Ice Climbing Conditions in the Bighorn Basin

As guides routinely working in northern Wyoming’s ice climbing areas, we like to provide conditions updates as a service to the local climbing community. These updates help inform people about their climbing objectives, seasonal conditions, access issues, and potential hazards. As ice climbing in the area becomes more popular, we hope this resource will help improve the safety and sustainability of the activity.

DISCLAIMER: However helpful for planning and preparation, conditions reports are not all encompassing. They may not reflect current ice conditions due to the fluid nature of the medium. In addition, these reports are only one of many tools ice climbers need to make good decisions and stay safe. Ice climbing is an inherently dangerous activity, and this resource is not a substitute for the advanced skills and extensive experience needed to safely venture out on your own. If you are inexperienced, make sure you climb with someone who is a competent ice leader with years of experience or consider hiring a guide. And even if you are an experienced ice climber, please consider starting out on easier terrain as you grow accustomed to the area.

Want to learn more about these climbing areas? See our digital guide for individual route descriptions.

Carter Mountain:

Much of Carter Mountain ice has been in for over a month now but it is getting very cold and brittle – would not recommend now as the valley ice is in much better shape.

South Fork Valley:

The shady side (lower bench, upper bench, and upper river valley) is by and large in. Several moderate classics including Moratorium, Bozo’s, Sendero, Animal Rights Activist, Duck Soup, Mean Green, High On Boulder, Grandma’s Chicken, and Smoked Turkey have been climbed recently. We can’t confirm anyone has been on the One Hitter, Hunter Creek, or Festering Ice but all look good from afar. Many of the classic grade 5 climbs on the benches are not completely formed, such as Joy After Pain, Horsetail, and Ice Fest.

The Lower Bench, early December

The sunny side is spotty due to the unseasonably warm temps but we’ve been fortunate to climb several classics tucked away in the deeper gullies, including Schoolhouse (Classroom Bully is in great this year), Hostile Takeover, High School Squids, the new dry variation of Broken Hearts, and Broken Ribs. The climbs up Deer Creek are coming along nicely; Smooth Emerald Milkshake is in good condition but beware of the snow in the forecast as that route is very subject to avalanche hazard.

Pitch 2 of Schoolhouse

Bighorn Mountains:

The north facing climbs in all the major canyons are coming in decently but overall about a week later than usual. The climbs in Cottonwood and Five Springs are good to go, the Shroud and the north facing mixed lines in Shell have good ice, as well as the first pitch of Leigh Creek Falls. As is normally the case this time of year, stay away from anything in the sun.

Contact us:

Have questions about conditions or want to add your information to this report? Feel free to call at (307) 431-1741 or send us an email using the form below:

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