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Elevation: 796 ft 243 m
GPS: 42.75784, -84.75339
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Shared By: John Miller on Jan 26, 2021
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Description, hangs and anchor set-up Suggest change

This a listing of all rope routes at Grand Ledge. Add boulder problems to that sub-area. 

Sunny sandstone crag in the lower peninsula of Michigan right on the Grand River. The cliff is 40ish feet tall and offers bouldery, challenging routes. The cliff faces south and receives sun most of the day with the majority of wind blocked as well. It exists in Oak Park, which is managed by the city of Grand Ledge.  Fitzgerald Park, across the river, does not allow climbing at any time for any reason and was part of the concession the climbing community accepted for continued access at Oak Park. While the rock quality is pretty good on established classics, other areas can be quite chossy, so be careful.  

There is NO top roping on the west end past the signs posted west of the overlook.  There is NO top roping above the Ballerina Bulge as this is a choke point in the trail below and the rock is brittle creating bombs for those below.  Please be respectful of this when setting top rope placements.

Classic rope routes include:

Chips: 5.7

Black Buttress: 5.9

Doug's Roof: 5.10

Rocket Man: 5:10

Intimidator: 5.11

Cowabunga: 5.11

Ragged Edge: 5.12

HANGS

This is a crucial aspect to the safety of all and protection of the rock we climb.  LOCAL RULES dictates that padding needs to be under your webbing.  Your webbing should run over the lip of the rock and not above.  This prevents your rope acting as a saw on the soft sandstone and wrecking your rope.  Two anchors should be used for every hang while equalizing the system.  If you have any questions ask one of the locals out there, everyone is pretty good about sharing and assisting.

1.  Brachiator/ Potato Chips - Hang off the chains a couple feet to the right of the large slot.  Hanging it to the right, west, will give you a clean hang protecting both your rope and the rock.

2.   Blowout /Cowabunga - The same hang is used for both climbs and is located between the chains of Doug’s Roof and the trees for Rocket Man.  For Cowabunga there is an eroded slot the webbing can hang from and for Blowout hang to the right of this slot so the rope does not interfere with the key hold.   The rope will rub for both climbs regardless of where you put it.

3.  Desperado - Climb from Rocket Man rope, as the fall is clean even high on the route.  This prevents bad rope drag on sharp edges on falls, doesn’t block the key hold of the route and gives you a fun swing.

4.  Despondency - Hang from left side of the tree above the bowl in the rock.  The rope will hang directly on the route.

5.  Doug’s Roof - Hang from the chains protecting the rock with carpet from your carabineers.

6.  Let Me Go Wild - Hang from the extremely curved tree above the large roof.  Put the webbing high or far enough out on the tree so the rope hangs clean.

7.  Ragged Edge - Climb from Rocket Man rope, as the fall is clean even high on the route.  The climber needs to pull the rope around the corner as they climb.

8.  Rocket Man - Hang from large trees into slot of the roots of a tree directly above the corner of the route.  Use carpet on the tree.  This is the accepted local way to hang the route to protect the rock and the tree is strong.  The hang has been like this for years now.

History Suggest change

Climbing started at Oak Park back in the 1940s with a couple of students from Michigan State University, Victoria and Don Borthwick. At the time, aid was the norm, using pins and other hardware to scale the rock. A couple of pins can still be seen in the Let Me Go Wild roof near the center of the rock band. They were gone by 1950 and little is known about the climbing within the park until the late 1960s.  In the early 1970s, top roping took over as the ethic within the park because the brittle sandstone could not hold gear. With the ample number of trees on the top of the wall, top rope was born. With the elimination of ground falls, climbing became safer overall, and the number of problems expanded dramatically throughout the park. Popular routes such as 5.7 Potato Chips, 5.9+ Doug's Roof and 5.10 Rocket Man were established in the early years of Oak Park. 

In the late 1960s, a climber named Bruce Bright found Grand Ledge and has been there ever since. Known as The Godfather of Oak Park, he simply has too many first accents to list them all, but they include 5.11 Despondency (prior to be chipped), 5.12 Inappropriate Behavior and 5.11 X-Rated. Bill Putnam became a fixture in the park, climbing with Bruce and establishing a large number of climbs including 5.6 Extension, 5.7 Three Mules, 5.10 Finesse, 5.10 Ludwig's Dude and 5.12 Intergalactic Quaalude Trip as the golden era of climbing within the park was underway.

Later in 1970s, more climbers started coming with the intention of pushing up the level within Oak Park. This became the time of the "Grand Ledge Rats" and heightened development of routes throughout the park. Climbers such as Frank Abissi, Kevin Cieszkowski, Dave Poxson, Jeff Purdy, Jeff Shroup, David Hull, Eric James, the Nienhaus brothers and Jeff McWhorter started frequenting the park and established several new lines that are still considered Oak Park Classics today. These include 5.12 Ragged Edge, 5.13a Enigma, 5.13b Franks Climb, 5.13b Reflections, 5.12 Clean and Jerk

This period was also known for "soloing," with climbers going to the top without a rope. Climbing up and down became the norm on popular routes such as 5.7 Potato Chips and 5.9+ Doug's Roof, as well as 5.11 Despondency, 5.10 Rocket Man, the Reflections Wall, parts of the Mermaid Wall, and many others.  

In the late 1990s, bouldering started grabbing hold of Oak Park. Instead of just climbing the beginning of the top rope routes like Despondency or the Trick, true boulder problems were established with low starts and top outs, pushing the overall level of difficulty within the park. Climbers such as Jamie Emerson developed numerous lines that were intended for bouldering in its own right. The test piece that resulted was V9 Resistance, established in 2000, the hardest problem in the park for 12 years. Other climbers, including Adam Page, Mike Slaven, Aaron Hager and Dan Blake, contributed problems such as V5 Suicide Machine, V5 Ride or Die, V6 Climb or Die and V7 Another Mother. The early 2000s saw continued development in bouldering by exploring the possibilities of eliminates. In 2008, V6 Max Scene Arete and V5 Thailand were established by Michael Rathke.  This marked the end of the majority of development within Oak Park, with 95% of the lines we climb today established, recorded and repeated.  

Development slowed to a halt until 2012 when Dylan Barks establised V9 Fifty Words for Mank and V10 D-Bag. Brendan Baars established V9 Mass Hysteria in 2017, completing a long-time local project and hardest line up the Ballerina Bulge.  

During the winter of 2020-21 a few old lines were "rediscovered," as they had just fallen off all guidebooks. These include V4 Wall Street, V5 Pick Your Battles, and V6 Mermaid Direct. Over the season, ten more lines were added, including V8 Peace, V7 Anastasis, V6 Homeostasis and V5 The Treat, some with brutal starts.  Of the 100+ climbs listed, only seven go at V8 or harder with Dylan Barks's V10 D-Bag remaining the hardest line since his FA in 2012.  There is still plenty of rock that lacks lines, just needs the right climber to see the problem.   

For over 50 years Bruce Bright has been a presence within Oak Park offering any type of assistance to anyone asking.  From answering history questions on the park or rock to loaning climbers his equipment he has always been there.  Dave Poxson and Jeff Purdy also deserve special recognition for over three decades of continued maintenance and dedication to the climbers and Oak Park.  These three stewards have left a massive gift for past, current and future generations and continue to do so.

Enjoy the park, enjoy the people of the park and do not be a jerk.

Hangs

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kk

81 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Top Rope

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 77
Potato Chips
TR
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 49
Mossy Gully
TR
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 36
Peek-a-boo
TR
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 44
Brachiator
TR
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 53
Black Buttress
TR
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 32
Pigeon Shit
TR
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 60
Rocket Man
TR
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 97
Doug's Roof
TR
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 35
Ludwig's Dude
TR
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 8
Astral Projection
TR
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 22
Intimidator
TR
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 15
Despondency
TR
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 5
Let Me Go Wild
TR
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 4
Inappropriate Behavior
TR
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
 12
Ragged Edge
TR
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Potato Chips
 77
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b TR
Mossy Gully
 49
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b TR
Peek-a-boo
 36
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a TR
Brachiator
 44
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a TR
Black Buttress
 53
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a TR
Pigeon Shit
 32
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a TR
Rocket Man
 60
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b TR
Doug's Roof
 97
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b TR
Ludwig's Dude
 35
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b TR
Astral Projection
 8
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c TR
Intimidator
 22
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c TR
Despondency
 15
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a TR
Let Me Go Wild
 5
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a TR
Inappropriate Behavior
 4
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a TR
Ragged Edge
 12
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b TR
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