Necedah (Petenwell Bluff)
Submitted by: Jay Knower
DescriptionPerhaps 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 ThereFrom 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 and park in a pull-out on your left. A short hike through the woods will take you to Y-Crack, the southern most formation.
Necedah, WI. Fire Spire. Henning Boldt on Fire in the Sky. May 02 '09.
I've never done these routes, but topo drawn by Chad B. Original photo from UW digital collections.
View taken looking south on Halloween of 2003.
Looking over the river...
Dave Groth Rebel Yell
Dave Groth Rebel yell
The Y-Crack wall
John Yaworsky leading right side of Hell Wall (?) 1985
Mark Wenzel felling the "cheat tree" at the stat of what we then called Chucklehead Crack. River side of cliff. 1985.
I found this two bolt route on the west side of the cliff, just around the corner from Quarry Wall. Any info?
Bouldering potential between The Brig and Anthrax Wall.
Jay, hiking around Necedah, 2004-ish.
Jay on top at Necedah, 2004-ish.
Jay in 2004, anyone know what this is?
Tom climbing i guess it is 5.7
Cody Brundidge atop Petenwell Bluffs
Photo of Necedah taken with iphone.
Topo for Air and Fire Spires
Topo for 303 Tower
Topo for Coyote Tower
Hell Wall and Brig
Topo for Y-Crack Wall
CommentsClayton Knudson Mar 30, 2013
Up here yesterday climbing a bit yesterday(3/29/13). Approaches are still pretty snowy, icy in the steep spots but passable. Plan on the walk taking longer than you would think right now. The crack I climbed, no idea which one (slightly overhung), was dry. Sport routes are dry and friction is good with the weather. Anyway, place seems pretty good to go but there is still snow, ice and some seepage.
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.
Steve Sangdahl 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.
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-
Burt Lindquist Sep 23, 2005
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.
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!
Anonymous Coward Sep 26, 2005
Can anyone shed some light on where the 5.6 called "Air" is located? Thanks
Burt Lindquist 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.
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.
Ed Wright May 14, 2006
Don't know if it has a name but I remember that being 5.8.
Rob Riggleman 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.
JJ Schlick Sep 12, 2006
Hey ya'll- As long as Necedah is posted I am just plugging in stuff. If you have more accurate info as far as names/FAs go well let me know and I can update the routes for history sakes. As far as the grades go don't get your undies in a bunch if you think I am way off. Just let me know what you think. Oh, and Tom, can you delete the "overhanging wall" off the main list? Just wondering.
NiClips 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.
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.
| || |Hydroponics start (Necedah) Photo by Steve Sangdahl <@? echo PostCache::objectEditBar(105960941,"APPROVED","IMAGE", "COMMENT", "edit, move, del, reassign",array(105886426,105886426,105886426),array(105708969,105886426,105886489,105960941),"105886426", "" ); ?@>
Submitted By: Leo Hski on May 14, 2007
Peter Dodge 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.
TravisMelin 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.
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.
David A Groth 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.
Jonathan Williams 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.
Trad Nanny 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!
Steve Sangdahl 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 led by Jack Klein and myself circa 1981
thanks agin and pull dwn cut loose and throw up
Branden Michelkamp Feb 2, 2011
Does anyone know if there is a guidebook make for Necedah? or... would anyone be interested in compiling one?
jaysquared 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.
Jeff House Mar 8, 2012
hows the snow here? Is it climbable?
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