Bozeman Rocks

Bozeman's boulders.

In 2011, the City of Bozeman dedicated its fifth and sixth recreational climbing boulders, which makes six more than virtually every other city in America. The Bozeman Recreation & Parks Department has been visionary in recognizing that a recreational climbing boulder is a visually appealing park amenity that provides an all-family fitness challenge for Bozeman’s outdoor-oriented residents. We asked six local athletes to describe their favorite routes on each of the six Bozeman Boulders. What follows is a small sampling of the hundreds of routes that are waiting to be unlocked by, well, someone like you.

Langohr Park Boulder – Gallagator Trail near the Community Gardens

Climber: Klara Dumbrovska – Age 7

Bio: A first-grader at Longfellow Elementary School, Klara has been climbing since she was 18 months old. Climbing beside her father Tomas, Klara recently conquered the Cowboy Route on Bath Rock in City of Rocks, Idaho. 

Route Name / Location on Boulder: “The Elephant Trunk” / east side of southeast corner. 

Beta: This route up the 12-foot-tall boulder features a slight overhang and has good holds well-spaced for teen and adult climbers. For a kid, however, the challenge lies in finding intermediate holds with sufficient positivity to link the adult-spaced jugs and crimps.

Crux Move: One-third of the way up, a kid will need to make a dynamic move—using leg power to blast upward to reach an overhanging handhold that will unlock the rest of the climb.

Bozeman Pond Boulder – Bozeman Pond Park off Fowler 

Climber: Justin Willis – Age 17

Climber Bio: Justin shares the record for the youngest climber (age 10) to summit Granite Peak. Although he excels at rock, ice, and sport climbing, Justin’s passion lies in alpine mountaineering; he is a member of the Montana Junior Mountaineering Team.

Route Name / Location on Boulder: “Hugs, Not Drugs” / southeast corner along vertical crack. 

Beta: The entire overhanging route forces the climber’s hands into a wide, bear-hug position on either side of vertical lips. The fingercrack that runs though the center of the route is only for toeholds. There are no small crimps; a climber’s only solution is to use opposing bear-hug arm pressure and power upward. 

Crux Move: Halfway up the route, the climber needs to lift his/her right foot high enough to reach a toe-jam in the off-width crack on the right side of the route.

Smith Family Climbing Boulder – East Gallatin Recreation Area 

Climber: Juliana Olliff – Age 14

Climber Bio: An 8th-grader at Sacagawea Middle School, Juliana has only been climbing for two years, but she has already earned a reputation as one of the Bozeman Climbing Team’s most promising climbers. When she’s not sport climbing at Spire, Juliana can be found climbing in Gallatin Canyon or bouldering in Whiskey Gulch. 

Route Name / Location on Boulder: “Too Little, Too Late” / center of west-facing face. 

Beta: On the bottom of slightly overhanging route (start from a sitting position), the holds are generous and plentiful, but the crimps become smaller and spaced farther apart the higher and more overhanging the route becomes. Summit by cupping a muffin-shaped prow and muscling over it. 

Crux Move: Near the top of the route, a dynamic move is necessary to reach a shallow crimp with the left hand and gain sufficient purchase to swing legs onto a narrow ledge.

Depot Park Boulder – Northeast neighborhood near the old railroad depot 

Climber: Dave Reuss – Age 25 

Climber Bio: A reformed sport-climbing fanatic, Dave now takes a casual approach to climbing, enjoying everything the hills have to offer: bouldering, trad, hiking, backpacking, and camping. He still clips bolts from time to time, but he no longer screams when he falls. 

Route Name / Location on Boulder: “Shmeagavitz Porchalski” / north-facing arête. 

Beta: This corner route is characterized by “glory jugs” that allow generous heel-hooks and big arm-moves up the arête. From a sitting position, use as many heel-hooks as possible. If you’re feeling especially strong, try campusing the route by not using any foot holds. 

Crux Move: One-third of the way up the boulder, a big right heel-hook around a prominent bulge will test the strength of your Achilles tendon.

“Phoenix Boulder” – Gallatin County Regional Park (larger boulder) 

Climber: Whit Magro – Age 33 

Climber Bio: Whit is a co-owner of Stronghold Fabrication, LLC, the company that constructed five of the six Bozeman climbing boulders. A Mammut-sponsored climber, Whit was the first person to free-solo Losar (arguably the world’s greatest ice climb) and he recently pioneered “The Wave Effect,” a three-tower enchainment in the Fitz Roy Massif in Patagonia. 

Route Name / Location on Boulder: “The Crimper Problem” / northwest corner—look for the handprint at the base of the boulder. 

Beta: From a sit start on two underclings, proceed to crimp your way to the top, feeling the burn in your forearms. 

Crux Move: Halfway up, you’ll need to find the right sequence to get your feet over a bulge while reaching for a top crimp with your left hand.

“Badass-In-Training Boulder” – Gallatin County Regional Park (smaller boulder)

Athlete: Lei-Anna Bertelsen – Age 46 

Athlete Bio: Fitness has been a lifelong pursuit for Lei-Anna, who has participated in competitive gymnastics, fitness competitions, weight training, trail running, and bodybuilding. A mother of three, Lei-Anna says she strives to remain active and agile enough to keep up with her kids.

Route Name / Location on Boulder: “Topping Off In Style” / on top of the boulder 

Beta: Vault onto the top of the boulder, raise arms above your head, and flip into a flawless, straight-legged handstand. Hold the handstand. Hold some more. Keep holding.

Crux Move: The handstand part.