Backyard Bounty

Full-value vertical off Mount Ellis. 

Backcountry adventures needn’t be epic or take all day. In fact, one of the best bangs for your buck is just a few miles from downtown. An icon of the southern skyline, Mount Ellis is the perfect way to scratch your mid-week backcountry itch.

Ascent: 4 miles

Descent: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,688 ft.
High Point: ~8,300 ft.
Avg. Slope: 11 degrees
Max Slope: 29 degrees

This is a local favorite loved for its proximity to town, ease of access, and counter-clockwise loop that separates uphill and downhill traffic. Park at the New World Gulch trailhead (at the end of Bear Canyon Rd.) and proceed up the obvious trail along the creek. When you reach a fork in the stream about a mile in, take the right drainage, leading off to the south. Unless you arrive very early in the morning, there will almost certainly be a skintrack already in.

Make your way up until you reach a small clearing at the base of the slope, which sits below the saddle separating Mount Ellis and “Little Ellis.” Again, follow the skintrack to the right, up and into the woods. Gain the saddle, enjoy the view down into Bozeman, and then follow the ridge south toward the summit of Ellis, picking your stopping point based on what looks good and how you feel.

Descend through often tracked-out powder (this is a popular slope), zipping into the trees on either side of the main lines for the fresh stuff. Practice safe leap-frogging with your partners to remain in earshot of each other. Toward the bottom of the run, the trees thicken, but you’ll schuss your way through them until you reach the end.

Exit across a large meadow and follow the main New World Gulch trail, which joins up with the Mount Ellis ascent track at the junction of two drainages.

Need to Know
The exit along the creek is a bit of a roller-coaster, with tight, fast turns and a few small hills to surmount. Snowboarders should have one or two poles handy for the occasional push.

While the pitch on Mount Ellis is generally pretty mellow, there are avalanches up there and people have died. Always practice safe backcountry travel and check the report before going out, changing up your plans if conditions are unsafe.

This report is courtesy of the Powder Project.