Skiing The Going Home Chute
Location: Beehive Basin, Big Sky, MT
Trailhead: Beehive Basin Parking Area – 7900 ft
Distance: +/- 4 miles round trip
Time: 1 to 2.5 hours
Top Elevation: 9240 ft
Vertical: 1250 ft
USGS Maps: Lone Mountain, Gallatin Peak
On a beautiful January day, Spencer Hennigan, Nick Warndorf, and I set off to ski the Buttcrack Chute in Middle Basin. Middle Basin is sandwiched between Beehive Basin and Bear Basin in the Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range of SW Montana. Our plans changed.
Due to subpar skiing conditions, an incoming storm, and a questionable snowpack, we explored the Beehive/Middle ridge and then skied the Going Home Chute.
The Going Home Chute is a west facing shot that heads back down to Beehive Basin off of the Beehive/Middle ridge. It is located below the prayer flags on the ridge and offers an easy and relatively safe ski option back to your car after a day of adventuring in the Spanish Peaks.
Spencer, Nick, and I arrived at the Beehive Basin parking lot at the crack of 10. It was surprising empty for such a beautiful day. We booted up and followed the skin track across the meadows heading into Beehive Basin. This area is surrounded by private land so you must stay on the marked trail.
The “trail” heads north until it hits the Forest Service boundary near the popular and low angle Beehive Meadows. There are many ways to gain the ridge, but we opted to work uphill to the SE to gain the Beehive/Middle ridge.
Once on the ridge, the views improve with every step. We passed Spanky’s dropping into Middle Basin. Lone Mountain, Fan Mountain, and the distant Taylor Hilgards dominate the skyline. Beehive Basin spreads out below us. Beehive Peak and the 4th of July Couloir beckon skiers in the distance. The Itty Bitty Couloir looks inviting. The Buttcrack stands out in Middle Basin. The approach to the Bat Ears Couloir looks intimidating. It’s easy to spot other ski lines too – most that have no name.
We wanted to ski the Buttcrack Chute which loomed in the distance. We started to tour across the mellow ridge looking for a place to ski into Middle Basin or continue on the ridge toward our line. It was just nice to be in the mountains.
We toured along the ridge, climbed a few rocky walls, kicked a few cornices, wallowed in some facets, and enjoyed the day. Eventually, we decided it was going to be unwise to continue on the ridge without a rope. It may be possible later in the season as more snow accumulates.
As we ate a sandwich and discussed our plan, we dug a quick snow pit. While cutting an ECT, the column broke 70 cm deep. Another party nearby had similar results. Looks like the mountains would win today. We turned back the way we had come, keeping our eyes peeled for the prayer flags on the ridge.
After arriving at the prayer flags, we ripped skins and enjoyed the mountain silence. Then it was time to ski. The Going Home Chute has a steep entrance, but can be accessed easily by skiing a few turns down the ridge. Once in the chute, there are steep walls above you, but the gut of the chute is not very steep.
After a few turns, the chute does get steeper and the number of trees increases. This day, the snow was sporty. Eventually the trees open up into a wide open meadow that leads back to the skin track. Follow it out and cruise next to the skin track back to the car. It takes about 20 minutes.
If you’re just going to ski the Going Home Chute, which many people do. It takes 1 to 2 hours covers about 4 miles round trip, and 1250 feet of vertical gain. Skiing the Going Home Chute is also a nice way to end a day deep in the Spanish Peaks. This one gets skied a lot.
The Going Home Chute has been skied lots of times. This trip report was skied on January 10, 2015.