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Routes in Decorah

Fish Hatchery Wall S,TR 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Type: Sport, TR, 60 ft
FA: pending...
Page Views: 217 total, 28/month
Shared By: Andrew Bien on Apr 1, 2017
Admins: Bill McKirgan

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Really nice line at an isolated crag. Sustained moderate moves all the way up. Some of the rock on either side of the obvious line is questionable, but straight up is the way to go. I call it good climbing, you can decide for yourself...

Bolted probably 5-10 years ago, possibly more. We heard word of the first ascentionist; details incoming..


Pulling into the Decorah Fish Hatchery parking lot -- just South of town off of Trout Run Rd -- offers a view of the wall perched on top of the bluff to the left. It's the furthest left face. You can head straight for it, crossing a little stream and cutting a few minutes, or you can cross the footbridge you'll find straight ahead as you pull in and follow the stream just on its right side. Both are quick and lead you to either hike it straight up the hillside scree or follow a faint trail to the left that curls around to the top of the wall. Any case --- this is a nice and easy approach.


6 or 7 good bolts to chains. Quick hike up to set a top rope.


Andrew Bien
Eau Claire, WI
Andrew Bien   Eau Claire, WI
Everyone is encouraged to grade and rate the route on this page according to his/her experience -- though it helps to have seen the route recently. Regarding climbing around Decorah: I would love to hear more about what has been done in the area. We have a new generation of climbers springing up at Luther College -- very dedicated in fact. I understand if it is undesirable for this information to go too public, but I am definitely interested myself. Sep 28, 2017
We climbed this many many many times back in the 80's. A buddy of mine attempted the lead, and took a 20 ft. whipper on a hex. Why bolt when you can go natural?

Probably THE route around Decorah, but lot's of others have been done. Lots. May 3, 2017
Shane Steele
Grand Marais, MN
Shane Steele   Grand Marais, MN
I know the guys who put this route up and remember hearing the story of how it came to be... It's actually called: "If you Don't Know, Don't Go" and it's named that is for good reason.

The exact year I don't recall (2010/2011?) but it was done while there was construction on Trout Hatchery Road because they were uncertain who owned the land and much less about if the landowners wanted their cliff to be climbed. I wouldn't say they were experienced bolters by any stretch of the imagination but they certainly had ambition to put up a fun route for themselves and their friends, which is how I've come to know the story. Timing it with the construction was strategic to mask the sound of the generator they dragged up the hill. If I remember correctly the bolts are overly long and purchased from Ace Hardware in town, so not necessarily climbing grade. These guys didn't plan on this becoming a popular crag, again I'll refer you to it's name.

Currently access to the crag belongs to the State of Iowa. You won't get shot by anyone for trespassing on private property, but I would check with the Hatchery before venturing out there or access could be shut down before it even gets granted. IF they approve of climbing I would then ask myself if I trust the bolts. If you can't tell whether these bolts are solid or whether they are ticking time bombs... If You Don't Know, Don't Go.

Oh, and calling this a 10a is a pretty big stretch. It's at most a 9, maybe an 8+ if that. At least it was a few years ago, maybe some holds have broken off... Apr 6, 2017