Central Montana Rock
The second edition of the most comprehensive guide to Helena’s diverse crags is almost here! Jake and a small army of local climbers have updated this version to include twice as many routes and several significant new areas and color photos. Preorder from Sharp End Publishing, digital edition is live now! Your support benefits your local crags.
Though we are centrally located and can easily access much of the climbing in Montana, HCC is primarily focused on the crags within a 45min – 1hr drive of downtown Helena. We really like Blackleaf Canyon, however, so we’ve adopted that area too. Below is a list of climbing spots HCC plans to protect and improve. If there is an area you feel is missing from the list or a project you’d like to partner with us on, please contact us!
- Blackleaf Canyon- Multipitch limestone sport climbing on the rocky mountain front. If you haven’t climbed here you need to. Watch out for the wind and bears though!
- Beaver Creek – A diverse area encompassing Refrigerator Canyon, the Eye of the Needle and surrounding crags. Routes are mostly sport on good to excellent blue and grey limestone and range from moderate slabs bolted on lead to overhanging test-pieces for the local crushers. It is possible to climb in the spring and fall, but summer is best.
- Trout Creek Canyon – The towering limestone cliffs are home to a handful of single and milt pitch routes accessible by a pleasant hike or bike from Vigilante Campground or a long circuitous drive from Beaver Creek.
- Hellgate Gulch- The towering vertical fins provide some of the better sport climbing in the state. Routes range from juggy and overhanging to slabby or dead vertical. The best in the area tend to be safe but committing with some old school mixed route test pieces to keep you honest. Best for the 10 and up climber. Winter wall provides some of the best off-season climbing in the state.
- Avalanche Gulch – Roadside sport climbing on high quality limestone. Routes tend to be more moderate than its northern neighbor. The complex canyon creates shade and makes this an inviting summer destination.
- Indian Creek – Roadside limestone climbing at its finest. The grey stone is featured with edges runnels and pockets providing moderate to hard routes up the vertical faces and slabs. The Bear Claw wall is kid and beginner friendly.
- Mt. Helena – Small crag within city limits. Sunset slab hosts high quality moderates on good rock. The Red Slab, Vigilante wall and Water Streak areas hold harder climbs on the shady north face. Good for a quick after work burn in the spring, summer, and fall.
- Blue Cloud – A pleasant 1 mile hike leads to an outcrop of granite tucked in the hills west of Helena. Home to mostly moderate sport and trad routes this crag provides excellent opportunities for the beginning climber as well as those looking for challenging routes. The flat bases and solid rock make this a family-friendly crag. The first half of the approach (to and past the fence) are on private lands. Keep a low profile and leave no trace to ensure future access.
- Sheep Mountain – The granite outcrops of this area have been climbed for decades and hold some of the Helena Area’s best crack climbing and trad as well as some engaging sport and mixed routes. Haystack and Happy Hour crags provides accessible top roping with flat bases while Devil’s Thumb, Middle, and Right Rocks hold more challenging routes. Abundant and even high-quality bouldering can had on the blocks scattered throughout the area. Montana’s first 5.14 can be found here as well.