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Worker Bee – 5.7 – Beehive Peak – Madison Range – Montana

Climbing Worker Bee – 5.7 – on Beehive Peak in the Madison Range of Montana

Beehive Peak is the second highest peak in the Spanish Peaks. The south face of Beehive Peak is home to many established alpine climbing routes. For this alpine adventure, our route of choice is Worker Bee – a 4 pitch, 5.7 alpine climb that ascends approximately 450′.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Our Ascent Route – Worker Bee 5.7

In early October, Opie Jahn and I set out to climb Worker Bee. During the approach, the views were outstanding, the lake was pristine, and the glacial carved valley was stunning. We made good time up the trail, until we reached the end of the maintained Beehive Basin Trail. Then we continued off-trail to the base of the climb.

End of Trail

End of The Beehive Basin Trail

After a quick rock hop and goat-like scramble toward Beehive Peak, we found a good place to ditch our packs. I used my MSR Dromlite to hydrate as we sorted gear and got ready for a fast and light climb.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Rock Hopping

With Beehive’s South Face looming overhead, we caught glimpses of New World Route (5.8) and Life of A Drone Bee (5.7). So many options!

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

The South Face of Beehive

Worker Bee is an obvious left dihedral that starts in an obvious crack that leads to a chimney system. It is easy to distinguish this route from a distance because it ends in an obvious notch on the East Ridge. The crack you can see as you approach is actually a series of chimneys that can easily swallow a person. The climb starts at an elevation of about 10300′. The entire route consisted of 4 pitches and approximately 445′ of climbing.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looking Up Worker Bee

Worker Bee can be pitched out in numerous different ways and there are plenty of variations. The following is a description of our route on this trip.

Pitch 1 of Worker Bee starts out nice and easy. It follows a crack for about 30 meters when it hits a chimney system. The chimney has obviously been climbed numerous times, which is evident from the sunglasses and numerous slings in the chimney. It is possible to climb this section if you are a tiny child or an abnormally small adult with out a rack or pack or a belly. I was unable to maneuver my way through this constricting squeeze chimney and had to down climb this sketchy section.

As an option for normally sized people, a face on climber’s left makes for easier climbing up and over the chimney section. Above the squeeze chimney, there is a nice ledge to belay from. It’s tiny, but it does the trick. It is approximately 50 meters to this belay.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Below The Squeeze Chimney on Pitch 1

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

The Worker Bee Squeeze – Careful!

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looing Down Pitch 1

Pitch 2 lead up a wet section of rock into yet another chimney. This chimney is climbable! It’s easy to stem your way up this section. A combination of stem moves, foot placements, and hand holds make this section easier than expected, but the protection is limited so be careful. It’s nice to have some tiny cams like Black Diamond X4’s for this section. Above this chimney is a decent belay ledge. This pitch was approximately 40 meters.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looking Up Pitch 2

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looking Down Pitch 2

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Opie Belaying At Top of Pitch 2

For Pitch 3, there is an obvious, larger chimney directly above the belay ledge. Doing a bit of detective work, we noticed that it was mossy, dark, cold, and wet from our late September snow fall. We tip-toed out to the face on climber’s right side. This turned out to be a magnificent choice. It was nice, quick, mellow crack climbing. In approximately 40 meters, there was a large belay ledge to set up shop.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looking Down Pitch 3

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Opie Coming Up Pitch 3

The fourth pitch is almost more of a scramble than a climb. It can be climbed quickly and ends in the notch on the East Ridge.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Opie Climbing Pitch 4

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looking Down Pitch 4

The final section of the climb follows the East Ridge, aka Follow The Swarm, to the summit of Beehive Peak. From the notch at the end of Worker Bee, the climbing is easy, but the exposure is massive. We kept the rope on for the last push. It mostly follows a grassy ledge with a few simple climbing moves.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Scramble To Summit From Top of Pitch 4

Beehive Peak East Ridge

The Final Push Up the East Ridge

The summit of Beehive Peak at 10742′ offers jaw-dropping views in every direction – Gallatin Peak, The Blaze, Beehive Basin, Big Sky Town Center, Lone Mountain, The Taylor-Hilgards, Cedar Mountain, The Madison Valley. Everywhere you look is amazing.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Opie Enjoying the Summit of Beehive Peak

Beehive Basin

Beehive Basin

Lone Mountain, Cedar Mountain

Lone Mountain and Cedar Mountain

The Blaze Madison Range MT

The Blaze

Madison range - Gallatin Peak

Gallatin Peak and the Madison Range

Big Sky Town Center

Big Sky Town Center As Seen From Beehive Peak

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Beehive Lake and Spanish Lakes

I quickly switched out of my Scarpa Techno X climbing shoes and put on my La Sportiva Boulder X approach shoes for the down climb. Opie threw on his approach shoes and his new Patagonia Nano Air. Unlike when I climbed What’s Left, we opted to descend the standard route – down the 4th of July Gully.

The descent route begins on the west side of Beehive Peak. It’s an easy down climb with lots of large, loose rocks. One the size of a Bosu Ball pummeled down near our rappel. Yikes! After the first 10 meters, we set up a rappel off a large horn. At the bottom of the rappel, we followed a grassy ledge leading south toward the 4th of July Chimney. We rappelled this chimney to the col between the 4th of July Gully and North Twin.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Opie Summits Beehive Peak

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

The Down Climb from the Summit

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Bottom of First Rappel

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Scrambling Down

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Taking A Breather

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Rappelling Down 4th of July Chimney – 2nd Rappel

Descending the 4th of July Gully was the way back to the packs. It was full of loose rock, scree, and snow. We walked down this sketchy, 4th class terrain until we got near the base of What’s Left. From there, we set up a 3rd and final rappel to the base of the 4th of July Gully. From here it is easy to find a climber’s trail that led back to the backpacks.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looking Down North Twin Couloir in October

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looking Down 4th Of July Gully

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

4th of July Gully Decent

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Looking Up 4th Of July Gully – Bottom of 3rd Rappel

The sun was starting to set and a full moon was rising over Bear Basin as we geared up for the hike back to the Beehive Basin Trailhead. The trail was bathed in moonlight, so our headlamps weren’t entirely necessary.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

The Moon Rising Over The Bear Hump

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Headlamp Hiking

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Beehive Silhouette

The entire adventure took over 10 hours, covered 9.35 miles, and totaled 3250 vertical feet. It was epic. Climbing Worker Bee on Beehive Peak is well worth the effort. It’s an easily accessible, classic climb on an iconic mountain. Montana rocks.

Climbing Beehive Peak Worker Bee

Our Route – Gaia GPS

Enjoy and climb safe.

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Learn more about climbing Beehive Peak from:

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Enjoy some additional images of climbing Worker Bee on Beehive Peak:

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This route was climbed on October 6, 2014.