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The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, MT

Skiing The Gem in Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Location: Beehive Basin, Big Sky, MT
Trailhead: Beehive Basin Parking Area – 7900 ft
Distance: +/- 4 miles round trip
Time: 2 hours
Top Elevation: 9375 ft
Vertical: 1550 ft
USGS Maps: Lone Mountain, Gallatin Peak

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After a non-stop March, I was long overdue to get out and about in the backcountry. Winter conditions have been subpar this season, but there’s plenty of snow up high in the Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range near Big Sky, MT.

With only a limited amount of time, Jeremy Wood and I hit the trail into Beehive Basin around 8 am. We cruised up the super-highway and weaved through some trees to the top of the Beehive/Middle Basin ridge. Our plan was to ski a quick, little line called the Gem.

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

The Gem (as seen from Trenchtown)

The sky was greybird and the snow could be defined as variable – firm sun crusts mixed with powdery pockets mixed with a touch of breakable, and of course a few chunder balls on the south faces. Overall, the snow was surprisingly good, considering the warm weather we’ve had lately.

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

The Beehive Superhighway

We made decent time along the Beehive-Middle Ridge and quickly found ourselves at the top of the Gem. I’ve also heard this one called Iguana Rock. The Gem tops out on the ridge at 9375 feet. It’s the first saddle after the Scour Zone and the entrance is before the big steep bit on the ridge.

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Beehive/Middle Ridge

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Dropping into The Gem

The weather was a bit unfamiliar as it felt a bit like winter. Clouds were starting to come in and I was glad to have my Fly Low Lab Coat to keep out the blustery gusts while Jeremy assembled his splitboard. We downed some H2O and got ready to ski.

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Fly Low Lab Coat

The snow was decent as we entered The Gem, but it was only about 35 to 50 cm deep. The Gem is an excellent and aesthetic line that drops back down into Beehive Basin. It’s a good return route after skiing lines like The Buttcrack or the Itty Bitty Couloir.

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

The low angle entrance

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Checking the snow

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Beehive Peak

The beauty of the Gem versus other return lines like Going Home Chute or Going To The Bar Chute is the aesthetic nature of the line. The Gem is relatively low angle, but steepens as a vivid rock wall towers overhead on one side of the chute. After the rock feature, the run doglegs to the south and  opens up into wide open meadows.

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Jeremy making turns

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

An Aesthetic line

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Cool line

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Doglegging it

Overall the line is short and sweet. The entire ski is less than 800 feet. At the bottom you drop down into the meadows of Beehive Basin. It’s a long traverse back to Beehive Meadows and then it’s fast cruising back to the car.

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

Is that a ski area over there?

We covered 1550 vertical feet and 4 miles in about 2 hours. That’s at a very leisurely pace. The Gem is another great putt-putt line for a super quick day or and excellent return route option from bigger objectives. As always, it’s fun to get out and ski.

Skiing The Gem, Beehive Basin, Madison Range, Montana

The Gem

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View on Hillmap

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The Gem was skied on April 4, 2015.