Category Archives: Tobacco Roots

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.