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Rock Climbing Photos : Artistic : Montana's Northern Adel Mountains

Montana's Northern Adel Mountains

Montana's Northern Adel Mountains

 Another favorite point of rock-head interest is the patch of rugged volcanic hills between Wolf Creek and Cascade. The Adel Mountains are made up of volcanic rubble and mudflow deposits from rain mixed into soft volcanic ashes. These deposits contain large chunks of a fairly unique rock type called shonkinite (named after town of Shonkin near the Highwood Mountains), formed from an alkalic, deep-crustal magma. The large black crystals among the purple-brown matrix are a mineral known as augite, indicating formation deep within the earth's molten mantle. The volcanic mudflows picked up larger rock debris as they flowed down the sides of ancient volcanoes, later hardening into solid rock.   The Adels are only about 50 million years old (Eocene). Montana probably had a relatively dry, semiarid climate during the last 50 million years, but since a more wet climate began over the last two to three million years - especially during glacial periods - the Adels have eroded significantly. Some of the spectacular Adel outcrops are accessible by floating the Missouri downstream from Craig, or along the recreation road between Wolf Creek and Cascade. The rocks from left to right are: Lionshead butte,Birdtail rock(behind unamed rock), Haystack butte,Crown Butte(in far background), and Fishback Butte. note the parrallel runing dikes in the foreground. Photo: Corey Stelling

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