Impressive Choss

Just about every climber who has driven from Whitehall to Twin Bridges has probably seen the impressive limestone fortress on the west side of the Tobacco Root Mountains, east of the highway.  That cliff and the massive amount of rock nearby has been in the back of my mind for years.  Due to a muscle strain, I have been trying to take it easy and the next best thing to climbing on rock is finding rocks to climb on so I figured I’d check it out up close and personal.

Long story short, it was choss.  The main formation that I’ve always called “the Fortress” didn’t really have any lines of solid rock except maybe and adventure-ish something on the slabby south side (right side in photo below).  I looked at a ton of rock nearby and did find two cliff bands with excellent stone that I would bolt in a heartbeat if they were closer.  It’s about 1hr 45min drive with at least an hour hike to the closest of the two.  The best looking section of rock that I found was literally the farthest spot that I checked out, the cliff band above the Fortress.  Beautiful blue stone with three or four 100′ lines on terrific looking pockets.  But, I don’t think a cliff with four lines and a 3+ hour approach from Bozeman would be too popular.  The other cliff is more of a mystery, which may motivate me to make a return trip with some gear.  I saw it from a few different vantage points, but didn’t actually stand below it, which is the only way to guarantee the quality of the rock.  Maybe someday…

Here’s a few photos:

the Fortress right in the middle of the photo. 200-300′ cliff on the shaded (north) side.

The cliffs from the approach.

A little section of the 200-300′ north face of the Fortress – very impressive choss.

The cliff above the Fortress – not choss.

S’more possible not choss.

Quoia and I taking a break on the way out.

The Tobacco Roots aren’t all choss though.  I did an excellent new problem about a month ago on the other side of the range near North Willow Creek, up from the bustling metropolis of Pony.  Here’s a video of the excellent problem:

FYI:  The name stands for Keep It Simple Stupid.  I spent about 45 minutes trying to figure out the second move matching in the seam, then I figured out I could keep it simple and dyno.  Whenever I heal up there should be more from this excellent little cluster.



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