Monday, August 22, 2011

More New Routes


It's the dog days of summer, but despite the heat there has been a small burst of new route activity at the North Rim. Three climbs have gone up in the last week and a-half. Of note, two are gear lines.

Those who've been up to the area the past month have no doubt seen the yellow "tag" line hanging off some low anchors on the enticing buttress located at the foot of the approach gulley. Tim placed these anchors with the assistance of Jake. They represent a first look at getting some routes up on what we are tentatively calling the "First Buttress." We hope this area will fill a gap in Missoula-Bitterroot climbing: a place where you can take your significant other, friends, co-workers, kids and dogs to learn to climb and they will actually have fun on a variety of climbs. It will take some cleaning, but the First Buttress looks like it will yield at least a half-dozen easy to moderate climbs that people will enjoy. It also offers a great setting plus avoids the final hump up the approach gulley to the Tick Farm proper. The vision for this wall is for safe routes where people can learn to climb and develop their skills. So stay tuned for more to come over the next few months.

Meanwhile, after getting the go-ahead from Tim, Alec Sundet nabbed the first line on First Buttress, climbing 5.8 moves protected entirely by gear up to the new anchors. Following is Alec's report of the route, Wild at Heart, along with its 5.6 variation. Thanks Alec!

Wild at Heart, Beginners Buttress, 5.8. Gear. August 2011.

Wild at Heart
photo courtesy Alec Sundet

I led this climb twice. Once from the left hand side where the [tag line] was tied off, which I would give about a 5.6 rating. I then climbed the face exactly below the anchors, which was a bit more difficult. I would give it a 5.7/5.8 rating. I used a #2 BD on the first wide crack about 10 feet off the ground. Next there's a thin crack less than 1cm wide that I was able to shove a great nut into. The next move involved pulling up under the roof where a #3 could be placed, but I skipped it, went left into the dihedral and placed an amazing #10 BD nut. Overall it's a pretty fun climb!


Around the corner from Wild at Heart and a 100 feet or so up the gulley, Kurt was back at work. Continuing his quest to climb all the dirty off-widths and chimneys in the amphitheater, he ticked off the first ascent of Because This One Is Also There.

The route ascends the middle of three wide cracks in the area to the right of Give and Take. With the other two cracks still unclimbed, we can look for Kurt to continue his theme of "just because" climbs.

His partner in crime and grime on this first ascent, Olin Martin, said the climb will be fun "once the bushes and loose rock are removed," though it should be noted a slow shaking of his head accompanied the report.

Here's the route summary from Kurt.

Because This One Is Also There, 5.9-. Gear. August 2011.

Because This One Is Also There
Kurt Krueger on the First Ascent

Down slope around a small corner right of Give and Take are 3 cracks. Climb the middle one. Wander up the crack until you get to the crux roof crack. Climb it on good pro and wonder why you just don't climb cracks all the time. Take a standard rack with a 3-1/2, 4 and 5 Camalot. Could also do it with up to the number 4 and some doubles of the 2 and 3. Belay from the top, then traverse left to the rap anchors for Li'l Crack and Give and Take. Or better yet, climb Because It's There as your second pitch. This incredible link-up awaits its first ascent!!!


Farther up-slope, between the Tick Farm and the Big Science area, Dane Scott, Kurt and Olin completed a new sport pitch on the left side of the Tiger Stripe wall. The climb is called Liger and has the provisional grade of 5.10d. The route does not start on the upper ledge like the other Tiger Stripe wall climbs, but begins on the flat spot at the top of the trail near the Big Science sector. It has 10 bolts and there are 2 distinct cruxes. The first is at a small roof 30 feet off the ground. A second tricky section is about two-thirds of the way up the climb and features big reaches on gorgeous rock. The climb ends on a large ledge 90 feet up, beneath an obvious left-facing dihedral. The team plans to return to add a second pitch, which itself promises to be one of the best trad pitches at the Tick Farm!

Liger, Tiger Stripe wall. 5.10d. Bolts to sport anchors. 90 feet. August 2011.

On left side of Tiger Stripe wall

Starts about 20 feet left of start of Tick Traverse (very left edge of Tick Farm wall). Follow bolts to ledge with large bush beneath clean left-facing dihedral. Single 60m rope.

Start of Liger

Because This One Is Also There


Butte Bouldering Bash


Kurt brought to our attention that there's a bouldering event happening this coming Saturday, Aug 27th, in the Homestake Pass area east of Butte. The 2nd Annual Butte Bouldering Bash kicks off in the morning with registration at 9am at Homestake Lodge. The event is presented by Organic Bouldering Mats and benefits the Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition.

Details are available at

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rattler Update


Posted by Ken Turley

Over the last several years, a few of us who put up routes at Mill have also added some climbs to Rattler. Here’s a look at five new lines and one rebolted at the Shredder Wall area, including the story of AOB, which a lot of people have asked me about. Also, check out the brand new Style Wall at the end of this post.

Shredder Wall

Green Bay 11c. Bolts. June 2009.

Green Bay
Starts just past the upper tree.

Begin up the slot past the big tree to the left of Shredder. Crux involves a hard couple of moves off a hollow flake at the 2nd bolt. Pull this and arrive on the ledge. Move left to steep buttress. Follow bolts up through surprisingly pumpy and somewhat awkward climbing. Clip bolt on top of buttress then diagonal up and right to join Shredder for its upper crux.

This route is named in honor of Wisconsin native and Green Bay Packer fan (goes without saying) Kurt Krueger. It was actually my early introduction to a Kurt “concept route.” (see this post for another example) At the very beginning of a road trip, Kurt joined me and our friend Steve at Rattler. As he lowered from the Shredder anchors, he suddenly called, “Stop!” He swung over to the lefthand buttress and did a few moves. He then lowered to beneath the ledge. “Stop!” he said again. “There are climbable holds here.” He lowered the rest of the way and untied.

“Okay,” Kurt said. “There’s a route you can put up while I’m gone.” Then he walked down to his car and drove off to Colorado, leaving us to consider the holds he’d just declared “climbable.”

Chumley Wall

Chumley Leftmost route on the small lower wall. Not new of course, but upgraded April, 2011 with new bolts and hangers by permission of Gray Thompson, the first ascentionist. Hopefully everyone knows by now that Chumley is not 11- as the Falcon guide lists. Entries here and here suggest 11c, though if this climb were any longer, 11d wouldn’t be unreasonable.

AOB 12c/d. 4 bolts. Sport anchors (shared with Chumley). May 2008.

Eric on AOB

Right of Chumley. Start in a shallow weakness and crank continuous, hard moves all the way to the top. Trends left at the 3rd bolt. Technical and powerful.

The Name. AOB stands for Andy O’Brien. I got to know Andy when he worked at the Missoula Rock Garden. He was ever-psyched and equally adept at bouldering and sport climbing. Andy coached the Rock Garden’s junior team for 2 years and took kids to the junior sport climbing nationals both seasons. He worked the kids hard, cut them no slack, and they loved him. Once I found the line that would become AOB, I told Andy I had this great climb he should check out with me -- crimpy, powerful and bouldery. Perfect for him. He moved to Colorado before he had a chance to check it out. But I always felt the climb had his name on it, so to speak. I also thought he deserved recognition for the great coaching he did with the junior team. So I named the climb after him.

The First Bolt. I’ve been asked why the first bolt is so high. Reason is that I used to go out to the wall and traverse along the base, then try the opening moves on AOB to see if they’d go. I eventually bouldered up to the good horizontal you can clip the first bolt from. I figured if I bouldered to there and jumped down with no pad, then there was no need to put the first bolt any lower. In practice, most people, including me, stick clip the first bolt when leading it. But that high placement has gone on to set the style of the other three new routes on the wall.

The Sends.I opened this climb May 26, 2008, and as far as I know only three of us have sent it as of this posting. If you’ve done it, or know of someone who has, I’d love to hear about it. Here's the redpoint record I have:

Kyle Neeley. Sept 19, 2008.
Ken Turley. August 5, 2009.
Scott Parker. Fall, 2009.

Puppy Teeth 12a. 4 bolts. Sport anchors. August 2009.

Rope is on Puppy Teeth
Draws above climbers are on Vicious Little Dog

Right of AOB. Start left of the small aspen. Climb short flake and crack system to sequential crux, then crank through the headwall to the anchors. Fingery and powerful.

Dane and I first put anchors above this line in July 2009. Dane then bolted it right after I sent AOB, on the same day. No rest for the weary! Following an early session working out the moves, Dane lowered to the ground clutching his fingers. “The holds up there are like grabbing puppy teeth!” he said. And so the climb was named.

Puppy Teeth has emerged as the favorite on this wall. It’s a stout climb that packs a lot of density for what looks from the ground to be a short jaunt. It makes for a great 12a project, and a proud send.

Vicious Little Dog 12a/b. 5 bolts. Chain anchors (shares with Ankle Biter). July, 2011.

Vicious Little Dog
Dane getting ready to start cranking

Vicious Little Dog is the most recent addition to the wall. The climb is located right of Puppy Teeth and has a unique character that differs from the other Chumley wall climbs. The climb is more bouldery, with bigger moves. The crux is thuggish with some key foot beta that can be frustratingly hard to figure out given a ton of options and the subtle effects each has on body position.

Vicious Little Dog was named third after Puppy Teeth and Ankle Biter. The name has no significance other than by the time we bolted it, we were set on a small dog theme, with this climb being the most vicious of the three.

Ankle Biter 11b. 1 bolt, gear (cam or two to 1-1/2”, wires). Chain anchors. June, 2011.

Ankle Biter

We used to look at this line and think it would be a little 5.10- warmup. Our eyes were opened the first time we pulled on to the boulder problem opening. Though it eases above, it remains surprisingly sustained and a bit awkward. Add in the need to stop and place a cam or two and a stopper and you have a good, full value route.

This route was named for Max (I think that was his name) the Min-Pin who took us under his watchful eye one day while the group he was with climbed on the Shredder Wall. Just like Max, it looks short and harmless. But relax your guard too much and you might get bit.

Style Wall

Style Wall
Photo:Conor D./Mtn Project

This is a brand new wall a little ways up the road that not many people know about. Dane just happened upon it at Mountain Project. None of us in the Mill Creek group had anything to do with putting up the routes, but it’s certainly worth mentioning here. Although I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, Kurt went up recently and pronounced it a great new sector with good routes. There are 10 in all from 5.9+ to 5.12c including some gear lines. Thanks go to Conor for getting it on Mountain Project and co-authoring most of the routes (as well as listing Green Bay and Puppy Teeth while he was at it).

Check out the whole wall here and then go up and climb on it!