North Shore of MN - Relative Rating Difficulty


Original Post
Nathan Sward · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 130

We're taking a trip to the North Shore of MN for some climbing.  I am eyeing Pallisade Head and Shovel Point.

My question is, how do ratings compare to other crags?  I know ratings aren't everything, but they are useful when planning a limited amount of time.  I can trad lead 5.8 at the Red River Gorge, but only 5.7 at Eldo or 5.6 at Devils Lake in WI.  Likewise I can reliably toprope 5.10c at the Red, but only 5.9 at DLake.  The difference becomes more pronounced at the North Shore, considering the risk of a climber needing to be hauled up if they can't complete a climb (my wife climbs a couple steps below me).

Crags I know include Devils Lake, RRG, Eldorado, and Tahquitz.

Any input is appreciated.  We'd probably be looking for lines around 5.8-5.10 based on RRG difficulty.

Sean Foster · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 1,922

Are you trying to lead or TR? Do you have top belay experience?

Shovel Point is much better for the grades you are describing, but I would definitely go to Palisade for the experience. 

At Shovel, I suggest The Great Yawn, Dance of the Sugar Plump Faeries, Out on a Limb, and Rise Over Run.

At Palisade, the easier climbs often come with difficult gear selection (wide cracks/offwidths). Danger High Boltage and Bluebells are classics there. I recently led Praise the Many Seraphim and thought that one was great. Big crimp shelves down low and a funky crack up high. Good stuff.

Most people set up their top belay setups at the North Shore by tying their rope into two strands at the middle and rapping on one while being "lowered" on the other. When the climber gets to their starting point (not always on the ground), they get off rappel and are immediately on belay. By leaving the rap line down, a climber can cheat their way through any hard sections by jugging up the rap line.

Grade wise, they are close to what you are used to. Hope you have a great time there. Beautiful area!

Joel Allen · · La Crosse, WI · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 265

Palisade head is soft IMO if but if you're only comfortable leading 5.6 at DL then everything at palisade head would probably be a bit over your head on lead.  That being said, i have no doubt you could top rope the 5.9s and 5.10s at palisade head.  Just get on any of the 4/5 star 5.9s and 5.10s.

quetico

phantom crack

bluebells

rapprochement 

scars and tripes

ex nihilo

mack the knife

If you want easier stuff, go to shovel, but honestly, the 5.10s at palisade are very doable for the 5.10 climber.

Nathan Sward · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 130

Great input.  Thanks guys.

Sean, I think we'll just be toproping.  I have plenty of experience with multipitch and top belay.  However, I'm new to the setup you describe.  Sounds brilliant.  You use a figure eight on a bight to tie into the master point of the anchor?  Then top belay off the shelf with one of the strands.  Give the climber a set of prusiks for jugging.  Perfect.  

Joe, thanks for the route suggestions at Palisade.  We will probably split our time between Palisade (better routes for me) and Shovel Point (better routes for my wife).

jon jugenheimer · · Madison, WI · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 2,049

Soft Joel?  That begs me to ask, are the grades at the Head for the Top belay TR send or for the lead grade?  Or maybe the OS lead grade?

Yes, when I am in shape, and only on TR, I agree with you that some of the grades there are a letter or two softer than compared to other areas.  But damn, if i can get a clean lead of any of those lines I will take the grade posted all the way to Instagram! 

Sean Foster · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 1,922

Nathan - another important note is to bring some kind of padding to put on the edge of the cliff under your rope setup. Palisade, especially, is quite sharp. Many people use carpet squares. Tether it to your anchor somehow - my first time up there, we didn't attach ours to anything and it ended up in the lake where we, guiltily, watched it float below us for hours. Noobs.

Sean Foster · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 1,922
jon jugenheimer wrote:

Soft Joel?  That begs me to ask, are the grades at the Head for the Top belay TR send or for the lead grade?  Or maybe the OS lead grade?

Yes, when I am in shape, and only on TR, I agree with you that some of the grades there are a letter or two softer than compared to other areas.  But damn, if i can get a clean lead of any of those lines I will take the grade posted all the way to Instagram! 

Get 'em, Jon, get 'em! ALL THE WAY TO INSTAGRAM!

Joel Allen · · La Crosse, WI · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 265
jon jugenheimer wrote:

Soft Joel?  That begs me to ask, are the grades at the Head for the Top belay TR send or for the lead grade?  Or maybe the OS lead grade?

Yes, when I am in shape, and only on TR, I agree with you that some of the grades there are a letter or two softer than compared to other areas.  But damn, if i can get a clean lead of any of those lines I will take the grade posted all the way to Instagram! 

Haha Jon, I suppose you have a point.  I'm referring to just TR since that's what 90% of people there do and that's what he's planning to do.  And maybe I'm a bit biased too since probably 80% of my career pitches are at DL. 

Even just TR, I definitely climb harder at palisade head than I do at any other wisco crag.  

Nathan probably don't listen to me, after all I am a gumby :)

Nicholas Aretz · · Lakewood, Colorado · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 55

It has been years since I have climbed at Palisade so I don't have a grade comparison, however, I am looking for partners to climb with there. I will be visiting family from 7/17 to 7/26. I was planning on only bringing sport for my stop in SD but I can pack a light rack if needed. I lead 5.10a/b in Eldo and follow 5.11. I know his is not a partner thread but I thought I might give it a shot.

As for the grade conversation, I usually get on an 8 or 9 to see what it feels like. Then go from there. If you get stuck on route your can always ascend the rope.

Sean Foster · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 1,922

There is a decent Facebook group called "minnesota climbers". I suggest joining and posting there for partners. There are a few distinct communities in MN, one of them being Duluth where you can often find someone willing to point you in the right direction for partners, beta, gear, etc. for the North Shore.

Nicholas Aretz · · Lakewood, Colorado · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 55
Sean Foster wrote:

There is a decent Facebook group called "minnesota climbers". I suggest joining and posting there for partners. There are a few distinct communities in MN, one of them being Duluth where you can often find someone willing to point you in the right direction for partners, beta, gear, etc. for the North Shore.

Thanks Sean! I'm already on the FB group and posted there. I need to figure out who I know that still lives in Duluth and hit them up.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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