Island in the Sky Traverse
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BETA PHOTO: south end descent
There was not much actual climbing on the route, but it was an interesting mix of ridge scrambling and canyoneering with great views of the park. I didn't use the raps, so the hardest part was a bombay chimney boulder problem with a squeeze exit, which I think may be optional.
Paragon Adventures, a local guiding company, rates this route as 5.6, perhaps to justify their services. Courtney Purcell's 5.2 rating is more like it. Red Tape
You'll need to pick up a permit
for the traverse from the park. Route
Starting from Moss Canyon take the ledge system up, trending toward the toe of the buttress and following the path of least resistance. If you have basic mountaineering skills you'll have no problem routefinding. Someone (not mentioning names here) has kindly left tick marks indicating the route, along with unnecessary fixed lines.
Once you gain the ridgeline the route alternates back and forth between a ridge scramble and a canyoneering adventure. I didn't bother to look at the beta, but it wasn't that difficult to figure it out. You're never that deep in the gullies, so just pop out onto one of the ridge domes if you need some navigational assistance. Basically you're heading for the south end of the formation where you'll find an optional rap anchor.
Drop down to the lower tier on the formation and head back toward the north for quite a ways until you can drop down one of the gullies to the base and your car. There are moki steps and a chain 'hand hold' once you get to the correct gully.
It's easiest to leave a car at the West Canyon parking area and walk to the north end of the Island in the Sky formation. Take the Pioneer Names trail along the way if you want to check out the pioneer graffiti on the lower part of Island in the Sky.
A short distance up Moss Canyon you'll notice a worn trail leading through the scrub oak leading to a series of mossy ledges. The route starts here.
Alpine rack and 120' rope for those roping up. Bolted rap anchors present.
looking toward the West Canyon parking lot
another view toward the West Canyon lot
looking down the bombay chimney
looking back at the final slot
one of the canyoneery parts
dihedral with unnecessary fixed line
another short boulder problem
the tunnel at the top of the dihedral
on route to the ridge top
BETA PHOTO: mossy traverse start
view from the south end of the traverse
By Ryan Marsters
Apr 4, 2016
Cool route. I could see hitting this one a few times and finding a different line each time.
The first third is pretty straight forward. The second third requires thought as to which side of the formation to stick to, and the last third mainly involved canyoneering style downclimbing to the SW tip. We ran into one single bolt 20 ft rap about halfway that was downclimbed by shooting through a hole and a couple two bolt raps near the S end that were fairly easy to find a downclimbable line. All in all, difficulty shouldn't exceed the 5.easy and no raps with careful route finding. N Wash style canyoneering skills definitely a plus.
By John Sirois
From: Bozeman, MT
Mar 25, 2017
Thanks for writing this up fossana. This was really fun and the perfect outing for a tight time window. The middle section on top of the formation is a wonderland of oasis connected by fun scrambling and downclimbing the raps is great fun.