Elevation: 5,146 ft
GPS: 46.31, -114.24 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 19,317 total · 304/month
Shared By: Peter Caracciolo on Feb 14, 2016
Admins: GRK, Zach Wahrer


Mill Creek proper is an incredible alpine multi-pitch traditional crag. Beyond the North Rim Crags, the walls of Mill Creek grow to well over 1000'. As the wall rises taller, the features grow larger, with amazing dihedrals, roofs, and over-hanging cracks looming above.

Just as with climbing in the North Rim, the larger walls are all south facing, offering year-round climbing potential. Storms roll in very quickly from up-canyon and can shut down climbing in any month of the year. Moderate temperatures can be found from early fall to late spring, and occasionally throughout the summer. May and June are Tick season, and yes, it's bad! Routes have been established in every month of the year, taking advantage of short weather windows.

The rock is, for the large part, very good. However, loose blocks and flakes do exist, especially in the larger corner systems. Expect quality alpine granite, lots of lichen, some dirt on the holds, and an occasional bush in the way.

The climbing in Mill Creek proper offers a wide range of style and difficulty. With multi-pitch routes from 5.7 to 5.12+, there is a great adventure for most any climber in Mill. Don't expect to share a crowded route, but rather, possibly having the upper drainage to yourself.

The majority of new route development has been done in a ground-up style, with most bolts being placed on lead. And so, expect the face climbing pitches to be quite sporty, with mixed protection. The gear is very good. Anchors are all bolted. Carry webbing or cord to replace worn tat and please leave biners/rings/quick links at the anchors. Hardware is not cheap. Most routes can be rapped from any point with two 60m ropes.

Mill Creek climbing should be considered quite serious, with many pitches of PG-13 nature. Pitches that are of an R or DFU rating will be noted. All climbs should be undertaken in a 'first ascent' mindset, as routes are still fresh and cleaning up. Come prepared for alpine rock climbing.

Getting There

The Mill Creek drainage sits north of Hamilton, MT in the Bitterroot Valley. There are two ways to approach Mill Creek, depending on what part of the wall you will be climbing on.

Mill Creek Approach:
-Head south from Missoula on highway 93 for about 35 miles
-Turn right onto Dutch Hill Rd and follow it to the T
-At the T, take a left onto Bowman road.
-In about a quarter mile, turn right onto Mill Creek Trail Rd
-Follow to the parking lot and trailhead.
-Take the trail out of the parking lot for about 1.5 miles until you reach the bridge crossing the creek on the right. Cross the bridge
-Continue on trail to the left, up canyon, for about another 1.5 miles. You will come upon a large, flat rock on the left, marking the start of the climbers trail.
-Head up the hill to the right on the climbers trail into the scree, winding your way to the top of the hill.
-From here, follow route specific approach details.

North Rim Approach:
-Head south from Missoula on highway 93 towards Hamilton
-Turn right onto Sheafman Creek Rd at mile marker 54
-Follow Sheafman Creek for one mile and then through a sharp, down hill left turn.
-Continue on the road for a few miles, through a sharp right hand turn until you reach the stop sign and large sign for Pinesdale.
-Turn left at the stop sign and drive through Pinesdale
-At not quite a mile, turn right onto West Cow Creek Rd. Please drive slow through the homes.
-Park at the gate and hike the road to the first hairpin corner.
-The trail takes off here, heading through the trees and deep into a small drainage.
-Follow the trail back out of the drainage and around the burned hillside for approximately 200 yards.
-Look for a climbers trails, sometimes marked with a cairn, taking off up the hill.
-Follow the trail for about 3/4 of a mile to the North Rim climbs.
-Rather than going right and up the small, steep hill to the North Rim, continue straight up canyon on the climbers trail that eventually follows the base of the wall.
-Follow route specific approach details from here

7 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Mill Creek

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