Getting Away in Gallatin Canyon

Close-by climbing spots.

If you want to get in some good rock-climbing without the approach and commitment of an alpine climb, "the Canyon" is your spot. Gallatin Canyon’s gneiss formations are close by, just long and exposed enough to get your heart going, and many climbs see very little traffic. The climbing’s tricky, almost alpine-like, so bring more gear and clothing than you think you’ll need. Here are a few of the slightly less busy routes on the east side of the river. Check with one of the local guidebooks for more details and directions.

Never on Sundays (5.10)
On the southwest face of the Skyline Buttress formation, this four-pitch route is an excellent example of Canyon climbing. One of my favorites, it has traverses, grooves, chimneys, stems, bridges, and great cracks—even some fourth-class scrambling. On hot days, early-day climbing is best. The final pitch is great with nice cam placements, decent exposure, and some runouts. At the top, plan to stay awhile and bask in amazing views. Bring protection to about 3", some tri-cams, and a set of nuts.

Crystal Caper (5.7)
On the same Skyline Buttress, but on the south face, this is a nice long single-pitch. From the ground, you’re in a steadily widening crack that eventually turns into an open book. Crystal Caper is nice for early season crack practice. You can rap back down with two ropes or continue up and scramble off through some ledges to the south.

Sparerib (5.8)
This two-pitch climb is pretty much a local classic. The hike to the Sparerib area is a nice warm-up. Sparerib is the most conspicuous of the ribs on the west face. Not particularly steep or hard, it’s nicely exposed, and has quite a variety of challenges. A set of double cracks on the second pitch run through some small overhangs to the top. Descent is an easy walk-off to either side.