Any climber that has spent time on the quartzite cliffs at Devil’s Lake State Park knows that it has a rich and colorful history. Legends like Fritz Wiessner, John Gill and Pete Cleveland all spent time there back in the day, and there is a lot of interesting history behind many of the routes. I have always wanted to find out more about things like who was the first to lead many of the mainly toproped lines, and I suspect many others would find this interesting as well. Unfortunately, the main guidebook for Devil’s Lake does little to nothing to share this history.
With this in mind, I was pleasantly surprised the other week to stumble across a post on MountainProject about an old guide to Devil’s Lake called Extremist’s Guide To Devil’s Lake New Climbs. It was put together by Leo Hermacinski in the mid 1980’s, and it offers a lot of great insight into the route development at Devil’s Lake in the early 1980’s. The guide has some historic information about the first leads of many of the older Devil’s Lake lines as well. I think any aspiring Devil’s Lake trad climber will be humbled seeing how long ago (and how boldly) many of the more well known routes were climbed on lead.
Hermacinski was gracious enough to scan the guide and post it for people to take a look at. You can download a scanned copy of the guide by clicking here. It is a big file (40+ mb), but I think it is well worth checking out if you have ever been to Devil’s Lake or you enjoy reading some of the history of an old school trad climbing area.
People that know me know that there is one climb at Devil’s Lake I always reference when we talk about ridiculous routes. By ridiculous I mean contrived, squeezed in, that sort of thing. Needless to say, I feel pretty vindicated in my point of view after reading Hermacinski’s description of the route on the below page. The first person to guess the route wins a prize?