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Good climbing spot for families at Devils Lake?
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By SeanPeter2
From IL
Aug 17, 2013

Looking for a good wall at Devils Lake for a couple of families with small children. Ideally something with a reasonably easy approach, not in a crowded area (so as not to annoy others!), with a reasonably flat area at the base to keep the kids safe and occupied, and some routes from 5.6 to 5.9/.10. If you know the Picnic Wall on the West side- that sort of setup at the base would be IDEAL - minus the long approach through the boulders, and maybe a couple extra routes present. Was looking at the guide book and thought the Railroad Amphitheater might be a decent option. Anyone been there? Or maybe old Sandstone? Have not been to either...
OR - just somewhere with a pretty easy approach that's reasonably close to one of the playgrounds so we can swap out :)


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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Aug 17, 2013
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.

Sounds like you already know your way around pretty well. Just to be clear, you are looking for climbing for the adults while the kids play, supervised, at the base?

The problem with DL is that the base of so many rocks is either rocky or sloping, or both. How old are the kids, and how much room do they need? RR Amph is rocky, but has some room and is certainly easy to get to. Stuff around Misery is a hike, but has more room than Picnic at the base. I've seen folks with kids up at Old Sandstone, but with really small kids you might have to carry them up.


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By SeanPeter2
From IL
Aug 17, 2013

Thanks! This is great :)
Yeah- climbing for the adults. The kids are in the 4-6yrs range but they are good troopers on a hike. My 6yr old likes to don a harness and helmet and play around on the bottom 10 ft at times too.
I've done a little exploring around the area but not too much. Mostly just east rampart and the Picnic Wall / Prospect area. - don't really wanna take them to east rampart or anything busy like that- plus would be rather anxious on the trail along the top (or just tie them into a leash)!
Don't mind carrying them on slings on our backs for half a mile or mile- as long as it's not crazy scrambling. I guess the ideal would be an approach from below with a bit of space away from a belayer to throw down a blanket so one of the adults can play some games with them etc.
The adults are a bit of a range in experience- we'd probably wanna throw down a few ropes and hang out a while- so would want to try for somewhere less busy that we wouldn't annoy folks with hogging a route. (Definitely would let people climb through if any one shows up of course!)
Yeah- if RR Amph is that close it might be easiest to just keep an adult back at the playground and switch out... Are there decent climbs there? Misery certainly sounds like it could be a decent choice- just looked it up in the guide book.
Thanks!


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By Carl Sherven
Aug 17, 2013

SeanPeter2 wrote:
... Are there decent climbs there? ...


Check out the page for the area. RRA is nothing spectacular, but there's plenty of fun stuff to do. There's easy access to the top if you're looking to set TR. It's probably got the easiest approach you'll find at DL. If you're considering rotating out someone to watch the kids back at the south shore area this is a good contender since it's just a couple minute walk down the tracks.


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By Boots Ylectric
From Roselle IL
Aug 20, 2013
Tebow Climbs.  Bet you didn't know that.

SeanPeter2 wrote:
Looking for a good wall at Devils Lake for a couple of families with small children. Ideally something with a reasonably easy approach, not in a crowded area (so as not to annoy others!), with a reasonably flat area at the base to keep the kids safe and occupied, and some routes from 5.6 to 5.9/.10. If you know the Picnic Wall on the West side- that sort of setup at the base would be IDEAL - minus the long approach through the boulders, and maybe a couple extra routes present. Was looking at the guide book and thought the Railroad Amphitheater might be a decent option. Anyone been there? Or maybe old Sandstone? Have not been to either... OR - just somewhere with a pretty easy approach that's reasonably close to one of the playgrounds so we can swap out :)



Old Sandstone wouldn't be half bad for the little guys. The hike isn't real rough, their is plenty of flat "hangout" room that isn't on an edge, and generally it's a pretty quiet laid back area. It's small, so if it gets crowded that's no fun, but I've had many quiet lonesome days of awesome climbing there. Also there are some routes that your kids could TR that you could easily set up pretty quickly. Also if you have a bouldering pad there is plenty of little boulders to keep them busy on.


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By Boots Ylectric
From Roselle IL
Aug 20, 2013
Tebow Climbs.  Bet you didn't know that.

Oh, and the RR approach is easy as pie, however their is some boulder scrambling required to access most any of the climbs.


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By Woodchuck ATC
Aug 20, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Stettners might not have the difficulty you may wish for, but is out of the way and only an easy 5 minute hike from your cars. Does tend to get busy for groups and outfitters on weekends. Most areas do require some amount of child care and attention due to hidden clifflines, loose rock, etc. Don't count on leaving kids unattended anywhere at the lake,,it will bring ill will from other climbers for sure..same as a loose dog does.


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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Aug 20, 2013
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.

Isn't there a W.C. Fields quote about dogs and kids ...? Just kidding, of course!


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By Jeff Howard
From Hales Corners WI
Aug 20, 2013

Carl Sherven wrote:
Check out the page for the area. RRA is nothing spectacular, but there's plenty of fun stuff to do. There's easy access to the top if you're looking to set TR. It's probably got the easiest approach you'll find at DL. If you're considering rotating out someone to watch the kids back at the south shore area this is a good contender since it's just a couple minute walk down the tracks.


There is also a big flat rock on the lakeshore just below RRA perfect for kids jumping into the lake. We used to climb at RRA when our kids were little and that rock was a great diversion.

Usually crowded but Balanced Rock and the Box Canyon area were also kid favorites. Easy to get to and just above the South shore beach.


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By roger fritz from rockford, IL
From Rockford, IL
Aug 21, 2013
Wichita Mountains, Sunshine Wall

Every child and parent should get out and hike together. Not every child and parent should go out to the crag.

Sounds like you are a good parent in getting out and doing adventurous and fun activities with them. It sounds like you are focused on exposing your children to the great outdoors and you are focused more on their safety and fun rather than your performance on the rock.
Keep up the great parenting.


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By Ed Wright
Aug 22, 2013
Magic Ed

Misery Rocks area would be ideal.


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By SeanPeter2
From IL
Oct 21, 2013

Hey everyone- thanks for the great info! Thought I'd update for anyone coming across the post looking for similar info. (3 adults 2 kids 6 & 4 years old. One adult with the kids at all times. 2 adults climbing occasionally. And helping with the kids. And eating).
We did a 3 day weekend that went great. The kids probably climbed a lot more than the adults- but it was fantastic to just get outside with the group and have everyone walk away safe and with great experiences.

First day (Sat) we did the Steinke Wall. It's out in the woods off the beaten path- so NO crowd at all. it's short- 25ft but has a great range of problems. Best part- the kids BIKED along the bike path the whole way there! Huge plus. Decent-ish area for a base camp at the bottom. Get far enough away from the wall and you're just in flat woods. Pretty cool. Set a top rope on an access gully for the kids. They loved it. Probably my favorite - we'll be back.

Sunday we planned on Railroad Amphitheater cause of the super easy approach. I'd never been there before. But apparently everyone else and their brother has. Totally packed with guided groups. Railroad (as mentioned by others) was not as great for the "hangout" space at the bottom. Would probably be better for older kids. Checked out Birthday Rocks right next door but also busy- and pretty steep approach/base for the kids. Pretty much bailed on the day- but we didn't have to miss the packers game then :)

Monday- went to Stettner. GREAT place for what we needed. Super easy approach. (Slung the kids on our backs for the 100 yd hike from the car) Great flat hangout space at the bottom. Set a 5.1 toprope for the kids that topped out on a large grass covered ledge where they were still protected by the master point being further above that. Really wonderful- and gave them more of a challenge to be proud of. And they were thrilled to climb the same little route over and over. Personally only got to climb one 5.7 that seemed easy even for a 5.7- but it was a beautiful day nonetheless. I'd go back there for sure- but even on a monday another family showed up. But there was plenty room for all. I would imagine a weekend day would be packed completely though....
Misery sounds like it would be worth the longer hike too. But again- on an off day.
But yeah- decent & safe hangout space was crucial, a good access gully or easy climb for the kids, and reasonable approach makes a great day outside with the kids. Probably in that order of importance. Obviously a minimum of 3 adults needed - so friends are crucial! So awesome to see them jazzed about the outdoors and we all had a great, safe time.


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