Cowen Cirque Rock Climbing
BETA PHOTO: The gully you need to climb to get up to Mt. Cowen...
Cowen Cirque includes Mt Cowen (11,206) along with many other satellite peaks in the area including, Eenie, Minnie, Miney, Moe, Fire Spire (Black Spire), and The Thunder Dome. This is a popular area as it is the highest peak in the Absaroka Range. The rock in the area is granite/gneiss and is of very high quality. Many of the routes are long and exposed, so make sure you have a bail plan if an evening thunder storm rolls in.
Head south on highway 89 for Livingston. Take a left at Pray exit, crossing the Yellowstone river and East River Road. You are now are Mill Creek Road, which will turn to gravel after a few miles. Take a left at East Mill Creek Road and park at the Elbow Lake Trailhead. From here you will hike on a not so easy trail up 3,500 feet of elevation to Elbow Lake. The trail to the lake is 9 miles, so plan accordingly. 4-5 hours is usually required.
Climbing Season For the Paradise Valley area.
Weather station 3.4 miles from here
4 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',2],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Cowen Cirque
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Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Cowen Cirque:
Featured Route For Cowen Cirque
Montana Centennial Route 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Montana
: Paradise Valley
: Cowen Cirque
This 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 diffic...[more] Browse More Classics in Montana
BETA PHOTO: Mt. Cowan and the pot hole lake below. The standar...
Approaching the NE Ridge of Mount Cowen.
From: Bellingham, WA
Jun 2, 2013
Could anyone provide a vague idea of when the routes on Mt. Cowen would be dry? Hoping to do the standard route and the West Ridge of Mt. Cowen thus summer.
By Nick Stayner
From: Billings, MT
Jun 3, 2013
mid July-August would be a good bet.
By K. Zombro
Oct 10, 2015
Regarding alpine excursions, be very careful of the avalanche prone southwest slabs where the switchbacks begin. The cirque is remote which attributes to the relative danger given scrappy conditions but offers a vast amount of alpine routes and great sheltered areas for camping.