Max slope angle
30-45 Degrees
Primary aspect
South facing
Vertical descent
3,700.00 ft (1,127.76 m)
Distance
7.50 mi (12.07 km)
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Emigrant Peak (10,926') towers above Paradise Valley and is a formidable and classic ski descent in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The peak lies on the native lands of the Apsaalooké and Cheyenne nations. All four aspects of the peak can be skied, with the West Face providing perhaps the longest continuous vertical ski in southwest Montana when snow conditions permit. The southeast couloir is a classic line easily accessible by Emigrant Creek Road. In the spring, the couloir can hold stellar corn, and offers over 3000' of continuous vertical skiing. 

The approach starts up Emigrant Creek Road, walking from wherever you were able to park your car. This area of Emigrant Creek is called Bálaaannuttuua by the Apsaalooké, which translates to "where they get money", referring to the gold mines established here by settlers. Walk up the road until it forks at around 7000 feet, and start heading up towards the west, staying on the switchbacking road for as long as you can until the snow forces you to starting bootpacking up the hill. Keep heading uphill, and you'll be funneled into the lower part of the large bowl into which the southeast couloir and northeast bowl empty. Trend south, walking up the large, open basin. As you wrap around the east ridge of Emigrant Peak, the SE couloir will come into view. On climb skier's may wish to opt to lookers right of the couloir, staying on the ridge and avoiding the exposure of the massive cornice that develops above the couloir proper. This behemoth can grow to the size of a 747 fuselage. Travel up the ridge lookers right of the couloir is pretty straightforward. Cut switchbacks on skins for as far up the ridge as you feel comfortable, then switch to bootpacking up the steep and moderately exposed ridge to gain the summit ridge just to the northeast of the actual summit. Bootpacking straight up the couloir is also possible, but depends on the formation of the cornice, and how comfortable you are climbing underneath it. Once on the summit ridge, it's an easy scramble to the summit. 

From the top, you can see all the way to the Madisons and Tobacco Roots to the west, and to the east stare deep into the heart of the Beartooth-Absaroka wilderness. The view to the northeast of the western Absaroka Range high point, Mount Cowen, is stunning. Paradise valley lies 6000' below, giving a proper feeling of satisfaction to the immensity of the mountain you are standing upon. 

The southeast couloir drops directly from the summit in a beautiful east-facing chute, before opening into the main channel of the southeast couloir. At this point is when the cornice may loom above you once again, and you'll have to make a decision about how to manage that risk. Center punching the couloir, traversing under the cornice to ski down the ridge skiers left (the one we climbed), or coming up with your own plan are all options. There are decent safe spots from sluff on the way down, but if that cornice breaks you don't want to be anywhere in the vicinity. With risk assessed, enjoy the glorious turns off this stunning mountain down to the main drainage, and make GS turns on corn down the mellow slopes back to the road. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Short approach with 4x4 vehicle. Long steep ski descent. Aesthetic. Incredible views.

Cons

Variable snow conditions. Massive overhanging cornice. 4x4 vehicle required to get high on the road.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

6,400.00 ft (1,950.72 m)

Highest point

10,915.00 ft (3,326.89 m)

Total elevation gain

4,500.00 ft (1,371.60 m)

Net Elevation Gain

4,500.00 ft (1,371.60 m)

Features

Big vistas
Geologically significant
Backcountry camping

Access

Hike-in

Typically multi-day

No

Shuttle required

No

Terrain type

Couloir

Snowmobiles allowed

Yes

Location

Nearby Adventures

Northern Absaroka Range, Montana
Big Sky + Gallatin River Valley, Montana

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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