|Route Type:||Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing|
|Season:||Spring, Summer, Fall|
|Time Required:||Half a day|
|Rock Difficulty:||5.5 (YDS)|
|Number of Pitches:||3|
This is a fun, easy way up the buttress. The pitches are long because the return is a walk-off, and you'll want at least a 60, though a 70 is probably better.
There are two ways up. One is to start left of the gully splitting the base, and the other is to start right of it. The right-side variation has bolted anchors for P1 and P2, and the left-side variation requires some creativity (light trad rack recommended).
The final belay, no matter how you go, requires gear or tying off a tree, so go prepared. In other words, although you can clip your way up this, it's a route for people with trad experience, not one for people who only sport climb.
From your location, get to MT 86; its southern end is near Bozeman, and its northern end is on U.S. 89 south of White Sulphur Springs.
Around MP 21, turn onto a road signed for access to Fairy Lake. Follow signs for Fairy Lake and drive about 6 miles to two obvious campsites on the left side of the road. Just past the sites and on the other side of the road is a trail heading up a meadow; that is the start of the approach.
Hike up the trail, which gets really steep in places. As you near the obvious saddle, cut up and left before you reach a large patch of trees. Gain the ridge and then find a steep, loose gully leading to a basin well above Frazier Lake. Descend the gully and cut left to the base of the East Buttress.
Since the return will take you back to the top of the gully or close to it, you might want to leave anything you don't absolutely need here.
We did the right-side version, and that's what I'll describe here.
P1-- The MP page says the first bolt is about 15' off the ground, but unless it's been removed or both I and my partner were blind, it's not there. I found the first bolt about 30' up. Although the climbing to get there was pretty easy, it was still a serious runout. Not a pitch for new leaders, despite the grade. For clips, I counted 3 pitons and 1 bolt. The anchors are near a small tree and are easy to miss because they are below the arete and off the natural line.
P2-- Follow the narrowing arete to another set of bolted anchors. Don't be fooled into thinking that a piton and bolt right next to each other are the belay; a bit higher up are two bolts in a much more comfortable position. On this pitch, it was 8-10 clips.
P3-- Keep going until you're nearly out of rope and can belay off a tree. 7 bolts and 3 pitons.
Descent-- Scramble up to the crest and follow the ridge back to the trail.
70m rope, at least 10 draws, light rack for trad and tree anchors.