Steep sport climbing in the large amphitheater near Willow Falls. Some of the steepest stone in the Midwest. Most climbs tend to be endurance fests on large holds. Climbs range from 5.11 to 5.13 and harder. This area is best for the 5.12 and up climber, although there are a few 5.11's. Approximately 25 routes total. Do NOT rappel from the overlook above the climbs. Across the river from the huge roof area is another cliff face that has bolts, rangers are not pleased that these bolts exist so don't climb there. Access is somewhat tenuous, so don't give the rangers any reason to close Willow to climbing.
There is also a big river that is right next to the climbing so you can pack your day of climbing and also a little whitewater. All and all it will be fun.
PLEASE DO NOT TOPROPE OFF OF THE FIXED ANCHORS AT WILLOW RIVER!
If you plan to TR after leading something, use your own draws for this. The anchors are showing signs of the increased traffic. If you see biners at the top of a climb that are worn or do not open and close properly, please replace them!
Its in Hudson, WI.
Take exit 4 off of I94 and follow the signs to the park. Go past the main entrance to the small parking lot about 400 yards further. Follow the trail down the long gradual hill and to the bridge where you will see the amphitheater.
Climbing is allowed on weekdays when the park is open. Climbing is prohibited on Friday and Sunday after 12 noon, and climbing is not allowed at all on Saturday. Fixed gear is strictly not allowed.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Willow River State Park:
Start on Genesis then head up to the chains of Cain. The first half is like hanging on the couch Ė big comfy holds. Then you have to step off the couch to pull the crux once you reach Cain. Think of it as having to get off the couch to get a beer or something. Then itís back to the couch Ė big comfy holds to the chains. Donít fall getting back on the couch though itís a little tricky here, but itís still pretty ďcouchĒ....[more]Browse More Classics in WI
I am confused at the state of affairs of this climbing area, it says that the use of fixed protection is prohibited does this mean that no more bolts can be placed or that people cant use existing bolts??? as far as the other bluff goes is climbing allowed at all or is it closed??? they way the description is written seems to gives an impression that its a locals only crag and that all others should not attend?? whats the story here???
The whole situation with Willow is a bit confusing. You certainly can use existing bolts, but as for placing new ones or replacing old ones it is best to consult Jeff Engel (as it states in the guidebook). But what I think Colin may be referring to is quickdraws, it is prohibited to leave your gear hanging overnight. The other cliff opposite the Main Amphitheater is permanently closed to climbing, those bolts have been removed. Willow is somewhat of a local's only crag (not in the private sense of course) due to the unusual restrictions that are enforced, and it being only 30min from downtown St. Paul. Most out-of-town climbers can't make it here during a weekday, and there is practically no climbing allowed on the weekend. It's a shame since this place is such a gem! In the last couple years there has been a boom in the number of climbers coming here, which is awesome!! But "all others" are more than welcome to check this sick crag out, I'd say it's well worth the visit if you can get a day or two off from work. Especially in the summer, this is a great summer time crag.
Just to shed some more light on the climbing times..... The park is open during the weekdays from 6am to 11pm. Mon-Thurs, you can climb during those hours. Friday only till noon, saturday closed, and sunday only till noon.
I wonder why there's no mention of the not-too-bad bouldering adjacent to the falls. It's obvious that the sport route quality trumps any bouldering here to the nth degree, but if nobody brings up a few of the better "problems" and traverses on the left side of Willow Falls, I'd be glad to. Anyone who wants to beat me to the punch, go ahead. At this point, I'm not going to name anything: probably just describe the problems and take a few photos.
Nathan, what side of the falls are you talking about? The side with all the routes or the other side? The other side of the falls is off limits to climbing, even bouldering, so if you are climbing over there, you should stop. If you are talking about the little bit of rock right underneath the main amphitheater, then that rock is super loose and chossy and totally not worth traveling out to Willow for.
Heheheh. Willow as a "bouldering destination": that would set em up for disappointment huh? What I refer to are some of the great warm up traverses beneath the amphitheater that don't involve topping out so much as long traverses to finishing holds. Similar to gym problems in concept I suppose. A few clean boulder problems sit amidst the amphitheater chockstones but they tend to be over just as soon as they start. My goal for posting is to briefly describe where leaders can warm up below the main wall before taking off into the stratosphere. None of these four or five problems will include stone on the "off limits" side of the falls. Anything too chossy will not be included. A few should be up by August let's say.
The wetness of Sudden Shock is a result of some rock that broke inside the wall a couple years ago. The seepage usually only hits the large ledge at the third bolt, just dont go too far back on the ledge, for it will be muddy, otherwise it will be perfectly dry.
For those that are interested, by the way, there will be a specific Willow River Guidebook coming out in the next couple months or so. The guidebook will be very useful because the nature of Willow and its linkups make it very hard deciphering where certain lines go. There will also be information in the guidebook about climbs not yet listed on Mountain Project. You'll be able to pick up the book from www.escapeclimbing.com before also being released to Vertical Endeavors and Midwest Mountaineering. If you want more information you can message myself or Ryan Angelo.
The Willow River Guidebook will be available at Vertical Endeavors, Midwest Mountaineering, and Escapeclimbing.com by the end of this week. In the land of link-ups, this book will prove very useful. Come check it out!
So I lead the climb farthest left in the really crumbly/breaking rock area (not a big fan) and I was given the impression by some other climbers that it was newly bolted since last year (2011). Anyone have any information on it? Some of the bolts on it did not look very new, but the top were in very good condition. The route starts far left, (just left of jar of flies) and trails up just left to jar of flies and then goes left at a small "arete" where it ends. You could set up a top rope for it from jar of flies with a little traversing, or just use the same anchors for a bit of it while trailing a rope and set it up. I think I'd give it a 5.10 rating.
as long as the temps are 40 and above, you can climb at willow. this means it's possible to climb there nearly every month of the year. during last year's mild winter, for example, i got out twice in february. in a "normal" MN winter, however, the season wraps up in late november and opens again in mid-march.
i'll add this info to the description.
as for finding partners, post on this site, check out the climbing meetup group, or visit any of the local gyms (vertical endeavors two locations or the minnesota climbing co-op, which has open hours 5:30-9:30 on monday, wednesday, and friday). lastly, if the temps are good, chances are high that you'll find a partner at the crag.
doug, you're correct. the climbing area, which is located at the falls, falls just outside of the hunting area. and aside from the falls, there are no other climbing areas located in the park, so we're in the clear.
yep, doug. interstate (aka taylors falls) is good to go, as well. (i was there today, in fact.)
in terms of being in harms way of hunters, the problematic areas are sandstone (the bouldering area only), swede's forrest, and the duluth areas, especially the lake county road 6 crags (sawmill, mystic mountain, section 13, ely's). wear orange and be alert!
doug, we need to meet up. i'm planning a trip to dl/madison sometime this winter. there are many problems at the lake that i want to try. i also want to stop by madison for a bite and a drink. i'll contact you with dates when i get a time frame figured out.
Walter. The first couple (2-3) climbs can be decently TR'd (please use your own draws for anchors): Jar of Flies, Daily Grind, and White Noise. For the others it gets steep pretty fast but you can give some of them a burn by seconding. Not sure about the climbs on the Mezzanine.
Curious as to which Willow 5.12c is the hardest? Which 13b? Here's a list of Willow routes from easiest to hardest, irrespective of the Mountain Project grade.
This list was compiled by myself and some longtime Willow locals. With only a handful of true lines, climbing at Willow can get repetitive. These lists help keep things fresh. Happy climbing and watch out for falling choss. :)