Type: Trad, 500 ft, 10 pitches, Grade II
FA: Maybe JS and JJ 8/19/17 but probably much earlier
Page Views: 422 total · 26/month
Shared By: James Schroeder on Aug 20, 2017
Admins: Doug Hemken, James Schroeder, chris tregge

You & This Route

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A south-to-north traverse of the entire Petenwell Ridgeline. This enjoyable outing makes an excellent training route for navigating alpine terrain. Climbers are forced into a variety of problem-solving situations requiring creativity (possibly even shenanigans) to negotiate. For the most part, the climbing is at a moderate grade, and, where the technical cruxes are, it can generally be well-protected. The real crux of this route is in the route-finding and risk management choices climbers will be forced to make. Variable and high-consequence terrain makes for a challenging day. A familiarity with one's risk-tolerance as well of the risk-tolerance of one's partner(s) is essential.

This is a challenging route unlike much of the climbing in the midwest and it should not be underestimated or attempted by climbers lacking the sufficient knowledge and experience to negotiate it safely.


Start on Coyote Tower and finish by rappelling Anthrax.


Heavy - Standard Rack nuts and cams to #4 C4
Light - Cams C4 #0.4-#3


Potentially the path of least resistance. Of course this information is imperfect, incomplete, and many variations are possible. Individual competency, terrain, conditions, crowds, etc. will dictate the best path on any given day.

1. Climb User Friendly (aka Foreplay) to the summit of Coyote Tower. (5.6)
2. Rappel to col between Coyote Tower and the fin that holds Y-Crack Wall.
3. Climb Eagle Rare. (5.4)
4. Descend 3rd/4th class access to the north on the west side of the fin.
5. Climb 303 Spire (aka Canoehead Spire) via a weakness on the southeast corner. (5th)
6. Rappel from anchors on Mr Canoehead - awkward to get over the lip.
7. Climb Air to the summit of Air Spire. (5.6)
8. Descend extremely exposed 4th/5th class terrain to the col between Air Spire and Fire Spire - SCARY.
9. Climb weakness on southeast face of Fire Spire. (5th)
10. Descend exposed 4th/5th class terrain on the west side of the north end of Fire Spire.
11. Traverse knife edge passing two main gendarmes. (5th)
12. Climb southeast face and south arete of small spire. (5th)
13. Rappel into chimney/inside corner from rock bollard.
14. Climb Glass Balls. (5.8)
15. Traverse Main Massif passing the very exposed Leap of Faith Step Across. (Mostly 3rd, but a few moves of 5th)
16. Descend 3rd/4th class to a col.
17. Climb a wide crack to a tree and the south ridge of the unnamed spire with Climb with a View on it. (5th)
18. Rappel from a tree anchor.
19. Climb south-southwest corner of the next spire which is home to Late Night Chalk Show. (5th)
20. Rappel from anchors on Late Night Chalk Show - awkward to get over the lip.
21. Climb south ridge of the next spire. (5th)
22. Descend exposed 4th/5th class terrain on the west side of the spire's north end.
23. Regain ridgeline and make a long descending traverse to the northeast over varying terrain up to 5th class.
24. Rappel from anchors on Anthrax
25. Beverages and ibuprofen.


James Schroeder
Sauk County, WI
James Schroeder   Sauk County, WI  
A partner and I did this on 8/19/17 in about 2:15. We pitched out a lot, and left the rope in the pack a lot too. It was lots of fun - I'd do it again. Aug 20, 2017
Eric Mack
  5.8 R
Eric Mack  
  5.8 R
Recommend you are at least familiar with the locations and appearance of the general areas and named climbs (incl raps) before attempting this. Beyond that, we had not previously spent much time scrambling around on the peaks.

Partner and I left the car yesterday (10/11/17) at 12:45 and returned at 7:45. We were not in a rush but in hindsight would've liked to have finished before nightfall; the darkness made steps 21-23 extra spicy I.E. wouldn't've attempted if we weren't familiar with that area. It rained lightly throughout the morning and previous night, so we were extra cautious with protection.

Also, instead of Air we started on Unknown (The Line over Lucy?) and continued up Phallus in Wonderland, which was more time-consuming.

It was comforting to know we could safely and quickly bail at almost any step; agree that this is excellent training for alpine terrain negotiation. Would do again but probably won't be pushing the 2 hour mark anytime soon. Which tree do you prefer for #18? Oct 12, 2017
James Schroeder
Sauk County, WI
James Schroeder   Sauk County, WI  
Nice work man! I'm glad somebody else is getting on this thing!

As far as the tree question goes, I think we actually did some 4th/5th class down climbing, after which we decided that a rappel from one of the trees would have been easier. Oct 13, 2017
Eric Mack
  5.8 R
Eric Mack  
  5.8 R
No wonder it did not appear as though ANY of those trees had been rapped off!

Thanks, James - we had a blast. Thanks for putting this together.

My affectionate nickname for this route is "The Path of Greatest Resistance". Nov 15, 2017