After a many years of looking at this place and wanting to ski it, I finally just went out and did it. Crowfoot Ridge is in the NW corner of Yellowstone National Park, and very rarely gets climbed at all. This was in a special bear management area that does not allow off-trail travel for much of the year, so the only time to climb any of these peaks is in the winter--which is a pretty great time to be on top of a mountain, in my opinion!
I started off on the highway, with about 5 miles of completely flat valley to cross before I started climbing.
The Gallatin river is absolutely beautiful all along this stretch, and doesn't see much fishing pressure because you have to--gasp--hike to it!
After the long approach, I finally started heading up and away from the river.
One of the hallmarks of a thriving ecosystem is the presence of a larger number of predators. Here's a set of tracks from a wolverine, which may be my favorite.
The West side of the ridge was pretty much all melted out, so I was forced to hang out on this side for the day.
I'd always thought of this tour as an unrealistic goal of mine, but it turns out that with the right snow conditions and frame of mind, I can do quite a bit in a day.
A look back down the ridgeline, with Lone Mountain far in the background.
Some dumb-ass bowl I had to track up.
There are several bowls like this along the ridgeline, and certainly many more in the area.
I thought this one was solid since I'd skied the same aspect 25 minutes earlier on chalky windbuff, but my first tentative turn put me into four inches of slush, so I sidestepped out and moved on to plan B. All the more reason to come back!
I decided to traverse the ridge for a mile or two and do a big 'ol loop to get to know the area a little better.
After dropping in to the headwaters of the Gallatin, I climbed back up and over a small pass to get to a nice burn area.
Here's the side of the ridge you can see from the highway. It'd be a fun ski if the snow conditions were right, but aspect and exposure might make that happen infrequently.
A quick tour out another smaller ridgeline got me here.
And then I skied a bunch of perfect corn through this burn area!
After crossing a set of really fresh grizzly tracks, I changed course and posted up here for 30-40 minutes to wait things out.
Turns out I'm not a bear whisperer, and it headed the direction I'd hoped it would not. This was set #6 for the day.
But they were noticeably older (at least an hour), so I kept poking along the river, and finally back home!