Summer Solstice, Super Moon, and stoked spring shredding in Montana.
By Chris Rennau
I woke up at 10:36am, June 22nd. Shit, missed my 10 o’clock meeting. After a few cups of coffee and a few phone calls, I get Matt Paris, Bozemanite and local ripper on the line. “SUPER MOON DUDE! LETS GO SHRED BLACKMORE!”
A quick look at the weather and a phone call to the doggy hotel and I’m in. Vet says I’ve got to drop off the pooch by 2 o’clock. With an hour drive ahead of me that leaves about half an hour to shower, eat breakfast, and pack for a ski/backpack overnight. I must be getting good in my old age because I was out the door in 22 minutes without forgetting a thing.
We hit the trail for Mt. Blackmore at 5:30 that evening. Mt Blackmore (10,154’) is situated south of Bozeman, Montana at the far end of Hyalite Canyon. The starting elevation for the hike is 6,720’. You gain nearly 3,500’ from the trailhead to the peak over five miles. We hiked roughly 3 miles to Blackmore lake to set up camp for the night. Rain and clouds dominated the evening so our hopes of catching the super moon quickly vanished. However, I was awoken around 4 am to a beaming super moon, casting shadows across the lake.
The next morning we set off for the peak at around 9 am. We hit snow within a mile from camp and traverse up the northeast ridge towards the summit. Upon gaining the ridge we have our first glimpse of the goods: two couloirs off the northwest face looking prime.
We reach the summit at roughly 1 pm, where we are greeted by beautiful views of the surrounding mountain ranges. From Blackmore, one has an excellent vantage point of the Bridgers, the Tobaccos Roots, the Crazy Mountains, the Absaroka Range, the Big Belts, the Madison Range, and the Taylor Hilgards.
“Montana is a great splash of grandeur. … grass and color, and the mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were ever put on my agenda.”
Looking south, Alex Lowe Peak is the first to catch your eye. Doug Coombs and Hans Saari ticked off a bunch of first descents in these mountains when they lived in Bozeman in the 90’s. One can’t help but be overwhelmed with respect and gratitude for these legends when looking at these peaks.
Making our way down to the entrance of our chosen couloir, we discover a steep 800’ vertical line sprawling below us. We slam an ice cold Fat Tire and boot up. Matt drops in first, a dicey toe edge entrance that you don’t want to miss. He makes it look easy and shreds down what looks to be perfect June corn.
I wait for his signal and drop in. Just as I thought the snow was push-able and carvy, I scream past Matt letting out a couple hoots and hollers. High fives at the end of a great June run.
It takes us only a few hours to get back to camp, pack up and get back to town; just in time to pick up the pooch from the vet. We’re beat from a long walk with heavy packs. Not a bad way to spend one of the longest days of the year.
– Chris Rennau lives in Big Sky, Montana. He is an athlete for Liberty Skis and coaches the Moonlight Basin Freeride Team.