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Areas in Devil's Lake

Devil's Lake Bouldering 15 / 0 / 14 / 1013 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1029
East Bluff 01 - Sandstone Area 33 / 0 / 25 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 41
East Bluff 02 - East of the Quarry 48 / 0 / 53 / 7 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 60
East Bluff 03 - West of the Quarry 48 / 0 / 63 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 69
East Bluff 04 - East Rampart 206 / 0 / 216 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 272
East Bluff 05 - Potholes Area 100 / 0 / 99 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 116
East Bluff 06 - Balanced Rock 40 / 0 / 46 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 57
East Bluff 07 - Railroad Tracks 62 / 0 / 69 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 82
East Bluff 08 - North End 20 / 0 / 24 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 26
Forbidden Rocks 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Ice Age Wall 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Linkups, Contrivances, Oddities and Triflings 13 / 0 / 0 / 2 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 16
South Bluff 1 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
West Bluff - Cleo Amphitheater 45 / 0 / 41 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 54
West Bluff - Great Tower (Mid-bluff) 25 / 0 / 19 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 29
West Bluff - Lincoln's Chair 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
West Bluff - Misery/Cottage Rocks 52 / 0 / 56 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 66
West Bluff - North Woods 18 / 0 / 15 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 22
West Bluff - Stettner Rocks 11 / 0 / 13 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 14
West Bluff - West Rampart 82 / 0 / 78 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 97

Description

Devil's Lake is a state park in Wisconsin that contains some of the best rock climbing in the Midwest. Located in a picturesque setting, these quartzite rock cliffs of upwards of a hundred feet in height attract climbers from all over the country. Over 1600 routes are listed in the most recent guidebook. There is no shortage of climbable rock in the park.

Famous climbers such as Joe and Paul Stettner, John Gill, Jim Erickson, and Eric Zschieschie have left their mark here. The legendary Pete Cleveland may have introduced 5.12 back in the 1960s. Son of Great Chimney, led onsight, may have been the hardest route in the country at the time of Cleveland's first ascent in 1968.

Devil's Lake offers mellow toproping, well protected leads, and some harder "headpoint" style leads. Bouldering is extensive, if a bit spread out. Those who intend to toprope here should remember to bring plenty of sling materials as some of the anchors wind up being a good ways back from the cliff edges. Oddly, some climbs are "occupied" for extended stretches during the day, but climbers are often willing to share the rock here with a friendly request. Remember: lead climbers always have the right of way.

The quartzite rock is beautiful, but it can be slick. Smearing is much less utilized than edging. Climbing here is traditional. There are no bolted routes at the Lake, so sport climbers may be dissatisfied here. Devil's Lake may have more quality moderate climbs (5.5-5.8) than anywhere in the country. There are also many well protected 5.9-5.11a leads. More difficult climbs are usually attempted on toprope and are led if and when they are wired. The harder climbs tend to be technical and the sequences tend to be cryptic. Maybe it's the smooth nature of the rock, but more than one climber has referred to Devil's Lake ratings as stiff.

There is a beautiful lake here with fishing, non-motorized boating, and even diving for the multi-day visitor for non-climbing days.

Dave Groth on "The Good The Bad and the Jacked"

Dave Groth on The Good, the Bad, and the Jacked. 1985. Photo: Dave Langhoff.

Andy Hansen on Lost Face Overhangs:

Great route. Photo: Peter Beck.

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A great film about the history of the DLFA by Darin Limvere, available for download on Vimeo:

vimeo.com/ondemand/24156/65…

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Bouldering

Devil's Lake has great bouldering. From the long established problems at Tombstone Rocks, to the neo-classics at the Reserve, there are many worthwhile areas. See Devil's Lake bouldering for more info on the wealth of problems that the Lake offers.

Organization

There are multiple cliffs in the area. These include the East Bluff, the West Bluff, the South Bluff, and the Sandstone Bluff. The greatest number of routes will be found on the East Bluff and West Bluff areas.

The East Rampart, a quarter-mile long cliff band, is the most popular climbing area and contains the highest concentration of climbs at the park. The area contains some of the finest climbs and longer climbs in this area. It tends to also be the most crowded.

Location/Directions

Devil's Lake State Park is located NNW of Madison and just S of Baraboo. From the North, you can access it off I-90/I-94 to US 12 and head east following the signs. From the South, you can access it from I-90 to US 12/US 18 which skirts Madison on its southern edge, following this to US 12. From the East, you can access it from I-94 to I-90 S to US 12. From US 12, follow the signs into the park.

A vehicle admission fee is required in the park. You can get a day pass at the self-serve kiosks in most parking lots.

Guidebooks

The most comprehensive guidebook for Devil's Lake is by Sven Olof Swartling and can be purchased at several Baraboo area shops and campgrounds. It's also sold at the REI in Brookfield, WI and on Madison's west side. Boulders Climbing Gym in Madison now carries the guidebook as well.

Mike Farris also wrote a guide to Wisconsin and Minnesota which briefly covers DL and gives a few other quality climbing areas (mostly in North/Northwestern WI). That's a Falcon guidebook.

A new DL route guidebook by MP's own Jay Knower is now available for sale locally (Wildside in Baraboo, Boulders in Madison). Order here: wolverinepublishing.com/sto…

A bouldering guidebook by Peter Bonamici and others for Minnesota and Wisconsin available here: escapeclimbing.com/extra/mn… (and also at AdRock, Boulders, and Wildside in Barbaoo)

A bouldering guidebook by Ian Cotter-Brown to Devil's Lake is available here: (also at Boulders, Wild Side, and the park admin building) kdanielspublishing.com/cart…

Accomodations

There is nearby accomodations available in Baraboo, just to the North. Camping is available in or near the state park, but it can be quite popular.

2,053 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Devil's Lake

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 163
Queen's Throne
Trad, TR
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 114
East Comfort Route
Trad
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 254
Brinton's Crack
Trad
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 161
Peter's Project
Trad, TR
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 87
Watermarks
Trad, TR
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 83
Roger's Roof
Trad, TR
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 166
Upper Diagonal
Trad, TR
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 87
The Stretcher
TR
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 111
Congratulations
Trad, TR
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 107
Sometime Crack
Trad, TR
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R
 98
Mouse's Misery
Trad, TR
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R
 76
Mammalary Magic
Trad, TR
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13
 76
Dancing Madly Backwards
Trad, TR
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 104
Cheatah
Trad, TR
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 93
Thoroughfare
Trad, TR
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Queen's Throne W Bluff - Cleo… > Cleo Amphitheater
 163
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad, TR
East Comfort Route W Bluff - Cleo… > Cleopatra's Needle
 114
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad
Brinton's Crack E Bluff 04 - E… > Brinton's Buttress
 254
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad
Peter's Project E Bluff 04 - E… > Many Pines Buttress
 161
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, TR
Watermarks E Bluff 06 - Ba… > 6.0 - Balanced Rock Wall
 87
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, TR
Roger's Roof E Bluff 07 - Ra… > 7.3 - Horse Rampart
 83
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, TR
Upper Diagonal E Bluff 04 - E… > Pedestal Buttress
 166
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, TR
The Stretcher E Bluff 04 - E… > Pedestal Buttress
 87
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a TR
Congratulations E Bluff 04 - E… > Pedestal Buttress
 111
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, TR
Sometime Crack E Bluff 04 - E… > Pedestal Buttress
 107
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, TR
Mouse's Misery E Bluff 04 - E… > Two Pines Buttress
 98
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R Trad, TR
Mammalary Magic E Bluff 01 - Sa… > 1.1 - Old Sandstone
 76
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R Trad, TR
Dancing Madly Backwards E Bluff 01 - Sa… > 1.1 - Old Sandstone
 76
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13 Trad, TR
Cheatah E Bluff 04 - E… > Bill's Buttress
 104
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad, TR
Thoroughfare E Bluff 04 - E… > Two Pines Buttress
 93
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, TR
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Photos

Any climbing in Adam's County? Any info on Ship Rock? Bolts on top? Large worthless dogs like my girlfriend's Newf allowed? Aug 26, 2006
Burt Lindquist
Madison, WI
Burt Lindquist   Madison, WI  
To Robert:

Shiprock is on highway 21 and is nothing more then a wayside/picnic area so having a large dog along(as long as he stays near you) will not be an issue in the least little bit. I am sure many motorists stop and use the place to water and walk a dog.

There are some top anchors to be found at the very center of the main summit block that are great for rapping off with (the rope pull is just fine). You can use this rap anchor to TR a few routes in close proximity to the anchor on both sides of the formation but other routes not close by will require lots of sling to adequately anchor (at least for a normal sling shot type of TR anchor).

There are a couple of bolted routes on the formation but mostly just Trad routes.

Not a lot of options for climbing in Adams county if you are talking about free access to climbing on public lands... There is a ton of rock (a lot of it crappy SS with small areas of OK rock in between - but also a couple of choice areas as well) that is on private land and good luck getting permission from the sorts that live up in the area..... Aug 28, 2006
Chris treggE
Madison, Beersconsin
Chris treggE   Madison, Beersconsin  
This is kind of a cool reference about the geology of Devil's Lake

Also some cool aerial pics of the geology towards the bottom of this page. Sep 17, 2008
Kris Gorny    
An interesting quote regarding climbing ethics at Devils Lake. Here's the exact paragraph (emphases by the authors):

"Remember that all the climbs except a very few have been lead...and that top-roping is not considered the legitimate form of climbing at the Lake. The easy access by trail to the top of the bluffs and short climbs is an excuse for practice, but not for competence"

"Climbers and Hikers Guide to Devils Lake" by David Smith and Roger Zimmerman, Wisconsin Hoofer Mountaineers, 1970. May 21, 2009
Doug Hemken
Madison, WI
Doug Hemken   Madison, WI  
I think you mean "style" (or lack of style), not "ethics."

I think it just goes to show you that the people committed to lead climbing at the Lake have always been a small minority (40 years!) ... and thank you so much, Kris, for generating new/renewed enthusiasm for leading around here. May 21, 2009
Kris Gorny    
Doug, I stand corrected :) Thanks for the last remark although we were inspired by conversations with Dave Groth, ascents of Jason Huston, and videos of Dave Macleod. So the credit goes to these guys. May 21, 2009
Doug Hemken
Madison, WI
Doug Hemken   Madison, WI  
The media (and everyone, really) often has a problem hearing "not a designated-use area" (note the hyphen). The WDNR manages areas that have designated uses, like trails and campgrounds, and also areas that have no designated use. The distinction if VERY important, because under State liability law, the WDNR must maintain areas which have designated uses so that they are safe for those uses. They have to clear brush off the trails; they have to remove dead limbs from the trees hanging over the campsites. All of the cliffs are areas that have no designated use, so the WDNR does not need to make them safe. In DNR-speak, these are "non-designated-use areas," which to the untrained ear sounds like someplace you are not supposed to be. Just like hunting areas (also generally "non-designated-use" areas), you are welcome to go there, but at your own risk. Jun 15, 2009
Burt Lindquist
Madison, WI
Burt Lindquist   Madison, WI  
wiscnews.com/baraboonewsrep…

A few rescues made in the park this busy weekend past. The number of casual users (swimmers/hikers/fishers/picnickers) far out weighed the number of climbers in the park this past weekend from what I saw. Not unusual by any means but helps explain the mis-haps in the boulderfields.... Jul 6, 2010
Check out the March 2011 issue of Climbing Magazine for "Lake Effect" by local Jay Knower! Feb 13, 2011
Chris treggE
Madison, Beersconsin
Chris treggE   Madison, Beersconsin  
Hey DL climbers! Darin Limvere has now completed an awesome film about the history of the DLFA. The trailer is linked below. The entire film is available for download for a paltry sum of $7. Get on it!

vimeo.com/ondemand/24156/65… Jun 28, 2012
Burt Lindquist
Madison, WI
Burt Lindquist   Madison, WI  
Great and interesting article\interview featuring JJ Schlick - one of Wisconsin's own living and climbing very actively in Arizona...

www.grassroutesclimbing.com/

Posted by Joel Unema originally. Aug 12, 2013
Are there any good places to camp nearby that aren't $25 a night? That's ridiculously expensive from where I come from (TN).

On a related note, I'd pay someone who lives in the area $10 (or some hometown Jack Daniels) just to camp in their yard. Jun 28, 2016
John. Contact Wildside store in Baraboo, there's a cheap "climbers" camp ground on Hwy 12 nearby, I can't recall the name. Jun 29, 2016
Chris treggE
Madison, Beersconsin
Chris treggE   Madison, Beersconsin  
best rope climbing guidebook:

wolverinepublishing.com/sto… May 18, 2017
@JohnEricson Green Valley campground for sure. Probably a mile away from the park. Nov 30, 2017
Is there camping there, I mean can you camp next to some boulders or something or is there like a designated campground? Mar 26, 2018
Chris treggE
Madison, Beersconsin
Chris treggE   Madison, Beersconsin  
Reserved camping. devilslakewisconsin.com/res…

Or, camp outside the park at one of several campgrounds in the area. Mar 27, 2018

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