Beartooth Climbing

Katherine Tower, lower part of climbs not visible

Katherine, SE-Face and Bill's Choice

The Three Sisters: Esther, Katherine and Virginia; Photo courtesy Roscoe Community Center

Katherine Tower (aka Tower of Innocence)

Direct SE-Face, 8 pitches, 5.11a
Billís Choice, 8 pitches, 5.11a

Multiple pitch traditional climbing on solid rock. A good introduction to Beartooth climbing without the usual remoteness.


USGS 7.5 min series Alpine Quadrangle


From Red Lodge or Columbus take Highway 78 to Roscoe. Follow East Rosebud Road south. After about 10miles you enter Custer National Forest. Continue on to where the road crosses East Rosebud Creek. Turn right after the bridge and park at end of road. The Three Sisters (from south: Esther, Katherine, and Virginia) are above on the west side of the valley. The Direct Start can be reached in 45 min. Add 15 min for the regular approach which skips the first two pitches of the SE-Face.

Route Description:

See topo for SE-Face and Billís Choice. Both routes share the same crux, an overhanging off-width that narrows to a hand crack. It can be wet early in the season. The SE-Face can be done without the 2 direct start pitches which makes it quite a bit easier.

There are more routes to the right starting from the regular approach ledges


Climb down the exposed back side of the summit block. It looks more scary than it is. Then move along the right side of the cliff. You can rappel from a tree early on and than rappel and scramble further down until you get to the approach ledges. This descent can be hard to find. A longer but safer alternative is to scramble all the way to the point where the cliff meet the talus slopes. From there descent down to the right and into the gully between Katherine and Virginia. Follow the gully all the way down or climb back up left to the approach ledges.

First Ascent:

SE-Face: Unknown

Direct start SE- Face: ÖÖ, Bill Davey, 200x

Billís Choice: Bill Davey, Frank Annighofer, 2010