Climbing the Walls

A mini-guide to local rock

You’ve finally made it to Bozeman. Now… where’s the good rock? Here’s a mini-guide to get you headed in the right direction. Super-short approaches, classic lines, and other key beta will have you pulling down by this afternoon.

Gallatin Tower
Right off Highway 191, the Tower is a perfect introduction to the canyon’s bulletproof granite and funky gear placements. The real classic is the three-pitch Standard Route (5.8). Two pitches of open-book dihedral bring you to a choice: left into the chimney, or right onto the airy buttress? Follow your heart. Just don’t forget to load up with burgers, beer, and charcoal for a little barbequin’ on the portable grill stashed at the top.

Scorched Earth
This sport limestone crag features a pleasant spread of grades from 10a to 12b, bolts every five feet, and one of the shortest approaches in the area. Just cross the Storm Castle bridge in Gallatin Canyon, take a left, and park by the dumpster. The toasty southwest aspect catches sun all afternoon, making for pleasant climbing late into the season. For a taste of steep limestone, check out The Bad (10a) and Pretty Polly (10c), or hike to the far right of the crag and sample Pearl Necklace (10a) or In Search of Sunrise (10c) for balancy slab climbing.

Practice Rock
Bozeman’s backyard crag delivers a convenient pump after work. Head up S. 19th, turn on Hyalite Canyon Road and head 3.1 miles, park on the right, and slog up the talus. This is a great “Trad 101” crag with plenty of chain anchors, and you can top-rope multiple lines after climbing a single route. Off one rope, you can climb Strawberry Crack (5.7), Rosebush Crack (5.8), and Blind Black Babies (5.9)—luxury. The adjacent hillside in Hyalite hides the sun pretty quickly, so always bring a headlamp.

More of a fair-weather climber (or don’t wanna dig through snow to reach the next handhold)? Swing by the Spire Climbing Center off S. 19th for short approaches, plentiful top ropes, and air conditioning. To work up a pump on campus, check out the Climbing Wall in the fitness center.