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My Moms Muscle Shirt

5.10+, Trad, 900 ft, 8 pitches, Grade IV,  Avg: 4 from 22 votes
FA: FA: Mark Everingham and Tom Ballard, 1971 FFA: Tom Ballard and Alex Lowe, 1979
Montana > Northwest Region > Blodgett Canyon > Flathead Buttress


Also known as the South Face Route. An all around excellent line in an amazing location. A Blodgett testpiece.

Start at rock pile on large grassy ledge.

P1: Climb less than ideal rock for a short ways, veering right, then ascend excellent large left facing dihedral, reaching a nice ledge with 2 bolts. (5.10a, 100')

P2: Climb through overhang on right side of ledge, then up chimney. From good stance on top of the chimney, follow thin, flaring crack, past a bolt up high to large ledge and traverse left on ledge to 2 bolt anchor. Small/Micro nuts useful. (5.10a, 120')

P3: Traverse left along ledge for 60', past 1/4" bolt, and then down large chimney to stance with a 2 bolt anchor. (5.4, 85').

P4: Move right and up from belay, then left along ledge, which slopes down, to a large horizontal flake. Hand traverse up and left to excellent vertical finger crack. From ledge at top of finger crack, follow easy, slightly winding terrain and make belay (1 rusty pin available) near the base of the large sloping OW. (5.10a, 100')

P5: Climb long, easy dihedral with 4.5" OW crack on left (Some might want a #5 Camalot for added comfort on this pitch, but it isn't totally necessary - you can get lots of supplemental gear in cracks against the left wall and there is at least one chockstone that can be slung. Both times I've lead this pitch I didn't place anything bigger than a #3). Make belay on nice, small ledge below roofs, above small dead tree (which may not be around much longer). (5.9, 180')

P6: Start up and left through easy roof with excellent hand jams and great feet below. Continue up through more strenuous 2nd roof (big hand jams), and tricky section just above (past a 1/4" bolt). Continue over more moderate ground to small belay ledge below left leaning crack and dihedral. (5.10+, 110').

P7: From belay, start up left facing dihedral and then move left into tricky left slanting crack. Continue up, and then move right when difficulty eases up. (NOTE: From here there are many possible variations on how to finish P7 & P8. The way I did was by going about 120' on P7 and belaying on a large ledge 20' left and around a corner from a large, healthy pine tree) (5.10c, 120')

P8: Again many ways to do this, I traversed right to the pine tree, then up easy ground to summit (not quite true summit), topping out just right of a very large but dead tree. (5.9-, 85')


Hike about 1.9 miles down the main trail from the parking lot. Cross the creek on 2 large trees that are visible from the trail, in front of Shoshone Buttress, where the main trail veers slightly left and starts going uphill. From here, hike up scree, past a waterfall, and traverse the base of Shoshone, passing directly underneath the start of the South Face of Shoshone route. Keep skirting the west face of Shoshone for another 100 yards and then cut left across the gully, and up a small talus field towards Flathead. Watch for a small cairn indicating the trail that goes left up the SE shoulder of Flathead, to the main ledge at the base. A small rock pile (hardly a cairn) marks the start of the route.

On the descent, go back and to the right (NW corner of the top out ledge, about 50' below and 100' E of main summit) and double rope rappel off the large tree. There are many rappel routes from here, all utilizing trees. Make 3-4 raps to a very large flat area. (If you want to put new webbing on all the raps, you'll probably want 25+ feet). Continue by walking/scrambling down some scree and small ledges (you'll want real shoes), until you reenter the scree field with the cairn used on the approach.

Alternate descent: It is possible to rap down the middle of the face using anchors from the Pierce Route/Space Cat/Afterbuner. There are anchors on P8 up and right from the healthy pine tree. From those anchors make 5 or so double rope rappels (some of them angle west significantly) back to the start of the route. Bring new webbing and a knife to remove the old tat.


We took a double rack, from Purple TCUs to #3 Camalots, 1 #4 Camalot, nuts, micro nuts, and about 8 shoulder length slings and 2 double length slings. (Some may want a larger cam, see P5 details)

With one 70+ meter rope, you might be able to Macgyver your way down, but I wouldn't count on it. Bring 2 ropes for the rappels.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Photo Route Overlay: My Moms Muscle Shirt.
[Hide Photo] Photo Route Overlay: My Moms Muscle Shirt.
Flathead Buttress
[Hide Photo] Flathead Buttress
Rap 1 (3 raps with double ropes).
[Hide Photo] Rap 1 (3 raps with double ropes).
Pitch 8. Choose your own adventure. This is the way I went.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 8. Choose your own adventure. This is the way I went.
Tricky left-trending crack on Pitch 7.
[Hide Photo] Tricky left-trending crack on Pitch 7.
Start of Pitch 6.
[Hide Photo] Start of Pitch 6.
Pitch 5.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 5.
Flathead in winter, the route mainly follows the large weakness in the center right of the buttress.
[Hide Photo] Flathead in winter, the route mainly follows the large weakness in the center right of the buttress.
Photo Route Overlay: My Moms Muscle Shirt.
[Hide Photo] Photo Route Overlay: My Moms Muscle Shirt.
The first three pitches have bolted anchors. After that, it's all gear anchors.
[Hide Photo] The first three pitches have bolted anchors. After that, it's all gear anchors.
Flaring cracks on Pitch 2.
[Hide Photo] Flaring cracks on Pitch 2.
Chimney on Pitch 2.
[Hide Photo] Chimney on Pitch 2.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Josh Kornish
[Hide Comment] The wide pitch is long but really low key. There's plenty of smaller pro on the pitch. I'd say that instead of bringing a #5 bring some longer slings and girth hitch the chockstones. Nov 5, 2012
earl mcalister
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] We brought a double rack to 3 inches with a new 4 and an old 4. The old 4 worked well for the 5.9 widepitch and can be bumped up with you. We appreciated the new 4 on the crux roof pitch. #4 and 5 brass offsets were nice for the .9+ 2nd pitch. Excellent crack climbing the whole route. It took 5 rappels to get down. 2 of these required two ropes. Long day but well worth it. Jun 19, 2013
Matt Scheidt
[Hide Comment] Does anyone have a topo for this route?? Aug 28, 2013
[Hide Comment] Hey,
A few thoughts. One can bail from the third pitch belay bolts after making the 5.0 traverse. Two ropes are needed. There is an excellent mixed 5.12 single pitch that leads up to this Rap station. Start at base of evergreen tree 100' left of MMMS start. The name of the pitch is "Exploding Tick" and is a full rope length to anchors. I can provide more info if anyone is interested. This is the most direct route up my moms muscle shirt and is highly recommended.

The 5.8 OW ramp pitch can be protected with side cracks and features.

There is an excellent 5.11 variation called The Peirce Route. After leading wide 5.8 OW get to sandy belay alcove below obvious left facing corner of My Moms Muscle Shirt and traverse right to belay stance below 5.11 finger crack. Fire up crack then traverse right on black dike(heady)and then a very short down climb to small exposed belay ledge(70'?). Next 5.11 pitch is obvious left facing corner to 5.10 roofs. Wandering top out(5.9).

Believe I have a hand drawn topo if anyone is interested. Jan 23, 2017