Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Devil Made Me Do It

My destination from Gaylord, Michigan became Boulder, Colorado. To get to Colorado from northern Michigan there are ostensibly 3 choices:
1) Head back south through central and western Michigan to go around the lake to the south (blech!)
2) Take the 4-hour ferry across Lake Michigan (not an option – the ferry isn’t running yet. I wouldn’t do this anyway for the $100 fare)
3) Drive north to the Upper Peninsula (UP), then back south on the west side of the lake. 
I selected Door #3, a much prettier drive and only 50 miles longer.  After the pounding preaching I received in Michigan, I felt an intermediate destination was called for:  DEVIL’S LAKE, WISCONSIN.

The March issue of Climbing Magazine featured Devil’s Lake and I was intrigued to hear so much about this unique place.  Despite the slightly pricey camping and park fee (the park is a beauty so once there I am happy to support it), I found the climbing well worth it.  I would go back to climb at this place for a full week if I could.  It is truly a unique experience – if you are a climber and you pass nearby Madison, WI, be sure to stop here.

Thanks to the Mountain Project online community I was able to secure a local to show me around.  Well, he wasn’t just any local – he is the unofficial tour guide of the climbing at Devil’s Lake – Nick Rhoads.  Nick is the manager at the climbing gym in Madison – “Boulder’s”, not to be confused with “Boulder” as in Boulder, CO (you following this?) Nick and his sidekick Buckey treated me to 5 classic routes on the East Bluff.  My favorite was a climb called (I think) “Double D” – a striking diagonal crack with better than expected feet and bomber hands, including a “bat hold.’ That’s right, there was a bat in the crack about half way up the route and I had the pleasure of touching his (or her) soft little nose!  The boys had warned me about the bat, but I didn’t see it until it was too late. Clearly that bat was much more afraid of me than I was of it!  I found the bat and the plentiful bees waking from their winter slumber to be enjoyable bonuses to my experience climbing here.

It didn’t hurt that Nick and Buckey were also beer aficionados as well.  We shared a Rock Art Vermonster at the tailgate before saying farewell. With their advice I was able to stop at a package store down the road and pick up a six pack of a local microbrew “New Glarus”. Sweet. Thanks Nick for treating me to a day at your local crags.
Nick on Brinton's Crack, Devil's Lake

1 comment:

  1. Wow, and the devil even sent along one of his spooky Halloweeny minions to remind you about your salvation [the bat]. You see? Heaven is always looking after you! :)

    You're taking photos along your journey right?