“A favorite Yellowstone Park spring ski in big mountains with endless options”
— Andrew Wilson
Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry
Closed all winter, only available after Sylvan Pass/East Entrance to YNP park is open. Typically good in May and into June.
This long time Yellowstone National Park classic ski has its reputation for a reason. The route features a high elevation parking lot with quick access to limitless terrain in one of the most scenic places on earth. After the roads open in the spring this route becomes a high traffic option. It typically starts with finding a spot in the parking lot to get up onto the snow. Sometimes this is not as easy a feat as you might think and may require digging steps into the snow. The snow is often cut out and can potentially form a sheer wall. On a good snow year, it could be as tall as 8'.
After making it up onto the snow is a gentle tour south through the forest up onto the ridge. Route finding is straightforward with a compass and map, additionally it is high traffic and usually has a few skin tracks to pick from. There are a few faux-hills to avoid that may seem like the start of the ridge but be patient and the ridge line will reveal itself. Continue up the ridge, taking in the views and observations of the snow. This is really when you get your first look at potential ski lines. If avalanche dangers are high or skier abilities are low you can always ski back down the skin track and have a great day. Many people simply ski lines off of the ridge and skip the summit.
If you want to bag a peak and have some breathtaking views at 10,000' then make your way down the backside of the ridge to the southeast and skin back up to the summit to the east. Sparse trees and open terrain make the route finding obvious enough. There are places along the ridgeline and on the backside of the mountain that can produce avalanches. Additionally, large cornices will form on the ridgeline so be cautious.
From the summit views of surrounding mountains and Yellowstone Lake make for a stunning tour. On a clear day the Tetons can be seen as well. From the summit there are a number of routes down, including two large bowls, steep chutes and mellow trees. Ski back down from the summit the way you came. Stay to skiers right, near the ridge line and find a suitable chute down. If avalanche dangers are high or anyone in the group feels uncomfortable on the terrain just follow your tracks back.