The Hanging Garden


In my last post I had a picture of a line called the Hanging Garden on the backside of Beehive Peak. This last weekend Steve Gilson and I went and made an attempt for the line.

The Hanging Garden seen from Gallatin Peak

The Hanging Garden seen from Gallatin Peak

The line is north facing so we did not need too early of a start. We left the trailhead around 9:30 and made good time up Beehive Basin.

The sheer south face of Beehive Peak, the Hanging Garden is off the backside

The sheer south face of Beehive Peak, the Hanging Garden is off the backside

Arriving at the bottom of the Southwest Couloir around eleven, we cached lunch and crampons and rested up for the climb up the West Ridge of the peak. While resting we watched several wetslides release off Southeast facing slopes as the day warmed. We climbed quickly keeping a close eye on the snow conditions and watching out for wetslides.

Steve Gilson climbs the Southwest Coulior.

Steve Gilson climbs the Southwest Coulior.

I had climbed Beehive Peak in the summer a while back and I thought I remembered the West Ridge of the peak not being terribly technical but when we topped out of the couloir there were two possible routes to get to the top of the Hanging Garden. One was a tight slot that was sort of technical up top, the other was a larger chute but with lots of exposure and windloading. We opted for the tighter and more technical slot that was out of avie and exposure danger.

Steve Gilson gets technical on the West Ridge of Beehive Peak

Steve Gilson gets technical on the West Ridge of Beehive Peak

This decision ended up putting us above some large cliffs on very thin, unsupportive snow. We traversed a ways out on the face where we had to make a decision whether to turn around, attempt to keep traversing a very steep face with only a couple inches of snow on loose rock, or down climb to an exposed ledge, put our skis on and traverse into the large chute we were nervous with at the bottom. Making matters worse was a fog was beginning to drift in and we could see a weather change was coming. We decided that down climbing and skiing across the thin snow was the best option. I down climbed first and carefully put my skis on (I was on a thin rock ledge above a 50 foot cliff to run out rocks to a 2000 foot vertical tumble down a tight rocky chute… I was a little nervous) and traversed across a breakable crust to a less steep spot. After watching me, Steve decided he could down climb and traverse without putting his skis on. We climbed the 100 feet or so to the top of the face where we could see the bottom half of the line. But we were still unsure we were in the right spot on the mountain.

Gallatin Peak from the top of the Hanging Garden

Gallatin Peak from the top of the Hanging Garden

We scouted around the top of the ridge and even tried calling my friend Patrick, who had skied the line before, to see if we were in fact above the line. I knew there were only two possible entrances into The Garden, a lower one which is the skiable entrance, and an upper entrance which ends in a large cliff. I was about 85% sure we were in the right spot, so I skied down the entrance a ways to see if the line went all the way through. It did. Steve skied down to the safe spot next to me and we got ready for the line. There was one more blind rollover to worry about, but I was now about 95% sure we were on the right line, so I dropped first.

Getting ready to drop into The Hanging Garden

Getting ready to drop into The Hanging Garden

The first turn was extremely exposed, it was a 10-20 foot wide hanging snowfield that went over a sheer 500 foot cliff, the line then went into the main chute where exposure was much less severe but still present. The snow was amazing, my first two turns were over the head pow, it was hard to enjoy though because I still wasn’t sure the line went all the way through and I was extremely wary of my slough carrying me over the edge. After, getting past the first exposed section the gut of the line was really fun, powder skiing, at the bottom of the line, it opens up again over smaller but still dangerous cliffs. Skiing carefully and taking my time I made it out the bottom of the line extremely stoked. I pulled out my camera and watched Steve drop in.

Steve Gilson drops into the upper section of the Hanging Garden

Steve Gilson drops into the upper section of the Hanging Garden

Steve Gilson in the gut of the Hanging Garden.

Steve Gilson in the gut of the Hanging Garden.

Steve skied the line carefully as well, but in the lower section above some large cliffs he fell. He felt his slough starting to push him towards the cliff so he quickly recovered and straightlined out. When he finally got to the bottom he realized he had skied the entire line with his boots in walk mode. Glad we had made it out we began the climb back into Beehive Basin.

Looking back at our line

Looking back at our line

As we skinned up a fairly steep wide open face I looked up and saw a wetslide coming down the same face we were skinning. Because we were switchbacking I was in a safe spot but I yelled down to Steve who was almost directly below where the slide was coming from. Since it was a wetslide it was moving fairly slowly and Steve easily avoided it. We topped out and dropped back into Beehive Basin and made the slog back to the car.

Steve getting to the top of the East Ridge of Beehive after almost getting taken out by a small avalanche

Steve getting to the top of the East Ridge of Beehive after almost getting taken out by a small avalanche

Me with the summit of Beehive Peak in the background.

Me with the summit of Beehive Peak in the background.

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4 Responses to The Hanging Garden

  1. Steve Gilson says:

    Boooyah!
    I got snow in my face!….Fresh, Lite, Pow-Pow Snow!
    HaHa..Suckers!

    Check out: stevegilsonphoto.blogspot.com
    for more Photos of the Adventure!

  2. tony s. says:

    Man that is such a cool line and in such great conditions. Looks sick.

  3. jupka says:

    nice work, looks like a good adventure.

  4. John says:

    That looks insane.

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