Ski Tracks – 5.7 – Gallatin Canyon


Climbing Ski Tracks in the Gallatin Canyon

Ski Tracks is a two pitch trad climb that is rated 5.7. It’s located on the east side of the Gallatin River in the Gallatin Canyon on the massive and impressive gneiss formations of SW Montana.

Ski Tracks
Ski Tracks – 5.7 – 2 Pitches

After a week of rain, and a bit of snow up high, it was nice to get back on rock. It is my first climb this October and Jeremy Wood and I jumped in the Tacoma and headed north from Big Sky. We parked at the 35 MPH Bridge on Highway 191. After sorting climbing gear, we jumped on the climber trail for about 35 minutes. Heading to the top tier of gneiss is a quick 1.58 mile hike that climbs 880 vertical feet. Leaving us at the base of Ski Tracks.

ski tracks hiking route
Ski Tracks Route From GAIA GPS

Ski Tracks is located  between the uber classic Spare Rib (5.8) and just to the climber’s left of Zig Zag (5.8). The climbing route consists of two pitches following two nice cracks.

ski tracks climb
View of Ski Tracks From Gallatin Tower

The first pitch of Ski Tracks could be considered more of a scramble than a climb. There are a couple of climbing moves, but it’s not super exciting. It’s also not very long, or challenging. After scrambling over scrubby, chossy, bushy terrain, pitch 1 ends in a nice big ledge. There are plenty of bomber cracks to build an anchor.

Ski Tracks Pitch 1
Jeremy Climbing Pitch 1

The second pitch of Ski Tracks gets a bit more spicy. The route immediately works up into a off-width chimney and roof. After getting past this crux move, the climb continues up two nice cracks that resemble ski tracks – thus the name. With the exception of a few moves, there are good hand and foot holds. The entire pitch is easy to protect with cams of various sizes. It’s somewhat similar to its next door neighbor, SpareRib, but not quite as aesthetic.

Looking Up Ski Tracks Pitch 2
Looking Up Pitch 2
Ski Tracks pitch 2
Looking Down Pitch 2 As Jeremy Climbs Up
ski tracks jeremy
Jeremy Almost At The Top

Throughout pitch two, there are  multiple loose rocks – some the size of basketballs. Scary. At the top of the climb, there are even more loose rocks. With a bit of sniffing around, you can find some bomber cracks and rocks to sling. It was easy to build a bombproof anchor from a few BD Camalots size 3 and 4.

As always the views from the top are stunning – Gallatin Tower is in the shade, Skyline dominates the southern skyline, and vehicles cruise along Highway 191 next to the Gallatin River a thousand feet below you. It’s impressive.

skyline climbing
Skyline – 5.6 and The Gallatin River Far Below
Jeremy At The Top of Ski Tracks
Jeremy At The Top of Ski Tracks

There is an easy down climb to the north of the Sparerib area. It heads down a mossy gully that can be slick if it’s been raining, but generally it’s relatively easy.

Sparerib down climb
Sparerib Area Down Climb

Overall, climbing Ski Tracks in the Gallatin Canyon was an enjoyable experience. I’m glad I climbed it, but I’m not sure it will be high on my repeat list.

Ski Tracks Climb
Ski Tracks From The Bottom


Here are some more images from climbing Ski Tracks in the Gallatin Canyon:


Learn more about Ski Tracks and other climbs in the Gallatin Canyon from Bozeman Rock Climbs by Bill Dockins and Tom Kalakay.

Have fun and climb safe.


This trip report was from October 3, 2014.