Aaron Mulkey, Josh Wagner and Laura Chmielewski have established
five routes in Pilot Creek, Wyoming, putting an unknown limestone cave on the map as a mixed climbing destination.
The 45-meter high cliff band, near Cooke City, Montana, has less than a mile approach, decent rock quality and a longer-than-average ice season. The crag
features a cave with a massive free-hanging ice pillar as its centerpiece. "It touches down every ten years or so, I hear,” Mulkey tells Rock and Ice.
“It's getting close this year.”
In the cave, the routes begin on overhanging rock before entering and finishing on the free-hanging ice above. The rock sections are fully bolted, and
not “hardman-style,” Mulkey says. “We want people to come out and try them.”
This season, the three climbers cleaned, bolted and sent four new mixed routes and made the first ascent of a pure ice climb Trophy Wife, adding
to the area’s two existing climbs. And there’s potential for more.
“Josh and Laura's stoke have really helped me push this season out much longer than normal,” Mulkey says. “They make it hard not to be excited about new
Super Fly—Bolted by Josh Wagner, first ascent by Aaron Mulkey. This route connects a series of micro ledges to the roof
where you can step onto the hanging pillar.
Devils Door Bell—Bolted and first ascent by Aaron Mulkey. This route goes up the right side of the hanging pillar through
some roofs and then onto the steep, slightly overhanging wall above. This route was bolted so that you could get onto the pillar at various times throughout
the ice season. It also has a bolted anchor station so that it could be done as a pure dry tool route.
Trophy Wife—First ascent by Aaron Mulkey. While we were putting up the other routes this pillar starting to form with some
of the warmer temps we were having. A week later after it started it touched down and I was able to send the route as a pure ice climb.
My Husband Is Not a Real Doctor—Bolted by Josh Wagner, first ascent by Laura Chmielewski. This route comes in from climbers
left up through a mini roof and connects pockets and edges over to where the Trophy Wife pillar touches the wall.
Sugar Daddy—Bolted and first ascent by Aaron Mulkey. This mixed route starts in the back of a cave and either connects
onto the Trophy Wife pillar or the established ice route Blue.
The crag and climbs are there, but what are the grades?
“I would prefer to not give grades,” Mulkey says, “simply because grades these days tend to be thrown around like punches at a Trump Rally.
“All of these mixed routes have been bolted well and safe by Josh Wagner and I. We just want people to go up and give them a try.”
The area will appear in Mulkey’s upcoming guidebook, which is, “still a year, a year and a half out,” he says.
For more photos, videos and updates, visit Aaron Mulkey’s website coldfear.com.