Crystal Delight – 5.8 – Gallatin Canyon – Montana


Climbing Crystal Delight In The Gallatin Canyon

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a day or a summer, head to the 35 MPH bridge on Highway 191 in the Gallatin Canyon. The east side gneiss formations tower over the Gallatin River and offer a lifetime worth of climbing enjoyment for climbers of all abilities.

On a sunny July day, Jeremy Wood and I loaded our gear and hoofed it down the Gallatin Riverside Trail. Our plan was to climb Skyline (5.6), but we had a last minute change of plans and decided to go to the Fish Face Wall for some easy one-pitch trad climbing on Not In Vein and Crystal Delight.

Gallatin Canyon Gneiss
Not In Vein and Crystal Delight In Box

To access this zone, we turned uphill by the Waltz and followed the climbers trail up the southern descent gully to the top of the 3rd pitch of the Waltz, where it basically dead ends into Crystal Delight and Not In Vein.

After warming up on Not In Vein (5.6), Jeremy Wood and I headed about 100 feet south to climb Crystal Delight (5.8). Crystal Delight is a one-pitch, 5.8 trad route that follows an obvious vein of white crystals for about 35 meters.

Crystal Deligh
Crystal Delight

Crystal Delight is located on the river facing section of the Fish Face Wall near the cool crack climb, Fire Escape. It’s nice and shady in the morning and nice and sunny in the afternoon.

CLimbing Gallatin Canyon
Looking Toward Not In Vein and Fire Escape

The route starts out pretty easy and then cruxes through an obvious small crack about 10 meters up. The protection is decent. There are two fixed pitons through the crux. Nuts and small cams are highly recommended. In the middle of the crack is a large white crystal that is loose, but from what I understand it’s been loose for years.

Climbing Crystal Delight
Crystal Delight
Climbing Crystal Delight
Looking Down Crystal Delight

After the crux, the climbing gets easier and after about 35 meters in total you reach a large shelf where you can build an anchor and belay a second. After the climb, it’s easy to walk off to the north (looker’s left) back down to the base. The view of Gallatin Tower is impressive.

Climbing Crystal Delight
Build Your Own Anchor
Climbing Crystal Delight
Gallatin Tower In The Background

Crystal Delight was first climbed by Jack Tackle, Brian Leo, and Doug Randall in 1978. Bozeman Rock Climbs ranks it a two star climb, so add it to your list.

I discovered this one from Bill Dockin’s and Tom Kalakay’s Bozeman Rock Climbs guidebook – a book you absolutely must purchase if you plan to climb in the Big Sky/Bozeman area.

Climbing Crystal Delight
Crystal Delight


Another successful morning mission climbing in the Gallatin Canyon. What’s next?