The Yellowstone River and the Gallatin Range beyond on a fine autumn day.
The Gallatin Range
Hyalite Canyon is one of the many gems of the Gallatin Mountain Range
The Gallatin Range rises in as a mass of sharp peaks, craggy ridges, and expansive alpine plateaus, split by steep canyons, accented with snowdrifts, draped with verdant evergreen forests, and rich with creeks, and waterfalls. Douglas fir and aspen grace the lower elevations, along with scattered juniper and limber pine. In the higher elevations lodgepole pine, englemann spruce, and subalpine fir mix with rich mountain meadows. Near treelike, whitebark pines dominate the hillsides above 9,500 feet in the subalpine region you find alpine tundra and scattered groves of Subalpine Fir and Engelmann Spruce.
Because of the Gallatin’s embarrassment of riches it is a major playground of Bozeman Montana’s 12,000 students of Montana State University as well as most of the residents there not to mention all who live and play in Paradise Valley, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone. Oh yeah, and the tens of thousands that come to play here from elsewhere. The range itself has outstanding hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, camping and mountaineering. All the streams have stellar native trout fishing, and the Yellowstone and Gallatin Rivers are destination fly-fisheries and whitewater destinations.
The Gallatin Ranges' Electric Peak reflects in Swan Lake in northwest Yellowstone
If its hunting you are after this is elk central, success rates areas high as 33% conservatively, there are about 3000 elk taken out of here every fall a whole lot of nice bulls come out of these areas. Generally speaking, the closer you are to Yellowstone and the migration routes to winter range the more weather-dependent the hunting becomes. When winter storms drive the elk out of Yellowstone Park the hunting in these areas can be fabulous, although they contain good numbers of resident elk even prior to the migrations. If I were forced to restrict my elk hunting to one Montana region, this would be it. Many fine Mule Deer trophies have come out of these mountains also.
The Yellowstone River flows north on the eastern flank of the range. The Madison Range parallels the Gallatin Mountains to the west. The northern end of the range is near Livingston; Montana, and Bozeman Pass separate these Mountains from the Bridger Mountains to the north.
The range includes more than ten mountains over 10,000 feet which makes the area popular with mountaineers. The highest peak in the range is Electric Peak at 10,969 feet which towers over Swan Flats in Northwest Yellowstone. It range extends 75 miles north to south and averages 20 miles in width. The southernmost peaks of the range are in the northwestern section of Yellowstone National Park, however, most the range is in Gallatin National Forest. From the towering Hyalite peaks south of Bozeman to the Madison Valley of West Yellowstone, the Gallatin Range forms the spine of an unbroken, 525,000-acre roadless area teeming with native fish and wildlife.
Whitewater Rafting on the Gallatin River outside of Big Sky Montana
The Gallatin Crest Trail, also commonly referred to, as the Devil’s Backbone is one of the finest mountaintop trails in the nation, offers a challenging route from Hyalite Canyon to the Yellowstone border. The Devil's Backbone is a gorgeous trail that offers superb views of the Gallatin and Paradise Valleys. The trail is well marked with cairns or obvious tread in most places, but some navigational skills are necessary in other places. Water availability is the most common problem as there is none along the trail except at Crater Lake. During the early summer seasonal snow banks abound, but in mid-July to mid-August water must be obtained from creeks and lakes located in adjacent drainages.
The Gallatin Range is critical habitat for grizzly bears and all Greater Yellowstone species, including mountain goat, mountain lion, mule deer elk, bighorn sheep, and wolves and is a valuable corner of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Speaking of Grizzly Bears the north end of the range is home to Casy Anderson’s Montana Grizzly Encounter and Brutus the Grizzly, stars of many Nat Geo specials on Grizzlies and Yellowstone.
The 25,980-acre Gallatin Petrified Forest is close to and within Yellowstone’s northwestern corner. Thirty million-year-old stumps buried by Eocene lava flows, still anchored and upright atop these wild ridges are a sight to be seen.
The crest of the range gets an average of 300 inches of snow per year. This snowpack feeds clean, cold mountain streams, lakes, wetlands, and lush vegetation the headwaters of some of our regions best rivers. West flowing streams such as Buffalo Horn, Porcupine, and Moose Creeks drain into the Gallatin and Madison River Valleys. East drainage Streams include Tom Miner, Rock, and Big Creek drain into the Yellowstone the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley. All a part of greater Yellowstone’s world-famous native fisheries.
Human history goes back at least eleven thousand years in the Gallatins. Native Americans hunted bighorn sheep and elk and to harvest obsidian and chert for making stone tools. The Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery traveled just north of the Gallatin Range when Clark led a return party over Bozeman Pass in 1806 on their return from Oregon. Fur trappers explored most corners of the range during the heyday of the mountain men. The Gallatin Range was named after Albert Gallatin, the longest-serving US Secretary of the Treasury and one of the negotiators of the Alaska Boundary Treaty.
Fly-fisherman trying his luck on the Gallatin River
Fly-fisherman enjoying a fall day on the Gibbone River beneth the Gallatin Range
Arch Falls, Hyalite Canyon
Silken-Skein Falls in Hyalite Canyon
A black wolf prowls the Gallatin Range looking for a meal
Trail riding and pack trips are popular activities in the Gallatin Range
A Grizzly crossing a road in the east Gallatins in Yellowstone Park
Can you hear me now? Both elk and bison are abundant in the range.
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Greater Yellowstone Mountaineering
Woman Mountain Climber negotatiing tough section of rock wall
Mountaineering is the sport of walking, hiking, backpacking, skiing and climbing mountains and it is a great way to see the mountains of the Greater Yellowstone Region if you are fit and adventurous enough to do so. Greater Yellowstone’s Grand Teton Mountain Range has been a world-renowned mountaineering destination for mountaineers for a century.
While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed mountains, it has branched into specializations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists of three areas: rock-craft, snow-craft and skiing, depending on whether the route chosen is over rock, snow or ice. All require experience, athletic ability, and technical knowledge to maintain safety.
Rock climbing another part of mountaineering is a sport in which climbers climb up or across natural rock formations. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber's strength, endurance, agility, and balance along with his or her mental control. It can be a dangerous sport and knowledge of proper climbing techniques and usage of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes. Because of the wide range and variety of rock formations around the world rock climbing has been separated into several different styles and sub-disciplines that are described below.
Climbing communities have developed rating systems for routes. Ratings (or "grades") record and communicate consensus appraisals of difficulty. The ratings take into account multiple factors affecting a route, such as the slope of the ascent, the quantity and quality of available handholds, the distance between holds, and whether advanced technical maneuvers are required.
Compacted snow conditions allow mountaineers to progress on foot. Frequently crampons are required to travel efficiently over snow and ice. They are used on hard snow and ice to provide additional traction and allow very steep ascents and descents. Snowshoes can be used to walk through deep snow. Skis can be used everywhere snowshoes can and also in steeper, more alpine landscapes, although it takes considerable practice to develop strong skills for difficult terrain.
Ascending and descending a snow slope safely requires the use of an ice axe and many different footwork techniques that have been developed over the past century.
Combining the techniques of alpine skiing and mountaineering to ascend and descend a mountain is a form of the sport by itself, called Ski Mountaineering which has seen amazing popularity with our adrenalin junkies of Bozeman MT, Jackson Hole, Cody and Lander WY and Teton Valley Idaho. Ski mountaineering is a sport that combines the techniques of skiing (often ski touring) with those of mountaineering. The goal of the ski mountaineer may be to climb a beautiful mountain by a worthy route and then ski the mountain down an elegant line, preferably from the summit. But ski mountaineering is really distinguished from ski touring by a willingness and desire to travel over any part of the mountain, not just those areas with sheltered powder snowfields or other nice descending conditions. This may include significant rock, ice or broken glacier sections, as well as traverses and enchainements rather than just single peak ascents.
While using skiing techniques for much of the time, ski mountaineers climb otherwise inaccessible or dangerous slopes on foot using a range of mountaineering equipment - typically crampons, ice axes and ropes - while skis are carried strapped to their backpack. This either permits access to extreme slopes, or more often allows transit through otherwise impassable terrain in order to continue beyond on skis, where normal ski touring equipment such as skins and harscheisen (ski crampons - also called couteau or cortelli) are used.
Ice climbers test their skiils on the ice in the South Fork of the Shoshone Valley outside Cody WY.
Ice climbing, as the term indicates, is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water.
For the purposes of climbing, ice can be broadly divided into two spheres, alpine ice and water ice. Alpine ice is found in a mountain environment, usually requires an approach to reach, and is often climbed in an attempt to summit a mountain. Water ice is usually found on a cliff or other outcropping beneath water flows. Alpine ice is frozen precipitation whereas water ice is a frozen liquid flow of water. Most alpine ice is generally component of longer routes and often less technical, have more in common with standard glacier travel, while water ice is selected largely for its technical challenge.
Ice is weird stuff, though climbing it might just be weirder. Ice-climbing is also potentially painful: half the equipment has sharp metal points (like tools, crampons, and ice-screws) that mix well with neither the other half of the equipment (like clothes, pack, and rope), nor with the soft flesh of a climber. And then there’s the objective danger. Ice-climbs are temporary features of winter, and are in a perpetual state of falling down during their short life-spans. That’s the part of ice-climbing that’s potentially lethal. The paradox of ice-climbs is that they can provide the easiest and safest means of ascent of a cliff, or a mountain. The trick is to determine when an ice-climb is safe, and to do that requires knowing all about ice.
Some important techniques and practices common in rock climbing that are employed in ice climbing include knowledge of rope systems, tying in, belaying, leading, abseiling, and lowering. Beginners should learn these techniques before attempting to ice climb. It is highly recommended that one acquire knowledge from experts and experienced ice climbers.
The Greater Yellowstone Region being the ice box it is in winter provides many frozen waterfalls in winter that provide great Ice climbing but two places have ice climbing destinations, Cody Wyoming’s South Fork of the Shoshone River Valley in the Absaroka Mountains and Bozeman Montana’s Hyalite Canyon in the Gallatin Range. Both areas have Ice Climbing Festivals, the Bozeman Ice Festival and the Water Fall Ice Festival in Cody.
Mountaineering & Ski Guides
Rock Climber, Blacktail Butte, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Ski and Snowboard Tours • (Teton Valley) Established in
1986, Rendezvous Ski and Snowboard Tours operates three backcountry
ski yurts high on the western slope of the Tetons near Jackson Hole
and Grand Targhee Ski Resort. Our huts provide access to the Jedediah
Smith Wilderness Area and Grand Teton National Park, where over
500 inches of legendary light, dry powder snow falls each winter.
A variety of terrain from high mountain ridges and broad, low-angled
powder bowls, to the steep and deep combine to make some of the
best backcountry ski terrain in the lower 48.
Mountain Guides • (Jackson Hole) Exum offers group and
private avalanche training, alpine and nordic ski tours, and ski
and snowboard descents of the remarkable mountains of the Teton
area. You will gain basic avalanche awareness, improve your skiing
and snowboarding technique, and practice the use of avalanche rescue
transceivers. Technical skills, such as steep skiing, rock and ice
climbing, and rappelling are practiced during ski and snowboard
Expedetion • (Yellowstone) Let us show you the finest
way to experience a true Yellowstone winter, at a cross-country
skier's pace from the Yellowstone Yurt Camp. Join our certified
backcountry ski guides to explore the Yellowstone backcountry. Our
multiday cross-country skiing excursions are based from the comfortable
Canyon Skier's "Yurt Camp" located only one half mile
from the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Montana Alpine Guides • (Bozeman Montana) Montana Alpine Guides is Montana's premier rock climbing and mountaineering guide service. Montana Alpine Guides has been serving Bozeman, Big Sky, Yellowstone National Park, and southwest Montana for over ten years. Montana Alpine Guides offers personalized professional instruction in the arts of rock climbing ice climbing, mountaineering, hiking and backpacking. Specializing in guiding novice and intermediate climbers Montana Alpine Guides promotes climbing as a safe and exciting activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Our instructors are highly skilled professional guides who are dedicated to teaching the art of climbing and who provide the skills and confidence necessary for you to safely enjoy your alpine adventures.
Mountaineering & XC-Ski Stores
Rock Climber Bian, The Shield in Hoback Canyon
Skis • (Jackson
Hole) Finding the right gear and
clothing for cross country skiing begins with a visit
to Skinny Skis.
1974 Skinny Skis has been Jackson Hole's leading shop. In
addition to featuring the finest line-up of cross country
Skinny Skis carries summer and winter outdoor gear and clothing
from many of the world's leading manufacturers: Patagonia,
Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Arcteryx, Salomon, Cloudveil,
Rossignol, Fischer and Black Diamond, to name but a few.
Mountaineering • (Jackson Hole)
Teton Mountaineering is
the oldest outdoor specialty shop in the United States. This year
we are celebrating our twenty-ninth anniversary,
and actually, our business dates back even farther, having originated
as the "Outhaus" in the nineteen-fifties. Our commitment
to both excellence in retailing and to our unique mountain heritage
Mountain Equipment • (Teton
Mountain Equipment is a backcountry skiing and outdoor
equipment shop located in Driggs, Idaho. We are avid outdoors
men and women who are out "testing" the equipment whenever
we can and we'll be happy to share with you how it works for us.
Wild Iris Mountain Sports • (Lander WY) At the base of the Wind River Mountains. Wild Iris Mountain Sports the climbing store for information on climbing and back packing the Wind River range, as well as rock climbing in Sinks Canyon, Wild Iris, Sweetwater Rocks, Baldwin Creek. Our helpful staff can answer any of your questions about the Cirque of the Towers, Gannett Peak, Dickinson Park, Stough Creek Basin, Popo Agie Falls and more Wind River Mountains destinations. We carry many climbing books and guide books, as well as outdoor gear brands like Mountain Hardware, Patagonia, Marmot and Prana.
Core Mountain Sports • (Cody Wyoming) Welcome to the new Core Mountain Sports! The new CMS will serve as your one stop shop for Wyoming adventure, by combining Rock, Ice, Water and a helpful community you will feel right at home knowing your passion is ours!
Barrel Mountaineering: • (Bozeman Montana) A full-service outdoor store specializing in functional outdoor apparel, back- packing, climbing equipment, backcountry ski gear, maps and books.We pride ourselves in providing the best outdoor gear complete with honest, knowledgeable customer service.
The Grand Tetons at Jackson Lake
The Grand Tetons are a magnet for mountaineers from
all over the world. The jagged snow-crusted peaks epitomize the ruggedness
of the West, All the elements of alpine climbing, rock, ice, snow, and
altitude, are represented in the Tetons. Glaciers, striking arêtes,
fist-size cracks, steep rocky ridges and ice couloirs abound providing
climbers a true alpine experience. This variety makes them especially
appealing to experienced mountaineers who use the Tetons to apply their
technical rock climbing skills in alpine settings and to train for Alaskan
or Himalayan expeditions.
At first glance the Tetons are daunting to novice, the
massifs known as Grand Teton, Middle Teton, South Teton, Moran and Teewinot
are surprisingly accessible once you’ve mastered a few essential moves, learn how to read rock, how to knot a rope, how to belay a companion, and to leverage your arm and leg muscles and you’ll
be capable of climbing the Tetons.
Ascents of Grand Teton typically involve two days. The first day climbers leave
Lupine Meadows Trailhead by 10 a.m., and hike up hike up Garnet Canyon trail,
the main approach to the Grand. Along the way you are treated to views of stunning
alpine terrain. To the north, periodic clearings of the conifer forest reveal
Mt.Teewinot, Middle Teton and the Grand, that appear as distinct razor edges
and chiseled stone. Your arrive at the Lower Saddle between the Grand and Middle
Teton by late afternoon where you camp for the night. After a night spent at
the 11,650-foot saddle you push on in the early morning darkness for the summit.
The main approach to the summit is the Owen-Spaulding route, graded 5.4, a
relatively easy technical climb even for the novice.
The accessibility and comparatively modest heights of the Tetons lead some to underestimate their dangers. Altitude sickness, avalanche and wildlife, all pose hazards, lightning is a serious threat and it can snow any month of the year and does.
Mountain guides are available for hire, two well-regarded companies offer a variety of classes and private mountain guide services depending on skill level and experience: Jackson Hole Mountain Guides (www.jhmg.com; 800-239-7642) and Exum Mountain Guides (www.exumguides.com; 307-733-2297). offer classes and guided trips throughout the year to introduce climbers of all skills and ages to the Tetons.
There are many worthy peaks in the range offering a spectrum
of climbing opportunities, Guide's Wall on Storm Point, is a moderate climb
(5.7 to 5.9) on quality, or solid, golden rock is one of the more popular
one-day routes in the range. Other interesting day climbs include Baxter's
Pinnacle, the southwest ridge of Symmetry Spire and the of Mount Owen’s steep
Local Guide Books
Teton Skiing: A History and Guide
to the Teton Range, Wyoming by Thomas Turiano
Teton Skiing is a phenomenal book written eloquently
and comically from the perspective of a mountaineer (Tom Turiano) who
has climbed and skiied nearly every peak in the range. The book is perfect
for someone thinking about a trip to the Tetons in order to gain more
insight into the history that made it the touring site it is today,
as well as, a guide to help in planning your trip. It is also a great
book for anyone interested in history and/or the outdoors in general.
Although it is partly a guidebook, it was more intersting to me for
its well researched and colorful history of this mythical wonder called
the Tetons. If you haven't been to Wyoming's Tetons, this book will
make you want to go. If you have been, it will drive you to return and
discover things unseen. A book I treasure!
Climbing in the Wind River Range
A mountaineer's introduction to the Wind River Range is usually a trip to climb the Cirque of Towers or a peak-bagging attempt of Gannett or Fremont. One trip to these common areas usually leads to a second and third trips to the Winds. This is because it takes one trip to realize the general quality of climbing in the range as a whole and to fully ascertain the vastness of the multitude of cirques, basins and valleys. While Gannett and "the Cirque" are certainly worthy goals, the rest of the Wind Rivers is equally spectacular and nearly empty of mountaineers. There are entire valleys that see only a few parties per year.In the Northern part of the Wind River Range, the glaciers and high peaks and 27 of Wyoming's 32 thirteeners are in this section. Crowned by Wyoming’s tallest, Gannett and Fremont Peaks. Plan two-day approaches to these alpine, ice, rock and scrambling routes.
St. Elias Alpine
Guides • Explore Alaska's
largest national park with the local experts, based in Wrangell-St.
since 1978. Half and
full-day glacier hikes, ice-climbing, trekking, backpacking, rafting,
skiing and mountaineering courses & expeditions. Our professional,
personable guides love to share their in-depth knowledge of this
Copper Oar • Copper Oar offers wilderness rafting
and multi-sport adventures in Alaska’s largest national park,
Wrangell-St. Elias, and throughout the state. Their adventures are
1-15 days in
length and suitable for everyone from children and novice adventurers
to veteran river travelers looking for the next great journey. Copper
Oar specializes in professional, personable guides, an in-depth knowledge
of the local human and natural history, great food, and creating
adventures of a lifetime!
SWS Mountain Guides * Welcome to SWS Mountain Guides courses and climbs are conducted year around whether a first time backpackers or a skilled mountaineer, we have a course to get you started or improve your techniques. We have been teaching & guiding, mountaineering, backpacking, winter mountaineering, rock & ice climbing for over 29 years on the best mountains in California. As well as conducting small personalized expeditions, treks & adventure travel throughout the world for over 20 years. We have an excellent safety record and our climbs and courses are kept small for maximum safety and the best experience! So whether you want to backpack in Yosemite or Climb some of the worlds biggest mountains, come explore our website and "EXPERIENCE THE ADVENTURE" with SWS Mountain Guides. We look forward to having you join us in 2010!
Life-Link • (Jackson
When you live in Jackson Hole as we do you have the Tetons
backyard. Our backyard provides some of the best
skiing and boarding on the planet. This is where the inspiration
for many of our products comes from. These ideas don’t
just come from us they come from our pro staff, our friends,
guides, patrollers and even folks who are just passing through
but have a passion for the backcountry and want the very
best equipment they can find.
(Teton Valley) Outdoor
clothing and gear for snowmobiling, skiing, horseback riding,
atv riding, hiking and water sports, including
EC2 boxer briefs, merino wool socks, winter boots, gloves, shorts,
altimeter watches, hydration packs, fleecewear and raingear.
10 Essentials for Multi-Day Backpacking
Kevin Jackson • I have been involved in several backpacking
trips all over the world and the one constant is the importance of adequate
for the environment — regardless
if we are leading a group through the Wind River Range in Wyoming or
hiking the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia..........................................For
example, I recently led a five-day adventure through the Maroon Bells,
and Snowmass Wilderness outside Aspen, Colorado, and we experienced
conditions that were both unexpected and hazardous.
It was our essential gear that enabled us to enjoy the trip and cope
with the freezing weather and heavy snowfall. ..............................As
a rule of thumb, you want to pack lightly and take only what you need.
with a difficult situation there are
certain items that should always be carried on any multi-day backpacking
trip. Here is my list of the 10 essentials. (Of course, if you take
regular backpacking trips, you should make your own list and share it
with the rest of your party. A little planning means less worries and
a better overall experience for everyone.)----------------> More
Ice Climbing the walls in Teton Valley • by Mike Polhamus
A local mountain guide is gearing up this week for ice climbing this winter, but his preparations are much more extensive than most climbing expeditions require. That’s because Christian Santelices, owner of Aerial Boundaries in Victor, is actually installing the ice climbs themselves, up on the Parking Lot Cliffs area of Grand Targhee...........................The climbs will consist of 35 to 40 foot sections of vertical climbing, with another approximately 60 feet of lower-angle, broken terrain below that..........................................All 100 feet or so of the route will be covered in thick ice, provided by a system of low-flow shower heads installed above the cliffs and a 3,000-gallon water truck parked above the cliffs on cold nights.----------------------------> More
Carbiner Climbing Rope
Cody WY • Annual Water Fall Ice Festival - Presidents Weekend. The South Fork ice climbing is like NO other ice in the Northern Rockies. The Valley has literally hundreds of frozen waterfalls each year. Many climbers visit the Valley season after season and still haven't climbed many of the waterfalls here.
Lander WY • The International Climbers’ Festival - The International Climbers’ Festival is an annual event with the mission of promoting and celebrating the sport of rock climbing. The festival runs in conjunction with three local Lander scholarships and programs, the Jim Ratz Memorial Scholarship, the Todd Skinner Foundation and BARF, the local Bolt and Anchor Replacement Fund. Proceeds from the festival support some of these programs. - First or second weeking in July - check first
City of Rocks • Idaho Mountain Festival • the Idaho Mountain Festival, a four-day outdoor event at City of Rock National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park in Idaho held the last weekent of . These two parks are home of some of the best granite domes for sport, trad, and bouldering. At the festival, outdoor enthusiasts will have the chance to enjoy the classic granite rock climbing and peaceful trail runs while socializing with new and old friends................. check website for dates