Just before the start to rifle hunting season in MT ice climbers tend to hunt alpine ice lines, and just like hunting, it can be equally as successful if you know when and where to look.  As with hunters it’s wise to wear orange!  MAG wanted to share what’s in and what might  be in condition to climb. Later in the season we will update our Ice Conditions page regularly through April 1st, until then we will post these blogs to provide a brief synopsis.

Zack Attack

Zack Attack on 10/23/16, photo by Montana Alpine Guides

As always it’s great to see so many MT rope teams getting after the ice up high. Below is a SELECT compilation of ice and alpine climbs already climbed this season and climbs that are most likely in/climbable this time of year.

Madison Range

  • Sphinx’s north face routes are in fat shape. As always be cautious on the approach slopes. For the multi-sport climb, one can link-up the Southeast face of the Helmet in the afternoon sun. This route was bolted all on lead with a hand drill.  Look for bolts at toe of SE arete, bring rock gear, rappel route with single 70m rope: climbing up to 5.11-, P1~ 15m, P2~35m, P3~ 25/30m (F.A. Nate Opp and others)

Beartooth Mountains

  • Funeral for a Friend was climbed by four parties this weekend (not certain if last pitch was climbed?)
  • California Ice – Usually in by mid to late November
  • Ice Dragons, Winter Pants, & Moon Burn are all most likely in great shape. Ice Dragons has been published in guide books. The other two routes are located lookers right of ID, here’s an AAC write up on those routes:

Beartooths, Mt. Inabnit, Winter Pants and Moonburn. After hearing of spectacular unclimbed mixed lines on the north-facing wall of Mt. Inabnit in East Rosebud Canyon, I made two trips to the area. On November 25 Tyler Nygaard, Justin Griffin, and I made the long walk to the face and tackled a rock wall to gain an aesthetic ice smear halfway up the face. We topped out on the plateau at dark. We named the route Winter Pants (300m, IV M6 WI3+).

On December 12, with brothers Whit and Sam Magro, we repeated the long walk under clear skies and a full moon. We climbed a mixed corner 100m right of the start of Winter Pants to gain thin ice steps high on the face, pushing through the cornice and topping out to a brilliant sunset and moonrise. We called the route Moonburn (300m, IV M5 WI4). This wall is an early-season dazzler with plenty of splitter granite and long ribbons of ice. These qualities and the potential for more routes should entice even the most approachaphobic climber for a bit of Beartooths adventure.
– Aaron Thrasher

Hyalite Canyon

  • Zack Attack has quite a bit of ice, top pitch may not be in yet, but lower pitches look good to go. Who’s going to find out? (SEE photo, 10/23/16). It has been climbed in similarly thin conditions but can’t say for certain until you get right up to it. Variation on the right is good consolation for the walk up … We posted a photo on FB & Instagram – montana alpine guides
  • ZA right gully – Once at the toe of ZA turn right and climb up moderate gully and up moderate turf climbing. Best to rappel route. Gear: rock rack, pitons, spectres, two ropes.
  • Twin Falls > Palace Butte Falls >North Face of Palace Butte. This is a long alpine route in an awesome setting. We will post a topo & photo later this week.
  • Maid of the Mist – shade/sun line up NE Face. There is a mixed line mostly on cobbles, turf, and snow dubbed “Maiden Voyage”. It is characterized by moderate mixed climbing on classic Hyalite Rock. Great adventure but heads up. Follow the shade sun line up the NE face, bring rock rack, pitons, and spectres.  Begin on far lookers right of the N/NE face.  This is the steepest face on the Maid that lords over the valley. Ascend the weaknesses up and traverse when it seems best, cobbles to top. Walk off. F.A. Adam Knoff and Whit Magro.
  • Elephant Tusk, Elephant Mountain, north face – might be already.