Thawing Out in MN with Daylight Saving Climbing

The practice of Daylight Saving Time was observed in most of the country again this past weekend.  On my Facebook feed, there were a lot of statuses (statii?) grumbling about loss of sleep or missed alarms, but then… then came the climbing pictures.

Aside from DST kicking in, MN is having its first extended thaw of the season.  With highs in the 40s, out came shovels and pads and tarps and ropes and shoes and chalk.

Here are some highlights:

River Boulder; Sandstone, MN Photo: Lynn Larson 3/8/14
River Boulder; Sandstone, MN
Photo: Lynn Larson 3/8/14

On Saturday, Lynn Larson posted this picture saying, “Current conditions at The River Boulder: top over Best V5 & Invisible Touch are cleared off but thinly iced over. I clear[ed] the top edge of All for V4 and Panic Arête, maybe after or during this next week they’ll be good. Perhaps more shoveling on top…. Trail is broken in from hwy 123.”

Lynn also mentioned the snow is still quite deep and tough to navigate even with snowshoes.  And, no matter how tempting, she doesn’t recommend using a torch or other heat to dry wet or iced over rock at Sandstone.  Bring a shovel and a broom and let the sun do its work.  Early season climbing takes preparation and patience.


eswenson2  eswenson1  eswenson3

On Sunday, Eric Swenson and company headed to Taylors Falls.  “We were kind of slaves to the sun and whatever was angled just-right to not be wet, which luckily there were actually a few (mostly along the MN river, but a few inland on the MN and WI sides).  There were actually a pretty decent amount of trails already hiked out too.”  Photos by Eric; climb is Mikes Left.


Living All Over Me; Red Wing, MN Photo: Bob Omann 3/9/14
Living All Over Me; Red Wing, MN
Photo: Bob Omann 3/9/14

Meanwhile, at Barn Bluff, Andy Dillon and crew took on the Winter Wall.  Conditions Sunday were good in the morning, but once the sun really decided to come out, the melting run off rained down on climbers and soaked all but a few routes.  Some of the dry routes that day included A Drilling Experience, Foreign Affairs, Chinese Freedom, and Mississippi Burning.


River Boulder; Sandstone, MN
Photo: Emily Merhar 3/9/14

Back in Sandstone, Saturday’s trail stomping, shoveling, and sweeping paid off.  Zach Bramel, shown here on the River Boulder, climbed while Farmer Brett looked on.


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While boulderers climbed shirtless on one side of the Kettle River, ice climbers Bryan Pyne and Stuart Schurtz were on the other at the Sandstone Ice Park in gore-tex and crampons.  Bryan reported that the weather was beautiful and the ice was still great!  Photos by Bryan Pyne.


Admittedly, I was a little jealous seeing so many friends out climbing this weekend while I was not.  But, I was a lot jealous when I saw Willow in the sun, 52 degrees warm on a Monday.

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Left photo by Rigel Menard.  Right photo by Kevin Sarvela; Matt Jeffries on Natural Selection.

Matt says the Willow River State Park parking lot has doubled in size since last season and that the hike in was not too bad.  “Every route was bone dry as well as the base of the crag.”

“Waterfalls are still partially frozen, couple feet of snow on the ground…doesn’t matter. It’s fricken 50 degrees out, we’re climbing!”
Photo: Kevin Sarvela 3/10/14


Be smart about your transition from the gym to the crag this early in the season.  Wet rock is brittle rock and broken holds are gone forever (in most cases).  Tread lightly, pack in/pack out, wipe your feet off before climbing, and always remember that you are representing the entire community when you are climbing outside; respect that responsibility for everyone’s sake.

Thursday, May 13, join me and many others from the MN climbing community for the public DNR meeting on amending the management plan to allow climbing in Banning State Park.  

Read more here.



2 thoughts on “Thawing Out in MN with Daylight Saving Climbing

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