BlackleafCanyon Bouldering, Montana
info by G.Cornell, June 2008
I submitted this info here to J.Jospheson when he owned First Ascent Press as there was a Montana Bouldering book in the works by a local girl at the time but has been put on the back burner it seems.
To get to Blackleaf Canyon – which has many multi-pitch sport routes on the walls directly above the boulderfields – drive 460km south of Calgary and turn west onto gravel as for Blackleaf at the town of Bynum, which is one of the most David Lynch like places I have ever been to with a neon sign corner bar and dinosaur museum. The next town south, Choteau, has most ammenities, including a pleasant KOA a mile east of town. From Bynum find signs to the Bynum Reservoir and stay on Blackleaf road for 10 minutes until Reservoir turn on your left. After you cross a cattleguard another ten minutes later look for the sign to follow which is Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area. In a bit go left for Blackleaf Canyon and you may depending on the height and current of the creek be able to cross, be safe it can swell up. 10 minutes further still you will be at the trailhead and the canyon entrance not too far a walk down the road.
The South Side
In June the river crossing washed the road out but was passable by jumping across in spots. If so, walk the road for 25 minutes. Pass the kiosk in the main parking area and cross the river upstream as for the sport routes. Alternatively, at the parking lot, cross the river and scramble up the slope to get into the boulders quicker. When you are in line with the ugly orange boulder with the crooked crack across the creek, cross here and take a broken trail up the slope.
The North Side
The boulders above the north side of the main trail are very classy low moderates and although very little is here to explore its worth lounging about and escaping the windier south boulderfield. There is far less churt on this side. When the trail makes a horseshoe turn at the canyon mouth follow a broken trail to the upper boulder strewn plateau. Or find a scree trail and just B-line up the embankment.
If the river is impassable by vehicle, you can camp at the Bynum Civic Park.
Recommended to bring a balaklava to protect your face from serious wind gusts. Bring a chalk bucket rather than a dangling chalk bag- on one route the wind sucked all the chalk out of a bag! The wind can be treacherous on certain sides of a single boulder. The majority of the boulders have reasonably clutter-free landings, are void of vegetation and very little loose rock but beware of churt chunks just snapping off. There are many highballs to do. Above the north hiking trail there are many more boulders i the woods. Most have easy walk-offs but always check first.
Bring tape, old shoes for the sharper rock routes, balaklava and chalk bucket and pad(s).
Some routes needed some cleaning in 2008 and some not so much and some have told me that they don’t know of any locals who had bothered at that time to go out and boulder in Blackleaf. If you feel boulders were climbed and documented before when this topo was made in 2008 please feel free to submit the info. Some boulders in the photos may not align with what is written below as it has not been looked at in years. I am sorry if this causes any cross border annoyance with those damn Canadians!
1) Gob Snot Wall(V0)- Sit start up the fabulous gobs of green chert on the grey slab, nice warmup and so fun.
2) Wham Bam Diamond(V1)- traverse tiny brown wall and go up center line
3) Caution in the Wind(V3)- a traverse to take turns on – start on the easy left, traverse right on grey slab. Make very tricky moves up to a hole, ledge, green globes at the top.
4)Dying Boulder(V0)- traverse low chert and go up to boilerplate rock.
5)Soda Straw(V2)- start off finger-lock straw, go left around bulge and up steep ledges.
6))One on One Again(V2)- traverse perfect triangular slab to left on fun cracks but is too highball to do alone.
7)Stegasaurus(V1)- over grey bulge of steep rusty chert.
8)Lil Knievel Boulder(V4)- start on a nice arete, make an awkward move right, set up hard momentous reach for a crimpy chuert and blocky finish. It’s a bit scary. There are a number of cool specimens welded on the large rock behind.
9)Cordillera(V0)- sit start he right end and traverse along the very fun rail.
10)One Room Motel(V3) the only cozy, clean overhung cave in the area to escape potential bad weather. Crouch off two holds, dyno to the hole then cruise the juggy traverse left.
11)Circus Without a Tent(V4)- start on the arete, traversing left on steep prickly overlaps.
12)Exhibit A (V1)- low sidepull, dyno to a great jug, then onto great left jug and mantle off. Find the snail bone on descent.
13)VB nice intro to chert traversing
14) Geologists Walks(VB)- very fun chert cruise. Start on the east, pass arete, follow chert to rib-crack and nice finish. Climb up rib on the east and north face(V1-3) These are highballs.
15)Lewis ‘n Clark ‘n Me(V3)- sit start off huge bucket and link other nice holds to crank the overhung bulge. Three star.
16)Greenwood’s Slab(V0, HB)- climb dimpled slab on good green/brown chert, steer right near the chossy block top. Boulder to the left has a small cave. Not sure if this is the same boulder however in the supplied photo.
17)V1- traverse entire chert spotted round flat boulder
18)V1- sit start right end to green jug. BB- climb he north face slab
19)Green Egg(V1)- climb far right corner of slab to a green egg on top.
That was the southside boulderfield below the sport climbing walls. Below are routes done on the north side…camera died…
20)The Start(V0)- the first boulder after hiking up from the canyon mouth. From jugs, go left and up. Real short.
21)Enduring Times(V0)-another sunny fun line. Go up grey/yellow face to tiny overlap on neat holds.
22)Beerbreak(V0)- in front of the huge slab, faces east. SS up the face, undercling the top.
23)Blackleaf Classico(V2)- very classy line. Go over center of the overhang and make committing mantle onto funky chert-choked cracks.
24)Clam Cairn(V3)- on the west face, start in center, go left linking tiny rusty tufts, use shallow seams to reach high tuft. Mantle off with a positive crack on the backside.
25)Meanee(V1)- climb the face trending right near the top.
26)Keygrip(V0)- up face center aiming for a nice rock fin.
27)Billy No-Mates Comes to America(V1)- fun fun. Start on cheater boulder and go up bulge using wonderful sloper chert.