Beartooth Climbing

Free Silver on Silver Pillar

Silver Pillar as seen from approach, photo by Bill Davey

Silver Run Peak

Free Silver, 5.11a, 7 pitches

This climb is on Silver Pillar, the obvious E-buttress of Silver Run Peak right at its center. It is the only free route on this wall to my knowledge. Donít expect to find bolts or pitons on this remote alpine adventure between 11,000 and 12,200 foot elevation. You will find exposed face and crack climbing on vertical mostly solid granite. The crux is low, but it never gets really easy until you get to the very end.

Maps:

USGS 7.5 min series Silver Run Peak and Sylvan Peak Quadrangles

Approach:

From Red Lodge take the road towards the ski area. Continue straight (east) on West Fork Road. After about 11 miles park at Timberline Lake Trailhead. Follow the trail to Timberline Lake and continue up towards Silver Pillar which is visible high up at the end of the drainage. There are good camping spots on the last green before you get into rocks and boulders. It takes about 3h from trail head to get to this point. Another hour of scrambling and finally 4th class climbing on loose rock gets you to the start of the climb. Approaching right of the lowest point of the pillar and moving back left works well.

Route Description:

The Topo should be all you need once you got the beginning right. You start out on the left and around the corner of an obvious dihedral. The first pitch follows a left leaning hand/fist crack (5.10a), then turns back right and up to a belay under a roof. The second pitch goes over the roof (astoundingly easy) and up a difficult face and finger crack (5.11a crux). Follow up the crack systems until you reach the plateau after 7 long pitches.

Descent:

Follow the plateau down northeast staying close to the edge for some stunning views of the route. There is a number of gullies leading back down to the camping spot and Timberline Lake. They are getting less steep and easier to navigate the lower you descent on the plateau.

First Ascent:

Silver Pillar has been climbed in the early 70s Jim Kanzler, Chad Chadwick and Stutzman. Another route has been done 1975 by Brian Leo and Terry Kennedy. As far as known all of these were aid climbs.

Free Silver has been free climbed without use of pitons or bolts on Sept 3rd, 2006 by Bill Davey and Frank Annighofer.