Rattler Gulch Climbing

Date: May 27, 2018

Leader: Kelsey Wellington

Participants: Alice Gustafson, Logan DeBoer, Casey Brown, Michael Pronzato

With a sudden opening in my calendar and the weather promising to be nothing less than stellar, I planned a last-minute climbing trip to Rattler Gulch on Sunday. The group, which consisted of the majority of participants from my last climbing trip, met at my house at 8am due to my proximity to the interstate. We all piled into my car and arrived at Rattler Gulch, which is near Garnet Ghost Town, before 9am. Due to the short (but incredibly steep!) approaches to all the climbs, we were climbing by 9am.

For many, this was their first time on sharp limestone. I had spent the previous two days climbing granite, so my fingers were screaming at me to take a break. While painful, the climbing was phenomenal. We found finger pockets, heel hooks, and a (somewhat discomforting) number of slabby moves. The canyon echoed with our shouts of joy and frustration as we worked our way up various routes. A few of us (read: me) got in over our heads on one particular route and spent the entirety of the climb shouting things like, “This looked easier from the ground!” and “I thought this was supposed to be the easy section!” and “Why did I think this would be a good idea?”, peppered with a few swear words. Still others (read: Casey) followed a particular route up the wrong way and had a moment or two of panic about taking a fall. I should state that despite always practicing safe tactics while climbing, all of us have a strong fear of falling on lead and prefer to avoid it at all costs, so panic sets in rather quickly when we feel stuck or off-route.

We had someone very new to climbing—Michael Pronzato—join our trip, and he enthusiastically learned all that we were willing to teach him. As it turns out, he studied photojournalism in college and never travels without his camera bag, so he was able to snap some beautiful photos of our day out. All photos included here are his.


We climbed until 4pm—a full day!—and returned to Missoula in time for dinner. Michael thanked us all enthusiastically for the lessons, while the remainder of the group planned to get together for more climbing soon. All-in-all, it was a successful day out for The Rocky Mountaineers!

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