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The Rut: Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer

Big Sky

"The hardest 3-mile 'run' you will ever complete."

Trail Running Severe

4.5 km
1.1 km
0 m
2-3 hrs
Low Point
2.3 km
High Point
3.4 km
The Rut: Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer Map

Limited to 235 runners in 2020, the Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer is renowned as "the hardest 3-mile 'run' you will ever complete. It's exactly what you'd think: one vertical kilometer of climbing over five kilometers of some of the toughest, most rugged and exposed terrain you can imagine. As expected, the entire route is uphill and climbs a staggering 3,632' en route "to the lofty summit of Lone Peak at 11,166'."


The Vertical Kilometer is the first event of the 3-day Rut, beginning on Friday at 1pm as a mass start. There are two time cutoffs on course with an overall course cutoff of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Elite racers have clocked staggeringly fast times, some as fast as ~50 minutes, though mere mortals should expect to finish anywhere between 1-2 hours.

Instead of returning down the course, racers are rewarded for their efforts with a ride down the Lone Peak Tram with "front row seats to the magnificence of southwest Montana." From the bottom of the lift, you'll face a 2.5-mile walk back to the Big Sky Base Area. Since weather conditions can change drastically over the climb, racers are welcome to leave a drop bag with a change of clothes to be shuttled to the top.

Trekking poles are allowed but might not be as beneficial as you think. Based on prior race photos alone, many racers wear gloves since much of the route requires scrambling and the use of your hands to help you climb. Neither pacers nor crew are allowed for the Vertical Kilometer. There are no aid stations on course, though food and drink are available at the summit for finishers.

Course Details & Source



High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

between May and October

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area