The Wedge lies within The Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area. Managed by the BLM, this pristine roadless area contains many granite spires and monoliths. The tallest of these is The Wedge. The Wedge was one of the first developed climbing areas in Montana and many of Montana's best climbers have climbed here at one time or another. The Wedge has something for just about everyone, from long moderate traditionally protected climbs on the west and southwest faces to harder test pieces on the north face of the rock. Climbing here is a wonderful experience in a beautiful setting. Please respect the traditional ethics of this wonderful place. Leave your dogs at home and get as close to a true wilderness climbing experience as possible. LEAVE NO TRACE IS MANDATORY!
To reach the Wedge, drive south on I-15 for approximately 26 miles to Exit 99, Moose Creek Road. Turn left at the stop sign and follow the improved gravel road for 3 miles. A nice sized parking area, vault toilet and an informational kiosk mark the trailhead.
Follow the well maintained trail for 4 miles. After about 1.5 miles the trail leaves the creek bottom and moves through stands of aspen and fir. A small series of switchbacks gain a small ridge. The trail then gradually descends, crosses a spring and eventually comes to the base of the Wedge. Hike uphill following no distinct trail to the base of the Butterknife on the S.W. Face proper.
The Butter Knife
The Butter Knife. Image supplied by T Sharp For an uncluttered view see Here
Pitch 1 (5.7)
The first pitch of “The Butter Knife” serves as a common pitch to both "The Mutt and Jeff" (5.8+)
and the "S.W. Face Route" (5.8)
. Begin on a slab of granite called the butter knife, Climb with good gear to the top of the butter knife, step up and left with good holds to a featured face with no pro, but solid feet and hands. Climb to a horizontal crack with a bolt and small roof above. Smear to roof and pull roof on right side. Continue up crack , (#2 Camalots) until coming to a small ledge below a steep hand crack. Belay here is solid gear to #2.5 Friend. The belay is approximately fifty feet above the traverse to the “Mutt and Jeff”, “S.W. Face” belay. Gear to 3.5 inches (160 feet)
Pitch 2 (5.8)
Ascend wide chimney/crack which accepts large pro deep, as the climber continues, options for gear in the #0.75 Camalot range become evident. The face becomes steeper and smooth. The crack becomes off hands, #3 Camalot, in size as the climber pulls through a small roof/bulge. Nice options for hands hidden over top of bulge. The move is kind of reachy so work your feet up. Pull the roof on a nice knob and continue up wide, low angle crack until coming to the balcony ledge and a 3 bolt anchor. (~150 feet)
Either rappel the route or continue on the S.E. Chimney route. I am assuming the first rap would put one in the vicinity of the Mutt and Jeff belay. This would allow the climber to rap off the slung chockstone found at that belay. Two ropes needed for the raps. An important note, the three bolts are old ¼ inchers with no chains. Be prepared to leave some webbing behind. A rap ring or two would not be a bad idea.
Personally I think that continuing to the top of the Wedge or traversing to the base of the S.E.. Chimney and rapping down the east face using trees and slung blocks would be easier than rapping the route.
Camalots #0.5-#4 (an extra #2 is handy),Metolius TCU's #1-#3,the four smallest tri-cams and a set of WC Rocks.
A half dozen over the shoulder slings, three 4 foot slings, four extend able (to 24 inches) quickdraws, two 12 inch draws, a screamer, a Trango Alpine Equalizer and a 60m rope. Two ropes if you plan to rap the route. A single 60m gets you off the top of the Wedge.
Butte`s Climbing Guide, by Dwight Bishop 3rd edition First Ascent Press
The Rock Climbers Guide to Montana, edited by Randall Green et al. Falcon Press Publishing, Helena, MT
In his climbing guide Dwight Bishop (R.I.P.) mentions that "any route to the summit requires a dose of mountaineering care" Get an early start, climb efficiently and keep an eye out for storms. The Wedge is the highest thing around for some distance. Don't get caught on top!
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