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Skyline Arete 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 6 pitches, 500', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Pat Callis, Mickey Schurr, Charles Caughlan &Dougal McCarty - June 1971
Season: late spring through autumn
Page Views: 16,759
Submitted By: Andrew Carson on Apr 4, 2009  with updates from Matt Wenger

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Geoff Heath 'casting' the rope on a windy day, hig...


Skyline Arete is the longest route in the canyon. Sitting high above the river, the route offers fun climbing at a modest grade with sweeping views from comfortable belays. All in all, it's an enjoyable day on good rock.
There are many ways to break up the climb due to plentiful ledges, but basically parties follow the ridge crest, finding an interesting mix of climbing problems including chimneys, slim crests, face, and cracks, with many variations that offer harder climbing. One might choose to run out the rope if the party is experienced, and, alternatively, short pitches can be done to maintain communication and ease rope handling.
A single rope is adequate for completing the route.
Begin climbing on the north side of the initial buttress by ascending a chimney. Continue to a ledge where a rap station allows descent to the south, to the base of another chimney. Climb this enjoyable and somewhat odd feature, involving a narrow squeeze through a hole at the top, or for bigger people or those carrying a pack, climbing out and right. .
Continue up steps and reach a section of short towers which can be passed on the north. Beyond this section is a small notch, and from this point finish left into a strange chimney/corridor, as one alternative.
Scramble across some narrow rock and descend to the north where a faint trail leads to the notch behind the formation, or finish with a short step to the summit. Make an 80' rap to a big ledge. Join the trail back to the bottom.
Many interesting variations can be done so be creative and enjoy a fine outing.


A small selection of stoppers, a few cams to 3", and lots of runners should provide plenty of pro.

Photos of Skyline Arete Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The initial chimney pitch.
The initial chimney pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Nice belay ledges on this one!
Nice belay ledges on this one!
Rock Climbing Photo: Top of pitch 5
Top of pitch 5
Rock Climbing Photo: Is this the P2 chimney? It looks different from th...
BETA PHOTO: Is this the P2 chimney? It looks different from th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Not sure which pitch this is.
Not sure which pitch this is.
Rock Climbing Photo: fun chimney- p2
fun chimney- p2
Rock Climbing Photo: one of the upper steps of skyline
one of the upper steps of skyline

Comments on Skyline Arete Add Comment
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By joelhagan Hagan
From: Rapid City, SD
Jun 17, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Does anybody know the rating for the bolted face variation for pitch 2?
By EChristensen
From: Bozeman
Jun 17, 2009

I'm guessing it's the second pitch of Ithaca Connection, 5.9. I don't have a guide with me so I can't be 100%.
By joelhagan Hagan
From: Rapid City, SD
Jun 23, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

I found it in a guidebook and it is the second pitch of Ithaca Connection. Great pitch, good hands, and thoughtful feet with bolts exactly where you want them.
By Keenan Waeschle
From: Bozeman, MT
Apr 8, 2012

chimney pitch was cool, everything else was pretty mediocre. If I did it again I'd leave the rope at home.

EDIT: drove up the canyon today in between classes partnerless and soloed it twice. way more fun than with the rope, 2nd go took a leisurely 20 minutes. highly recommend going up it alone on a weekday, didn't see anyone.
By IJMayer
From: Bellingham, WA
Jun 2, 2014
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Southwest Montana Climber's Coalition and Montana Conservation Corps worked on the descent trail for the Arete this past weekend. When you top out the climb, walk east (uphill) until you get to another small cliff on your left (just past the eastern most part of the Skyline Buttress). From here, parties USED to turn right (south) and hug the skyline buttress and descend down an awful sandy scree path. INSTEAD, continue east for just 100 feet more and see a new trail on your right (south) that will take you down nice switchbacks all the way to where you went up the small rock step to access p1. Reward all the hard work and use the new descent trail!
By Ben Richard
Sep 1, 2015

I did this route about a month ago, at 6'8" 225lb I got very stuck in the small top out hole at the top of pitch 2. Had to down climb and start dumping all my cams and gear of my harness. Forgot to remove my chalk bag when I went for the second try got extra stuck and down climbing wasn't an option. Took one last push ripped my chalk bag loop off my harness and miraculously got through. The moral of the story, if your thicker just traverse around an extra 2 or 3 moves and don't go through the small Hole!!!!
By Jack Stewart
Mar 25, 2016

I climbed Skyline a couple weeks ago and got a pink tricam stuck on the second pitch, my follower also left a blue Trango Phase biner on the tricam, not a huge loss but if someone grabbed them I would love them back!
By Colin O'Brien
From: Bozeman, MT
May 2, 2016
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

A note on the approach and the pro: The approach is super straightforward, despite the confusing description in both books. Take the trail north (downriver) on the east side of the river from the 35mph bridge. When the trail forks around a mile in, head right past the climbers access sign. Switchback up on the right (south) of 2 major formations and a small bouldering area, and look left until an obvious weakness in the third formation allows you to scramble (3rd class) to the start of the first pitch. You can leave packs here, as the descent trail comes right by this area.

Pro: Single cams from .3-3 and a light rack of nuts, with 8 alpine draws and 2 long slings are more than enough for a leader comfortable at the grade. You could easily drop the 3 and only carry .5-2.
By Corlie Nelson
Aug 22, 2017

Just climbed this route two days ago and it was awesome! Such a great mix of chimneys, face, exposure, the whole works! The rock is very grippy in places where you need it. We didn't go high enough the first day and thought we were at the top of the first buttress. If you don't see a boulder that looks just like a bus, you haven't gone far enough. The first chimney is just as you get on the north side of the arete. There were two keyholes, we did the one on climbers left in the second pitch. At 5'9", 150lbs, I fit through without gear. But I know my husband's shoulders sure wouldn't! We combined the 3rd & 4th pitch and the drag wasn't too bad. On pitch 5, stay north after the traverse until you see the final fin. There you will climb on the south side of it. The descent trail that was redone in 2014 was great, thanks for that! I will be back to do this one again.

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