Wednesday, April 30, 2014

B-town Spire

The spire

Billings, Montana, is known for a lot of things, however desert towers usually don't come to mind when one imagines the magic city.  

The "Santa Clause Spire"  as I have called the rock formation since I was 6 years old, resides in Swords park in Billings, almost directly above Steep World climbing gym.  I remember looking at this spire of sandstone as a kid and thinking it looked like Santa Clause heading east with a bag full of presents on his shoulder.  

This spire has seen few ascents even though it can be viewed from the largest city in Montana!  As far I know it has been climbed maybe 3 times.  Klaus Shock may have aid climbed it and the local legend Jim Rott freed the tower a few years back (a ballsy lead).  There probably were a few other climbers to summit the spire but who knows...

Bridget and I climbed the spire last weekend and it was a classic!  I have a certain affinity for loose rock and this tower fit the bill.  I sat at the base and stared at the spire for a while before deciding I wasn't meant to free climb the thing.  I ended up aid climbing the spire while standing in slings as I didn't bring aiders along.  It takes descent gear and is reasonably safe.  It's a worthy route for the Billings sandstone connoisseur with an inkling for urban desert spires.  

 PS.  There was no anchor on top so I placed a terrible piton anchor that shouldn't be trusted.

Cheers, Loren


  1. Nice! Headed to ski in the misery area this weekend, have you been out there recently? Had a trip to whitetail planned but thats in the trash since the west fork is closed.

  2. Krystal, I haven't been up to misery for a month now, I'm sure it's great though! Have fun!

  3. Nice job. I think aiding it is bolder than freeing it! I tried to free it once and landed on my tailbone while bounce testing a piece- it blew. I gave up the lead and hucked a rope over it, climbed up an insecure top rope, and lowered off the other side. Kinda sketchy. My tailbone hurt for months after. Cool piece of rock though!

  4. Nice Loren! I dig that spire. A hidden B-town gem.