Conditions Report: 4th of July Skiing In Southwest Montana On The Blaze

Mike Lavery | | Trip ReportTrip Report
Blaze
The Blaze dead center from the trailhead. Photo: Mike Lavery

Blaze Mountain lies in the Spanish Peaks outside of Big Sky Montana. Known locally as “The Blaze,” a gully on its northwest face holds snow for most of the year and has become a classic summer ski line.

Access to the Blaze is never easy. In the winter, unplowed roads and big mountains keep ski action to a minimum. In the summer months, it’s 16 miles round trip on foot deep into grizzly bear country. Even with such a long hike, this line gets skied a lot- the Bozeman/Big Sky ski community is pretty hardcore.

Blaze
On the way in. Photo: B. Schaning.
Blaze
Cold feet. Photo: Mike Lavery

Six of us left the trailhead just before 7am on the fourth of July, with temperatures hovering just below freezing. The first 6.5 miles of the hike are straightforward except for a few bridge-less stream crossings that were painfully cold.

Once adjacent to the peak, you leave the trail and bushwhack the last 2,300 vertical feet to the summit at 10,384 ft. An optical illusion always seems to put the top just in the distance no matter how long you’ve been climbing. Once there, the views alone are worth the effort.

Blaze
Bouldering to the summit. Photo: Mike Lavery
Blaze
Lunch at the top. Big Sky’s North Summit Snowfield visible top left. Photo: B. Schaning

Coming off a big snow year, we were treated to about 1600 feet of non stop corn skiing. After such a hike, it’s always a leg burner. What else is there to say? Getting to ski on the 4th of July is awesome.

Blaze
Shredding half way down. Photo: Mike Lavery
Blaze
Yeehaw. Photo: Lisa V.
Blaze
Corn tracks from the bottom. Photo: Mike Lavery

The trek out is always less fun than the way in but it was a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-60s. We were back at the car 7.5 hours later with sore shoulders and wet feet. On the drive home, I always say this isn’t an “every year thing,” but I’m guessing that in 364 days we’ll be back.

Photo Tour

Ladies crushing the pace on the hike in. Photo: Mike Lavery
Blaze
The snow looking a bit unimpressive from the bottom. Photo: Mike Lavery
Bushwhacking through avi debris. Photo: Mike Lavery
Blaze
“We’re almost there” – said roughly 100 times. Photo: Mike Lavery
Blaze
The Spanish Peaks from the top. Photo: Mike Lavery
Blaze
Shorts Skiing. Photo: Mike Lavery

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