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The Rave is a Hyalite Canyon Seven-Pitch M10

This past March in Montana, Manoah Ainuu, Nate Kenny, Conrad Anker, Whitney Stowe, and Matt Cornell established The Rave, a 180-metre line in the Winter Dance area. Only Cornell sent the overhanging cobble-climb.

Matt Cornell on Rave Cave. Photo: Whitney Stowe Photo by: Whitney Stowe

Hyalite Canyon in southern Montana is home to over 250 mixed and ice routes up to hundreds of metres long. This past winter, 26-year-old Matt Cornell and his friends added one more, The Rave, a bolt-protected line that climbs predominantly rock, with few sections of ice.

Cornell spied the line in the Winter Dance area during his many visits to the 180-metre WI5+ M8 Nutcracker, which he free soloed in February 2020. He returned to Winter Dance this past January and approaching the climb from the top-down, rap bolted what would become The Rave.

Manoah Ainuu on The Rave
Manoah Ainuu on The Rave. Photo: Matt Cornell

The standout pitches, Cornell says, include Pitch 2, which “climbs through immaculate rock. “I think it’s the best pitch on the route.” On Pitch P4, rated 5.9, “You’re climbing dead vertical jug cobbles for 110 feet (30m). Here you’re using just crampons and gloves.” Pitch 6, the M10 crux, ascends a massive overhanging feature like the popular Bingo Cave, also in Hyalite. “You take the weakness right out of a cave, and once you pull the lip it gets technical until you hit the belay ledge,” Cornell says.

Starting on January 2, the team of Manoah Ainuu, Nate Kenny, Conrad Anker, Whitney Stowe, and Cornell spent two months prepping the route. The climb required extensive cleaning and loose-block removal. They placed 94 bolts in the brittle andesite basalt stone. Anker and Cornell drilled and Stowe helped with hauling; Kenny and Ainuu returned to support Cornell on his redpoint. Once the bolts were in, Cornell spent five days a week cleaning the line, with Anker joining him on the wall two to three days a week. One day during cleaning, “Conrad and I pulled off an 8 by 5 foot pillar,” Cornell says. “When that released, I was standing on Jenga blocks so it was the full landslide.”

Since they were bolting andesite with giant cobblestones that protruded from the wall, the team used massive half-inch by seven-inch to 12-inch long bolts to protect the climb. Though entirely bolt protected, the route requires bold climbing over technical, often severely overhanging terrain.

Before his March 15 redpoint, Cornell took one of the biggest falls of his career, sailing air upwards of 40 feet (12m) when the flake he was hooking pried away on the final pitch. “I was far above the last bolt and ready to clip,” he says. “I had the rope in my teeth and since I clinched down when I fell, I almost ripped my front teeth out. When I stopped falling, I was below the belay.”

For his send, which took eight hours, Cornell partnered with Nate Kenny and Manoah Ainuu where he made a no-falls ascent and led the cruxes. “We brought rave music and listened to it the whole time,” he says.

The Rave Topo
Topo: Matt Cornell

Cornell splits his time between Groveland, California, where he works as a server at Priest Grade Café with Whitney Stowe, and Bozeman, Montana, where he climbs full time. Anker, the group’s elder statesman at 58 (and needs no introduction), is one of America’s top alpinists. Ainuu is a professional climber with The North Face, and Kenny is a sponsored climber with Trango and works as a photographer and filmmaker.

Cornell on The Rave
Cornell on The Rave. Photo: Whitney Stowe

The pitch breakdown according to Cornell:
P1: M6. Starts on ice and climbs to a stance in a cave.
P2: M9. “Climbs through immaculate rock. I think it’s the best pitch on the route. It’s 30-35 metres straight up, and it’s really sick.”
P3: M6. boulder problem. 50 feet.
P4: 5.9. “Glory. Jug cobbles for 110 feet. Dead vertical.”
P5: 5.8. “Choss pitch to access the Rave Cave. The worst and loosest pitch on the route. Be careful on that one.”
P6. M10. The crux pitch that goes out the Rave Cave. “It’s a massive cave feature like the Bingo Cave; you take the weakness. Once you pull the lip, it gets technical until you hit the belay.”
P7. M7. “Super exposed. It’s like you’re climbing toward the top of El Cap. You step off this wonderful ledge, and everything is all steep.”
Rack: 16 quickdraws, One 70 metre rope needed to rappel the route

Lead photo: Whitney Stowe