Welcome to the official Minnesota Climbing Cooperative blog. The Co-op blog was created for sharing information about the climbing community and starting positive conversation among climbers from around Minnesota.

If you would like more information about the Co-op, please visit our main site, mnclimbingcoop.com.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Best of the Midwest Stop No.2

The Minnesota Climbers Association presents


In association with the Minnesota Cimbing Cooperative, Boulders Climbing Gym, & the Wisconsin Climbers Association.

Join us at the Minnesota Climbing Cooperative in Minneapolis, MN for the second stop of the Fall 2012 BOTM series. CASH PRIZES*


MCA/AF Joint member $26
Non-MCA/AF Joint member $40
T-shirts $10


Registration 12:00-1:00 pm
Climbing 1:00-5:00 pm
Break 5:00-6:00 pm
Finals 6:00-8:00 pm


Mens: Novice (V0-V2), Intermediate (V3-V5), Advance (V6-V8), & Open (V8+)
Womens: Novice (V0-V1), Intermediate (V2-V3), Advance (V4-V5), & Open (V6+)

* Must compete in both competitions (no. 1 boulders climbing gym & no.2 minnesota climbing co/op) to be eligible for cash prizes.

For more information & to volunteer please visit:


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MNCC at the Reel Rock Film Tour 7

The MNCC is once again a proud local sponsor of the Reel Rock Film Tour - Mpls. We will have a table at Reel Rock! Stop by and see what we're up to and what we've got planned. We're always up to something...maybe you can get the inside scoop. Word on the street is we'll have Co-op shirts for sale and swag to give away, too!

Get your tickets now! Tickets available at Midwest Mountaineering and online here. See you there!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

MN Climbing: The Early Years by Jeff Engel

EARLY YEARS: Climbing activity mainly at Blue Mounds, Taylors Falls, and areas on the North Shore.

1988-89: Sport routes start being developed at Barns Bluff in Redwing. Up to this point there had been some top-rope activity and trad leads, but on a limited basis. Check out Barns Bluff on Mountain Project.

1991: The City of Redwing threatens to close climbing. At this point there are about 50 bolted sport routes. Postma, Dahlberg, Engel and others rally and keep it open. Climbers have a good standing with the city now.

1994: Willow River State park cave is discovered. A few sport routes got established as a “Feasibility Study”. At this point there is no climbing management plan at the park. Pick up the Willow River guidebook from Escape Climbing or check out Willow River on Mountain Project.

1996: Willow River officials discover the climbing activity and shut things down. At this point there were 5 amazing sport routes on the super steep cave.

1996-97: Engel, Bjork, Pagle and others negotiate with the Park and state to re-open climbing in the park. Engel worked with the Access Fund and procured a $2500 grant for a parking lot. Because of the on-going negotiations and unclear direction at the park, the park officials returned the grant to the Access fund

SPRING 1997: park management was changed and the new superintendent, Lenore Schroeder was willing to open climbing up on a limited basis. There were restricted hours, but we got to climb and develop more routes.

1998: Seeing no down side to climbing Lenore opens the hours up completely

1999: Lenore moves on and the new park superintendent at shuts things down to the original restricted hours and climbing is only allowed on the north side of the river.

2001: Jeff’s World discovered in the Canadian wilderness and starts getting developed. Check out Jeff’s World on Mountain Project.

2004: Engel, Beltrante, Vavrika and others start working with City of Sandstone to legitimize rock and ice climbing in Robinson park. Check out Robinson Park on Mountain Project.

2005: Beltrante, Vavrika, and other have the first annual Ice Climbing Festival at Robinson Park.

2006: Climbing Management Plan for Robinson Park finalized and climbing is an official use of the park. Bolted sport routes start to get developed.

2008: Engel contacts Eldon Johnson and works out arrangements for allowing bouldering on his land in Sandstone across the river from Robinson Park

2010: Engel and MCA start working with City of Sandstone to setup an official Ice Park. Fall of 2010 the City of Sandstone installed a water hydrant by the ice climbing cliffs and the MCA installed an ice farming infrastructure. Now Ice in the park is plentiful! Check out Sandstone Ice Park on Facebook.

CURRENT: Engel and MCA submitted a proposal to add Banning State Park to the list of Minnesota state parks that allow climbing. There is a crazy amount of bouldering potential at Banning. Also in the works is a proposal to Voyager National park to allow sport routes on a very limited basis. Using Acadia NP as a model for the management plan. Initial response from Park law enforcement is promising.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

MN Bouldering: A Brief History by Josh Helke

     Minnesota has a very long history of bouldering. After the glaciers tore down the last of the mountains that once stood in MN with their natural force rivers carved through the bedrock leaving many deep river valleys lined with short and stout climbs and boulder problems. Many of the first boulder problems in the area started at Taylors Falls, split equally between MN and WI. Here iron hard Basalt cliffs, pot holes and boulders have been caressed by climbers hands since well before the 1930s when the Civilian Conservation Corps created a desolate logging kink in a powerful river into a natural area for recreational enthusiasts from the nearby Twin Cities. 

     Just about every child growing up in the Twin Cities has been introduced to what rock climbing is by experiencing the joy of bouldering in the Natural wonderland of Taylors Falls. Throughout History Taylors Falls was on the forefront of bouldering through the 1960s,70s, 80s and 90s. With visits from Historical bouldering heroes like Jim Holloway who managed an early repeat of the early taylors falls test-piece B2 Bomber, to bouldering icon John Sherman who choose to feature Taylors Falls and its prodigy Chris Ecklund, pioneer of nearly every testpiece on the basalt in his 1990s publication Stone Crusade. During this Period Taylors Falls was on the forefront of Bouldering in the world with top notch cutting edge 1990s problems like Mikes Right V8, Cave Traverse V9, Left of Lloyds V11, and numerous lines that crossed the top Rope/bouldering line like Softer than Ice harder than Diamonds .13c-14a, All Pilgrims Must Hang 5.13c, all lines that were bouldered in Taylors Falls fashion.
     In the late 90s with the introduction of crash pads bouldering began to take off in MN. Small groups of boulderers began to emerge from the communities with climbing gyms. Rochester MN, the Twin Cities, Stillwater MN, Duluth MN. Many of the early 1990s classics began to be repeated and some sit starts and modern tweaks to the older problems climbed. Many small areas began to Emerge as young climbers remembered local small crags near their childhood homes and some smaller areas like The Waz in Southern MN, The granite erratics of the MN river Valley, The Boomsite and Twin Springs near Stillwater MN and Louisville Swamp near Shakopee were climbed at for their high concentration of eliminate type problems and close distance to local climbers homes. After spending some time on the amazing sandstone of Jackson Falls in Southern, IL, in 1998, I was urged to check out the old sandstone quarry by local legend Doug Dokken to check out an unrepeated traverse in the back of an old quarry. Quarry had nothing on the amazing sandstone potential of the kettle river valley and its natural river featured boulders. 

     And between 1998 and 2002 over 200 boulder problems were cleaned and climbed by excited climbers from MN, WI and IA in a 4 mile stretch of the river valley mostly within Banning State Park land and a dense concentration on private property. It is to be noted that while exploring and developing numerous chalk arrows were found on classic lines and it was rumored Chris Ecklund had left his mark in this river valley as well with the gift of more amazing lines. Classic lines My Friends a republican V6, The Gym Teacher V9, That Girls a bitch V7, Pocket Hercules V8, Best V5 in MN, Ugly Duck V7, First Born V8, Panic Arete V6, Oreo V8, 12 Grams V7, new pair of glasses V5, 30 Degree Stand V7, Invisible touch V10, and many many more were added to the sandstone. 

     In 2002, no trespassing signs were posted on the highway 123 parking area of Sandstone bouldering. During this period Brent Zweirs and I launched the Minnesota Climbers Association to work on access to Sandstone, re-bolting Redwing and some other minor access issues. I contacted the land owners and presented climbing to a woman whose name is not remembered. It was decided that it would be best to respect the no trespassing for a time after this talk and the MCA spread work of this closure. Development moved to some discrete sections of Banning State Park and the kettle Boulders were developed in the far north sector of Banning state park as well as some bouldering under the boat launch parking area and front Hells Gate to the railroad bridge. Many fine problems were climbed. During this period we were approached while climbing in a pot hole along the trail near the rock crusher by a very nice park person and asked to please refrain from climbing and that climbing was not technically allowed within banning state park do to fragile rock and the ecosystem of many of the rock formations, furthermore climbing was not allowed in any pot hole in MN state parks. 

     After this Most of the Development withing the kettle River slowed to some small illegal sessions by climbers who had heard rumors of what the areas held. Most of the attention during this period shifted to the north Shore along Lake superior at areas like Ely's Peak and Sawmill Creek Dome. Sawmill Creek Dome was first developed in a fast paced phase by Matt Tschohl and Andy Raether who cleaned and climbed many of the first classics. With Sandstone closed boulderers trained for winters in Hueco and for new additions and variations to existing hard lines at Taylors Falls, and remaining projects and sawmill. During the mid 2005s the City of sandstone became very interested in the climbing potential in their quarries for economic stimulation of the city and climbing access to the city park was granted and some sport climbs and farmed ice began. During this period Jeff Engel who had emerged as the hero of pushing the quarry opening through sent a letter to the landowners of the private bouldering area across the river from the quarry with the kindness and attention to landowner fears that he had developed as a hunter using private land and was granted some access to the private land and bouldering began again around 2007 with access ok.
     During the mid to late 2005-2010 years Vertical Endeavors in St Paul, MN put more focus into bouldering areas of their gym and a second explosion of bouldering development took place in MN pushing the levels to new heights, areas like Taylors Falls, Sawmill Creek Dome, and Sandstone saw many hard lines added by a band of devoted climbers.
     Today with youth teams at all the local gyms quickly pushing climbers into the V10 range and the newly Formed Minnesota Climbers Coop granting 24 hour access to local college students at a very affordable price bouldering is on a ever increasing spike of popularity in the land of 10,000 lakes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Co-Op Cleaning: Get you some soap

Greetings Co-Op Members,

Call me a sucker or call me a saint, but I've decided to try and coordinate some semblance of a cleaning schedule to keep the Co-Op tip-top and squeaky clean.  This message is to inform you about the schedule and process I intend on initiating.  If you have no interest in participating in any cleaning or cleanliness you are dismissed...go take a bath.

You're still interested?  Good for you.  You're a better person for it.  Continue on.

First: A white board calendar will be located on the north side of the gym nearest the storage area and 60 degree wall.  It will have two weeks listed out and a key (you remember geography, right?) at the bottom of cleaning activities.  If something clearly needs to be done, such as vacuuming, knock yourself out and do it.  When you're done go to the white board and note what you've done.  Put your name if it will make you feel better to get credit.  I'll give you a pat on the back and Buddha, Flying Spaghetti Monster, or your favorite deity will give you positive karma.  Resume climbing.  If you have time or want to clean something but have no idea what needs to be done consult this board to see what, if anything, has been done recently.  Choose something that hasn't been done in a while and have at it.  Mark it on the white board as mentioned above.  Resume climbing.  My goal is to have everything on the list done at least once every two weeks. 

The list includes: Vacuum Carpet
Sweep and/or Mop concrete floor
Wipe down flat surfaces (desk, exercise equipment)
Shoe organization
Storage area organization
Clean sink
Resume climbing

ADD Summary:1)  Clean something
2)  Mark on white board (near 60 degree wall)
3)  Feel better about your existence
4)  Resume climbing 

Second: This is yet to be seen but I would like to do a thorough clean twice a year.  Maybe spring and fall.  Clean off all those dusty surfaces, clean out cubbies, last chance on the lost and found items, clean out the cobwebs.  Details on that TBA.

Third:  This is more of an informational piece but I think you should know to help you sleep easier.  Myself or Micah are going to take the hand towels home once a week and wash them.  

This is a new thing so I'm sure there should be things added or removed.  If you have questions/suggestions feel free to email me, logan.mitton@gmail.com or you can just send me inappropriate pictures at work labeled "adorable kitten, safe for work".  Gets me every time.  I guess that kind of answers the sucker or saint debate.

Look at that, I've come full circle and segued right into a conclusion.  Thank you for your time.  Let's all make the Co-Op CLEAN!...I mean, a fun and positive place to climb.


Logan "put a little elbow grease soap into it" Mitton
Climbing Club since 'aught 5
Co-Op member since '11

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

All Member Meeting Agenda

Minnesota Climbing Cooperative

Members can purchase a MNCC t-shirt for $10 (Limit one per person. Promotional rate is valid during All Member Meeting ONLY; Usually $15 for Members, $20 for Non-Members). MNCC members will also receive a FREE daypass card.



There are four seats up for re-election this year. The Board recommends their re-election. Anyone wishing to be put forward for consideration as a candidate should send notification via email to info@mnclimbingcoop.com by midnight April 26th.

— Elect interim seat currently held by Jake Ingman,
— Elect seat currently held by Aaron Zirbes,
— Elect seat currently held by Kris Johnson, &
— Elect seat currently held by Liz Horn.

Security Cameras / Air Conditioning / Opening South Bay Windows / Member Benefits

Autumn Comp / Willow River SP Clean Up / Banning SP Climbing Access

Q & A (45 MIN)
FAQ – Answers to some of the most common questions or requests.

Got a question for the Board? A suggestion for improving the Co-op? Let us know!


915 247 6622

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Best of the Midwest Bouldering Challenge: Beta, Beta

  • This is the only fundraising comp the MCA hosts each year. Funds raised during the event are put towards maintaining and obtaining climbing access in Minnesota.
  • This year's comp is brought to you by the Minnesota Climbers Association and the Minnesota Climbing Cooperative.
When & Where
  • Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the MNCC.
  • Pre-Registration by midnight March 31 is $40 (includes comp packet & t-shirt)
  • Registration after March 31 is $40 (includes only comp packet)
  • T-shirts $10
  • stay tuned for online registration...
Mens Categories
  • Novice (V0-V2)
  • Intermediate (V4-V5)
  • Advanced (V6-V8)
  • Open (V8+)
  • Men/Women Open have Finals

Womens Categories

  • Novice (V0-V1)
  • Intermediate (V2-V3)
  • Advanced (V4-V5)
  • Open (V6+)
  • Men/Women Open have Finals
Format & Schedule
  • stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Black Bears, Americana, and a Dog Named Chili. Or How I Spent the Holidays Climbing in ArKansas

By Randy Baum

Here’s a list of a few things I learned climbing in Arkansas this winter.

1. Arkansas is the land of massive, aircraft carrier-sized Walmarts that never close and act as the hub of communities. And people ask why America has so many problems?

2. People in Arkansas love Americana, especially American flags, Confederate flags, and black bear kitsch. Again, see question posed above.

3. And, most importantly, with 60 degree temps, blue skies, no crowds, quality stone, and a relatively short commute time, Northern Arkansas should be a winter destination for any MN climber.

Significantly closer to Arkansas is my hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. Every December I make the trek back to see family and drink (mainly to drink). Lawrence is not quite Camp Four, so when I heard there would be a large Minnesota group congregating in Arkansas for some winter climbing, I jumped at the chance to escape the flatlands and go climb. Having only been home for a couple days, my Mother was not pleased. But she’s stuck in Kansas. Sucker!

I spent most of the trip route climbing with a few Co-op regulars, as well as my friend Dan and his crew. Dan has his hands full. The guy’s a lawyer, a father, a landlord, a husband, and just an all-around kick-ass dude, always one to pay a positive comment or do you a favor. I really hate the guy. He makes me look despicable.

Our group ranged wildly in terms of ages and abilities. There was Dan’s three year-old who just crushes. There was Dan, who also just crushes. And there was me. Nonetheless, being in Northern Arkansas, there were a variety of areas that featured routes and problems for the beginner to the expert. We were in a good spot. And, if the weather went bad, we could just retreat to Walmart.

We spent most of our trip doing some old fashioned mountaineering within the friendly confines of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch (HCR). (For information on bouldering in the Natural State, see Jordan Seering’s blog post). A working dude ranch, HCR sits in an idyllic valley with rolling hills bisected by a flowing stream. There are horses running freely (and shitting), goats grazing (and shitting), and ranch dogs running to and fro (Chili, a corky mix, is THE bomb dog!).

HCR offers up hundreds of routes, some of which are of New River Gorge quality. Like the New, the best routes tend to run up orange and red streaked walls of bullet hard sandstone. The crags feature state of the art stainless steel hardware, including many permadraws and super cold shuts, most of which I personally tested through constant flailing. The belay areas are great, and most of the Ranch’s best bouldering is just a minute walk from the crags. Be sure to check out these areas, each of which offers climbs from around 5.8-5.12: the Circus Wall at the North Forty, the Far East, the Roman Wall, and Tool Buttress.

We were fortunate to sample and send (not me, of course) many of the Ranch’s four-star lines. Though not officially a roped climb, the V0 highball The Donkey Show at the North Forty is a must-do, with its 30 ft of non-stop jugs. If 30 feet sounds a bit short, at fourteen draws long, the 5.9 Orange Crush at the Far East is a great substitute. Working up the grades, Comotus 5.10a at the Roman Wall and Crimp Scampi 5.10d at the North Forty are two very aesthetic lines that are not to be missed.

Some of HCR’s best lines fall in the 5.11 and 5.12 range. At 5.11b, Sonny Jim at the North Forty begins with mindless jug hauling, only to smack you with a deceptive, thought-provoking crux. A few feet away, another 11b, Big Top, will feel right at home to Willow River fans: steep, pumpy, and not a small hold on the route.

For the 5.12 climber, Lavender Eye 5.12a at the North Forty and Maximus 5.12a at the Roman Wall should also be on the ticklist. Each feature mellow beginnings to pumpy, airy finales. And, if you need more of a challenge, make your way to the Far East and hop on Supersould Sureshot, a 12c on bullet stone that packs three cryptic cruxes.

After a week, with Walmart visited and my projects ticked (but not sent, of course), my work in Arkansas ways done. I took some of the gang to KC for New Year’s. The morning after, heads pounding from too many Boulevards, we drove north and watched the temperature drop and drop. As we drove, I began to rethink my decision to head home, thinking I could maybe live the Arkansas dream and work at Walmart. Nah. Some places are best visited.

If you are considering a trip to HCR or the surrounding areas in Northern Arkansas, here is the key beta:


  • North Arkansas climbing areas are located south of Harrison, near the town of Jasper. From MN, the drive takes 12 hours and passes through Kansas City, Springfield, and Branson (both in Missouri) before reaching Harrison and then Jasper. Be sure to get BBQ in KC! LC’S and BB’s Lawnside are on-route!


  • Stay at the ranch! Our friend’s paid just $20 a night
  • Nearby lodging is also available. We paid around $50 a night for our two bedroom rental.
  • Camping is $5 a day at HCR. There are also sites available in the Buffalo National River scenic area. These are quite sought after, however, and can fill up fast.


  • Jasper (8 miles from HCR) has grocery stores and restaurants. Most agree the Ozark Café is the best bet.
  • The HCR Trading Post sells a limited selection of climbing gear, including ropes and chalk.

Climbing Areas

  • For the most comprehensive guide, buy Rock Climbing Arkansas by Cole Fennel (Fixed Pin Publishing)
  • HCR is the best one-stop destination, with tons of bouldering and route climbing
  • Cowell features mainly bouldering but also some steep sport climbing
  • Sam’s Throne offers the highest concentration of traditional climbing; the area is also adjacent to the Valley of the Blind, which houses Arkansas’ longest sport climbs

HCR Rope Climbing

  • YOU MUST REGISTER AND PAY FOR CLIMBING AT HCR. Register at the Trading Post. Climbing is $5 per day.
  • Must see areas: the Circus Wall at the North Forty, the Far East, the Roman Wall, and Tool Buttress.
  • Must do routes: Green Goblin 5.8, Comotus 5.10a, Crimp Scampi 5.10d, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades 5.11a, Sonny Jim 5.11b, Big Top 5.11b, Lavender Eye 5.12a, Supersould Sureshot 5.12c