The Best Places for Rock Climbing Near Billings
Aspinwall Mountain Wear is all about the mountain and outdoor experience. It doesn’t matter if you live in Billings, Montana or New York City, New York. We want you to have the best mountain clothing to wear while you’re experiencing life (ideally life outside).
Since our roots are here in Billings, and our physical store is located in Billings, we know about the rock climbing here. Now that the winter has finally left us, and the weather is looking (somewhat) better, it’s time to get out the gear and hit the crag. If you’re wondering where to go, here’s our quick list of the best rock climbing near Billings.
Climbing on Sandstone
The edge of the Yellowstone valley is bordered by our often taken for granted Rimrocks. Called by some climbers the “sandstone Mecca of eastern Montana” we have world class climbing just a few minutes from anywhere in town. The great thing is that most of it hasn’t been touched. Yes, you can get first ascent here in town. There are three places to climb established routes.
Zimmerman Park – One of the easiest access points to get up on top of the rims, Zimmerman Park has come a long way in the past couple decades. With bolted anchors and pitches ranging from 10 to 40 feet, you get plenty of opportunities to hone your skills. No rope? No problem; there are boulders galore.
Gregory Hills – As Zimmerman Park has easy access, Gregory Hills has difficult access. Mostly because the once vacant lots are now taken up by houses. There is still access to these cliff climbs, just make sure you walk the easement and not through someone’s yard. Once on the base of the rocks there are dozens of established routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.12 in difficulty.
Phipps Park – Phipps Park is “way out on Molt road” and not used as much as a climbing destination as the other areas. It’s an especially great bouldering area. The area, sometimes referred to as Diamond X, is mostly used as a folf course, but there’s plenty to do here if you’re not a disc golfer. Just don’t get in the way of the folfers, those discs hurt when they hit you!
When you’re out in the sun, make sure to grab your Aspinwall hat to keep the sun off your noggin. It can get pretty toasty next to the rock, so make sure you’re hydrated and not getting burnt!
Climbing on Granite
Sandstone is great, but granite is stronger. It’s a whole different experience when you change the type of rock that you climb on. Fortunately, just about everything in the Beartooth Mountains are made of granite.
The Ramp – Both East and West Rosebud Valley’s offer great climbing. One popular Trad route is The Ramp in the East Rosebud Valley. Not quite before you get to the end of the road, there’s a big slab of nice quality granite. It’s about a 45 minute approach to 5 pitches of great climbing that’s actually pretty easy (crux is on pitch 5 and just a few moves of 5.9). It’s a great foray into climbing in the Beartooths, gets you up high, and lets you experience granite climbing.
Climbing on Limestone
The Ovens – As you head through Red Lodge and turn toward Red Lodge Mountain, the road will split. To the left it remains paved and you can get to great places to fish with little kids like Wild Bill Lake, or you arrive at the trailhead to some epic hikes into the backcountry. If you turn right, on the dirt road, you get to the closest ski resort to Billings. But if you park right at the turn, there’s a small limestone fin that makes for some quick climbing on your way to do other mountain activities. 5 bolted routes ranging from 5.4 to 5.10a at a maximum of 65 feet (with a walk off descent) make it a nice break on a sunny morning in the mountains. The weather can cool quickly, bring along a hoodie!
Timber Canyon – Just east of the Beartooths are the Pryor Mountains. If you’ve spent much time in the Beartooths, these are entirely different. Nearly all limestone, an arid climate, and some crazy rumors of little people that guard the area are just a few of the highlights. While there are climbs throughout all of the canyons, Timber Canyon has some bolted routes from an easy 5.7 to a tough 5.10d. It’s a little known place, so enjoy the solitude if you go!
Climbing on Plastic
Spring in Montana means two things: sunny days in the 60’s that are followed by days that barely hit 30 and snow. The unpredictable weather means that in order to get out climbing you sometimes have to get inside and climb.
Steep World – Steep World Climbing and Fitness is the only climbing gym in Billings (there’s a small rock wall at Rocky Mountain College or the YMCA, but nothing like this). Bouldering routes line one side of the gym, while a 40 foot roped wall takes up the other. A mezzanine area with a smaller practice and kids section for those who aren’t quite comfortable going as high helps spread things out even more. If you’ve climbed and still need a little workout, some treadmills, bikes, and free weights can round things out.
Wear the Right Mountain Clothes for your Mountain Activities
The number one rule of climbing, or any mountain activity, is to be safe. And that starts with having the proper gear. A poly-blend t-shirt will help to wick sweat away, a hat will keep the sun off, and a sweatshirt will help fight against the cold if you’re climbing in the early season.
Whether you’re rock climbing near Billings, on the East or West Coast, or somewhere in the middle, Aspinwall Mountain Wear has outdoor clothing that is perfectly suited to help you live the lifestyle you love.