Category Archives: Tobacco Roots

September Photo Dump – TRoots & Cascade

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to Upper Mason Lake early in September and did a terrific new dyno, the Interplanetary Insanitarium.  While I was up there I noticed that the Lake was way below it’s normal level, which opened up a few new lines on a huge lake side boulder – the Ark.  Unfortunately a thunderstorm was moving in while I was completing the I.I. and I had to cut the day short, hiking out in a drizzle.  Well, that boulder was on my mind the entire week.  In the last few years that I’d been going to the lake I’ve never seen it low at all so I knew I had to take advantage before the snow came in.  I established a couple sweet new problems.  The first, SeqKnar V5, named in honor of Sequoia’s fifth birthday,  should be perfectly dry the vast majority of the time.  The second, Smoke on the Water V2/3, is super classic and will definitely be in the lake during most normal snow seasons.  Smoke on the Water head up great moves on perfect rock to a tough mantel on thin crimps just high enough to make me back off a couple times before screaming my way through it.  Here’s a few photos/screenshots from the day:

the Interplanetary Insanitarium V6 – It’s not too easy to pose a picture of a dyno with a self timed camera, so I’m pretty proud that I got one to work.


Sequoia hanging out by the lake on her fifth b-day.


Figuring out what would become SeqKnar V5 (screenshot)


FA of SeqKnar V5 (screenshot)


FA of Smoke on the Water V2/3 (screenshot)


FA of Smoke on the Water V2/3 (screenshot)

Soaking in the view (screenshot)


I also talked Sarah and Leslie into Cascade Creek for an afternoon instead of sport climbing a couple weeks ago.  I toured them around to the classics and when they left I went for a little jaunt up the hill.  I managed to top out the hill above the boulders.  The whole point was to look for more problems, but that was pretty much a bust.  There’s definitely potential on the way up, but the highest talus field was what was on my mind the whole time and there was absolutely nothing up there that would make me do that hike again.  I did see a moose on top of the ridge so that made it worth the horrible hike.  Photos:

Leslie – Cream V1


Sarah – Peaches V3


Sarah – Peaches V3


Sarah – Peaches V3


Leslie – Peaches V3




Little different view of the Skyline and the upper Gally formations from the top of the ridge above the Cascade boulders.



Cascade & TRoots

We had a great crew up at Cascade last Sunday so I once again have some photos to post up.  Joe and Griffin were in town from SLC for the weekend along with Alex, Ho, Isaac and myself.  We spent the entire day on two of the best boulders Cascade has to offer – the Explosive Boulder and the Haunted Space Mansion.  As usual, everyone crushed:

Joe – Fire in the Hole V4


Griffin – Fire in the Hole V4


Griffin – TNT V7 (3 Points of Contact…)


Joe – TNT V7 (Zero Points of Contact…)


Joe – TNT V7 – Not a great photo, but I love Griffin’s expression.


Ho – FA of Intergalactic Jellyfish V6 – Brilliant Slab!

Alex – Intergalactic Jellyfish V6


Joe – Project

Griffin – Project


Isaac didn’t wear a bright shirt so no action photos. Might as well wear camo…

Besides Cascade, I’ve been getting up to the Tobacco Roots a lot recently too.  I’ve had a few days at North Willow Creek and a few more days at the Mason Lakes.  I put together a short video of two of the best problems I’ve done in the TRoots – the Interplanetary Insanitarium and Stone Cold Crazy.

The I.I. is an amazing one move wonder dyno.  I could barely pull off the ground when I first tried the I.I. in 2010.  Last year I progressed to being able to generate and almost touch the hold you dyno to.  This year when I made it back last month, I was able to get to the hold but didn’t feel too close to sticking it.  I got into a little better shape and succeeded last Saturday.  Definitely one of the best problems I’ve put up!  It was really great to have the multi-year progression on it as well.

The other problem, Stone Cold Crazy, I put up in June while there was still snow.  I mentioned it in this post.  As I suspected, the problem went from safe with snow to highball-jumbled-talus without snow.  This problem would be a very serious endeavor without the safety blanket of snow.  Enjoy!



Lower Mason Lake

Last Saturday I gave Ho, Henry and Jon a tour of some Tobacco Root sweetness.  We went to Lower Mason Lake (just Mason Lake on the USGS Quad maps).  We did a little bit of everything – new stuff, old stuff and even left a few projects for the next trip.  Here’s some photos:

Ho – One Way Ticket to Midnight V2


Henry – FA of Wacky Tobacky Traverse V4-ish


Jon – Arete Project


Jon – Arete Proj


Henry – Arete Proj


Henry – Arete Proj


Ho – Arete Proj


Henry – FA of Sleight of Hand V9


TRoots & some more Ten Sleep

A couple weekends ago I made it out to the Tobacco Roots to check out some potential boulder.  While the Pony fire was raging, I started searching for other options in the TRoots.  The best option I could find was a basin up above South Willow Creek, only a short 3 mile hike from the trailhead.  Easy, right?  While the first mile was a simple uphill hike on a trail, the last two miles was off trail and very nasty.  By the time I hit the boulders, 3 hrs later, the blue skies had turned to overcast and within another hour the clouds turned to a steady rain.  I had just enough time to explore the first boulder field before I had to hide for cover and eventually make the multi-hour trek back in the rain.  The boulders I saw looked pretty good, but I’m not sure if the hike to them was justified.  Worth another exploratory trip – but not anytime soon, too many closer areas.  I forgot my camera so here’s some iPhone photos from the day:

Note big Organic pad for scale


The field I explored.


Hauled the pad around for 8 hours and didn’t even use it…


This last weekend I headed back to Ten Sleep to meet up with the Groseths and do some fantastic sport climbs.  They put up  some great photos and a wrote up a few of their bullet points took place while I was there.  Check it out here.  A few more photos:

Ten Sleep Saloon

Jess – Weight of the World 5.12a


Peder – Team Whiny Baby 5.12c/d (Peder warmed up by onsighting it…)


Rattlesnake!!! Yes, there’s rattlesnakes at Ten Sleep (Whiny Baby Wall)


EC – Cloud Peak Vista Traverse Company 5.11a


EC displaying perfect leg shake form on the Cloud Peak Vista Traverse Company 5.11a


Until next time,



Alright, I know it, I haven’t had a true bouldering post in nearly three months.  That changes now.  Been trying to get into rope climbing shape for an upcoming trip to Ten Sleep, but I’ve managed to get out a few times here and there.  I made it out to Whiskey a couple times before the heat set in and did a few new (some new to me, some new to everyone) moderates.  One, in my opinion, may be the best V3 at Whiskey – the Flying Saucer.  From what I’ve heard, DJAJ and the BCC kids put the problem up a few years ago.  I never heard a name for it, so I’ve just been calling it the Flying Saucer, which is also the name of the impressive boulder it’s on.  For some reason, I’ve put off trying it since then, but I finally did it and it was amazing.  For the grade, it’s about as close to Hueco style climbing as you can get at Whiskey – a few horizontal moves followed by the crux heading up a vertical face to the top.  Here’s a little video I made of the Flying Saucer, along with two other excellent problems I put up in the same general area.  All three are located in the large area south of Whiskey Proper known as Southern Comfort.

Last weekend I made it up to Lower Mason Lake in the Tobacco Roots up from Pony.  Unfortunately, the day after I was there a large wildfire started nearby and has closed down access to the entire area.  As long as the winds don’t change directions drastically, the bouldering isn’t in danger, but there are a bunch of people in nearby Mammoth that have been evacuated.  Hopefully, the weather cooperates and they can get it under control and re-open the roads and trails before the end of the season.

Anyway, I planned ahead and brought the trusty snow shovel with.  I spent the first hour getting re-familiarized with the talus, then got to work on the snow.  I dug out a good landing for a couple problems I eyed one of the last couple years and managed to climb both.  The left line was alright, but the right line (Stone Cold Crazy V4) was a true gem.  Kneebar, toe-hook, crimps, sidepulls – it had a little bit of everything.  I’m really curious how it will be in a month or so without snow.  No idea how deep the snow was, but I’m guessing the sit start I did will turn into a high stand start.  I finished off the day with a few other new ones in the lower talus that didn’t require any snow removal.  All in all, it was a great day in the mountains, in one of my favorites areas in Montana.  It was also a perfect place to beat the heat.  It was still warm in the sun, but climbing over snow in the shade felt great compared to the 90+ degree temps in Bozeman.  Here’s a few photos from the day:

Hollowtop Mtn from Pony

Mason Lake – Most of the bouldering is in the talus field in the right center of the photo.

Stone Cold Crazy is the right side of the iron colored face on the right.

A cool, short roof I did – Novacane

Looking down the talus towards Mason Lake from Stone Cold Crazy.


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.



Some Screenshots

As I mentioned before, I take a lot of video while I’m out bouldering alone.  For one reason or another the majority of the footage doesn’t end up on youtube.  Here’s some screenshots from my video footage from the last year:

Ring of Fire Right V2, FA - Whiskey Gulch, MT (Seq-knar spotting)


Peder's Demise V1 - Whiskey Gulch, MT


Better Eat Your Corndogs V6 - Lost Horse Canyon, MT


Inertia V6 - Whiskey Gulch, MT


the Kind V5 - RMNP, CO


Unnamed V6 - RMNP, CO


Aces High V4, FA - Cascade Creek, MT


Magnum V6 - Cascade Creek, MT

Breakdown V4, FA - Beartooths, MT


Project - Hollowtop Valley (Tobacco Roots), MT


Henry to EC - "WTF?"


Sunny Slab V0, FA - Beartooths, MT


A River Runs Through It V3, FA - Upper Mason Lake (Tobacco Roots), MT


the Topus V5 - Ibex, UT


Squeeze Problem V6 - the Poudre, CO (Full Disclosure - I didn't send...)

And last, but not least… my next post will be from here:

The Land of Milk and Honey - 4 days away.