CONDITIONS UPDATE – Hyalite Canyon – Observed 3/13 – 3/16/2015

Several days and evenings with above freezing temps didn’t fair well for Hyalite ice. We are listing select routes we observed which are not all inclusive. With the colder temps coming up we could see a rebound or even the forming of some random smears. As for now here is what to expect:

Unnamed Wall:

  • The Fat One – fractures in the ice down low
  • Elevator Shaft – decent shape,
  • All other routes took a serious hit; even the mixed climbs are suspect with warm temps as the rock becomes “unglued”.

Genesis Area:

  • G1 left side is OK, right side is risky as this is when it tends to fall victim to gravity. Lower and Upper Green Sleeves – decent shape
  • G2 – decent but the top half seems to be quite thin and slushy.
  • Hangover – on its way out.
  • Zack Attack – out.

Scepter and the Mummies areas:

  • This area has taken a hit and most climbs look risky to play on. The bottom half of Mummy II seems to be in decent shape, top half looks haggard. The routes to the right of the Mummy also look quite grim. Upper mummy is hurting for certain.

Corner Climbs/Amphitheatre:

  • Taking a hit from the sun

Dribbles Area:

  • Dribbles – looks thin and grim, don’t expect any secure anchors or v threads
  • Climb Above The Dribbles – Probably still in
  • Silken Falls – looks a bit better
  • Avalanche Gulch – looks all in from afar, can’t speak on ice quality
  • Responsible – baked out by the sun

Winter Dance Area:

  • WD – worked over by the sun
  • Dialectic BD – was in, probably out by now
  • Climbs below WD – took a serious hit from the sun

Cleo’s and Twin Area:

  • Cleo’s/Airborne – on their way out, other routes in the vicinity may come in later (Matriarch, Mark Antony’s, etc.)
  • Twin Falls – this climb stays in longer than any other. A great late season climb is to climb Twin then take it up to the north facing ice on Palace Butte, then follow the alpine mixed route to the summit.


  • North facing aspects up high are bound to be in good shape. Good time of year to venture in to the Beartooths or other alpine objectives. As always judge for your self with regards to snow pack, ice conditions, etc.

NOTE: This is the time of year when the steeper routes begin to fall down so heads up. Best to stick to the shade and on lower angle ice, ice screws quickly become worthless this time of year under a warm sun. On the positive the road is in great shape and Practice Rock is dry for early rock season.

Military veterans ice climb with Montana Alpine Guides in Hyalite Canyon

We just finished our favorite group trip of the year, marking the 3rd annual military veterans ice climb with Montana Alpine Guides in Hyalite Canyon. We spent four days sharing ice climbs and conversation with this great group with instruction from a solid crew including Nate Opp, Skiy Detray, Conrad Anker, Peter Ramos, Genevieve Ryder, and Aki Joy. Most everyone arrived as strangers having never ice climbed and left experienced climbers with a group of solid new friends.
It was awesome to share what we love to do with such an appreciative group who was willing to give it all they had and have fun in the process. Huge thanks to Sierra Club Mission Outdoors for making this all possible and to SCARPA for hooking us up with a solid line of technical ice climbing boots. Most of all thanks to all of you who brought positive energy and a bit of “try hard” to our four days out on the ice together.

Check out the great news cover story from our climbs:

Petzl Laser Speed Light Ice Screw Review by MAG

The new Petzl Laser Speed Light Ice Screws will cut around 1/3 of the weight off a standard set of all steel ice screws. Petzl achieved this by using an aluminum tube and hanger with a steel tip insert on the tube for durability where it’s needed.

Petzl Laser Speed Light Petzl Laser Speed BD Express
13 cm 91 g 128g 134g
17cm 100g 143g 145g (16 cm)
21cm 110g 161g 168g (22 cm)

Ice Screw Weight Comparison Chart

If you were to arrange three screws from each length from the table above (13, 17, & 21cm) for a total of nine screws the Petzl Laser Speed Light Ice Screws would weigh in at 438g (15.5 oz) lighter than the BD Express and 393g (13.9oz) lighter than the Petzl Speed. This alone was enough to make us want an entire set. Saving on weight has its obvious advantages from water ice climbing to high altitude peaks where weight can really make a difference. As with anything new to the market there is always some hesitation and question as to how it will perform. This is especially true when it comes to shedding weight, as durability and or functionality are often sacrificed. These screws do not follow that unfortunate trend and perform just as well as any other ice screw, if not better.

In the past eight weeks MAG guides have tested Petzl Laser Speed Ice Screws on a variety of ice climbs in Hyalite Canyon, MT. Temperatures in our testing ranged from bitter cold “bullet proof ice” to soft dripping ice (above freezing temps). Ice climbs ranged from WI6 pencils to 500’ multi-pitch outings. There is no noticeable sacrifice on placement between the new Speed Light Ice Screws and other screws on our rack. The shape of the hanger, teeth, and threads allows for quick ice screw placements, which in turn limits the amount of time you have to hang by one arm.

The smaller aluminum hanger has the same low profile and ergonomic design on both Petzl screws, which facilitates placement in irregular or sculpted ice. Once the first few threads are in, pop out the integrated folding crank for rapid screw in and screw out. As with other screws the lever end has a nice cone shaped, color-coded trigger for ease of length identification and speed of placement.

The only disadvantage found is that they cost around $20 more than regular ice screws. The weight savings make the cost much easier to digest. After the eight weeks of incessant testing we are fully sold as these screws cut the weight with no sacrifice to performance. Partner these ice screws with Petzl’s Lim’Ice – a sharpener for ice screws, and you have a set up that will remain light and sharp making this a very worthy investment.

MAG and Hyalite Canyon ice climbing featured on National Geographic’s “Best of Montana in Winter: Outdoor Recreation”.

National Geographic featured Hyalite Canyon along with Montana Alpine Guides in top 5 things to do in a MT winter:

Hyalite Canyon south of Bozeman is the United States’ premier natural ice-climbing playground. From late October to the end of March, elite climbers from around the world head to Hyalite to scale the canyon’s countless frozen waterfalls. Although Hyalite is an ice-climbing mecca for experts, it’s not out of reach for anyone wanting to learn the basics. Climbing terrain in the canyon ranges from steep, crystal curtains cascading from cliffs to gentle low-angle ice suitable for beginners. “With a bit of coaching, anyone who knows how to kick [for kicking crampons into the ice] and swing a hammer [to use an ice tool] can have a fun day ice climbing,” says Sam Magro, owner and lead guide of Montana Alpine Guides. Magro offers courses designed to introduce both children and adults to what he terms the “mellower, sunny side” of the sport. “Ice climbing is similar to skiing in that there are extreme routes for experts, as well as bunny slopes for beginners,” he says. “It’s wild to climb water frozen in time. Learning with a guide is a great way to get out into Hyalite and get a feel for what ice climbing is all about.”

Full article:

Thank you!

We had a great 2013-14 ice year thanks to all the solid guides and enthusiastic participants! We hope to see you all again next season or on the rock this summer!

Thanks to: Peter Ramos, Nate Opp, Noah Ronkowski, Justin Griffin, Conrad Anker, Adam Knoff, Duncan Williamson, Larry Lenard, Austin Hart, Tyler Sultenfuss, Anne Gilbert Chase, Aki Joy, Friends of Hyalite, Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, Veterans Expeditions, Sierra Club Outdoors, Joe Josephson, Kevin McTeague, Michele Hardy, Carson Phillips, Brian Nealon, Anita Cech, Dan Henshaw, Dennis Valentino, Eric Lund, Lisa Brady, Jason Schuman, Ivan Breen, Carrie Dino, Janine Young, Steve Mears, Josh Brandon, Bruce Black, Dave Fierner, Dennis Conner, Mike Pickerel, Dan Shoemaker, Dan Wiwczar, Demond Mullins, John Krueger, Samantha Tinsley, Eddie Owens, Dave Lee Sandy Epstein, Chase Epstein, Blake Epstein, Kate Queen, Benjamin Hemelfarb, Jonathan Wachtel, Andy Powless, Megan Ferreira, Lorie Hong, Yluliya Rostovtseva, Stacy Bare, Nick Watson, Mike Pickerel, Ben McCandless, Perry Rust, Barbara Escher, CJ Ghesquiere, Kyle Ghesquiere, Wade Curtis, Ana Lujas, Dave Kotch, Whit Magro, Pro Lite Gear, Northern Lights Trading Company, the USFS, and of course the magnificent canyon we get to call our office!

Montana Alpine Guides 2014 VetEx Hyalite Trip

Nice work to everyone who made it up for Montana Alpine Guides (MAG) 2014 VetEx Hyalite Ice Trip. Another solid crew of folks who were all eager to learn and eager to climb 4 days in a row! A huge thanks out to the fellow MAG guides, Nate Opp, Peter Ramos, Anne Gilbert, Aki Joy as well as Conrad Anker and The North Face, and Petzl for the demo tools. Of course none of this could not have happened with out the endless drive and energy from Stacy Bare and NicK Watson of VetEx and Sierra Club Outdoors. To all the Vets/climbers who made the effort to drive the winter roads to make it to one of our nations finest ice climbing venues, thanks to Josh Brandon, Bruce Black, Dave Fierner, Dennis Conner, Mike Pickerel, Dan Shoemaker, Dan Wiwczar, Demond Mullins, John Krueger, Samantha Tinsley, Eddie Owens, Dave Lee.

Read more about the expedition in “Outdoors” section of Bozeman Daily Chronicle


Veterans Take on Hyalite Canyon and Life After War

Next week Montana Alpine Guides will be hosting the second annual Ice Climbing Progression Course in Hyalite Canyon for Veteran Expeditions, Sierra Club Outdoors from Monday through Thursday. We are happy to have the solid crew  including Nate Opp, Conrad Anker, Stacy Bare, Nick Watson, Peter Ramos, and others to help with the event! Here is a link from last years trip: