Central Wisconsin Sandstone Bouldering

Central Wisconsin Sandstone Bouldering

I have to admit that I lived the past several years in a bubble, believing that Devil’s Lake was the only place to climb in the entire state of Wisconsin.  Thanks to the generous beta donations of many on MountainProject.com, the bubble is quickly popping.  Many, many areas have been added and it seems like there are always new crags popping up.  Two such crags are the small bouldering areas of Quincy Bluff Preserve and Rattlesnake Mound that were added to MP late this summer.  With a forecast for unseasonably mild weather, I set out for central Wisconsin on Wednesday with these two areas as my objective.

Rattlesnake Mound

First up, I wanted to check out Quincy in the hopes of quickly ticking off the classic line there.  The problem in question takes an amazing line up a gently overhanging face using a really bad crimp followed by a throw to a slopey lip.  In my opinion it is one of the coolest looking lines in the entire state.  There’s only one problem…climbing is not allowed in the Quincy Bluff Preserve.  Doh!

So with that defeat fresh on my mind, I made the short drive over to Rattlesnake Mound.  I was a bit surprised with what I found.

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Due to recent tornado activity, many of the trees in the area are gone and a grassy field is all that remains.  It offers a great setting for two large boulders in the field at the left side of the above picture.  The rock on these boulders feels like a mix between sandstone and quartzite.  The sandstone is of above average quality for Wisconsin and there are a few fun lines on each boulder.

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A fun V4 hugs the arete using the corner and the crack on the left

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A fun V4 climbs the left corner, and two easy problems climb the face

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In addition to the two boulders in the field, there are several blocks surrounding the large bluff.  The rock here is very reminiscent of Governor Dodge so it is more friable.  There are a few cool lines established and possibilities for a few more.

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Right now there are not very many established lines at Rattlesnake Mound, but there is more rock to be explored in several directions that could yield more climbing.  If you are looking for a diversion from the bouldering at Devil’s Lake or Governor Dodge it is worth a day trip to check out.

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27 Responses to Central Wisconsin Sandstone Bouldering

  1. j November 7, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    Does the park classify bouldering as rock climbing? Could be interesting.

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  2. Narc November 7, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    I sort of wondered that. Like do they just not want fixed gear and all that comes with roped climbing? To me it seemed like they probably wouldn’t want any climbing of any kind that would lead to an increase in negative environmental impact. Bouldering can obviously do that with pads crushing landing areas and whatnot.

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  3. steve schultz November 7, 2008 at 10:55 am #

    My understanding is that in “Nature Preserves” bouldering is also classified as rock climbing. Their concern is limiting impact on the more fragile areas of the state, and I agree with it and think we should respect that.

    There are a couple of areas in the Baraboo Hills that I’ve checked out that have massive amounts of potential but are in Narture Preserves. Oh well. We have a decent amount of rock and should be able to deal with it. I think Parfrey’s Glen falls into this category as well.

    Hey, at least we don’t live in Chicago like sweaty, right?

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  4. sweatpants November 7, 2008 at 11:21 am #

    haha seriously.

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  5. j November 7, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Bummer, well WI is destined to keep giving as I have driven around to family a bunch in central WI and the amount of stuff in the driftless zone is insane, and it all looks to be the good sandstone

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  6. mooncalf November 8, 2008 at 7:50 pm #

    Once again the best climbing in Minnesota is in Wisconsin.

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  7. nicros November 10, 2008 at 12:18 pm #

    ah…no…

    Sawmill…

    I am telling you you are crazy not to go.

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  8. Zachary November 10, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    Narc you should have just gone to the rib…

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  9. mooncalf November 10, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

    It was a joke Nic. Think Taylors.

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  10. nicros November 10, 2008 at 8:09 pm #

    I know, I just need to continue bringing attention to that area…. people in Duluth don’t even go there…I do not get it!

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  11. Narc November 11, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    what do you expect, they live in Duluth!

    @Zach, the Rib is on the agenda for next year.

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  12. GT February 2, 2009 at 2:29 pm #

    Any interest in bouldering in northern WI? We have a location that is a beta site and has been tested somewhat and described as one of the best in the midwest. Would like some other opinions. The area is being considered for private development for both conservation and bouldering. (They are compatible.) If developed, future access would be fee based but reasonable.

    [email protected]

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    • Chris February 2, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

      How far north? We’re all interested. Of course, the state parks are pay-once-and-get-access-all-year, so money would matter. How much are you talking about?

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  13. GT February 2, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    Hi Chris
    Depends on how much fun the rocks are! Actually, we’re only in an exploratory stage. We have some pros that will give us an opinion as to value first. Yes, state parks are one fee then free. This would be more a private climb park where you’d make reservations for the day and have exclusive rights. Perhaps a group would do a weekend with lite camping? Since it’s private land, taxes and insurance have to be part of the formula. Add in property management and I think you understand about the fees. But don’t worry, a day of fun will probably be much less than a day of most sport events. We can’t compete with state parks for costs but you won’t stand in line at your favorite rock either. Location is south of Superior. Thanks for the questions and interest!

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    • Chris February 3, 2009 at 2:43 am #

      Interesting. That’s a long way from Madison/me. I would consider starting a thread on mountainproject also, a lot of the Duluth climbers post and have profiles on there. Keep us updated.

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  14. Mike June 23, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    Hey, I am in Eagle River for the summer. Is that area in the north of WI anywhere near there? Are there any other areas or ideas near Eagle River? I saw a lake on the map not too far away called “Boulder Lake”. Have to check it. Cool site by the way. Thanks.

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    • Narc June 23, 2009 at 11:53 am #

      Thanks Mike. The area that GT is referring to is not near Eagle River as far as I know. Rib Mountain near Wausau is probably the closest (known) climbing.

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      • Mike June 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

        Thanks– I might have a look at that. Thanks for the quick reply.

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  15. sweatpants June 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    not that i would dare go on the quincy land… but if i did go a month or 2 ago… i would probably have sent the direct line and probably would say that it is one of the best of its grade that I’ve done… i probably would have slapped the top 7 times before finally sending also… but im sure i didnt do such a thing because you’re not supposed to although it is a nature reserve in the middle of no where that no one knows about nor visits.

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    • Chris Eggbert June 23, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

      And I did not listen to how sweet that particular line wasn’t while not on the phone with Sweaty while he was not driving home from this nature preserve. Not. ce

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  16. Narc June 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    Funny. I did not call and tell sweaty about how sweet this line may or may not be after I didn’t visit it on the trip described in this post.

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  17. sweatpants June 23, 2009 at 11:18 pm #

    It’s true neither of those things happened.

    Eggface you should definately not go there and try this problem. you should also definately not go and get the 2nd ascent of Chaos.

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    • Narc June 24, 2009 at 6:03 am #

      I think everyone must be holding off on the 2nd ascent until I have another crack at it. How nice of them.

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  18. sweatpants June 24, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    Well you’ll have to get on it when you havent spent the whole morning not throwing yourself at a direct line that you wouldnt try in a million years… then maybe you’ll have some skin and strength left for it. Just a though 😉

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  19. nicros June 24, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    I am thinking of headed up (or not) for the 4th… Chaos here I come! and the proj (still a proj?) and I will not wait for narc… he will break his femur and never walk let alone climb again, he will however get really good a pull ups.

    I have no ethics..

    -nic

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    • Narc June 26, 2009 at 9:18 am #

      I broke a finger just typing this comment…

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  20. Chris Eggbert June 24, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    I do not want to get the 2nd ascent of Chaos and I will never try the other line we are not talking about. I cannot not wait to get to this area. Hopefully it gets a little hotter and I get to spend a little more time at work than I currently am in the next couple weeks. ce

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