Many years ago Grandad's Bluff was known as a somewhat chossy hardman's crag, with only a cluster of 5.12-5.13 routes. A lot has changed over the last several years however, and a bunch of new routes have been bolted by the local crew. Today the crag features almost 40 clean sport lines, most of which fall in the 5.9-5.10d range. A large increase in number of climbers both from local universities, and the surrounding area has help solidify and remove most all of the loose or dirty rock.
Many of the early routes were established by D. Groth in the 90's, new routes have been established by several area climbers including A. Stetzer, F. Skemp, Corey M., S. Tucker, N. Kutcher, and T. Melin. If one were to look hard enough in the surrounding bluffs you will find that the areas climbing history predates this by quite a while. An unlisted 5.11 route exists on a neighboring bluff that hosts 70's style homemade bolts and hangers. I've always wondered who established this line...
Classic Area Challanges: Meter Wall Slam - redpoint all the Meader Wall routes in a session The Grand Slam - redpoint all the routes on the bluff in one day Patent Pending Speed Lap - See route for details Classic Link-up - Do the meter wall traverse and finish up any route (for the enduro junkies)
Up Bliss Road from town, take a right at the Alpine Inn. Parking for the Meader Wall/Adidas Wall/Mushroom Wall, etc is as shown below in the pics, however please note the cinder block bathroom is no longer there.
In case Bliss Road is washed out (as it usually is lately): Continue past the Bliss road turn off headed south, take a left at the Kmart which is hwy 33 and head up the hill (east) and then a left onto County road F (north, but winds it's way around back west), which then leads you right to Grandads... Alpine Inn will be on your left.
there is much more that grandads bluff has to offer than 5.12 routes... id put the avg grade at 5.10...many thanks to DG, skemp, and randall for putting up routes on walls other than meader...also dont forget to "get your duff up the bluff, and have a brew with a view" at the alpine inn...great apres climb burgers and beer
lacrosse climbing has a long tradition that predates many of the old guys by at least a decade...and should continue as long as climbers care for the area. how many other towns in wisconsin can claim decent climbing with downhill aproaches?
By TravisMelin From: Roanoke, VA La Crosse, WI Nov 16, 2007
New routes are going up almost daily. Other new additions include Two Girls and a Cup - 5.9 Man in the black pajamas - 5.13a Big man on campus - 5.12a (not yet named) -5.10+
With many more in the works. This spring there should be a heap of new routes in the area.
I've learned that a lot of the ratings are approaching meaningless...("how hard is it?" uhhh...5.fun?) the climbable lines are pretty stable, but once in a while something comes off, and the route CAN change a little. there is a sh*tload of halfway decent rock in and around La Crosse, but developing it for climbing is a different challenge entirely. We're worth the trip, I think, for the usual DL or Redwing crowd to get out of their respective environments.
and from a definitively intermediates climber - some of this stuff here is HARD.
I would like to give a public shout out to all who have made this a great climbing destination, from cleaning, bolting, excavating the base of the climbs, trails, and all the other nameless tasks involved... Every time I go to Grandad's I am grateful to those who have come before me.
There is a wall between the Mushroom wall and Meader wall with a single route on it. It's pretty slabby and goes at about 5.8 or 5.9. At the top you can traverse over and put a TR on a route around the corner that has chains but is not bolted. Both are pretty fun and a little dirty. Any idea what these are?
By TravisMelin From: Roanoke, VA La Crosse, WI Aug 4, 2009
the right line was originally bolted by DG and called two girls and a cup (5.9). We always called it 20 minute wank, for unobvious reasons. The left line is unnamed to my knowledge. It has been TR'ed but needs lots of cleaning...
talked to Dave last night about access at Grandad's: please keep a low profile, in other words: don't bring a large group to attract attention to yourself and continue to be considerate in order to keep climbing as a positive and long standing tradition for the area
Should probably change the directions for the non local guys..
Continue past Bliss road turn off, take a left at the Kmart which then you take hwy 33 up the hill and a left onto County road F, which then leads you right to Grandads...
By Chris treggE Administrator From: Madison, WI Mar 12, 2011
Wow seriously. What is the deal with that road? Is that 3 times the road is out in 4 years???
By Adam.Mohr From: La Crosse / Madison Mar 13, 2011
A story with relevance in regards to the legality of climbing at Grandads. Late last summer I was nearing the top of a climb at George's Point when a head poked over the rim right above the anchor. I figured it was a daring hiker but the individual standing there was actually wearing a badge and brown uniform (state patrol?) The officer asked me some questions regarding "abandoned camping equipment" found nearby while I hung on at the top of the climb. He seemed rather unconcerned with us climbing and soon went on his way. The full story on access has never been clear to me at least so someone else might find this of use. (Then again maybe it just wasn't his jurisdiction.)
A relevant note to anyone climbing here: There have been a few car break ins on the bluff lately. My car was broken into last night after a great session climbing and they stole my wife's purse. If you have anything valuable, best advice is not to leave it in the car. There's a ton of evidence (auto glass in all parking areas) that indicates this is not just a one-time deal.
I am looking for partners to go to WI climbing and other locations(Jackson Falls, DL, The Red, Grand Dads, etc) with.
I have an Airplane and can fly us there. Please send me a PM if you want more details and the cost of sharing the flight expenses. Hope to meet a few of you soon. I can fit up to 4 climbers with me in the Cherokee 6(with room for gear). I also have lodging available in a log cabin about 30 min. South :)
Its been gated for renovation, and we weren't thinking we wanted to go in not sure what they are doing in there. The road is blocked between the dirt parking area on the right and the "climber parking" on the left. So, we're going somewhere else because we don't want to push our luck. If people could update this as ut proggresses, that would be awesome.
Park has a new road surface, and currently is gated, but plenty of people are walking past the gate and signs.
As usual, treat the area as "access sensitive" (everything bagged, shoes, ropes, clanking gear strapped to your pack is not cool) leave it better than you found it, and keep the noise down out towards the west facing edge.
The reconstruction of the lookout on top left a fair amount of debris on the trail below, west of Meder Wall, and washout added to a couple piles of eroded dirt in a few places. Routes all look untouched - though keep an eye out for loose rock west of the Mushroom Wall, you never know what the contractors worked loose.
Are the majority of the routs set for lead climbing, or can a guy top rope? Also if the majority of routs are set with bolts for lead climbing are carabiners attached to clip into or must I bring my own?
The majority of the routes are bolted with the exception of George's Point (see George's)...please do not approach the bolted climbs from above to set top ropes because you may get a ticket by the police and the grounds have been seeded to prevent erosion. Someone will have to lead it and then one can top rope through the chains that have biners attached...Please do not take the biners and replace a biner if heavily worn...
To answer Jay's question; Yes, nearly all routes on Grandads bluff are intended to be led from the ground up. Georges Point is the only designated top roping area. Yes, there are anchor bolts with chain and carabiners (unless some asshole has taken them). Top roping above bolted sport climbs kills the vegetation which holds the soil. If there is no vegetation, the soil runs down the cliff when it rains and gets deposited on hand and footholds making the climb dirty, slippery, and unenjoyable to those who can actually lead the route. Some locals have spent their own time and money trying to make this a clean, safe, and enjoyable place for everyone. All routes are safely bolted with the exception of the Polish Route at Mushroom wall (not recommended) There is potential for groundfall at 3rd bolt and there is some loose rock.
GBorge: Are you saying the cinder block restroom was removed? It's been a couple years since I've been to Granddad's. If so, I will change the description.
As for the grooved top-biners: yup with all the traffic this area gets, they wear out quickly. It's up to you and me, the climbers, to replace the ones that need replacing. When I used to frequent Granddad's and Barn Bluff, I always brought a couple extra biners and replaced what needed it. You should too.
Chris treggE: That is correct, the cinder block restroom is gone. In-fact neither of the buildings in the "Park Here" photo above are there any more.
As far as carrying replacement biners: will do. We climbers should also top-rope off our quickdraws and either lower a single time or rappel (which is what we did) from the anchors to reduce the wear on these biners.
By Chris treggE Administrator From: Madison, WI Sep 10, 2012
Hah, I figured if I were going to be in radiology, I may as try to find a place that had half decent weather. And residencies are equal parts slave labor everywhere. :) Also, I'm close to a few half-decent climbing areas. Ironically, though, you're "closer" to climbing than I am; the nearest "real" cliff is 2+ hours. Then again, they are some pretty decent cliffs. Give your patients to someone else for a week and come visit! ;) JW