You may know of crane lake as the gateway to Voyager National park, the BWCAW and Quetico Provincial park, but it is also the gateway to some great single pitch climbing. All on good granite. Some of it is covered with lichens, but there is quite a bit that is very clean. There is bouldering, sport climbing, top roping and trad routes. There is still plenty of undeveloped potential available.
Most of the climbing around Crane lake is accessed by water, so a boat or a canoe is a a good thing to have.
Some of the better areas are actually in Canada and are accessed by first clearing Canadian customs at the port of entry on Sandpoint lake. Sandpoint lake is the next lake north of Crane lake. You can get to the climbing areas on the Canadian side of the boarder without clearing customs. To do that you have to first obtain a Remote Area Boarder Crossing Permit (RABC). With an RABC permit you can travel within 5 miles of the boarder without clearing customs. See the following web site to obtain an RABC permit. They take about 2 months to get.
If you don't have a boat or canoe to get to the climbing areas, there are outfitters that will pick you up at Crane lake and deliver you (and your canoe if you don't want to paddle the 12 miles) to the Canadian climbing areas. These outfitters will also rent boats or canoes. If you really want to get plush, gets some people together and rent a houseboat for the week. Below are some links with more information about Crane Lake outfitters:
To get to Crane Lake from Minneapolis/St Paul, take I-35 to Cloquet. At Cloquet take SR-33 to US -53. US -53 goes all the way to International falls. After passing through Virgina Minnesota you will eventually get to the town of Orr. At Orr turn east on CR - 23 to Crane lake. Its at the end of the road in about 28 miles.
See the beta picture for a satellite view of the crane lake area and all the climbing areas.
Start on Gargoyle warmup and continue past the chains. There is a technical crux pulling the roof at the chains to a good rest just below the final arete moves which are very powerful and insecure....[more]Browse More Classics in MN
I am very excited about the future of bouldering around the Buyck/Crane Lake area. The entire area is the remains of an ancient mountain range and granite outcrops all over the place. Big boulders are not exactly plentiful, but they are out there to find in the thick northern woods. The region has to be one of the most remote-feeling area in Minnesota and that makes for good adventure bouldering. Car camping is 5 star at Lake Jeanette and also good at Echo Lake. There is very little useful information to be found on the web, but if you keep looking you will find some videos and blogs describing a few of the boulders, but they never say where they really are. I have found quite a few at this point, but will respect "the mystery" until someone decides to post them on this site. I highly recommend this area if you like bouldering and camping in Boundary Waters-like beauty, but also like having the creature comforts of car camping.