Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Season

Tim and Brian Enjoying Shirtsleeve Conditions
Tick Farm, December 2011

Busy work schedules and the demands of the season have conspired against regular blog posts these last couple of months.

But know that even here into December, we've been able to work on new routes in the Big Science and (new) Little Heroes areas. By the time spring rolls around, we'll have a new edition of the guide posted. There are many new routes that have gone up since the last edition.

For now, we want to wish everyone a great and cheerful holiday season! Thanks to all for visiting this blog and for supporting the climbing both at Mill and throughout Montana.

On behalf of Dane, Ken, Kurt, Michael, Tim, Olin, Dave, and everyone else who has contributed to development of the North Rim, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gray Thompson Lecture Dec. 8th

Gray Thompson, Ten Sleep, WY

Here's a unique opportunity to spend an evening with lifelong climber and UM Emeritus Professor of Geology Gray Thompson, courtesy of the UM Outdoor Program.

When: Thursday, December 8, 7:00pm
Where: McGill Hall 210, University of Montana, Missoula
Admission: Free!

From the Outdoor Program's web site:
Gray Thompson, a local climber and geologist, will be sharing his climbing experiences through stories and photographs from Denali, Lotus Flower Tower, The Matterhorn, and Canadian Rockies. You are sure to find inspiration in his experiences.

See you there!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Route Cougar Bait

Dane and Ken were up at the North Rim for a full day Saturday plus half day Sunday. We had intended to get back to work on Big Science, but a new line located right of the recently bolted route Liger caught our eye. By end of Saturday we had all the bolts in on what is intentionally a path of most resistance. Sunday we added top anchors and then managed to each redpoint it.

The climbing is high quality and engaging. As usually happens, it also turned out to be harder than we expected. It opens with an 11b/c tricky layback off a large, flat vertical edge. Then there's a small roof to turn in order to reach a big rest stance. A crimpy 5.11 boulder problem takes you to another ledge where you embark on amazing rock through pumpy jugs, another 5.11a move, and a shakeout before the final crux. The crux section involves a technical traverse left and will be a real heartbreaker sure to spoil the send for a lot of climbers, just as it did during our first attempts. This will be a hard route to onsight. Our proposed grade is 5.11d.

The climb is called Cougar Bait. Some might think it was named for Max, the charismatic min pin, although it should be noted we've already dedicated the Rattler route Ankle Biter to his honor.

Max - would kick a cougar's ass!

Or is it named for the dashing Mill Creek regular Olin Martin?

Olin - 'nuff said

Hmmm... Either way it's a climb we highly encourage everyone get on.

A couple of notes about working the climb. First, we spaced the bolts close together to make it easy to project. Each crux section has a bolt at chest level for sussing the moves. Or, you can climb the super fun Liger (5.10d), then work your way through the small tree at the top to set up a t.r. on Cougar Bait.

There are also two possible extensions we may add some day: one to the right of the roof that goes to the rim and another that goes straight over the roof on viciously small crimps.

Cougar Bait. 5.11d. 14 bolts. Sport anchors. Ken Turley, Dane Scott, Oct 2, 2011.
Starts on the ground right of Liger and left of Tick Traverse just past the west end of the Tick Farm wall.

Yes! Go! Go! You want to do this route!

First Ascent

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reel Rock Tour Thursday Oct 6

In case you missed it, the Reel Rock Film tour is showing in Missoula, Thursday night, October 6th at 7pm in Urey Hall!

Info here:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deep Creek Spokane

Submitted by Ken

A couple of weeks ago I had to take Otis-the-dog to a speciality vet in Spokane to have his eyes looked at. After the appointment I had time to drive out for a quick non-climbing tour of Deep Creek. Like many Missoula climbers, I've been hearing about this area located just outside Spokane, including its selection of bonafide 5.14s (not that I can do much more than look at those). Deep Creek's allure was further increased in June of 2010 when Jonathan "JStar" Siegrist paid a visit (here, here and here) and was seriously tested by the 5.14c "Problem Child." In other words, climbs of world-class difficulty exist barely three hours from Missoula.

So, although I didn't climb at Deep Creek, here are my impressions along with some low-quality cell phone pics.

Using the Mountain Gear store as a "convenient" starting point, and armed with the free Dr. Topo guide for directions, it took me about 25 minutes to drive to the trailhead.

The Main wall seemed the most logical destination, and in 15 minutes walking I arrived at its base. It was about 4pm and the temperature at the trailhead was scorching. In fact the forest looked so dry it seemed a single spark would have in seconds sent all of eastern Washington up in flames. But down in the (dry) creek bed, where the Main wall is located, it was shady and felt reasonably climbable, even at this time of day.

Top of the Main wall as approaching from the south

Main Wall

Though it's hard to get a sense of scale from my pictures, the Main wall is about 70 feet tall. If you click and expand the photos, you can see a number of fixed draws. The best comparison we have to the rock is Alberton Gorge. It's slick, polished basalt, and very blocky in nature, though I did find a number of positive crimps and edges in the first few feet of several of the routes. The angle is perfect sport climbing steepness, around 5 to 10 degrees overhanging. There's a great concentration of enticing looking 11s and 12s on the Main wall and it was definitely hard to leave with little more than a quick check of some starting holds as my sandy Chacos skated off the basalt.

Starting hold of 5.12b "Under the Influence" (I think)

Continuing down creek, in another few minutes I walked beneath the trestle of a public trail system and arrived at the Spokane river. From there I was able to rejoin the main approach path. Ten minutes later I was back at the car.

While no world-class destination, Deep Creek is certainly a regional gem. It would make for a great diversion for a weekend, or a layover stop during a longer trip. But be warned: the nature of the rock --that slick basalt-- will likely mean you aren't going to jump on and easily crank off some quick sends. It's obviously an acquired style that needs some time investment for best results. If I were planning to climb at Deep Creek, I'd likely get in 2 or 3 sessions at Alberton beforehand. I think that would increase my chances of getting the most out of my visit. Deep Creek would certainly be an amazing place to get power-endurance workouts. What I'd give to have that Main wall overhanging the Kim Williams trail! Furthermore, if you're a Missoula climber gunning for legit, high-quality 13s and 14s, it is certainly a viable area with numerous projects to choose from.

Deep Creek is definitely a place I want to climb at. I look forward to returning soon with shoes and rope.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lost Gear Sunday 9-25

Draws on 2 anchors and a couple of directionals on the Tick Farm left Sunday when a rain storm came in. See comment left on Cracktrilogy post for more details.

Please leave a comment or send email to millcreeknorthrim at gmail if you happened upon this gear. Thanks!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Following his August ascent of Because This One Is Also There, Kurt returned twice to the east side of the main amphitheatre and ticked off the remaining two wide cracks, completing his Cracktrilogy with an ascent of Because You Can't Ask For More this past Saturday.

As Kurt indicates below, there is evidence that at least one of the cracks has been climbed. If anyone has information about the original ascents please let us know. Until that time, we'll give Kurt credit and go with his route names.

Descriptions and embelishments courtesy of Kurt Krueger. Routes are listed in the order Kurt climbed them.

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

Description here.

2. Didn’t See It But It’s There, 5.9. Gear. September 2011.

Looking at the Aug 2011 blog entry: More New Routes - I discovered a large crack in the corner (to the left of Because This One is Also There).Large enough to get inside for a squeeze chimney (this might detour Ken from his mission of climbing all the routes at Mill Creek - as any good guide book author does).

I immediately called the climb, "Didn’t See It But It’s There."

With the usual group fighting for the opportunity to second the climb, Brent won the honor. I started up with the usual large rack but didn’t need anything bigger than a 4 Camalot (doubles of the 2 and 3, a 3-1/2 and the 4 should do you). I climbed the crack and enjoyed the chimney. There was a little loose stuff at the top so I exited to the left. Shock of shock, I found 2 bolts. My first thought was that Michael Moore had stolen the route. He knew I had been looking at it. He had been giving us a cover story that the bolt/hanger order had been "overdue" so how could he be putting up any anchors? Clever, clever cover story. Breaking into his house one night while he was at Leavenworth yielded no hardware. But the guy is clever (see previous sentence). He could certainly have stashed the gear at work. A forged search warrant to check Michael's office yielded an uppity employee yelling, "Freedom of the press!" and got me nowhere. Anyway, I guess we will just go with the First Ascent Report. Luckily, I think Michael is climbing in Washington again so I should be able to get the crack on the right before he gets back --- Unless he's not really in Washington . . .

3. Because You Can't Ask For More, 5.9. Gear to #5 Camalot. Gear anchor. Rap from Give and Take anchors or hike down. September 2011.

Heavy pack with a large rack, rope, bolting toys, a cold wind at the top belay, a nice bulge (hand jam) to make it into the wide part, bushes in the way, the second using chicken wing arm bars - what could be better? True Ken could have hiked to the top with refreshments for the successful team but then again he hasn't done it yet. A must climb for the Mill Creek hardman. This climb would yield to an Aid effort as long as the team would be willing to carry in 50 pounds of hardware.

Kurt visible in white at the top of
Because You Can't Ask For More

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gym Grand Opening Sept. 24


Here's a quick heads-up that the new Freestone Climbing center will host their grand opening this Saturday, Sept. 24th. Sounds like specials going on all day, with festivities including slide shows from local climbers beginning at 8pm. Mill Creek Report will be there showing some images from that last 3 years of development at the North Rim.

Come out and support our new local climbing gym!!

Information at:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Massacre Rocks Idaho Closure - Act Now!

Massacre Rocks is a climbing area located on basalt bands above the Snake River in south-central Idaho. The area offers hundreds of bolted sport routes ranging from 30 feet to over 200 feet in length. The climbing spans a wide range of grades, is surpisingly varied, and offers a great destination from late fall to spring when the higher elevations in our region are too cold. Furthermore, the access and camping are free, and the atmosphere is refreshingly relaxed, friendly and open.

Now all of this is threatened. The BLM is moving rapidly forward with plans to close access to most of Massacre's climbing. If ever there was a time to send an email or letter, THIS IS IT! Even if you've never climbed at Massacre, even if you are Canadian and/or live in New Zealand, help speak up for your rights as a climber. Add your voice to let the BLM know that climbing must be preserved at Massacre.

Email your comments to If you can send your email by Sept. 22, that would be great. But sending any message, any time, will help a lot. Your email can be as brief as "I oppose the closure of Massacre Rocks!"

Remember, the BLM may not know the number of climbers who travel to and enjoy Massacre. Let them know that you are one of the many who value your access to these public lands.

Missoula's Dave Jones, who participated in the major push of route development at Massacre, and who has been tracking the closure, has provided the following summary on the climbing area. Below that are links where you can learn more and express your concern.
What’s the Word on Massacre??

Climbing at Massacre Rocks in Southern Idaho started in the late ‘80’s when a group of locals mainly from Pocatello went looking for some new crags closer to home than The City of Rocks. The first trips to Massacre involved crossing the Snake River at Massacre Rocks State Park just off Interstate 86 about 30 miles west of Pocatello.  Later the lads figured out how to drive in from the north after crossing the river at the American Falls Dam.  This was a welcome change because it avoided having to carry heavy climbing packs in a canoe across a stretch of water that was could become fairly unruly when the winds blew up or down stream.  A guide book to the area was published in 1999 by Pat and Dan Spurlock of Pocatello with the Disclaimer: If you paid for this guide you got ripped off!  The guide was later taken over by Bruce Black of Pocatello and hosted on the Idaho State University Outdoor Program website to make sure it was free for anyone who wanted the information.

Access Fund Article:

Notice of Intent:

BLM info: post:

American Falls Chamber of Commerce
Tell the merchants of American Falls about the business they'll lose when climbers no longer shop in their stores and eat at their restaurants when traveling through their community on the way to the rocks.

Here are a few photos showing the climbing and environment at Massacre:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kurt's Tick Farm FAA*

*First Aid Ascent

Editor's Note

A couple of weeks ago, Dane opened the new, high-quality route Liger on the left side of the Tiger Stripe wall. That same day, Kurt and Olin did the first ascent of Because This One Is Also There. What wasn't reported is another "first" ascent Kurt worked into his morning. With a stop at the Tick Farm on his way up to assist Dane with Liger, Kurt showed what is possible by thinking outside the box of accepted norms. In so doing, he revealed the untapped potential not only on the Tick Farm, but everywhere that a sport climb exists, and where climbers have celebrated the heretofore coveted free ascent.

Here is the route description Kurt submitted for his ascent, which he superimposed on the existing free climb, Tick Man.

KURT'S  (IDEA GUY) VISION. 5.7 A0 OR A1 (Kurt and other) Climb Tick Man making ample use of existing bolts to avoid the tricky shelf move opening. Ascend the mid section of Tick Man at approxiimately 5.7. Avoid the final moves by tension traversing off an A1 Camalot to finish at the anchor. 

Kurt then offers this insight as to why he renamed the route following the ascent.

As is well known, it is common to rename a route if you do it in better style than the FA (first ascent). Without question doing (the former) Tick Man as an FAA (first aid ascent) is better than the FFA (first free ascent). To further advance standards, I hope next to do a sit start using a long clip stick. By clipping both aiders together, I estimate I will have enough length to make it to the first bolt, placing my feet only in the aider loops while avoiding standing on the ground. Please note that the name of my belayer, who I would like to add seconded the FAA ascent in his or her approach shoes, has not been listed to protect the innocent.

Editor's Note 2

Although Olin was reported in Kurt's company earlier in the day on the FA of Because This One Is Also There, his whereabouts are unknown during the middle part of the day when the FAA occurred. He does reappear later in Dane's company at the Liger, as confirmed by Dane. However, we did receive the following first person account from "Anonymous" that fills in some of the blanks and questions raised by the FAA. The account is reprinted as received.

Disclaimer: Most of this is true

Friday August 19, 2011 "My day at Mill Creek with Kurt" by Anonymous

Interaction #1

Kurt: "Will you carry this #5, the #4, and these #3.5's along with the rope... and maybe the draws?"
Anonymous: "Sure Kurt"

Interaction #2 (while putting up "Because This One is Also There")

Kurt: "Does it look like I should go right or left here?"
Anonymous: Left looks like some good face climbing, right looks like maybe some crack climbing but a few bushes in the way"
Kurt: "I will go right"

Interaction #3

Kurt: "Ok (anonymous) why don't you bring the rope down and we are going to aid climb this 5.8."
Anonymous: "?ok?"

Interaction #4 (once reaching the aid climb)

Kurt: "I forgot my other ladder, I will pay you a dollar if you go get the other one"
Anonymous: "ok"

Interaction #5

Kurt: "I'm going to aid climb this and then rename it. Then you can free climb it and name it again"
Anonymous: "???? I don't really understand Kurt because someone has already bolted and named this climb???"
Kurt: "Right, but I will be the first to aid the climb it and therefore have the right to rename it"
Anonymous: "Ok Kurt, but that doesn't really sound right to me"
Kurt: "Just trust me"

Interaction #6  (After Dane sends the first crux of "Liger" and declares that it is definitely 10b if not 10c)

Kurt: "Yeah, I agree Dane. What idiot thought that was 5.9?"
Anonymous: "I thought you said that Kurt?"
Kurt: "Who me? No way!"

Hope you enjoyed this summary of my day with Kurt Krueger.


Editor's Note 3

The potential controversy of this ascent warrants further commentary. We sought out those who regularly climb with Kurt. Here's what we came up with:

Dane was at work solo-bolting Liger, all the while wondering what was taking so long for Kurt and Olin to show up and lend a hand. He does recall hearing "quite a lot of commotion and discussion from somewhere in vicinity of Tick Man."

Michael, who has authored several routes on the Tick Farm wall, has been preoccupied with saunas and Bikram hot yoga classes in an attempt to purge his system of unkown toxins acquired in the chimney of Because It's There while following Kurt on the second ascent. He is awaiting lab results and was unavailable for comment.

Tim, who with Kurt and Dane opened Tick Man, was busy cleaning and checking the condition of his brand new #2 Camalot that, after being reported missing for several weeks, was found among the original Friends, prototype TCUs and duct tape on Kurt's gear sling. He declined comment.

Brian was last seen contemplating how to un-stretch his La Sportivas by about a size after Kurt, wearing socks, mistook them for his own and did a full pitch in them unaware of the suddenly tight fit. Brian was too polite to comment.

And Kurt's long time friend, Bob Siegrest, in Colorado, said he knew nothing of this incident.  He is, however, prepared to provide a notarized statement that Kurt, while climbing with him recently at Jon Siegrist's Wizards Gate area, did indeed discuss in person with Tommy Caldwell acts of reverse grade descrimination levied by the community against nine-fingered climbers. But, as they say, that's another story.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Local News - Festival and Gym

Here are two news items for our local climbing community you should know about.

Lost Horse Climbing Festival

Saturday, September 10th. This event keeps growing!  Check it out.

Bouldering Gym

The brand new Freestone Climbing Center is about to officially open. Fees and hours are set. It sounds like you can swing by for a bouldering sesh even now.

Montana Kaimin Article: (Aug 31, 2011)

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!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Highline - Walk the Plank

The adventure quotient at the North Rim went up several notches this summer. Following a major effort by Dave Hobbs and friends, the area now offers a serious new highline located west of the main climbing area.

Many thanks to Hobbs for the vision, the work, and the following report,

The climbing on the North Rim of Mill Creek saw a new kind of development earlier this summer. I set out on a mission to establish and walk the first Bitterroot highline. "The Plank," as the line has been dubbed, is located between the Eagle Head buttress and top of the Pie for Strength sector. The line spans about eighty feet and has a slight downward slant making it quite the experience for my first highline!

It's hard to judge the exposure below the line because it's at the top of the rim. There is a ledge around a hundred feet below you, but unless you're looking straight down it doesn't come into play. Instead, it feels as though you are above the entire canyon, making the exposure change from a mere hundred to potentially a thousand feet.

The line we used was made of two pieces of threaded Bluewater webbing with super tape inside. Bolts are used for anchoring, with four per side. They are set close to both edges so that the line does not cross over any rock, lowering the risk of abrasion. A boulder pad and a carpet square are perfectly adequate for padding. Although this makes the line safer, it makes it so that a below line mount is required to walk the line. There is no place to step on. Sit starts and chongo mounts were our preferred methods.

It took three days of walking spread over two weekends before I got the first send. Adam Blythe and Brian Martens also helped with setup, and worked the line. Adam got close and Brian eventually got his send on his second day of trying. This was a new experience for all of us, but it will not be the last. There are a few more potential areas at Mill Creek that we will be exploring looking for new, longer highlines. I want to give special thanks to Dane, Ken, Michael and Kurt who helped give bolting beta, let us use their drill and sold us bolts!

Plain and simple: Highlining is very dangerous and should not be attempted by anyone without proper gear and rigging experience!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bouldering Gym in the Missoulian

photo from

Submitted by Ken

My usual driving route from the office to the UM gym takes me along Toole. A week ago I was heading over after work when I noticed the new bouldering gym's bay doors were open. I decided to stop and have a look. Inside, examining a box of new holds, I found the main visionary behind the gym, Walter, along with UM gym setters Scott and Brian. This was my first time to meet Walter in person, and also my first time to get a look at the gym's interior space. It's huge and the walls are way tall!

It was fun to see the structures taking form, and it's clear Walter has a great vision for what this facility can be.

For a good write-up, check out this Missoulian article that just ran.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Three New Routes

Here's a quick post to report three new routes that have gone up in the past week. Happy Fourth of July!

Fantas Tick - 5.9. Bolts. Tick Farm
Located right of Ticktastic and left of Birthday Tick. Another high quality Michael Moore moderate on the Tick Farm. A little tricky at the top.
Michael Moore, Kevin Freund, Kurt Krueger

Tick On - 5.10c. Bolts. Tick Farm
Located right of Witness the Tickness. Excellent new Tick Farm route. Sustained and pumpy. A great mid-10 lead.
Tim Karst, Dave Jones, Kurt Krueger

Hobbes - 5.11a. Bolts. Tiger Stripe
Climb first 3 bolts of Sabertooth, then left up new bolt line. Finish at Tick Traverse anchors. Thin climbing separated by a big rest. High quality rock.
Dane Scott, Dave Hobbs

Dave Hobbs (left) Witness the Tickness and Dane Scott (right) Tick On

Friday, June 24, 2011

Report from Kurt

On a lighter note, the ever-facetious Kurt has submitted the following report. As Kurt is fond of saying, we should give it all the consideration it's worth.

Major North Rim Linkup
Kurt Krueger

Keeping up with the big link ups of routes in the Alps and Yosemite, I completed a major link up last Tuesday at Mill Creek. Leveraging maximum daylight from the longest day of the year, I teamed up with Brian Quilter to complete Pie for Strength after work. This was done after getting the second ascent of Because It's There on Saturday with Michael Moore. So to repeat: Both Because It's There and Pie for Strength were enchained in 84 hours. With a little more training, I think I can get the time down to 68 to 72 hours. With my dog Gracie's help, I have also stashed about 3 gallons of water in the area. With the gains of a lighter pack obtained from this cache, I could likely knock off another 2 hours. In fact, taking advantage of the warm weather, a bivy might be possible. I believe it is not unreasonable to consider a 30 hour link up (car to car) for the two routes.

Some may find it hard to compare my link up with those of, say, Half Dome and El Cap in a day. But consider the following.

Climbs like Half Dome's Regular Northwest Face or the Nose on El Cap have seen thousands of ascents. You can watch videos to see exactly how the routes are done. The climbs themselves are clearly marked with chalk and shoe rubber and topos abound. The Half Dome route has even been climbed solo, without a rope, and the Nose routinely gets climbed in under 3 hours. But as anyone who's climbed Give and Take knows (and that includes all four of us), there are many challenges including vegetation, loose rock and a guano-filled chimney, plus nothing in the way of chalk to show you what holds to use. To make matters worse, Michael, when he followed, tossed off most of the holds I used, claiming they were "loose." Obviously, there's no comparison between Give and Take and those other routes.

Second, as anyone who's climbed with Brian knows, he prefers slings and oval mountaineering carabiners to lightweight quickdraws. The cumulative effect of carrying that extra weight can't be ignored. There's no doubt in my mind that these factors combine to level the playing field.

So, the challenge has been laid down. This could be the hardest link up in Montana. Or at least, the only one I know of.

Editor's Note: Five or so years ago, Kyle Neeley and partner Eric climbed Flat Head, Shoshone and Nez Perce in a single day. Just sayin'...

Kurt third class on an all-natural, top secret crack
located somewhere east of the Divide.