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Mill Creek

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Mill Creek Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 5,146'
Location: 46.3104, -114.23969 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 5,974
Administrators: grk10vq, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: petercaracciolo on Feb 14, 2016
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Mill Creek from the Bitterroot Valley


Mill Creek proper is an incredible alpine multi-pitch traditional crag. Beyond the North Rim Crags, the walls of Mill Creek grow to well over 1000'. As the wall rises taller, the features grow larger, with amazing dihedrals, roofs, and over-hanging cracks looming above.

Just as with climbing in the North Rim, the larger walls are all south facing, offering year-round climbing potential. Storms roll in very quickly from up-canyon and can shut down climbing in any month of the year. Moderate temperatures can be found from early fall to late spring, and occasionally throughout the summer. May and June are Tick season, and yes, it's bad! Routes have been established in every month of the year, taking advantage of short weather windows.

The rock is, for the large part, very good. However, loose blocks and flakes do exist, especially in the larger corner systems. Expect quality alpine granite, lots of lichen, some dirt on the holds, and an occasional bush in the way.

The climbing in Mill Creek proper offers a wide range of style and difficulty. With multi-pitch routes from 5.7 to 5.12+, there is a great adventure for most any climber in Mill. Don't expect to share a crowded route, but rather, possibly having the upper drainage to yourself.

The majority of new route development has been done in a ground-up style, with most bolts being placed on lead. And so, expect the face climbing pitches to be quite sporty, with mixed protection. The gear is very good. Anchors are all bolted. Carry webbing or cord to replace worn tat and please leave biners/rings/quick links at the anchors. Hardware is not cheap. Most routes can be rapped from any point with two 60m ropes.

Mill Creek climbing should be considered quite serious, with many pitches of PG-13 nature. Pitches that are of an R or DFU rating will be noted. All climbs should be undertaken in a 'first ascent' mindset, as routes are still fresh and cleaning up. Come prepared for alpine rock climbing.

Getting There 

The Mill Creek drainage sits north of Hamilton, MT in the Bitterroot Valley. There are two ways to approach Mill Creek, depending on what part of the wall you will be climbing on.

Mill Creek Approach:
-Head south from Missoula on highway 93 for about 35 miles
-Turn right onto Dutch Hill Rd and follow it to the T
-At the T, take a left onto Bowman road.
-In about a quarter mile, turn right onto Mill Creek Trail Rd
-Follow to the parking lot and trailhead.
-Take the trail out of the parking lot for about 1.5 miles until you reach the bridge crossing the creek on the right. Cross the bridge
-Continue on trail to the left, up canyon, for about another 1.5 miles. You will come upon a large, flat rock on the left, marking the start of the climbers trail.
-Head up the hill to the right on the climbers trail into the scree, winding your way to the top of the hill.
-From here, follow route specific approach details.

North Rim Approach:
-Head south from Missoula on highway 93 towards Hamilton
-Turn right onto Sheafman Creek Rd at mile marker 54
-Follow Sheafman Creek for one mile and then through a sharp, down hill left turn.
-Continue on the road for a few miles, through a sharp right hand turn until you reach the stop sign and large sign for Pinesdale.
-Turn left at the stop sign and drive through Pinesdale
-At not quite a mile, turn right onto West Cow Creek Rd. Please drive slow through the homes.
-Park at the gate and hike the road to the first hairpin corner.
-The trail takes off here, heading through the trees and deep into a small drainage.
-Follow the trail back out of the drainage and around the burned hillside for approximately 200 yards.
-Look for a climbers trails, sometimes marked with a cairn, taking off up the hill.
-Follow the trail for about 3/4 of a mile to the North Rim climbs.
-Rather than going right and up the small, steep hill to the North Rim, continue straight up canyon on the climbers trail that eventually follows the base of the wall.
-Follow route specific approach details from here

Climbing Season

For the All Locations area.

Weather station 6.3 miles from here

6 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',2],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Mill Creek

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Mill Creek:
The Awakening Wall   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b R     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'   The Great Awakening Wall
The Twilight Tower/Boner Jamz Extension    5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a PG13     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 500'   Upper Tier : Eagle's Head Buttress
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Mill Creek

Featured Route For Mill Creek
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo Topo

Pulp Friction 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Montana : Mill Creek : ... : The Stranger than Friction ...
Pulp Friction is a grade III traditional route. 750′ feet of steep, featured climbing on high quality rock makes this route a Bitterroot classic. Pitch 4 climbs into one of Mill Creek's nicest corners. Anchors through pitch 4 are bolted. Please carry extra webbing to replace weathered anchors. Please leave quick links and lockers! Pitch 1-(5.9) Climb the delicate face up and right of the belay bolt. Climb to an obvious #5 placement and pull the bulge into a corner system. Climb crack a...[more]   Browse More Classics in Montana

Comments on Mill Creek Add Comment
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By ricktorre Torre
May 30, 2017
there are continuing concerns about the eagle nest on the north rim,located close to the cliff edge between the north rim tick farm area,climbs on the pie and east diehedrals wall,and the classic no sweat arete.climbers descending from these climbs can avoid this nest site by keeping away from the rim .check the old closure for exact location.climbers should be aware the nest is under constant observation from individuals who are looking for real impacts,so they neednt manufacture fake evidence or continue thier vandalism.these hipocrites arent above faking photos and planting fake evidence and one reason bitteroot locals limited thier activity in this wonderful canyon
By ricktorre Torre
Jul 24, 2017
randall green's falcon guide describes climbs on the pro/gray wall.check the aacj for descriptions of several grade iv climbs futher up canyon.

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