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Elevation: 4,367 ft
GPS: 46.65001, -111.59471
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Shared By: The Morse-Bradys on Feb 1, 2013 · Updates
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Description Suggest change

The Big Belt Mountains are a range east of Canyon Ferry Reservoir outside of Helena. The range runs from southwest of Great Falls to the Northern Bridgers. The central and northern portions of the range (north of Highway 12, between Townsend and White Sulphur Springs) hold the most interesting features from a climber's perspective. In particular, the canyons on the western side have abundant limestone outcrops and cliffs, and some of the rock is even good quality. Given the sometimes friable nature of the rock, most routes are bolt protected, although some mixed and trad routes have been established. Helmets are a good idea, particularly on newly established climbs that have not cleaned up, and in the spring, when loose rock created by the freeze-thaw cycle may be exfoliating.

Beaver Creek, Trout Creek, Hellgate Gulch, and Avalanche Gulch have the most developed climbing, ranging from short single pitch routes next to the road, to multipitch lines in the back country. Many of the routes can be found in guide books like the 1995 "The Rock Climbers Guide to Montana", the more recent but out of print "Central Montana Rock", and the recently published, "The Big Empty". Plenty of climbs are not in these publications or on Mountain Project, so climbers should expect to see unlisted routes at most crags. Some have dog tags with the route name and grade hanging on the first bolt (Avalanche Gulch in particular), others are listed on beta sheets available at Stone Tree Climbing Gym in Helena.

With careful route and area selection, it is possible to climb here year-round in all but the most snowy and cold conditions. Winter Wall in Hellgate Canyon is usually pleasant on sunny winter days. In the heat of the summer, it is possible to chase shade in all areas, but areas in upper Beaver Creek and Trout Creek are particularly nice. Many of these areas are also popular with the OHV crowd, and campsites (established and dispersed) can be busy on summer weekends. Hellgate and Avalanche gulches in particular can have a near constant stream of trucks, quads, and dirt bikes. For those seeking a quiet climbing experience, Beaver and Trout both offer the option to climb further away from the road.

Most crags in the range are under an hours drive from Helena, and around two hours from Bozeman. Dispersed camping can be found on the surrounding National Forest lands and developed camp sites are available at the Trout Creek trail-head east of York and in numerous campgrounds on Canyon Ferry Reservoir.

Getting There Suggest change

The northern most areas, Trout and Beaver Creek, are best accessed through Helena and York. From Helena navigate to York Road off of Custer Ave. Drive this northeast to the York Bar and either turn left to Nelson and Beaver Creek or stay straight to get to Trout Creek. Hellgate and Avalanche Gulches can be accessed from Helena or Townsend. From Helena, head east on Canyon Ferry Road off Custer or take the 284 cutoff from Highway 12/287 to get to Canyon Ferry Road. Follow the road over the dam, through the development, and past Magpie Gulch staying on the main road. After the speed limit increases, you should see national forest signs on you left for Hellgate and then Avalanche in around a mile of so.

If you are coming from Townsend, head east on Highway 12, but before you reach the mountains go north on Highway 284. After about 20-30 minutes you should see signs for Avalanche then Hellgate Gulches. You can stay on the road until you reach Jimtown Road near the north end of the reservoir if you are headed to Beaver or Trout Creeks via York, but unless you are making a stop on that side of the lake first, it is probably faster to come through Helena.

113 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Big Belt Mountains

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
 15
Lions, Tigers, and Bears
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 27
Dirty Bird
Sport
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 6
Super Bowl
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 20
Belly Full of Beer
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 14
Serenity Now
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 11
The Fire Spire
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 14
The Gladiator
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 30
Takin' Care of Business
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 15
Blue Collar
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 7
Orange Crush
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 16
Irrational Exuberance
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 7
Redheaded Step Child
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 12
Sea of Choss
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 8
Between Heaven and Hell
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 4
Seventh Circle
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Lions, Tigers, and Bears Avalanche Gulch > Coliseum
 15
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c Sport
Dirty Bird Avalanche Gulch > Blue Collar Wall
 27
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Super Bowl Avalanche Gulch > Africa
 6
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Belly Full of Beer Avalanche Gulch > Blue Collar Wall
 20
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Serenity Now Avalanche Gulch > Bukowski Buttress
 14
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
The Fire Spire Avalanche Gulch > Fire Spire
 11
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
The Gladiator Avalanche Gulch > Coliseum
 14
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Takin' Care of Business Avalanche Gulch > Blue Collar Wall
 30
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Blue Collar Avalanche Gulch > Blue Collar Wall
 15
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Orange Crush Avalanche Gulch > Sunfire Slab
 7
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Irrational Exuberance Hellgate Gulch > Winter Wall
 16
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Redheaded Step Child Hellgate Gulch > Jurassic Rock
 7
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Sea of Choss Hellgate Gulch > Winter Wall
 12
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Between Heaven and Hell Hellgate Gulch > Dante's Wall
 8
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
Seventh Circle Hellgate Gulch > Dante's Wall
 4
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
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