Damien and I were enthusiastic to attempt Mount Blackmore after our successful ski ascent of Hyalite Peak two days earlier. We came prepared with crampons and ice axes as the guidebook described the final few hundred feet to be technical in nature with some scramble gear required. This backcountry ski route is a classic and we expected it to have a clear skin track to the summit. However, we decided to depart before dawn just in case we did need to break trail. The route begins at the West Shore TH on Hyalite Reservoir. We got a bit confused as there were several trails taking off in different directions from the parking lot. Damien and I tried following the signs to Blackmore and ended up in maze of XC ski trails. Luckily, using our GPS we were able to navigate the maze and ended up on the correct track to Blackmore. The more direct route would have been to take the left most track at the TH and cross the bridge. I don’t think the roundabout we took costed us more then 15 minutes.

The skin trail through the forest was well packed down and obviously sees a lot of traffic. However, this was a Wednesday so only one party passed us. The trail gradually gains elevation though the valley in a series of long switchbacks and then the track plummets steeply to Blackmore Lake! I hate losing elevation on approaches! From the lake we continued along the left shore and up into the trees; once again gaining elevation. Eventually we reached a headwall and followed the trail to the right switchbacking through some trees until breaking out into the tree line and open slopes. Here we were granted out first view of Mount Blackmore. With a large face and intriguing open slopes, it looked like a phenomenal ski. Of course, we needed to climb it first.

Damien and I skinned through the trees heading upward to the far-right shoulder. As we ascended the track we watched the party ahead of us descend from the near the summit with a black dog bounded gleefully behind them. The little black dot bobbing up and down in the track was rather hilarious! There was a bit of sluffing near the summit as they descended, but nothing to cause alarm. High winds blew over the left shoulder causing snow to pour down the slopes. It almost looked like nearly continuous avalanche action, but this was not our route down and in a contained area. There were some cliffs on the descent route though and we made a mental note of their whereabouts.

Once reaching the ridge-line, we easily followed a skin track (exposed at times) until we were about 200 feet below the summit and incline began to get steep. Here we strapped our skis to our packs and continued up on foot, following a well beat in boot track to the summit. No ice axe or crampons needed. Hyalite Peak had been much more technical a summit by comparison.

Blasted by high winds  of 30-40 mph on the summit, Damien and I enjoyed outstanding views of the Gallatin Range. We didn’t linger long with the harsh conditions and quickly ripped off our climbing skis. Since Damien’s boot malfunction on Hyalite Peak, he had acquired a new pair of Scarpa Mastrele RS boots and was excited to see how they performed on the downhill. I have a pair myself and love them.

We eagerly departed the summit anticipating some fun turns and were not disappointed! Damien and I trended slightly skier’s left and bombed down the mostly un-tracked powder (most people descend off the shoulder far left it seemed). The snow was in marvelous condition! Soft, smooth powder that felt like silk underfoot and was a delight to turn in. I think this was my best ski descent to date. It even included a fun half pipe between to cliff bands! Damien was in great form too and was positively thrilled by his Scarpas.

Damien and I reached the trees and descended near the skin track until reaching Blackmore Lake. From lake we had to pack our skis and walk up the hill about 200 or so feet. Back in skis we bombed flew the to down the toboggan style skin track back to the car. Such an amazing and fun ski ascent/descent. I can see why its popular!


Elevation gain: 3422

About 11 Miles RT

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