OverviewPine Creek, though not as popular as the nearby Hyalite Canyon, is becoming a hot-spot for local ice climbers. Classic climbs, such as the Blue and Green Gullies, are found in this area. The Green Gully was once the only photo included in Yvon Chouinard's Climbing Ice. Pine Creek offers a large variety of ice, from beginner routes such as Pine Creek Falls to large alpine routes such as War Paint and The Gash to the tougher mixed routes of the Black Gully, Incubus, and Succubus. When climbing in Pine Creek, you will usually be climbing alone or with only one or two other parties. When the Hyalite Canyon road closes for the spring, some climbers will come to Pine Creek to enjoy the spectacular late-season climbing. There are 39 climbs included here, with potential for much more if you are willing to hike up far enough.
For up-to-date information on conditions in Pine Creek as well as other climbing areas around Montana, see the MontanaIce website forums.
Getting ThereTo get to Pine Creek, turn south from Livingston on HWY 89 for 3 miles to the East River Road turnoff. Take this road for 8 miles to the small town of Pine Creek. Continue thru town to the turnoff for the Pine Creek Campground, just under a mile out of town. The turnoff has a sign for Flying Diamond Guide Service. Follow the road to the campground (~2.7 miles). The trailhead is at the far side of the campground.
Climbing AreasThere are two main areas of ice in Pine Creek - the Main Fork and the South Fork. The South Fork branches off the Main Fork just after Pine Creek Falls, where Pine Creek comes in from the east. The Main Fork is listed in lower and higher areas because of the number of climbs
Lower Main Fork
The Lower Main Fork contains climbs from the trailhead to Pine Creek Falls.
The Incubus - 65' WI5 M6 I
The Succubus - 80' M7 I
All Mixed Up - 100' WI4 I
East of Paradise - 240' WI4+ II
Up a Climb Without a Rope - 300' WI3+ II
Ice Hound - 250' WI2 I
Unclaimed - 180' WI2 II
Brain Camp - 165' WI2 II
The Green Gully - 200' WI4 III
The Blue Gully - 200' WI3 III
Woodpecker - 150' WI3 5.6 II
The Black Gully - 300' M5 II
Pine Creek Falls - 100' WI3 I
White Twister - 100' WI3
Imaginary Reality - 100' WI5 M6 I
Conspiracy Theory - 100' M6 I
Upper Pine Creek Falls - 80' WI3 I
Canopy Gully - 150' WI3 II
Slot Gully - 250' WI2 II
Upper Main Fork
These climbs are located further up the Pine Creek drainage towards Pine Creek Lake. The Gash, War Paint, and The Nick are located on the northern face of Black Mountain, and the Gully Climbs are located just below Jewel Lake. There are many faces and spires in the area, and potential for new routes is great.
The Gash - 500' WI3 5.6-5.9 M4 IV
War Paint - 315' WI4 III
The Nick - 2 700' WI3 IV
Spindrift Gully - 200' WI3 III
Unnamed Gully - 200' WI3 III
The South Fork has many routes worth doing, despite the probable long approach. This area contains short, moderate routes as well as long, technical alpine routes. The Fork ends just north of the infamous Mount Cowen
Tree Hugger - 130' WI4 II
Plan B - 60' WI3 II
Impulsive Indulgence - 60' M3 II
A Day in the Life - 240' WI3 III
Face Shot - 70' WI3 II
Grosse Vokabel - 300' WI3 III
Kleine Vokabel - 70' WI4 III
Transparent Aspirations - 180' WI3+ M4 III
Valkyries - 1 200' WI4 5.9+ V
Right Ed's Climbs - 80' WI4 III
Left Ed's Climbs - 80' WI3 III
Unseen Faith - 600' WI4 IV
Neptune - 400' WI5 IV
Pluto - 300' WI6 IV
The Oort Cloud - 200' WI3 IV
Guide BooksThough I can put information up here on SummitPost, there are two local guidebooks that provide an overwhelming amount of beta for these climbs and many, many more in the surrounding areas.
Big Sky Ice - by Ron Brunckhorst - This guidebook details 600+ routes all over the state of Montana and northern Wyoming, from short roadside topropes to harsh grade V climbs.
Winter Dance - by Joe Josephson - This guidebook contains routes only in south-west Montana and northern Wyoming, but provides excellent photos and history of many of the climbs.
A big plus for the Big Sky Ice book is that it lists more climbs, some which have only seen a single ascent, and the grade of each climb, which can be very valuable information in planning an outing. However, Winter Dance has a large colour photo for over half of the climbs listed in the guidebook. For the best of both worlds, think about getting both books as they are very valuable together for a complete guide to the ice in this area.
Climbing GradesEvery climb here is labeled with two or more grading systems to properly express the difficulty of the routes. A description of the grading system can be found here from Alpinist.com
Grading systems are generally equivalent in any given area, but may differ from state to state just a bit. Montana's grades are typically equal to Wyoming's grading, but a bit lower than other states such as Colorado - meaning a WI3+ in Colorado would be equal to about WI4 in Montana. The same is true for the YDS and NCCS systems as well. To know for sure, go out and climb a moderate route to set your bearings straight.