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Cowen Cirque

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Montana Centennial Route T 
Northeast Arete T 
Passive-Aggressive Disorder T 
Standard Route, The T 
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Cowen Cirque Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 11,206'
Page Views: 10,865
Administrators: grk10vq, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Ian Cavanaugh on Sep 6, 2010

50° | 31°

55° | 36°

60° | 36°

63° | 38°

65° | 39°

69° | 41°
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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.

Getting There 

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

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Cowen Cirque:
Northeast Arete   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 1000'   
Montana Centennial Route   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1600'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Cowen Cirque

Featured Route For Cowen Cirque
Rock Climbing Photo: This is Kyle Christenson approaching the base of t...

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

Photos of Cowen Cirque Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Cowan and the pot hole lake below. The standar...
BETA PHOTO: Mt. Cowan and the pot hole lake below. The standar...
Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching the NE Ridge of Mount Cowen.
Approaching the NE Ridge of Mount Cowen.

Comments on Cowen Cirque Add Comment
Show which comments
By IJMayer
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: Wymont Kingdom
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.

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