Monday, November 18, 2013

Mythbusting Climbing Safety


Michael brought the following article to our attention regarding climbing safety tests done by Arizona climber Geir Hundal. Michael and others met Hundal last winter in the Tucson area. It's a good read that covers dropped carabiners, clove hitches, Sharpies as rope markers, a Reverso versus a .357 Magnum, and other engaging topics.

 Read it here:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Shapiro UM Nov 5

From UM Outdoor rec program:

"Jeff Shapiro: A perspective found in and above the mountains"
 Free - Tuesday, November 5, 6:00 PM in McGill Hall 210

more info

Jeff Shapiro, Blodgett
Photo by Chris Gibisch,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Idaho Falls Climbing and Blog

We recently discovered the blog of Idaho Falls area climber Dean Lords. The blog has a lot of  content describing several lesser-known crags and climbing areas in the general Idaho Falls area. Route descriptions and directions are included.

Reading through, one gets the sense that Lords and his partners are kindred spirits to western Montana sport climbers: ferreting out crags and routes in a variety of settings. Furthermore, it seems they are doing so in a similar vein of sharing new routes and contributing to the climbing community.

The blog includes a nicely-done video of the Arcane Crag along with some background provided by Lords:

The Arcane from Dean Lords on Vimeo.

 View the blog here:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reel Rock Creators and Athletes Interviewed

Climbing filmmakers Louder Than 11 (LT11) have teamed up with Brian Runnels, aka the Climbing Narc, to produce a series of interviews via live YouTube. The shows are also available for streaming and the second ties in nicely with the Reel Rock tour playing this Thursday at UM. In " Live Talkshow #2" Runnels interviews Reel Rock creators Josh Lowell (Big Up) and Pete Mortimer (Sender) for the first half, then switches to three of the athletes featured in the films including Yuji Hirayama, Daniel Woods and Hazel Findlay.

View or listen here.

For even more background on Reel Rock, an article about Sender's Mortimer and Nick Rosen appeared in the Boulder Weekly here .

See you all Thursday!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Recent Events

Not sure what's in the wind right now, but there's been an unusually high amount of news relating to climbing access challenges in the Bitterrootthe west, the country the world. This of course hits close to home as we've seen an escalation in vandalism along with threats to climbing and climbers at Mill this year. This blog has remained intentionally quiet on that front so as not to undermine efforts being made to remedy the situation. However, it is important to point out that we are actively working with both the Forest Service and law enforcement to deal with several issues, including the ongoing covering of the trail, the destruction of the erosion control at the base of the climbs, and the theft and destruction of hardware. We will announce relevant news and progress as it becomes available.

Until then, we encourage you to email any incidents or observations to the g-mail address of millcreeknorthrim. Where possible, please include specific dates, times, and pictures if you have them. Such documentation will assist with our efforts. If you prefer, you can leave your information in a comment on this post. Specify in the comment if you want it published or not. We won't publish incident reports unless you say to.

If there's comfort in numbers, or if reading the following fires you up and motivates you to take action, like joining a coalition, the Access Fund, or signing a petition, then here's a summary of some of the recent items in the news that have, in part, sparked this post:

Congress to vote on big mining that will destroy Oak Flat climbing area in Arizona. more...

Long-running Southeast Triple Crown bouldering series loses one of its crowns. more...

Public access in jeopardy for historic Stanage Edge in England's Peak District. more... Petition link (This is like speaking up for the 'Gunks or Yosemite. It only takes 30 seconds to add your voice.)

On a positive note, Ten Sleep climbers have just formed the Bighorn Climbers' Coalition "dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting access to climbing resources in the Bighorn Mountains and Bighorn Basin of Wyoming." Visit the site here. Read about its formation on DPM here.  Ten Sleep is a favorite destination for Montana climbers, offering world-class sport climbing. If you want to help out, consider becoming a coalition member. It's only $25 and will go toward establishing use plans and helping to ensure Ten Sleep climbing remains open for all.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Reel Rock Film Tour Coming

It's that time of the year again! Reel Rock 2013 is on its way. October 3rd at 7:00pm at the University Center Theater. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. You can get tickets at the UM Outdoor Program or the Source at the UC. Hope to see you all there!!

More info at

Monday, August 26, 2013

Protect our Climbing - Join the Access Fund

As we consider how to respond to this summer's anonymous acts committed against the trail system at Mill, there is one thing each and every one of us can do, and that's support the Access Fund. For those unfamiliar with it, the Access Fund is a national climbing advocacy organization that works on behalf of all climbers to maintain and obtain access to climbing areas. The Access Fund has been in existence since 1991. It is well-organized and has numerous resources to assist climbers whose local areas are at risk of closure, or otherwise threatened.  The Fund also supports conservation efforts, and joined with the Bitterroot Climbers Coalition and the Montana Conservation Corps for trail maintenance in Blodgette during August of last year as reported here.

As with any crisis it's easy to feel disconnected when it happens somewhere "out there." But now we are looking at a threat to our own resources and climbs in the Bitterroot. The Access Fund may very well play a significant role in our ability to keep climbing available at the North Rim in the years to come.

I just renewed my membership. I encourage everyone to consider joining, renewing, or offering some kind of support. In doing so, you well help preserve climbing both throughout the country, and here at home. A $35 annual membership, or whatever you can afford, is a step toward ensuring that the North Rim at Mill Creek continues to be a destination we can all enjoy.

Access Fund Web Site:

-Ken Turley

Friday, August 9, 2013

Big Trail Blockage

We just received word from friends hiking to the crag that a large effort has been made to obstruct the approach leading up the ridge.

For a couple of years there's been persistent removal of the cairn that marked the turn off the main hiking trail. Small branches and debris have routinely been placed across the first portion of the approach, sometimes farther up. These obstacles were easily cleared. Now the attempt or message or whatever it is has been stepped up by what seems to have been a crew of people who moved large trees and logs across the trail all the way up the ridge. From the sound of it (we've not yet seen it firsthand), it's a fairly impressive effort.

This escalation of attempts to block access to public land is unfortunate. How we'll proceed remains to be seen. For now, you should add in some extra time for the approach. Maybe some of the downfall can be cleared.

Remember also that level heads do prevail. Continue to be a good user of the area, the trails and the access roads. Keep your music down and drive slowly through the neighborhoods on the way to the trailhead. Thanks go out to all who support and enjoy the climbing at Mill.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Psicobloc Deep Water Comp Park City

Here's something that will be worth watching. Psocobloc Masters Series, August 2nd, live stream available. Sharma, Dave Graham, TC, Lynn Hill, to name but a few.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kurt's Korner - Almost Retired

Here's the latest from Kurt:

We have made great strides in the "carry Kurt's pack" issue.

With me all but retired (note to Ken – not reporting trad climbs is now AGE discrimination – a protected class by the US government), I'm pleased to report that the climbing community has at last recognized it's time to step up to the plate. Kate and Michael carried 2 ropes and hardware up to the Heap last Monday, leaving me with a load of only shoes and harness, which I was able to handle, though just.

The following weekend, Tim and Michael carried the gear and set up climbs at Rattler. They also did an Age Belay Check, which I passed, although it was close given I'd just ridden my bike from Georgetown Lake, possibly due to concern over my ability to operate a vehicle given I'm nearly retired –or possibly not.

And finally, this Monday, Kate and Michael again carried my gear in to the Heap, plus each took one of my climbing shoes. Today Michael and I leave for Lander, and with Michael's connections at North Face, I'm sure they will have already arranged for porters.

Life is good.  

Editor's Note: Every effort was made to facilitate the author of this post and publish his material in a timely manner. We hope this will serve to mitigate risk of protests from the AARP, lawsuits from equal rights lawyers, and denial of service attacks from forgotten ARPANET nodes. (Never underestimate the extent of Kurt's resources.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Still Here

We're still here! Heavy workload and unexpected pile-up of general Life have thwarted blog writing the last month and a-half. Here are a few things that have come along.

Dane captured Claudine in action, face-to-face with the crux at the top of Cougar Bait (5.11d). This gives an up close look at the "skyscraper" ledge and the amount of effort it takes to get through the tenuous heartbreaker section right at the end of the route.

The "rodeo move" -hang on! credit: Brandon

Many of you have no doubt seen evidence of a new route going up left of Big Science. Dane and Ken started it this winter, and Dane has since worked on it with Scott Goodwin, among others. The route is named Dark Matter. Here are a couple of pictures from early exploration of the direct start out the mouth of the small cave. Scott later managed to boulder this opening at around V7. The route is still in-progress. We'll let you know when it's ready (in the fall maybe?).

Finally, Kurt, for some time now, has placed Ken's Local Climber's status on suspension. Kurt cites Ken's frequent association with Bozeman climbers, as well as his numerous visits to areas either out of county or out of state. Not to disappoint, here's a picture of Ken taken a couple weekends ago by a Kurt agent in the Circuit Bouldering Gym, Portland, Oregon. (Shout out to Sam and Kirsten.) Following that is a link to a terrific blog post by writer and Bozeman climber Kelsey Sather that's worth checking out. Regular readers of this blog will recognize Kelsey and Leslie from Ken's Ten Sleep posts last year. Yes Kurt, more out-of-area climbers. We hope all this doesn't drive you to an early retirement!

There is a distinct line between dirtbag and scumbag. --Kelsey Sather

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Leslie Hittmeier Videos

UM photojournalism student Leslie Hittmeier has posted a few videos on Vimeo. They are poignant with beautiful tempo. The videos feature Montana athletes and remind us of why we are drawn to the mountains and the lifestyles they engender.

View here:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kurt's Korner

Editor's Note: Kurt submitted this piece a couple of months ago. We apologize for the delay in posting. It took time to have it fact checked by our Fact Checking department. Then Legal had to analyze it for liable. And finally, Intellectual Property needed to determine if the sport of cycling has sole rights on the issue of athletes and doping. Turns out they don't.

Performance-Enhanced Climbing Grades

Due to cycling's recent problems with drugs, the Mill Creek Developers (being one of the most cutting edge groups around for rock climbing -- see previous posts) will start a drug testing program for First Ascents. So that we'll be able to test from now until doomsday please submit 1 to 2 pints of urine. Since we don’t have a bathroom nor officials to monitor collection, please just ask all the climbers on the wall to watch you create your sample.

We won’t give an opinion if drugs are good or bad. We will just add the use, if detected, to the rating of any climbs the associated climber puts up. Since drugs can be categorized as affecting Head (H) or body (B), we will reference them separately. The Head rating will go something like: H1: Mary Jane (see the 1970’s), H2: Cocaine, etc. The Body rating will go something like: B1: Speed, B2: EPO, B3: Steroids, etc.

Going forward, climbs will have ratings like 5.11a/bB1H1L R 

I added the last L for a Left-handed crux. I’m tired of being discriminated against for that. I assume you all know what the R is for.

More info coming as soon as I make it up.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Smith Rock

Way behind on getting these posted. Erik Pallister and I did a trip to Smith in mid March where we hooked up with several Missoula climbers. We had great weather. It was even too warm in the sun a couple of days, sending us seeking shade in the Aggro Gully. Here's a sampling of pictures from the trip. You can see more images on Sam's blog.


In the Aggro Gully, Toxic in the background.

Erik earning his PBR, flashing Up For Grabs (11d).

Local beta, eat breakfast here. Just down the road in Redmond.

Cool Missoula climbers.

Even cooler Missoula Portland climbers.

They look just like ants...

Rest day in Bend.

Okay, so maybe the Tick Farm isn't as crowded as Morning Glory.

June and her new friend Paige Claassen. Claassen repeated To Bolt a few days later.

More beta. Save 10 minutes with the Rufus cutoff to/from the Gorge.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Danger Mouse Video

Ken working Danger Mouse
 Dane Scott photo 

Dane, Ken and Scott took advantage of a gorgeous spring day Friday and headed up to the North Rim. We had the drill with us and in between climbs did some improvement on a couple of routes.


This is the 10a located left of No Drama Obama on the upper tier. Snaggletooth is actually the first route we bolted at the North Rim. We'd left it such that you have to place a couple pieces of gear between the first and second bolt. Yesterday we added two bolts above the first, allowing the climb to be done without gear. Be sure to take 2 or 3 runners to avoid rope drag.

Proof of Concept

We bolted a direct start to Proof that starts just left of QED before the little rock step that leads to the Upper Tier. This adds about 25 feet of 5.9-ish climbing and lengthens the climb to just shy of 35 meters. Read: be sure to bring your 70m. Most importantly, the direct start straightens the route and reduces rope drag that occurred when starting beneath Obama. We ran out of battery before we could finish the first new bolt off the ground. You can easily get to the second if you traverse in from the left. Otherwise, we'll have that first one installed within a week or so.

Danger Mouse

On a sending note, Scott Goodwin got the first repeat of the new Little Heroes route Danger Mouse, following Dane's first ascent a week ago. Here's a video Ken captured on his phone. The route is in the low 5.12 range. As always, we encourage others to get on it and give us their thoughts.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Local Hang

worth a thousand words

photo: Tim Karst Collection

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Closer Than Spain

By Dane Scott 
Photos: Dane Scott, John Gogas Collection

This winter Missoula climbers have been traveling around the west to find some warm climbing. A group of Mill Creek Old Dudes headed down to Cochise Stronghold to get in touch with their trad roots on desert granite. A bunch of Freestone Bouldering Boys grabbed a cheap flight to Las Vegas to test their skills on Red Rock sandstone. And, hard-men Ken and Erik met up with Missoula expats, Brendon and Sam at Smith Rocks for a few days of warm climbing on volcanic tuff. Cochise Stronghold, Red Rocks, J Tree, Smith, Bishop and Moab are some of the common places those of us in the land of the Northern Lights escape to during the winter. However, in late February I was introduced to a piece of sunny Spanish sport climbing accidentally misplaced in an obscure corner of southern New Mexico near the west Texas boarder.

Native Missoulian, John Gogas's career as a geophysicist landed him in the apparent climbing nether region of Midland, Texas. But he and his wife Carol have made the most of it. After pioneering Hueco Tanks with the likes of Todd Skinner, Scott Milton and Fred Nicole, they discovered and developed some of the best sport climbing in North America, located 3 hours from Midland in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. Taking advantage of a recent business trip to San Antonio, I was able to connect with John to sample firsthand the climbing he and Carol and a strong group of friends have developed at Sitting Bull Falls and Last Chance Canyon.

By driving to Spokane I was able to get a 3-way flight that stopped in El Paso for around $300 on Southwest Airlines. If you're willing to drive over Lookout Pass in the winter, the inexpensive tickets on Southwest make El Paso reasonably accessible from Missoula. From the El Paso Airport it is about a 3-hour drive to Last Chance Canyon and Sitting Bull Falls. These climbing areas in the Lincoln National Forest, are located near Queen, NM, which exists more on the map than in reality, 1 hour from the city of Carlsbad. Carlsbad is not much to look at, but it has a great coffee shop, Texas BBQ, and by some strange accident of history, Chinese Buffets on just about every corner. The drive from El Paso takes you past Hueco Tanks (best bouldering on the planet, according to Fred Nicole), Guadeloupe National Park, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a cool place (figuratively and literally) for a rest day.

After driving up from El Paso, I spent the night near Carlsbad Caverns, before meeting up with John at the entrance to Sitting Bulls Falls State Park the next day. John and Carol developed all but one of the routes at this unique and beautiful climbing area. The routes are on some of the best stone around: super steep, interesting and hard. There are some big league climbs here. It is a small area, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. In Mountain Project's comments section for this crag, none other than Jonathan Siegrist comments: "This is an AWESOME little crag. Go there." Who am I to argue?

The following 2 days John showed me around Last Chance Canyon. The climbing is full-on power/endurance as you climb out steep caves and overhangs on mostly large, friendly holds. John, Carol and their friends have done a fantastic job cleaning and equipping these routes. We spent the majority of our time at the amazing Solstice Cave. Kevin Wilkinson, who is presently applying his craft at Ten Sleep, originally equipped the cave several years ago. John got on a wild 13b that starts in the back of the cave and climbs past 15 bolts to the lip. There are 7 or 8 climbs ranging from 12a to 13d. Be warned, this is characteristic of Last Chance. While there are good climbs at lower grades, the best climbing starts around 12a and there are loads of four-star routes in the 12a to 13b range on numerous cliffs facing all aspects. It is easy to find something out of the sun or wind if you know the canyon. This gives Last Chance a much longer climbing season than one would expect. As for me, after a winter in Freestone I had the power but not the endurance. I plan to go back in the fall to complete some unfinished business.

If Sitting Bull Falls and Last Chance Canyon were anywhere near a climbing population center they would be swarming with sport climbers seeking a taste of Cataluyna in North America. Last Chance Canyon is an obscure outpost of American climbing, but it is closer than Spain. Well done John and Carol.

Counting Coup

Swept Away - John & Carol Gogas

Flamer Solstice