November Splitboarding and Backcountry Skiing

The past three days my little neck of SW Montana has been getting slammed with new snow and high winds. The avalanche report was warning against wind-loading off ridgetops and was reporting the mountains immediately South of Bozeman had received an inch of snow water (approx. 16″ of snow). My buddy Taylor and I wanted to do some backcountry skiing but opted to visit a low-angle zone wherein we hoped to find some powdery slopes without wind slabs having formed. Taylor introduced me to a new zone I’d not even hiked in the summer months yet and that ended up being very safe yet super rewarding.

A two hour hike starting at the History Rock trailhead located in Hyalite Canyon of the Gallatin National Forest brought us through three large snowfields ranging in steepness in the low 30 degree range. These three fields were separated by short sections of tight trees. Upon reaching the “top” of the ridge we planned to ski we opted to lap the upper snowfield three times where we ended up being joined by two other groups. We were able to get fresh tracks down this section for all three laps even though by the end of our stay there were eight skiiers and four dogs there (including us).

After lapping this beautiful powder field we skiied back down our skin track until we came to the other two powder fields we’d spotted on the way in.  These were a bit steeper and provided the opportunity to “open it up” a little and throw some powder carves of pretty stellar quality.  
Taylor and I had not backcountry skiied together so this trip was good practice in seeing how we communicated, made judgement calls, and weighed risk vs. reward.   All in all the day was a worthy trip with a great hike, great turns, and great company.