe would have been much appreciated.
Walking across the ridge, we peered down the Bolivian Face – a super fun line, but shorter than the Peruvian. After about 5 minutes we stood at the top of the Peruvian Face. It was 9 am.
The best view of the day was looking at the North side of Beehive Peak. We were up there yesterday assessing the Hanging Garden, but now we could see more of this elusive line. Impressive.
Now it was time to ski the Peruvian Face. We did a quick snow assessment, made a mental note of the rock outcroppings, and dropped in one at at time. The snow was perfect. We regrouped once and skied the entire 1500 foot line in 2 pitches.
Jeremy and I both wore big smiles as we admired our tracks. After a quick drink of water, we skinned back up Mirror Basin’s rolling moraines and eyeballed enchanting ski terrain as we walked. We were able to skin all the way back to the Beehive-Middle saddle, even though we expected to have to bootpack it. It was about a 900 vertical foot skin.
At the saddle, we went back to ski mode. The ski out was easy and safe. We skied a variety of snow conditions and quickly made it back to the Beehive Basin Trailhead.
Round trip to ski the Peruvian Face, it took 5 hours, covered 4200 vertical feet, and we walked/skied approximately 8 miles. Not a bad way to spend a morning!
Skiing the Peruvian Face is one of my favorite lines in the Spanish Peaks. I’ve tried skiing it a few times this year, but have had to turn around due to whiteouts or nuclear winds. The Peruvian Face is a big line in a mountain range full of putt-putt lines. It’s remote without being too remote aka it’s awesome.
I first saw photos of the Peruvian Face on Montana Splitski, a now defunct website – it’s still full of great beta though!
View route on Hillmap.
Additional photos from skiing the Peruvian Face:
This line was skied on April 10, 2015.