Top rope with trees at D-Lake


Original Post
Nicolas Burns · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Hey there. New to the area and MP. Does anybody have any recommendations for an area of D-Lake with TR 5.6-5.10 routes that have trees or BFR for fixed natural top rope pro? We've never been out there and we don't have any artificial pro but are comfortable using fixed natural pro to anchor. I've been researching some of the mini-crags but natural pro TR beta seems pretty sparse. Is this a dumb question? I know there are lots of trees from the pictures but we don't want to cause trouble anchoring across running trails etc like we've seen on the TR-cluster thread (are there a lot of running trails out there where this becomes an issue??). I thought some of your beta might steer me in the right direction. 

Thanks!

Justin Meyer · · Madison, WI · Joined May 2012 · Points: 51

I set up three routes at old sandstone last weekend using only trees. Expect to need relatively long pieces of webbing or cord.I

I'm sure it is possible to set up top ropes at other parts of the lake with only webbing but it will be more of a challenge.

Thanks for not crossing the trail with webbing. In most areas the trail runs just behind the cliff so it is an issue.

Some may disagree but if you can only buy one thing buy a set of nuts (and a nut tool). With nuts and a lot of webbing you can set up many climbs at the lake.

Nicolas Burns · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks and no problem, just really really do not want to see myself on the cluster-thread. We have a 120ft static rope we're using for anchoring. We'll think about nuts this summer! Thanks for the tips. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

The East Bluff (East Rampart) will probably be your best bet.  It is a huge band of cliffs ranging from 30-120 feet and grades from 5.3-5.13, including many of the ultraclassics at Devil's Lake.  For that reason, it's also super popular and will most likely be crowded, but you can just keep walking along the band to find open routes.  There are a fair amount of trees left that you can use, though you will have to be selective.  Just a fair warning: grades are a bit of a joke at the lake, so add about two full number grades to any ratings you see there (a 5.6 will feel like a 5.8 anywhere else), and 4 number grades to your typical gym rating (same route will feel like about a 10a).  Not joking.

Justin Meyer · · Madison, WI · Joined May 2012 · Points: 51

If you don't have any gear and are worried about ending up on the cluster thread it sounds like you may not have much experience setting up anchors. Consider taking a class or at least finding someone experienced to walk you through it and check your work the first few times. At the least, go somewhere busy like the East Bluff and ask someone else there to look over your work (though they may not know what they are doing either :) ).

Doug Hemken · · Madison, WI · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 5,382

But having your photo in the TRCF thread is such an honor!

120' gives you a lot of options.  You'll feel it is limiting soon enough, however.  I think a very common scenario for beginners is to use one tree or boulder in an anchor with gear.  I'd say anchors built completely from trees and boulders are actually uncommon.

I don't think you'd be able to set much at a place like Cleo's for instance, with only trees and boulders.  But there are a number of anchors there that would include one boulder (no trees that I can think of).

West and East of the Quarry might be good spots to try?  These crags are deeper in the woods (harder to find), and have no hiking trails on top.

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 250
Nicolas Burns wrote:

 (are there a lot of running trails out there where this becomes an issue??). 

East Rampart on East Bluff has a paved trail running along the top of it. The path is obvious, so you'll be able to easily discern which trees and boulders would garner some automatic recognition on the cluster-F thread.

As Ted mentioned, it's very popular, and tends to draw large crowds. This is also where a lot of the guide services set up, so you'll see one group set up 10 lines, and have 30 people climbing. That said, there are a lot of individual buttresses, and hundreds of routes on this cliff-band, so you can generally find something in your target grade to get on. (Although with no gear for anchors, you'll have to be more selective in that regard.)

If you want to avoid others scrutinizing your anchors altogether, you could definitely head to one of the more remote areas, but I've always welcomed scrutiny. If nothing else, you may learn something new, and find better ways to keep yourself and your party safe.

Have fun!

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190
Doug Hemken wrote:

But having your photo in the TRCF thread is such an honor!

120' gives you a lot of options.  You'll feel it is limiting soon enough, however.  I think a very common scenario for beginners is to use one tree or boulder in an anchor with gear.  I'd say anchors built completely from trees and boulders are actually uncommon.

I don't think you'd be able to set much at a place like Cleo's for instance, with only trees and boulders.  But there are a number of anchors there that would include one boulder (no trees that I can think of).

West and East of the Quarry might be good spots to try?  These crags are deeper in the woods (harder to find), and have no hiking trails on top.

Wrapping the big boulder on top of Queen's Throne makes for a solid 1 piece anchor, although there are a ton of placement opportunities there as well.  I'd agree that Cleo's (and the West Bluff in general) are going to be harder to set without pro.

Jan van den Handel II · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 50

The route Barndoor at Cleo's amphitheater has a boulder you could thread a couple times to set a master point over the edge. Make sure to tether in when working close to edges and pad the edges that your master point hangs over. 

Better yet try to find someone with gear that is going the same day(s) that you are and climb with them.

Jack Servedio · · Raleigh,NC · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 30

You can do Birch Tree crack and a couple others on Pedestal with just static if you are creative - there is a thread just to the climbers left, a big obvious block, and a bunch of other blocks you can cinch. Climbers left on [edit: whoops] D'Arcys(Easy O, Zig Zag) has a bunch of trees about 25 feet back you can wrap.

Also, don't be afraid to ask others - most people there have a double rack with hexes and tricams in their bag even when they are just TRing, so you can always borrow gear. It is kind of a circus on the weekends there anyway and is more like a gym with everyone sharing ropes and leaving them hung until someone wants to lead a route.

Nicolas Burns · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Hey everybody. Sorry for the late reply here, MP limits the number of times you can post when you're new. Thanks so much for the advice. My point in making this thread was to get information that would help my group respect the local ethics and etiquette which is equally as important as avoiding death anchors since not doing either reflects badly on the climbing community. I think we all can get behind putting more information out for those interested about where it's safe, ethical, and appropriate to use different techniques (ex: anchoring on natural pro vs. anchoring on artificial pro) so that we can all get out climbing and do it safely while keeping negative interactions with other communities to a minimum. I'm 100% behind checking other people's anchors, and also knowing your own working limitations and I'm 100% behind anybody asking me to explain or double check my anchor, I'm not trying to avoid interaction or scrutiny out there if anybody was worried about that. I know that I can build anchors on natural pro, I know that I can't place trad gear for an anchor. That's why I'm asking about natural pro. But my understanding, especially from the MP thread, was that D-Lake has features where non-climber outdoor enthusiasts and climbers come into close contact throughout a lot of the climbing areas and I really want to keep that relationship on the up-and-up when we're there. Thanks again for all of the super super super helpful replies and pointing me in the right direction!

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 250
Nicolas Burns wrote:

... But my understanding, especially from the MP thread, was that D-Lake has features where non-climber outdoor enthusiasts and climbers come into close contact throughout a lot of the climbing areas and I really want to keep that relationship on the up-and-up when we're there...

Kudos for being conscientious. As long as you keep your slings/gear out of the established paths, you'll have no problems with non-climbers. Enjoy your trip; it's a great place to climb!

Mike Robinson · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 165
Ted Pinson wrote:

The East Bluff (East Rampart) will probably be your best bet.  It is a huge band of cliffs ranging from 30-120 feet and grades from 5.3-5.13, including many of the ultraclassics at Devil's Lake.  For that reason, it's also super popular and will most likely be crowded, but you can just keep walking along the band to find open routes.  There are a fair amount of trees left that you can use, though you will have to be selective.  Just a fair warning: grades are a bit of a joke at the lake, so add about two full number grades to any ratings you see there (a 5.6 will feel like a 5.8 anywhere else), and 4 number grades to your typical gym rating (same route will feel like about a 10a).  Not joking.

Grades aren't a joke at the Lake.  They are very serious.  4 number grades?  

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

A sick joke locals play on first timers who jump on Upper D because they can climb 5.9 in the gym. ;)

Seth Jones · · New Lenox, IL · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 25

balanced rock wall has some good options for anchors with all natural pro.

Mike Robinson · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 165
Ted Pinson wrote:

A sick joke locals play on first timers who jump on Upper D because they can climb 5.9 in the gym. ;)

I can't climb 5.13a in the gym but can climb Upper D.  Explain?

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Letters count.  So 5.9 + 4 grades would be approximately 10c/d in the gym.  You're right, my phrasing was off; I meant this more specifically in the low grades, where a/b/c/d notations don't factor in.  I should have said "4 grades."  The grades get closer in the high ranges; while Son of Great Chimney might still feel stiff for 11a, it does feel like "an 11."  On no planet, however, is Coatamundi crack a 5.6.

Mike Robinson · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 165
Ted Pinson wrote:

Letters count.  So 5.9 + 4 grades would be approximately 10c/d in the gym.  You're right, my phrasing was off; I meant this more specifically in the low grades, where a/b/c/d notations don't factor in.  I should have said "4 grades."  The grades get closer in the high ranges; while Son of Great Chimney might still feel stiff for 11a, it does feel like "an 11."  On no planet, however, is Coatamundi crack a 5.6.

SOGC is 11c, likely why it feels stiff for 11a..  DL grades are spot on, except for a few 9+'s, which is a grade to watch out for anywhere..  Quit looking at gym grades and you'll get over it.

Steve Sangdahl · · eldo sprngs,co · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 735

I didn't think "grades" in the gym had anything to do with "real" climbing. Gym climbing ain't real climbing.....go figure. Cheers.

T Bloodstone · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 55

You should be able to climb everything in the Bedroom Amphitheater, East Bluff, by using only webbing anchors. There are a couple trees way back  that can be used. The grades in that area are 5.5 to 5.11. All routes are within an area of about twenty feet across. The routes are about two feet apart so shifting your anchor around shouldn't be difficult at all.

If you get the new guide book, it has a pretty good map of the area. Otherwise, locate the Rainy Wednesday Tower, the second outcropping west of the tower is the Bedroom Amphitheater.

See the BETA PHOTO for Foreplay: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/foreplay/105730604

Seth Jones · · New Lenox, IL · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 25

Oh for fuck's sake,  enough with the DL/gym grade comparison. The two aren't even comparable. It's amusing that a few people on MP love to spread the exaggerated idea that DL is horribly sandbagged when most people who have climbed at a ton of trad crags will tell you it is not. Sure, the style of climbing is specific, the gear is finicky, and the ground is always close at DL. How is that any different than any other single pitch trad area? Bottom line is that  if you haven't climbed at a crag before, be safe and ease into it until you get a feel for the style and grading. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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