Friday, September 12, 2008

Montana Trip

With a 5-day break from survival training in Washington, I drove to Missoula, Montana to meet up with Nolan Lamb and do some climbing.  We spent 3 days climbing and camping in Blodgett Canyon in the Bitterroot Mountains.

Day 1: SW Face of Flathead Buttress (IV 5.10)

The formation on the left is Flathead.  The one on the right is Shoshone Spire, which we did the following day.

A couple of miles from the car, the 3 quarts of water we're carrying seems like a good idea.  Light is right.

The brutal scree fields lead to the base.  In the above photo, the car is parked down canyon where the shade meets the sunlight.

Nolan battles the physical first few pitches.  This is where we realize that 3 liters of water is NOT enough for a Grade IV route.

Summit photos rock.

We have to rappel that?  Five low-angle, 200-foot rappels put us on steep scree and into thorn bushes.  Resisting a drink from the giardia-infested clear stream, we slog the 3 miles back to the car, drink mucho agua, and make a trip to town for the best Gatorade I've ever had.

Day 2: Shoshone Spire (III 5.8+)

Nolan leads the introductory pitches.  The climbing got really fantastic on the face above the big ledge.

Route finding in Blodgett Canyon is challenging and the guidebook gives only tidbits of beta.

Nolan smiles as he follows the best pitches of the route, but he really wishes he could have led that block of the route.  As any good local would, he let me lead the most superb pitches.

Summit photos.  Flathead Buttress, our Day 1 objective, can be seen in the background.

Day 3: Parking Lot Wall

The idea was to sport climb, but these routes were spicy and the approach was brutal.  We did an incredible 140-ft 5.10c that reminds me of Labor of Love at Lover's Leap, CA.

No cell phones at the crag!  Well, unless the house is flooding in Texas.

Notice the smoke in the background.  A huge wildfire filled the canyon with smoke.  We bailed for some cragging in Kottenai Canyon followed by a shower and a salmon dinner.

Other Montana photos


Snowkiting Colorado said...


Melanie said...

I am so floored by the photos on your blog! Thanks for sharing. Cassy, I have been meaning to get in touch with you and see how the school year is going! We will have y'all over soon if y'all aren't too busy.

Jessica Domitrovich said...

Luc, Missoula is my hometown and Chris and I got married in Hamilton which is near Blodgett Canyon. Hope you loved your time in beautiful Montana!!

Luc and Cassy Gruenther said...


I didn't know you were from Missoula. I loved it when I was there over the summer, but it must be COLD this time of year.