Sunday, May 5, 2013

Climbing at Rib Mountain, Wausau

We were all set for a relaxing Sunday rest day until it occurred to us on Saturday evening that we could <gasp> go climbing on Sunday.  This is the sad state of our climbing:  we've gone from "it's a weekend, where are we climbing?" to "are we climbing this weekend?" to "oh yeah--I guess we could go climbing."  Anyway. Divesh had been to check out the bouldering at Rib Mountain a few weeks ago and we decided to head there for the day.  Access for climbing at Rib Mountain has only been recently restored after a four or five year hiatus, so I thought I'd get some photos and information for anyone interested in checking it out.

First impressions were not exactly favorable.  The rock turned out to be a very shiny, slippery quarterzite.  If you like climbing at Devil's Lake, you might enjoy the rock here, but if you have any decent taste whatsoever in rock type (only teasing, Paul and other DLers!) you may be unimpressed.  There were also several groups of unusually loud tourists which we never really seemed to get away from no matter how far from the main area we went.

But Rib Mountain did have some things going for it.  First, the rock isn't as bad everywhere as it is on the first boulders you get to.  The photo above is looking away from the car park and the boulders in the photo are the set you first get to, the ones which leave a little to be desired in rock quality.  If you go left and slightly down the hill, though, you get to a much nicer area with several good problems.  We tried and/or did a couple of short cracks and a traverse, and fell off various other things.  Most of the problems in this area of the crag were V4 or under, although there was a hard-looking problem involving two shallow seams that we didn't try.

Divesh wants me to point out that he's not actually standing on the ground here.

We were also lucky enough to run into a nice bunch of climbers from Madison.  They were as surprised to see us as we were to see them--it's not the kind of place you expect to see anyone else!

There was also more bouldering down the hillside to the right of the tower, like this prow that Divesh tried:

On the whole, it's an okay crag to try...once.  If, God forbid, you do need to find somewhere to boulder in central Wisconsin, I would personally go for the somewhat nearby Rattlesnake Mound over Rib Mountain:  better rock quality, nicer atmosphere (despite the name), and easier-to-find problems.


  1. Thanks for pointing out that I was off the ground on the first pic. I do not want anyone to walk away with the impression that I am a wuss (especially given the lowball on the second pic)....

    1. Yeah, I mean, for either of us I could have chosen from loads of highball photos, I just happened to pick the lowball ones. ahem.

  2. My mom's family is from this area and I thought you were joking about climbing Rib Mountain at first. That part of Wisconsin really doesn't get much flatter than flat, but it looks really fun! I bet the view from the top of that tower is pretty good too :)

    1. We never even climbed the tower! We probably should have. Personally I was just glad the road went all the way to the top of the "mountain"...

      You ran your marathon today, right? I'll be awaiting the update:)

  3. Such a world away from my climbing last year: drive 5 hours to Grand Marais, then 2 more hours along Gunflint Trail, hike 3 hours along unmarked trail (among magnetic rocks, so compass doesn't work), bushwhack 2 hours... to a point with visibility of 2 feet.

    Wisconsin high points are kind of fun in the southeast, forgettable otherwise.