Haystack Rock, 5.7-5.10 (Sheep Mountain, MT)

Haystack Rock, 5.7-5.10 (Sheep Mountain, MT)

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 46.49100°N / 112.027°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Toprope
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 4828 ft / 1472 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Missing Hangar on Beer Barrel Arete
Missing Hangar on Beer Barrel Arete

Sheep Mountain is not far from Helena. It offers mostly granite trad, but there are some sport and sport/trad lines as well.

Although Haystack Rock is a small crag and does not offer the tallest lines or what are considered the local classics, it is a nice spot for several reasons:

  • Sport and mixed routes from 5.7 to 5.10, 50-60'
  • A couple of trad routes (5.8 and 5.10)
  • Easily accessible top anchors
  • An approach of like one minute
The easily accessible top anchors make this a great place if you like to toprope solo. If you are into lead solo, you'll appreciate knowing that by slinging trees and using trad gear, I was able to make ground anchors for each of the four sport routes here.

Getting There

About 20-30 minutes south of Helena, take the Clancy exit from I-15. The directions on Mountain Project may mislead you because they say to take Lump Gulch Road west out of town when in fact you have to head north out of town on Main Street and then bear northwest until reaching Lump Gulch Road. (I hope the image below helps.)

Clancy Map
Clancy Map

After that, drive about three miles and turn right onto (signed) Sheep Mountain Road. Shortly after passing the main parking are, you will reach a three-way intersection. Turn right onto a dirt road and park in the small parking area. The crag is directly behind the parking area.


To reach the four sport routes, follow a use trail downhill on the left side of the crag. Here are the routes from left to right as you face the wall (note that you will reach them right to left):

  • (Name Unknown), 5.8-- Shares anchors with Beer Barrel Arete. When I climbed this in July 2018, I found the nut on the first bolt loose to the point that I could have removed the hanger by hand. Lacking tools adequate for tightening it, I did the best I could by hand and posted about it on the routes MP page. Be very cautious here, as the bolt protects the crux moves. After the second bolt, the climbing becomes much easier.
  • Beer Barrel Arete, 5.7-- In my opinion, this is the best of the sport routes on this crag. Note that one of the bolts near the top is missing a hanger. The climbing there is pretty easy, but if you have stoppers, you make a so-so placement near the bolt to protect the moves if you want to.
  • Broken Keg Blues, 5.8-- Easily identified by the crack off the deck.
  • School Daze, 5.7-- The direct line is not 5.7 and is more like 5.9. After leading it the zig-zag way, I then toproped it the direct way and found it much harder. From the last bolt to the two-hangars anchor it is run out above a possibly bad fall. You can clip one of the hangars, top out, and then find some rappel rings set a few yards back.

It is easy to scramble up the crag to access three sets of hangars intended for use as toprope anchors (obviously, you need your own gear for this).

Closer to the parking area and almost opposite the sport routes listed above are some additional climbs. One is a short 5.8 crack that can go on gear and is served by one of the aforementioned sets of hangars. There also are some cracks in the 5.10 range and one 5.9-10 route that has some bolts but also takes gear. These other routes require gear anchors.

Red Tape

None other than obeying any posted regulations and respecting private property. No fees.

When to Climb

Spring through fall.


No campground. You can probably do dispersed camping here.

External Links

MP page