Hyalite Canyon a big draw for ice climbers

By CASEY SULLIVAN/Montana State News

Hyalite Canyon south of Bozeman has become a mecca for ice climbers around the region.

For MSU students it is about a 40-minute drive to reach the canyon followed by a hike ranging anywhere from fifteen minutes to over an hour, depending on the difficulty of climbing a person is looking for. Together the Southwest Montana Climbers Association and Gallatin National Forest help maintain and plow the roads throughout the winter to ensure access.

Frequent climber, freshman Jacob Oberman explains that at the end of the road, “you have G1 and G2; which are some of the easiest accessed ice climbing locations in Hyalite, because they are the shortest hike in and are the easiest to get to the top to set top ropes.” He said that you will almost always find other climbers during the day, but at nine on a Saturday night, you will most likely have the incredible frozen waterfalls to yourself.

This past December Hyalite hosted the 17th Annual Arc’teryx Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival and its inaugural U.I.A.A. Open North American Ice Climbing Championships.

Ice climbing is extremely dangerous if climbers aren’t prepared or educated. Huge ice chunks will fall if your pick or crampon is slammed into the wrong icicle. The more dangerous and challenging falls are the ones you have to lead climb (where a person starts with rope on the ground and attach anchors), according to Oberman, because, if the anchor is placed into the wrong icicle, it risks dragging you down.

Contrary to popular belief it is actually safer to climb when it is warmer. Oberman says, “when it’s warmer, the ice is softer, so stuff sticks in a lot easier instead of shattering the ice around it”.

Those looking for gear or are new to the sport there are two great stores for ice climbers in the area. Northern Lights sells everything you need (crampons, boots, picks, etc.) but only rents boots. Prolite will sell and rent all equipment.

– Edited by Brittany Horton

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