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Grandad's Bluff

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Grandad's Bluff  Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 43.8112, -91.2101 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 55,991
Administrators: Doug Hemken, James Schroeder, Chris treggE, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: TravisMelin on Jun 22, 2007
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [4 people like this page.]
Darin Limvere at the crux of Brown Reason


Many years ago Grandad's Bluff was known as a somewhat chossy hardman's crag, with only a cluster of 5.12-5.13 routes. A lot has changed over the last several years however, and a bunch of new routes have been bolted by the local crew. Today the crag features almost 40 clean sport lines, most of which fall in the 5.9-5.10d range. A large increase in number of climbers both from local universities, and the surrounding area has help solidify and remove most all of the loose or dirty rock.

Many of the early routes were established by D. Groth in the 90's, new routes have been established by several area climbers including A. Stetzer, F. Skemp, Corey M., S. Tucker, N. Kutcher, and T. Melin. If one were to look hard enough in the surrounding bluffs you will find that the areas climbing history predates this by quite a while. An unlisted 5.11 route exists on a neighboring bluff that hosts 70's style homemade bolts and hangers. I've always wondered who established this line...

Classic Area Challanges:
Meter Wall Slam - redpoint all the Meader Wall routes in a session
The Grand Slam - redpoint all the routes on the bluff in one day
Patent Pending Speed Lap - See route for details
Classic Link-up - Do the meter wall traverse and finish up any route (for the enduro junkies)

Getting There 

Up Bliss Road from town, take a right at the Alpine Inn. Parking for the Meader Wall/Adidas Wall/Mushroom Wall, etc is as shown below in the pics, however please note the cinder block bathroom is no longer there.

In case Bliss Road is washed out (as it usually is lately): Continue past the Bliss road turn off headed south, take a left at the Kmart which is hwy 33 and head up the hill (east) and then a left onto County road F (north, but winds it's way around back west), which then leads you right to Grandads... Alpine Inn will be on your left.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.3 miles from here

63 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',24],['2 Stars',26],['1 Star',8],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Grandad's Bluff

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Grandad's Bluff :
Cockblocker   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport   Mushroom Wall
A.D.I.D.A.S.   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   Adidas Wall
Lather Boy   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 45'   Adidas Wall
Randalls One Trick Pony   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Adidas Wall
Seven Bolts for Betty   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, TR   Mushroom Wall
Everything Zen   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Adidas Wall
Freehander   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Adidas Wall
Let Your Pimpness Shine   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Adidas Wall
Wehrmacht Stable   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Adidas Wall
Pryopism   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Donkey Punch Wall
Patent Pending   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport   Meader Wall
Ride the Donkey   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 45'   Donkey Punch Wall
Donkey Punch   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     Sport, TR   Donkey Punch Wall
Yeast of Burden   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Witches Cauldron
Big Man on Campus   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 45'   Meader Wall
Nihilist   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Sport, 45'   Meader Wall
Hawaiian Bill   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Meader Wall
Pork Tornado   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Meader Wall
Brown Reason to Live   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Meader Wall
The Man In The Black Pajamas   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 45'   Meader Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Grandad's Bluff

Featured Route For Grandad's Bluff
Rock Climbing Photo: Ben I. taking a whip off of the redpoint crux

Nihilist 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a  Wisconsin : Grandad's Bluff : Meader Wall
Easy 5.10 climbing leads to a rest ledge at the second bolt. Take a good rest cause its business from here to the top. Progressively more difficult pulls lead you through a hueco to some excellent crystal pockets and finally to easier terrain at the top. Dont let this fool you though, most everyone falls from indecision just past the last bolt. Many equally magninal feet and crimps will surely have you wondering....what was the sequence again?Originally graded 5.12d this route has seen a lot of ...[more]   Browse More Classics in Wisconsin

Photos of Grandad's Bluff Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Great view you can catch from Grandad's.
Great view you can catch from Grandad's.

Comments on Grandad's Bluff Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 22, 2017
By josh wabaunsee
Oct 26, 2007
there is much more that grandads bluff has to offer than 5.12 routes... id put the avg grade at 5.10...many thanks to DG, skemp, and randall for putting up routes on walls other than meader...also dont forget to "get your duff up the bluff, and have a brew with a view" at the alpine inn...great apres climb burgers and beer

lacrosse climbing has a long tradition that predates many of the old guys by at least a decade...and should continue as long as climbers care for the area. how many other towns in wisconsin can claim decent climbing with downhill aproaches?
By TravisMelin
From: Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
Nov 16, 2007
New routes are going up almost daily. Other new additions include
Two Girls and a Cup - 5.9
Man in the black pajamas - 5.13a
Big man on campus - 5.12a
(not yet named) -5.10+

With many more in the works. This spring there should be a heap of new routes in the area.
By BryanK
Dec 27, 2007
I've learned that a lot of the ratings are approaching meaningless...("how hard is it?" the climbable lines are pretty stable, but once in a while something comes off, and the route CAN change a little. there is a sh*tload of halfway decent rock in and around La Crosse, but developing it for climbing is a different challenge entirely. We're worth the trip, I think, for the usual DL or Redwing crowd to get out of their respective environments.

and from a definitively intermediates climber - some of this stuff here is HARD.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 7, 2008
I would like to give a public shout out to all who have made this a great climbing destination, from cleaning, bolting, excavating the base of the climbs, trails, and all the other nameless tasks involved... Every time I go to Grandad's I am grateful to those who have come before me.
By Garrett Soper
From: Duluth, Minnesota
Sep 11, 2008
I too would like to say that I'm grateful for such an awesome place to climb so close to where I'm located. Thanks to the guys who put it all up!
By Garrett Soper
From: Duluth, Minnesota
Feb 17, 2009
Bliss Road is back up, so someone might want to change the directions for getting there.
By Jim H
From: Pasadena, CA
Jun 11, 2009
This is located in La Crosse, WI
By josh wabaunsee
Jun 11, 2009
Not really located in Lacrosse

The truth is it is in the town of shelby.
By Garrett Soper
From: Duluth, Minnesota
Aug 4, 2009
There is a wall between the Mushroom wall and Meader wall with a single route on it. It's pretty slabby and goes at about 5.8 or 5.9. At the top you can traverse over and put a TR on a route around the corner that has chains but is not bolted. Both are pretty fun and a little dirty. Any idea what these are?
By TravisMelin
From: Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
Aug 4, 2009
the right line was originally bolted by DG and called two girls and a cup (5.9). We always called it 20 minute wank, for unobvious reasons. The left line is unnamed to my knowledge. It has been TR'ed but needs lots of cleaning...
By FrankB
Sep 14, 2009
pretty neat view of it here:
By josh wabaunsee
Sep 14, 2009
did you notice the party at addias?
By TravisMelin
From: Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
Sep 14, 2009
Ha, thats awesome
By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Sep 15, 2009
Wow Frank, that is really cool!
By A.J. Christnovich
From: La Crosse, WI
Apr 1, 2010
talked to Dave last night about access at Grandad's: please keep a low profile, in other words: don't bring a large group to attract attention to yourself and continue to be considerate in order to keep climbing as a positive and long standing tradition for the area
By Scott M.
From: Onalaska
Mar 8, 2011
Bliss road is out again.

Should probably change the directions for the non local guys..

Continue past Bliss road turn off, take a left at the Kmart which then you take hwy 33 up the hill and a left onto County road F, which then leads you right to Grandads...
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Mar 12, 2011
Wow seriously. What is the deal with that road? Is that 3 times the road is out in 4 years???
By Adam.Mohr
From: La Crosse / Madison
Mar 13, 2011
A story with relevance in regards to the legality of climbing at Grandads. Late last summer I was nearing the top of a climb at George's Point when a head poked over the rim right above the anchor. I figured it was a daring hiker but the individual standing there was actually wearing a badge and brown uniform (state patrol?) The officer asked me some questions regarding "abandoned camping equipment" found nearby while I hung on at the top of the climb. He seemed rather unconcerned with us climbing and soon went on his way. The full story on access has never been clear to me at least so someone else might find this of use. (Then again maybe it just wasn't his jurisdiction.)
By ChrisPaukner
May 9, 2011
A relevant note to anyone climbing here: There have been a few car break ins on the bluff lately. My car was broken into last night after a great session climbing and they stole my wife's purse. If you have anything valuable, best advice is not to leave it in the car. There's a ton of evidence (auto glass in all parking areas) that indicates this is not just a one-time deal.
By Juggler
May 31, 2011
To All Chicago Area Climbers:

I am looking for partners to go to WI climbing and other locations(Jackson Falls, DL, The Red, Grand Dads, etc) with.

I have an Airplane and can fly us there. Please send me a PM if you want more details and the cost of sharing the flight expenses. Hope to meet a few of you soon. I can fit up to 4 climbers with me in the Cherokee 6(with room for gear). I also have lodging available in a log cabin about 30 min. South :)
By AnjayB
Jun 11, 2011
Its been gated for renovation, and we weren't thinking we wanted to go in not sure what they are doing in there. The road is blocked between the dirt parking area on the right and the "climber parking" on the left. So, we're going somewhere else because we don't want to push our luck. If people could update this as ut proggresses, that would be awesome.
By Troyd
From: Chicago, IL
Oct 23, 2011
How are the bluffs you can see from the town? Are any of the routes/areas on them?
By Corey Morris
From: Fort Sam Houston, TX
Dec 29, 2011
Climbing on the faces one can see from town is strictly illegal.
By BryanK
Mar 14, 2012
Park has a new road surface, and currently is gated, but plenty of people are walking past the gate and signs.

As usual, treat the area as "access sensitive" (everything bagged, shoes, ropes, clanking gear strapped to your pack is not cool) leave it better than you found it, and keep the noise down out towards the west facing edge.

The reconstruction of the lookout on top left a fair amount of debris on the trail below, west of Meder Wall, and washout added to a couple piles of eroded dirt in a few places. Routes all look untouched - though keep an eye out for loose rock west of the Mushroom Wall, you never know what the contractors worked loose.
By BryanK
Mar 26, 2012
Just so we know about it - if you see any gear that needs replacing; chains, bolts, or even the 'biners at the chains - post it here so we can get it handled. Thanks!
By Jay Brooks
Apr 18, 2012
Are the majority of the routs set for lead climbing, or can a guy top rope? Also if the majority of routs are set with bolts for lead climbing are carabiners attached to clip into or must I bring my own?
By Corey Morris
From: Fort Sam Houston, TX
Apr 19, 2012
The majority of the routes are bolted with the exception of George's Point (see George's)...please do not approach the bolted climbs from above to set top ropes because you may get a ticket by the police and the grounds have been seeded to prevent erosion. Someone will have to lead it and then one can top rope through the chains that have biners attached...Please do not take the biners and replace a biner if heavily worn...

To answer Jay's question; Yes, nearly all routes on Grandads bluff are intended to be led from the ground up. Georges Point is the only designated top roping area. Yes, there are anchor bolts with chain and carabiners (unless some asshole has taken them). Top roping above bolted sport climbs kills the vegetation which holds the soil. If there is no vegetation, the soil runs down the cliff when it rains and gets deposited on hand and footholds making the climb dirty, slippery, and unenjoyable to those who can actually lead the route. Some locals have spent their own time and money trying to make this a clean, safe, and enjoyable place for everyone. All routes are safely bolted with the exception of the Polish Route at Mushroom wall (not recommended) There is potential for groundfall at 3rd bolt and there is some loose rock.
By Corey Morris
From: Fort Sam Houston, TX
Apr 21, 2012
Jay, there is usually someone up there who will lead the route to get your rope hung...just simply ask...
By Jay Brooks
Apr 22, 2012
Thanks a Corey! I do will defiantly be able to do the lead climbs, I just needed to get some quickdraws. Thanks again for the info.
By BryanK
May 23, 2012
So what night is the usual crowd around? This guy needs to get out on rock again, and outweighing my usual climbing partner by 70 lbs doesn't make for confident leading.
By GBroge Broge
Aug 30, 2012
Checked this place out for the first time last weekend, we all thoroughly enjoyed it and are looking forward to a return trip in the near future.

Also, the directions are a little bit dated(there no longer is a hut in the parking area) and some of the biners in the ADIDAS area were pretty worn(big grooves) and could probably be replaced.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 1, 2012
GBorge: Are you saying the cinder block restroom was removed? It's been a couple years since I've been to Granddad's. If so, I will change the description.

As for the grooved top-biners: yup with all the traffic this area gets, they wear out quickly. It's up to you and me, the climbers, to replace the ones that need replacing. When I used to frequent Granddad's and Barn Bluff, I always brought a couple extra biners and replaced what needed it. You should too.
By GBroge Broge
Sep 10, 2012
Chris treggE: That is correct, the cinder block restroom is gone. In-fact neither of the buildings in the "Park Here" photo above are there any more.

As far as carrying replacement biners: will do. We climbers should also top-rope off our quickdraws and either lower a single time or rappel (which is what we did) from the anchors to reduce the wear on these biners.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 10, 2012
Thanks! Updated.
By Jonathan Williams
From: Minneapolis
Jan 1, 2013
Chris E, can you help me delete the photo of the old parking spot? It has a comment on it, hence I don't have "the power." F Skemp will be updating with a nice new beta map when he is ready. JW
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Jan 1, 2013

Palo Alto??? You at Stanford?

By Jonathan Williams
From: Minneapolis
Jan 2, 2013
Hah, I figured if I were going to be in radiology, I may as try to find a place that had half decent weather. And residencies are equal parts slave labor everywhere. :) Also, I'm close to a few half-decent climbing areas. Ironically, though, you're "closer" to climbing than I am; the nearest "real" cliff is 2+ hours. Then again, they are some pretty decent cliffs. Give your patients to someone else for a week and come visit! ;) JW
By ChrisPaukner
Apr 20, 2013
Anyone know the current conditions? Is it a mud bath or pretty dry?
By Ely Finucane
From: Lakewood, Colorado
Apr 21, 2013
I was up there last night and the trails and bases of walls were dry (meader wall, anyway).
By Leslie McG
Jun 1, 2013
mushroon wall has many loose holds. Best way to quarry is from last gravel lot. Walk towards the overlook and trail will be on your left.
By jon bender
From: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sep 6, 2015

Right after the gates turn into your first parking lot on the left. Then head straight down the connecting hiking trail. Don't go all the way to the end.

We were somewhat misguided from the modifications of the park and previously mentioned structures. Ended up hiking for at least an hour or two after leaving from the most distant trail head and finding smaller paths.

The path should be clear, and the approach no more than 10 minutes.
By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Nov 27, 2015
I spotted a new route between Psycho and Adidas. Any name or grade?
By Brandon Heinrich
From: La Crosse, WI
Jul 26, 2016
What is the status of the small cliff to the east of Witches Cauldron? It looks incredibly dirty, but there looks to be some easily done trad routes. Have these been done? Can they be done?
By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Jul 30, 2016
Hey Brandon, yeah we used to top rope those when I was in high school about 16 years ago. I'm sure it's gotten real dirty since then. Have at it man!
By Mark Hense
May 29, 2017
Small tip. Put on your helmet before dropping in to base of climbs. Kids love to throw rock over, and they nauseum.
By Chelsey Willms
Jun 20, 2017
Hey, is there a climbing group in La Crosse by chance?
By Joel Allen
From: La Crosse, WI
Jun 22, 2017
Chelsey, LAX Rock Climbing

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