Sunny, Low & Sticky

The rocks of Revenue Flats, climbing outside bozeman

Sunny, Low & Sticky

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Drew Pogge

Spring rock climbs. 

As soon as snow-cover recedes, spring climbers in the Gallatin Valley flock to our few low-elevation, sunny, south-facing crags—and none are more well known than Neat Rock, Winter Wall, and Revenue Flats. All three are perfect for working out the kinks after a winter of skiing and drinking beer, with myriad routes for a variety of abilities, drive-up access, quality stone, and beautiful surroundings. Here’s the 411 on Bozeman’s classic spring crags.

Neat Rock
Where: 22 miles west of Four Corners on Hwy. 84. Turn right at Bear Trap Bridge, and backtrack about 2.5 miles to the obvious rock formation on the west side of the river.

Routes: The classic Standard Route (5.9-, trad) is a two-pitch homerun that climbs the prominent dihedral straight up the gut of Neat Rock. Despite often being peppered with pigeon guano, the route is fun, with enough exposure to get the blood pumping, but plenty of solid protection. At least 17 other routes range from 5.6 to 5.12 on the feature. Try Steel Drivin’ Man (5.10d, bolts and gear) once you’re warmed up—pulling the roof will get you psyched for a long summer of climbing.

Winter Wall (aka Drive-By Crags)
Where: 1.1 miles past Bear Trap Bridge, between mile markers six and seven just off the highway.

Routes: For pure bolt-clipping fun in the sun, it’s hard to beat the Balcony Route (5.10c, sport), which ascends a tricky arête on cool, folded gneiss literally steps from the highway shoulder. For a more committed effort, check out the three-pitch Jack Attack (5.9, trad), which puts climbers in a superbly beautiful position high above the swirling waters of the Madison River. There are at least 16 other routes on the Winter Wall, with many more across the river (take Bear Trap Canyon access road from Hwy. 84), though these tend to see less sun.

Revenue Flats
Where: Drive 29 miles past Four Corners to Norris and the intersection of Hwy. 84 and Hwy. 287. Travel straight ahead (west) three miles on Sterling Rd., take a left (south), continue down the dirt road for approximately two miles, and look for climbable rock.

Routes: Revenue is located on BLM land, so it’s a shared public-use area—watch out for hunters, shooters, campers, four-wheelers, etc. With tailgate belays and easy, dispersed camping, however, it’s an excellent and beautiful place to spend a spring weekend. With at least 13 single-pitch routes ascending tightly folded and fractured rock, the Wafers is generally the place to be at Revenue—though there are climbs spread across a half-dozen formations in the area. Ratings from 5.8 to 5.10c make this a great place to get strong, and sharing ropes is typical from the common belay area. Try stemming up Chocolate Rain (5.9, sport) or practice your face moves on Hot for Words (5.9, sport), before trying your luck on the more technical Greeno’s Oil Can (5.10c, sport). Revenue sees a lot of traffic; help keep it clean by picking up any trash and bring your own firewood if you plan to camp.

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