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Routes in Ross Peak

Blue Phoenix S 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
Fellowship Direct (aka The Mothership), The T,S 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Fellowship, The T,S 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13
Trial By Fire S 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13
Elevation: 9,500 ft
GPS: 45.859, -110.953 Google Map · Climbing Map
Page Views: 10,403 total, 127/month
Shared By: Ty Morrison-Heath on Mar 22, 2011
Admins: grk10vq


Sitting at a very high 9000 feet, this is the most striking formation in the range. With only one often repeated line, Ross Peak has seen its fair share of traffic. Its earliest attempts date back to the late 70's by Jack Tackle and Gary Skaar. Development continues and alpine routes are out there, so set aside a full day and check it out.

The Overview

Guthrie Meeker belaying me on the 4th(?) pitch of The Fellowship

Ross Peak is generally known as a somewhat brutal day hike however there are also some very long (>6 pitches) relatively hard alpine mixed routes on the back side. The route development continues to this day so conditions might change from day to day. The easiest route goes at 5.10b and is 9 pitches long to give you an idea for what you are getting into. You are in the shade for most of the day and it can be 95 in town and you can be freezing your ass off on the climbs so take adequate clothing. There is no cell service till the top so rescue is going to take a while to be alerted. The climbs are very secluded and you will probably be the only party on the entire wall. Be careful.

Rock and Routes

The rock type is limestone and is generally of good quality but a few pitches leave something to be desired. A lot of the climbing is sharp slab so bring your non aggressive shoes. Route finding isn't too hard however finding the bases of climbs can sometimes be challenging. A few of the routes top out on the top of Ross Peak so keep in mind anything you bring you will be carrying with you all the way to the top of the climb and hiking down Ross Peak with. There is no water at the base other than an ephemeral snow field so carry all your water in with you.

The Season

This was mid July and notice all the snow still

The season is short and generally starts in mid to late June and ends in early October. Sometimes the snowfield depth can mean the first bolt is 4 foot down from the beginning of the climb.

Getting There

The Drive

Head north on highway 86 out of Bozeman. Drive past Bridger Bowl until you reach the large 90degree turn in the road and take the immediate left at Brackett Creek. Take the leftmost road (South Brackett Creek) and follow up staying right at the one juncture/parking lot area. Drive until you reach a gate on the left side of the road. Park along the side of the road across from the gate.

The Approach

Prepare yourself for the soul sucking approach you are about to endure. Head up towards the saddle for quite a ways on the road but cut right before you reach the top and then hug the base of the mountain. Bikes might not be a bad idea and would shorten the approach/descent considerably. Drop anything you don't want to haul up the mountain with you here. Gain the hellish ridge line wondering why you didn't just go sport climbing today. Continue to hug the foot of the mountain working your way around the peak. Hike up through waist high plants and don't forget the antihistamine. Drop down into the bowl cursing the large boulders that attempt to break your ankle with every step and head towards the apex of the snow field. Most climbs start around here. Expect at least 2-3 hours if you are hiking quickly. Start these climbs early if you don't like hiking down sketchy scree fields looking for small cairns with the potential for getting cliffed out while having a screaming match with your partner about how they shouldn't have drank so much and gotten out to the climb in time. Bring real shoes because the descent is like descending through the 9th gate of hell involving very sharp rock that will shred your feet.

The Descent

Lena Petersen On the Descent

The Author completely losing the plot on the descent

Hopefully you have made it to the top of the climb and peaked out and signed the peak log. Prepare to lose the plot. Look for small cairns that lead you down this chossy mess that is a mountain. When you lose the cairns ( I have yet to descend without losing track of them) just try to aim for the saddle. Watch out for cliffs that can arise rather suddenly and are rather unpleasant to fall off of. When you reach the saddle you can relax and then realize you still have another hour of hiking at least.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Ross Peak

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13
The Fellowship
Trad, Sport, Alpine 9 pitches
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13
Trial By Fire
Sport, Alpine 9 pitches
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
The Fellowship Direct (aka The Mother…
Trad, Sport, Alpine
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
The Fellowship 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13 Trad, Sport, Alpine 9 pitches
Trial By Fire 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13 Sport, Alpine 9 pitches
The Fellowship Direct (aka… 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Trad, Sport, Alpine
More Classic Climbs in Ross Peak »

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season


Fink Fink
Jackson, WY & Bozeman, MT
Fink Fink   Jackson, WY & Bozeman, MT
My Stab at Descent Info

The temptation on the descent is to cut right/downhill too soon. You will see numerous trails branching off too early and heading down various couloirs---feel pity for those poor souls. If you're desperate enough, most of the paths will eventually get your back down to the saddle, albeit with unnecessary amounts of talus, down climbing, or even burning gear for rappels.

From the summit, head ESE along the ridge. After the first 100 yards, you will naturally end up on the right hand side (south) of the ridge. Your goal in this part is to not get suckered into heading down any of the couloirs, all of which will appear to have trails down them. Three of these couloirs will be a distinct reddish/pinkish color--the color of "stop, don't go down me." Over the first quarter mile of walking, you should lose less than 250 feet of elevation. Think of this part as trying to end up on top of the ESE buttress, rather than trying to get down. Another good mental image is that you want to get to where the fall line would take you to the east side of Ross pass, not down a couloir that drains to the west side. There are likely to be cairns along this part. Look for a small notch in the rock at what would be the top of the ESE buttress (many cairns in this area) and roll through it.

Head down the slope/grassy couloir behind it (still heading roughly ESE). After dropping 100--150 ft of elevation, look for cairns and opportunities to turn back right (SW). You should feel like you are lined up decidedly to the east of Ross Pass. You will be standing on top of a wooded knoll and have the option of three couloirs (the middle one will have vertical, 100ft rock walls on each side). Take the right hand option--this will involve cutting down and right (west) across the face for about a hundred feet. Descend this couloir for about 250 vertical feet (I find the skier's right side to be easiest, weaving through trees and larger rocks/slabs). At this point you will come to a small cliff cutting across the couloir and the couloir will appear to hook to the right and open onto a scree slope below. The couloir actually forks here--move skier's left ~40yds (towards a distinctive, prominent spire). This left-hand couloir will get you down safely, but a better option is to actually split the difference and take a narrower couloir/slot halfway in between. Dropping another 200 vertical feet will get you to a dirt climber's trail and a casual stroll back to Ross Pass.

I have added a picture for the area from google earth that shows this route.

We found that taking a picture of Ross Peak from the saddle to use as a reference on the way down to be useful. Alternately, running up the peak on a recon day would be handy but not necessary.

The driving direction descriptions in both Vassilopoulos's and Kalakay/Dockins's guidebooks are also a bit weird. Ty's directions above are much better, although it isn't a gate across the start of the trail (which T's in from the left as you drive in). Instead, there's two large boulders preventing vehicular traffic. Useful to note that this trail is #551. Drive from town took 45 min, and the approach took an additional 2:30 at an efficient (i.e. non-breakneck) pace. I would definitely echo the sentiment that a mountain bike would cut the approach by probably the better part of an hour, as the path to the saddle is derelict double track/ forest service road. Sep 16, 2012
Ty Gittins
Ty Gittins   bozeman
Bikes are awesome for this approach...the one time I have been up there we had bikes and used them to escape a rager t-storm May 15, 2011

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