Type: Trad, 1400 ft (424 m), 12 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Sam Lightner, Mike Lilygren, Shep Vail
Page Views: 2,553 total · 94/month
Shared By: Sam Lightner, Jr. on Sep 8, 2021
Admins: Mike Snyder, Taylor Spiegelberg, Jake Dickerson

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Description Suggest change

Colters Rib is a continuous line of fun rock climbing on low angle but very high quality stone. Foreshortening makes this not look like a big endeavor, but don't be fooled: you will likely spend 2.5-3 hours just rappelling the route. It’s a big day.

 The route ascends 1400 feet of Madison limestone and is protected, mostly, by bolts. The F.A. was done without cams, but you might want a set from .4 to 3 friend. Also, a couple long slings and ten quickdraws are necessary. Obviously you need more draws if you intend to link pitches, which is easy to do. All protection is stainless steel and should last a very long time in this environment. The anchors, all half inch 5-piece bolts, are set up in French Style and do not need equalization. The entire route can be climbed and rappelled with a 70 meter rope, but pay attention to the ends. 

 The name is tied to the interesting history of the area. In the winter of 1807-8, John Colter trekked south from near Billings, passing below the route and into Clarks Fork Canyon. As far as we can tell, this made him the first member of the white tribe to enter Wyoming. His trek took him south into the Wind River Valley, over Togwotee Pass and thus past the Tetons, and into Idaho, before turning north and passing back out of Yellowstone just north of this massive. Again, in winter, and with a 35 pound pack in dangerous territory. It could be compared to the great treks to the poles in bravery and endurance. Because he likely camped below the massif, we named this route and the associated spire after him. For more on Colter I recommend Wyoming: A History of the American West.

IMPORTANT: The route is anchored so that it can be descended on a 70 meter rope (Not a 68 meter rope!). However, many of those rappels will go right to the end of your rope on an open face. Always tie knots. All bolts are stainless steel and should last at least half a century. Experienced parties should take a crescent wrench to possibly tighten up some anchors as stainless can loosen up over time (don't over tighten).

Find the start in a gulley roughly 10 meters left of the prominent (left) white streak. The route passes over a small roof about 25 feet from the ground.

P1 = Climb  over the right side of a small roof and continue past 6 bolts for about 30 meters. 

P2 = Crux. Just above the belay tackle a headwall clipping a coulple bolts for protection. The route then moves onto a slab and gets substantially easier. 5.10c, 30m

p3=This is a 40 meter pitch with a rappel anchor part way. Its easiest when ascending to just clip that anchor and move on to the ledge above. There is a little weak rock near the top of the pitch. 5.8, 40m

p4= Pass two roofs on the slab. Excellent stone. 5.10a, 6bolts, 33m

p5= climb on good features for 30m past 6 bolts. 5.7

p6= easier ground. 5.6, 33 m, 4 bolts

p7= follow a distinct dihedral for much of the pitch. gear placements if yo need them can be found. 7 bolts in 33m

p8= easy for the most part. Only 3 bolts, 33m

p9= The runnel Pitch. Climb the runnels like cracks. They take cams.  Amazing rock. 5.9, 6 bolts, and 33m

p10=Very easy except one move. 5.8, 20m, 3 bolts

p11= climb up and slightly left to a tree. Easily linked with p12. 5.5, 4 bolts, 20 m

p12= continue up and right on the slab to an anchor just below the trees. 5.7, 4 bolts, 20 meters. 

If needed, there is a good bivy site about 100 feet from the toip of the 5th class climbing. 


Descend by rappelling the route. Some of the rappels use all of a 70 meter rope so tie knots in your ends. Don't forget about the added anchor for a single rope users on pitch 3. YOU DO NOT NEED TO ADD CORD OR WEBBING TO EQUALIZE THESE ANCHORS! These are inline rappel anchors... the redundancy is built into each individual anchor and the fact that there are two (one above the other). You don't need to equalize something that is 4X as strong as your rope. 

Location Suggest change

Find the start in a gulley roughly 10 meters left of the prominent (left) white streak. The route passes over a small roof about 25 feet from the ground.

Protection Suggest change

Ten quickdraws, a couple slings, and perhaps a few cams if the grades are near your limit. A 70 meter rope or longer is needed as a 60 does not reach. Despite how inviting it might seem, this should not be your first lead "outside" no matter what grade you climb at "inside."