Pine Creek Falls

Page Type
Montana, United States, North America
Route Type:
Ice Climbing
Time Required:
Half a day
WI3 to M6 I
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Pine Creek Falls
Created On: Oct 13, 2009
Last Edited On: Jan 20, 2010


Pine Creek Falls is a popular summer destination for tourists and locals alike. There are 5 routes on and around the lower falls, and 1 higher route being the upper falls.

Getting There

Begin at the Pine Creek trailhead and head up the usually well-beaten path for a mile to the falls. Cross the bridge below and approach the climbs from climber's right.

Route Description

All routes are 1 pitch in length

Lower Right Falls: 100' WI3
FA: Pat Callis and Peter Lev - 1971
This is the most popular climb on the falls. Climb up on the right side of the giant boulder splitting the falls in half. The ice is easy rolling ice until the last 20', where it turns abruptly left and climbs a steeper ice curtain. Belay from the tree.

Lower Left Falls: 100' WI2
FA: Unknown
Climb on the left side of the giant boulder splitting the falls. This is the ice that is easily visible from the bridge, and is the center of the popular summer photos of the falls. Belay at the same tree as the Lower Right Falls, on the top of the giant boulder.

White Twister: 100' WI3
FRA: Ron and Keith Brunckhorst - December 20, 1987
Start this climb at the same place as the Lower Right Falls. Instead of heading straight up, climb the ice to the left and continue up, on top of the boulder. The easiest belay is from a fallen tree, before you get to the belay tree of the previously listed climbs. You could also choose to belay from the same tree as the previous two climbs.

Imaginary Reality: 100' WI5 M6
FA (Pure Ice): Unknown - 1989
FRA (Mixed): Pete Tapley - 1997
This climb is just right of White Twister. Start by stemming the parallel columns to drytooling terrain. 20 years ago this formed as a pure ice route, but rarely does so anymore. Recently, just a dagger has formed from the top. Climb to the top of the boulder and continue to the same belay as White Twister.

Conspiracy Theory: 100' M6
FA: Pete Tapley, Dan Gambino, and Joel Lee - January 22, 1998
Climb partway up the Lower Right Falls, then turn right and ascend the wall at around the area of the icicle draping off from the top. The route traverses left higher on the wall to end just right of the Imaginary Reality dagger. Belay from the fallen tree or the large standing tree.

Upper Pine Creek Falls: 80' WI3
FA: Pat Callis and Peter Lev - February 1971
To get to this climb, either climb one of the lower climbs and slog up 20m to it, or traverse in from the right on the switchbacks of the normal trail. Because it is a high-volume waterfall, be wary of thin ice at the brink! The left side of the falls is easier than the right.

Essential Gear

Ice screws for the pure ice routes (~5 should be enough), Imaginary Reality and Conspiracy Theory would require cams, nuts, and possibly pitons, depending on your comfort level. Bring slings for the belay.