Photograph by Boone Speed, Getty Images
The ice of Hyalite Canyon, just south of Bozeman, has gained fame as the proving ground of legendary Himalaya climbers Conrad Anker and Alex Lowe, as well as a spot for the locals to just get out and swing their picks. Filled with countless waterfalls in the summer, Hyalite sets up with a smorgasbord of ice climbs in the winter. Routes range from popular, consistent classics to ephemeral wisps of ice that have only have been climbed one season.
The Genesis area is the center of most action, since it requires only a scramble from the parking lot to access and offers standards like Sleeping Giant Falls (WI 4) and Genesis II (WI 3 ). More daunting is a rare climb like Black Magic (WI 5). Starting in 2007 there was some controversy about keeping the Hyalite Canyon Road plowed in winter, but the Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition has worked with the Gallatin National Forest to ensure access remains open to one of the best natural ice climbing playgrounds in the country.
Need to Know: An extensive online climbing guide to the Hyalites can be found at Montana Ice and Alpine Recreation (www.montanaice.com). Barrel Mountaineering in Bozeman has information and equipment and can set you up with guides (www.barrelmountaineering.com).