Montana Centennial Route
Avg: 4 from 10 votes
|Type:||Trad, Alpine, 1600 ft, 12 pitches, Grade IV|
|FA:||Tom Kalakay and Robert Mueller 1989|
|Page Views:||11,455 total, 129/month|
|Shared By:||Ian Cavanaugh on Sep 6, 2010|
DescriptionThis is a must do route for anyone looking for a great alpine experience up some of the best rock in the state. Looking directly across Elbow Lake at Eenie, this route takes the longest line up the face. Upon reaching the base of the wall, there will be a cairn marking the start of the route.
Pitch 1 starts off a corner system to a ledge, where it turns slightly right and follows a moderate crack (5.7) for 150' to a large grassy ledge. This pitch can feel more difficult if wet.
Pitch 2 From the ledge follow a corner system (5.6) up several large steps to a large ledge. You will need to traverse until under the 3rd pitch. The first 2 pitches can be combined with some good rope management and a bit of simu-climbing. Make sure not to start the 3rd pitch too far left.
Pitch 3 will start with a weird squeeze move to a stance marking the start of a right tending hand crack. Follow this crack through a small roof and up a finger crack till another roof is encountered. Step up and over the roof on to a slab face which is a bit run out. This is the crux of the pitch (10a).
Pitch 4 Continue up the face following a small closed seam until you are able to traverse right under a large roof on hollow flakes. Once around the roof, easier climbing follows to a large ledge system below the giant dihedral system. There is another slightly runout section before the ledge, but climbing is easy (5.7).
It is also possible to belay before this section, on top of the large roof. If belaying on large ledge at the start of the dihedral pitch it is possible to combine it into one long 200' pitch, if not it will need to be broken up at a ledge half way up. The first half of this pitch goes at 5.8 and is very fun to climb. The second half is a bit harder (5.9) with interesting gear placement that will make you think all the way up. This pitch ends on a down and right sloping ledge and will require some ingenuity to build a good anchor among all the loose blocks. For the next pitch you will need to head up the ramping ledge until it is possible to turn right and climb up some loose blocks to a good stance and a short finger/hand crack. Continue up and right on easier climbing over short faces and ledges ending at a large ledge and belaying at a large detached block. This marks the start of the crux pitch and the half way point. From here it is easy to bail if you get into trouble with time or weather. It is possible to sling the large block at the start of the 6th pitch and double rope rappel to the 3rd pitch ledge. From here traverse to the right until it is possible to sling another horn for one of the most exciting rappels, 150' of hanging in space as you descend into the couloir between First Buttress and Eenie.
Pitch 6 is the 6th crux pitch is a spectacular hand to finger crack broken up by a large roof and a ledge. Start by climbing on-top of the large block, head up a hand/finger crack to a large roof. Hand traverse the roof to the right, #3 or #4 camalot useful, till possible to climb on ledge to the right. You can belay here in order to reduce rope drag but is not necessary. Continue up a finger crack to another large roof, where it is possible to traverse left into another finger crack. Step up the and through the bulge until it is possible to transfer back right to another finger crack and a fix nut (crux 5.11b). Continue up the crack and face until you reach a large sloping ramp below the Prow, belay here.
Pitch 7 heads straight up the ramp to the corner of the Prow. Rope drag can be bad on this pitch so it is not recommended to place gear until about to turn the corner around the Prow. Once on the backside (north) of the Prow climb 20' up a face and traverse left to a ledge system below a 9th pitch hand crack. It is also possible once around the Prow to continue left, staying low until a thin seam is reached, directly below the ledge and pitch 8. This is a not recommended variation going at 5.10 R/X. The next pitch is one of the best of the route. Start up a finger crack, climbing on top of a large detached flake. Head straight up this amazing left trending hand crack that continues to get steeper the higher you get (10d-11a). Pull over a bulge to the left and continue the face and broken cracks to another ledge. From here a short traverse back right and around will put you onto a nice sloping ledge on top the Prow. Once here there are 2 possibilities: the first is to go up a wide crack on the right (5.8) and make a airy traverse back to the finger crack on the right. The second, which I would recommend, is a great 5.10 variation which heads straight up the finger crack. Right of the ledge a 5.10 move is required to pull over a small bulge and into the finger crack. Once in the crack easier climbing follows (5.8) through the finger crack and a OW with a hand crack in the back. This will lead you to a small ledge and the start of the 11th pitch.
Pitch 11 follows a hand crack in a corner and then up easier 5th class scrambling. Pitch 10 and 11 can also be combined into one pitch but watch for rope drag. From here only moderate 5th class scrambling is required to reach the meadow, which also leads to the true summit if desired. If you have made it this far pat yourself on the back, as you have just completed one of the longest technical routes in Montana. Hopefully you have also made it to the top with a little light to spare, as teams have been forced to bivy here before. The descent is somewhat involved and exposed, so be careful. Start by climbing up the grass field until possible to traverse right. Continue heading right until a very exposed corner is reach, climb up and left over a short face and back down to the grassy ledge. Continue right until finally over the saddle between Eenie and the First Buttress. A short exposed down climb leads to a slung horn for the first rappel requiring 2-60m ropes or a single 70m. After the first rappel to a ledge there are two options, to the climber's right a single 35m rap leads to the descent gully. To the climber's left is another rappel, I do not know if this is possible with a single 70m, but it looks to lead down to the opposite side of the couloir (west) which you do not want to go down. Scramble down the couloir towards a small lake watching out for cliffs as they tend to be everywhere. Once on level ground again head south west and back to Elbow Lake.