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.
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.
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.
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.