Climbers' Paradise: A Guide to Get You There

Climbers' Paradise: A Guide to Get You There

Strickland, Tanner
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Kevin Hutchison has given southwestern Montana a gift that keeps on giving, and he humbly calls the guide that opens our eyes to the vast possibilities of climbing in Paradise Valley “a dream realized.” When he began developing areas for sport and trad (traditional, for you non-climbers) climbing around 1994, he didn’t consider land-rights struggles and private-property access problems, mostly because there were so few people encroaching on others’ space. For the past few years, though, resistance has waxed and now waned (some of the efforts have been covered in previous editions of this publication), and now we are able to reap the rewards of Hutchinson’s and others’ struggles by simply getting out of the house and following this new guidebook. Bursting with beta and advice, stuffed with photos, trails, and even a few attempts at Star Wars humor, Hutchison’s guide covers almost every known climbing route between Livingston and Gardiner.

The guide will be available in Bozeman at Northern Lights, Barrel Mountaineering, and Spire Climbing Center; in Livingston at Timber Trails; and farther on down the valley at Chico Hot Springs and the Flying Pig Rafting Company in Gardiner. Priced under $20, the locally printed booklet is sturdy enough to weather more than a few ropes.

Hutchinson reveals a few favorites among the 122 he has recorded. Here are some examples.

“Down near Yankee Jim, there’s a great climb called River Runs Through It. It’s pretty cool because you rappel down and then climb out. When you start, you’re really in kayak country.” To get there, the guide advises approaching from the first pullout south of the Yankee Jim Campground on the west (right) side of the highway. You go “over the guardrail and down trail to top of crag,” rappel down, top-rope up. 5.9, Face, Top Rope, hangers, 40’.

“A classic is ‘More Desire than Fire,’ up Mill Creek.” This area is heavily trafficked and located between the seven- and eight-mile markers on Mill Creek Road. Hutchison writes that the Forest Service tells us to use the Passage/Wallace Trailhead to park and walk to the climbs, which seems like a reasonable request. 5.9+, crack, gear, trad belay, 80’. Laser, wide hands splitter; no wide gear needed for top off-width. Classic MC.

“Down near Allenspur, there’s one, ‘Beachball,’ that I’ve been trying to do for twelve years.” On the Main Crag, access to this climbing area was restricted for years; it’s allowed now, but respectful adherence to the trail is imperative. Get there by parking at Carter’s Bridge Fishing Access parking lot, the first one off of East River Road. Walking down river, pass an open “private property” gate, and then cross a culvert. The guide directs you to “follow the trail east at the twin cairns and cross a field, ending with a switchback to a ‘quarry field.’ Continue east to the cairned trail across the road. DO NOT TRESPASS INTO THE QUARRY!" Staying on the trail from here on out is fairly easy, just traversing south once the switchbacks end, heading down into a gully where the main crag is. 5.13a (?) Face, 6 clips, cold shuts, 50’.
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