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Necedah (Petenwell Bluff)

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30 Degree Wall 
Above Anthrax 
Air Spire 
Anthrax wall 
Brig, The 
Coyote Tower 
Fire Spire 
Friction Addiction Boulder 
Hell Wall AKA Quarry Wall 
Mr. Canoehead AKA 303 Spire 
River side of Main Massif or Quarry Wall 
Square, The 
Y-Crack Wall 

Necedah (Petenwell Bluff) Rock Climbing 

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Location: 44.04543, -90.02008 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 100,105
Administrators: Doug Hemken, James Schroeder, Chris treggE, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Jay Knower on Oct 26, 2004  with updates from Matt M

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Necedah, WI. Fire Spire. Henning Boldt on Fire in ...


Perhaps the best sport climbing area in Wisconsin now that Gibraltar is closed, Necedah has been drawing Wisconsin's finest for decades. Comprised of solid, colorful sandstone, these walls offer interesting climbing on clean, steep rock. Upon arriving at the cliff, THE wall invariably grabs the climber's attention. Fifty feet tall and steadily overhanging, this wall holds some of the best climbing in the Midwest.

Y-Crack (also called Wide Crack) splits the wall, with technical and pumpy jamming on its left variation (5.10d/11a) and technical crimping with thin gear on its right (5.11c). Many difficult sport climbs broach the wall's flanks and feature technical climbing with no rests. Wisconsin's premier sport route, "Whiskey a Go Go" (5.13a) can be found here.

Spires are situated around the wall like moons around a planet, and a mega classic 5.9/10a climbs up the center of the largest spire. On a clear day Roch a Cri, Wisconsin's largest cliff (now closed), can be spotted from the top of the spire. Further down Necedah's backbone of rock, the adventurous climber can find many exciting trad routes and some hidden sport gems.

If you visit Necedah, please keep a low profile. Climbers have been here for many years and Necedah has remained a peaceful place to escape the Devil's Lake throngs. PLEASE KEEP IT THAT WAY.

Dont even THINK about camping there; we don't need to get this place closed.

Getting There 

From the town of Necedah, drive east about three miles on Highway 21. You will see the sandstone towers right in front of you. Take a right onto the road that parallels the cliff (19th street) and park in a pull-out on your left a half mile down. A short hike through the woods straight back and then uphill to the left will take you to Y-Crack, the southern most formation.

Parking is at coordinates: 44.042510, -90.020508

Climbing Season

Weather station 3.2 miles from here

79 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',30],['2 Stars',35],['1 Star',5],['Bomb',2]

Classic Climbing Routes in Necedah (Petenwell Bluff)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Necedah (Petenwell Bluff):
Air   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Sport, 95'   Air Spire
Phallus in Wonderland   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 100'   Air Spire
Mr Canoehead   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 45'   Mr. Canoehead AKA 303 Spire
Whiskey Chimmney AKA Pigeon Crack   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 50'   Y-Crack Wall
Little Rebel Crack AKA Ezra Brooks   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 50'   Y-Crack Wall
Chucklehead Crack   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 100'   Air Spire
Hydroponics   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 70'   Coyote Tower
Aswan Dam Crack   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   River side of Main Massif o...
Fire in the Sky   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Fire Spire
Tower Route   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Y-Crack Wall
Mercy F**k   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport   Hell Wall AKA Quarry Wall
Riverboat Gambler   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 70'   Above Anthrax
Y-Crack (aka Old and in the Way)   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 50'   Y-Crack Wall
Dakota Farms Cheese   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Y-Crack Wall
Early Times   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Y-Crack Wall
The Green Lantern   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 60'   Hell Wall AKA Quarry Wall
Straight No Chaser   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad   Y-Crack Wall
Dick and Jeanie   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 30'   Hell Wall AKA Quarry Wall
Self Mutilation   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Hell Wall AKA Quarry Wall
Whiskey a Go-Go   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Y-Crack Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Necedah (Petenwell Bluff)

Featured Route For Necedah (Petenwell Bluff)
Rock Climbing Photo: C. Treiber looking strong on Whiskey (photo G. For...

Whiskey a Go-Go 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c  Wisconsin : Necedah (Petenwell Bluff) : Y-Crack Wall
Whiskey a Go Go climbs the wall just left of the saddle between the wall and the spire. The climb follows discontinuous cracks up the steep face. The bottom of the face is heavily featured and offers 5.10ish climbing up to the second bolt. The features eventually run out and force the climber into exceedingly thin and dynamic moves to link the widely spaced cracks. Once past the crux, some welcome pockets await; however, they offer little reprieve. A classic top out deposits the climbe...[more]   Browse More Classics in Wisconsin

Photos of Necedah (Petenwell Bluff) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Groth  Rebel Yell
Dave Groth Rebel Yell
Rock Climbing Photo: The Y-Crack wall
The Y-Crack wall
Rock Climbing Photo: John Yaworsky leading right side of  Hell Wall (?)...
John Yaworsky leading right side of Hell Wall (?)...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Groth Rebel yell
Dave Groth Rebel yell
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo for Y-Crack Wall
BETA PHOTO: Topo for Y-Crack Wall
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo for Coyote Tower
BETA PHOTO: Topo for Coyote Tower
Rock Climbing Photo: Hell Wall and Brig
BETA PHOTO: Hell Wall and Brig
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo for Air and Fire Spires
BETA PHOTO: Topo for Air and Fire Spires
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo for 303 Tower
BETA PHOTO: Topo for 303 Tower
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo: View taken looking south on Halloween of 2003.
View taken looking south on Halloween of 2003.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jay, hiking around Necedah, 2004-ish.
Jay, hiking around Necedah, 2004-ish.
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo of Necedah taken with iphone.
Photo of Necedah taken with iphone.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cody Brundidge atop Petenwell Bluffs
Cody Brundidge atop Petenwell Bluffs
Rock Climbing Photo: Y-Crack
Rock Climbing Photo: Liz traversing the top of Air Spire
Liz traversing the top of Air Spire
Rock Climbing Photo: Pullout on 19th.  Pretty small, easy to miss if it...
BETA PHOTO: Pullout on 19th. Pretty small, easy to miss if it...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bouldering potential between The Brig and Anthrax ...
BETA PHOTO: Bouldering potential between The Brig and Anthrax ...
Rock Climbing Photo: I found this two bolt route on the west side of th...
I found this two bolt route on the west side of th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mark Wenzel felling the "cheat tree" at ...
Mark Wenzel felling the "cheat tree" at ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking over the river...
Looking over the river...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rock art(?) on Coyote Tower.  At least it fits the...
Rock art(?) on Coyote Tower. At least it fits the...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jay on top at Necedah, 2004-ish.
Jay on top at Necedah, 2004-ish.
Rock Climbing Photo: Necedah!!

Show All 27 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Necedah (Petenwell Bluff) Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 27, 2017
By Anonymous
Oct 29, 2004
Necedah is an out of the way, second rate crag. It's not a destination by any means. If you're in the area, and the Lake is crowded than this may be worth driving to. There just isn't much there. You could exhaust the majority of the routes in a day. The few routes that are there are generally of good quality though.
By Steve Sangdahl
From: eldo sprngs,co
Mar 31, 2005
this is a great crag for those who have done most dl climbs or not.there is a great dining /drinking facility at the base(is it still open?)an important feature.the rock is generally goodand has more friction than dl(anything has more friction than dl except maybe polished limestone in blighty (u.k.) the gear is okay especially since they added bolts to alot of the trad climbs we did years ago.Old AND IN THE WAY 5.10d aka y-crack is not to be missed as it offers some kick ass crack climbing.STRAIGHT NO CHASER,WHISKEY A-GO-GO will also kick ass of a different sort. to the right of y-crak wall is a small tower with a steep wall which we did on trad gear(5.10+?),this tower has some other easier climbs as well.on the opposite end the last tower to the north had a left? curving crack,short but hard,cant remember what we named it.there seemed to be some short hard thin cracks to the left of y-crack wall as well.all in all necedah is a quiet place to pull down please help keep it that way.peace and fuk-nes.
By mike suarez
Sep 22, 2005
does anyone have info about the two bolted routes at the north end of the bluff (near the highway)? it appears that the route on the arete is long and continuous. ms-
By Burt Lindquist
From: Madison, WI
Sep 23, 2005
To Mike:

The route on the right is 5.12ish if you stay directly on the bolt line at the start (first three bolts I think) and then follow the arete above along the bolts (natural line). You can make the line easier though if you climb the lower part of the route staying to the right of the bolt line along the natural weaknesses (clipping the bolts on you left by reaching over) and then getting a rest on the lower angled part of the lower arete before launching up onto to the upper arete. The route is maybe 5.10c this way (maybe slightly harder).

The route on the right is a nice 5.11a (maybe harder?? 5.11 b or c). Take a few smaller flexcams or Tricams with so you can protect the crux of the climb in the obvious horizontal. This is a mixed pro route although you only get natural gear in the one horizontal.

I don't know the names of either of these routes but for Wisconny climbing - they are pretty good.

By mike suarez
Sep 24, 2005
thanks burt for the info, iprobably will check them out some time this week and see how it goes.

Cheers and lets pray to the winter gods for good ice this year!
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 26, 2005
Can anyone shed some light on where the 5.6 called "Air" is located? Thanks
By Burt Lindquist
From: Madison, WI
Sep 26, 2005

Go underneath and past the Y Crack/Whiskey A GoGo climbs and walk the upward angling trail towards the notch in the rock buttress that makes up the same area you just passed. Go pass this notch and keep walking the trail (same side of the bluff still) up to the next major notch between rock buttresses. Pass through this notch to the other side of the bluff and walk maybe 20 yards down slopeto your left staying near the bottom of the rock wall and you will see the innitial corner of the lower parts of the climb "Air".You should be able to see a bolt on the right hand side of a steep but easy corner system that is about 30-40 ft. before the route ventures right and up out of the top of the corner. There is a large tree at the climb base as well and the bottom of the lower corner system of the route makes kind of a protected legde area. Super fun route that has mixed pro.

By Jesse Bond
Apr 10, 2006
For anyone who has some Necedah history to offer--

There is a route that goes up the back side (by back side I mean closer to the water) of the formation that I believe is called Coyote Tower (the small spire not far from Y crack wall) It's not bolted but nicely protectable and there is a set of chains at the top. Just curious if anyone knows if there is a consensus on the name or grade of the route.

By Ed Wright
May 14, 2006
Don't know if it has a name but I remember that being 5.8.
By Rob Riggleman
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Jul 17, 2006
On the three new routes near the north end by Jeremy, the hanger is loose on the first bolt of the left-most climb. It looks like the nut just needs tightening, but that's just my guess. I don't know nearly enough about placing bolts to say exactly what's wrong...

The other two routes were really fun, thanks for putting them up.
By NiClips
From: Madison, WI
Oct 3, 2006
I don't know how to contact James; but my girlfriend and I were also thinking of a cleanup day at Necedah. We were thinking cleanup in the AM then grilling for lunch then climbing in the afternoon. I can be reached at thane1200 at Hotmail dot Com.
By Leo Hski
Nov 19, 2006
Jesse is talking about a route called "Hydroponics" (at least when I was climbing there). About 5.9 or easy .10. Starts up a little layback corner to a ledge at ~20 feet, then up the crack. Good pro, good climbing.
Rock Climbing Photo: Hydroponics start (Necedah)  Photo by Steve Sangda...
Hydroponics start (Necedah) Photo by Steve Sangdahl
By Peter Dodge
From: Duluth, MN
Mar 20, 2007
I really like climbing at Necedah, but I always get a little lost. I was wondering if anyone could make a little map of the bluff showing where the different areas are.
By TravisMelin
From: Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
Jun 23, 2007
Anyone know the name of the boulder problem that goes directly up the face on the river side of the coyote tower? In the above picture it would be the face to the left of the climber.
By Dobbe
Jul 29, 2008
The right line of the two elevens at hell wall had a big piece break from the top and the stuff that is still up is very soft and will break soon. Watch out if you are climbing this, make sure your belayer is out of the way when you are on the last bolt.
By David A Groth
From: Lacrosse
Sep 28, 2008
I did this problem back in the late 80's maybe it is v5? It is a good problem and pretty committing or at least that is how I remember it. I never gave it a name.
Dave Groth
By Jonathan Williams
From: Minneapolis
Nov 16, 2008
I was there two weeks ago and packed out 4 large trash bags worth of garbage. There are a lot of user groups here, and a lot of them leave empty cans, bottles, candy wrappers etc. Please help out and pick up any garbage next time you're here. Thanks.

By Tradiban
Jun 11, 2010
I have received a copy of the Ryan Hansen guide book for Necedah and I am attempting to reconcile all of the information within that book with the info on MP.

Some climbs are known as different names and I've noted that under comments and I have also added climbs with the limited info available. If you know details please chime in!
By Steve Sangdahl
From: eldo sprngs,co
Jun 25, 2010
nick,thanks for adding/updating the info for this great wisco area.
some of the stuff we did back in the early 80,s is probably called something else now.but oh well.
Mr Canoehead was done by Jack Klein and myself circa 1981
thanks agin and pull dwn cut loose and throw up
steve s
By Branden Michelkamp
From: Salt Lake City
Feb 2, 2011
Does anyone know if there is a guidebook make for Necedah? or... would anyone be interested in compiling one?
By jaysquared
From: Madison, WI
Jun 16, 2011
Just to clarify the directions....After turning onto highway 21, and once the rocks are visible in front of you, turn right on Petenwell Rd. After it dead-ends into another road, turn right again, and drive about .25mi, parking in a small pull-out on your left.
By Jeff House
From: rapid city sd
Mar 8, 2012
hows the snow here? Is it climbable?
By ZoeyG
From: Brattleboro, VT
May 27, 2013
There are some bouldering opportunities in the area. Might not be enough to fill in a full day, but will add to the fun having a pad and being creative with the rock.
By Laura Adrian
From: Saint Paul, MN
Aug 26, 2013
Are any of the climbing areas at Necedah in the shade?
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Aug 27, 2013
In general the climbs are on the east or west side. So, start on the west side then after midday, move to the east side.
By Jack C.
From: Idaho
Oct 12, 2013
Hundreds of wasps yesteday even with the breeze so make sure you're observant and not set on climbing anything that isn't shaded now that it's getting cooler.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 18, 2015
Sunday would be fine, IMO. I don't think it's supposed to rain tomorrow.
By Steve Sangdahl
From: eldo sprngs,co
Nov 30, 2015
Does anyone have a copy of Ryan Hansen,s guide book to Necedah they could copy and send me? I would love to check it out for historical purposes and compare with my times there in the early eighties. Thanks.
On a side note we use to call it the Country Club Crags due to the Restaurant and bar across the street from the cliffs. Many a margarita was consumed there after a day of climbing and a swim in the river. The area always seemed pretty relaxed during our time. Peace and you know what. Steve S.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Dec 1, 2015
Steve check your email.
By madisonchoss
Dec 1, 2015
Thanks for adding a bunch of info, Steve. Always like the stories.
By Steve Sangdahl
From: eldo sprngs,co
Dec 2, 2015
Chris tregg, thanks for the info. Still gotta down load the guide.
By Steve Sangdahl
From: eldo sprngs,co
Dec 2, 2015
Madisonchoss, your welcome. I like to try and keep the history accurate and provide some stories to go with some of the routes. The history and the stories can make a route come alive. Almost every first lead has some kinda story. Peace NOW PUKE
By Jacob Krenn
From: La Valle, WI
Oct 6, 2016
First time to Necedah today, and I thouroughly enjoyed it! The views and exposure can't be beat for single pitch climbing in the Midwest! My partner was unable to clean my purple 0.5 Camalot on Little Rebel Crack (great route Steve!), as it seems to have walked itself into an overcammed position. It's just above the overhang, and fair game for whoever can free it. I'll be out of town for a couple weeks, and won't have the chance to go back anytime soon, so go grab yourself some booty!
By eRock Krantz
From: MN
Oct 15, 2016
Thanks for the help last weekend. My girlfriend was injured (previous knee injury that just decided to pop while on a route) last weekend and I had to carry her out. Big thanks to the nice woman who helped carry out our gear and to all the people who offered to help and showed concern. There was 5-6 of you and that's the kind of attitude we all need out there. Thanks again.
By jon jugenheimer
From: Madison
Mar 5, 2017
Petenwell Rock
From the Juneau County attractions Page, a bit of history for us.
The largest scenic rock formation in northern Juneau County, Petenwell Rock is named for a star-crossed lover, who legend has it, leaped to his death from this spot with the local Indian Chief's daughter, Clinging Vine. It is said that the Indian gods returned Clinging Vine to the rock where she stands today, faithful to the memory of her lover, Peter Wells, surrounded by magnificent bald eagles that nest and soar over their special place. The eagles are particularly evident here in winter when they fish the bountiful open water below the dam.
By Alex Frierson
Apr 26, 2017
Hey yall! I was wondering if anyone has any beta on top roping. Are there any easy places to scramble up and place a top rope? Cheers!
By Paul Campbell
From: Waukesha, WI
Apr 27, 2017
Alex it is possible to top-rope sections of the crag. The main wall that contains Y-Crack and quite a few other routes has a (slightly sketchy) 4th class access route to the top. However, the majority of the crag is free standing towers and fins of rock that you will not be able to top-rope.

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