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 Mutt and Jeff:
The Mutt and Jeff
Pitch 1 5.7:
This pitch is actually the first pitch of The Butter Knife
, and serves as a common pitch to both The Mutt and Jeff 5.8+, and S.W. Face.
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 the roof and pull the roof on right side, careful of the loose block you grab before pulling the roof.Continue up crack until coming to a featured (big horns) face. Either climb higher and place a piece of protection (large stopper or medium cam) and then downclimb or sling the horns. Traverse left ~20 feet using the horns for your hands until reaching a wide crack. Climb up ~20 feet to the belay notch. Belay here is a slung chockstone and an old ¼ inch bolt. 160’.
Pitch 2 5.8:
Hanging belay pitch two.
From the belay anchor on pitch one, the route ascends a long corner system to a series of roofs to the left of the Cyclops Eye. The roofs accept large protection in the #3.5-#4 Camalot range, with the last roof being the crux. Pull the last roof with awesome exposure and enter an off width crack accepting “smaller protection” (#2-#3 Camalot) in the back of the off width. After scumming through the off width the climber reaches a hanging belay with 3/8” bolts. Sustained 5.8 climbing with great position and exposure. 165’. Long slings or double ropes to reduce drag are helpful on this pitch.
Pitch 3 5.8:
From the hanging belay the third pitch continues in the off width crack to the ridge. Larger gear (#5 Camalot or big, Big Bros) is required for the first ten to twenty feet or run the rope out a bit. The climbing is fairly sustained but secure. The guidebook mentions the 5.9 finger crack to the left offers nice variation, but we found it to be thin and slightly flared. After the initial run out the off width crack narrows and accepts a variety of gear from brown tri-cams to #2 camalots to assorted stoppers. Follow the crack to the ridge and step up and over the ridge to the north side of the Wedge belaying on a monstrous chock stone. 120-150’.
Pitch 4 5.7:
From the chock stone the route ascends directly up the face until reaching the summit slabs. (~60-70’) From the slabs it is possible to continue to the summit creating a bit of rope drag. From the base of the summit slabs the route becomes 5.3-5.4 with occasional protection but very secure climbing. If you can tolerate the rope drag you can combine pitches 4 and 5.
Pitch 5 low 5th class:
Continue up the slabs until reaching the summit anchors and register.
Follow the summit ridge along the east face until reaching a notch. Scoot down the notch and straddle the ridge by the belay anchors. (A belay is nice for the traverse) A single 60m rope rappell into the open book gets you to a stable ledge. Down climb ~20', some 5.2 rock and walk back to your packs.
The rap station
Camalots #0.5-#4 (not C4's), Metolius TCU's #1-3, a green and yellow Alien, 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 Trango Alpine Equalizer and a 60m rope.
The guide books mention that a 50m rope works for the belays and rappels.
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!
Current Weather and 7 day Forecast
In McKay Jenkins wonderful book "The White Death" the author mentions that Clare Pogreba and Ray Martin were referred to as "Mutt and Jeff" by their "families, friends and professors alike." This was apparently due to the inseparable nature of the two friends. Pogreba, Martin and the Kanzlers' explored and climbed in the Humbugs with the MT Tech climbing club. I am wondering if this is the origin of the route name? If anyone has first ascent or historical information I will gladly add it to this page. Thanks