Skiing The Gem in Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana
Location: Beehive Basin, Big Sky, MT
Trailhead: Beehive Basin Parking Area – 7900 ft
Distance: +/- 4 miles round trip
Time: 2 hours
Top Elevation: 9375 ft
Vertical: 1550 ft
USGS Maps: Lone Mountain, Gallatin Peak
After a non-stop March, I was long overdue to get out and about in the backcountry. Winter conditions have been subpar this season, but there’s plenty of snow up high in the Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range near Big Sky, MT.
With only a limited amount of time, Jeremy Wood and I hit the trail into Beehive Basin around 8 am. We cruised up the super-highway and weaved through some trees to the top of the Beehive/Middle Basin ridge. Our plan was to ski a quick, little line called the Gem.
The sky was greybird and the snow could be defined as variable – firm sun crusts mixed with powdery pockets mixed with a touch of breakable, and of course a few chunder balls on the south faces. Overall, the snow was surprisingly good, considering the warm weather we’ve had lately.
We made decent time along the Beehive-Middle Ridge and quickly found ourselves at the top of the Gem. I’ve also heard this one called Iguana Rock. The Gem tops out on the ridge at 9375 feet. It’s the first saddle after the Scour Zone and the entrance is before the big steep bit on the ridge.
The weather was a bit unfamiliar as it felt a bit like winter. Clouds were starting to come in and I was glad to have my Fly Low Lab Coat to keep out the blustery gusts while Jeremy assembled his splitboard. We downed some H2O and got ready to ski.
The snow was decent as we entered The Gem, but it was only about 35 to 50 cm deep. The Gem is an excellent and aesthetic line that drops back down into Beehive Basin. It’s a good return route after skiing lines like The Buttcrack or the Itty Bitty Couloir.
The beauty of the Gem versus other return lines like Going Home Chute or Going To The Bar Chute is the aesthetic nature of the line. The Gem is relatively low angle, but steepens as a vivid rock wall towers overhead on one side of the chute. After the rock feature, the run doglegs to the south and opens up into wide open meadows.
Overall the line is short and sweet. The entire ski is less than 800 feet. At the bottom you drop down into the meadows of Beehive Basin. It’s a long traverse back to Beehive Meadows and then it’s fast cruising back to the car.
We covered 1550 vertical feet and 4 miles in about 2 hours. That’s at a very leisurely pace. The Gem is another great putt-putt line for a super quick day or and excellent return route option from bigger objectives. As always, it’s fun to get out and ski.
View on Hillmap
The Gem was skied on April 4, 2015.