Bouldering at these areas first began in the mid 80's with visits from Dave Groth and others. Mike Mcarron spent time here. It is a small bouldering area filled with blocks and boulders of hard grey sandstone. The quality of the rock is very good for the park, though spots still remain iffy here and there. The bouldering consists mainly of just under and just over vertical lines, though there are a few steep ones out there. The probmlems are host to an array of holds. Pockets, crimpers, slopers, pinches- you name it. For the most part the climbing here flows well, and with some of the highballs it is more like climbing a route than a "problem". There are plenty of shorter problems, but the highballs dominate the pine woods with a broken down palace sort of atmosphere. It is a very nice hang as long as there isn't a troop of boy scouts screaming and running everywhere. To my knowledge there are about 30-35 problems that I know about, and room for more with a little attention.
I divided the area into two sections. First the Plan B area and second the Backbone ridge area. These two are very close to each other, and share the main trail up the hill. Plan B will be to your left.
The problems lie on both south and north sides, so conditions will vary. Very nice in the fall, and not too bad in the summer. The Back wall gets great afternoon sun.
As always if anyone has more accurate/historic info/names why let me know. Grades are without consensus. Of the 40 or so times I have bouldered here, only once was I not alone.
There are also some possible TR problems on the far side of the bluff. Hike past the Plan B area and continue near the top or on the top. Eventually you will come across the out crops.
From the main office continue straight towards the group camp sites. Drive past the showers on your left and continue to the parking area at site B. On the weekends in the summer these sites are almost always filled. Be courtuous and ask to "hike through". Never yet encountered difficulty with that. Walk straight through the site and go either side of the boulder there. There are two steep trails that will put you at the same place on the ridge. On the weekdays it is almost always quiet and peaceful. 90% of the visitors to the park go to the lakes for swimming, boating, and fishing leaving this section relitively remote. Most of the landings are flat but not all. The older I get, the thicker I like my pads to be. Some of the highballs are kind of committer at the top. Some may prefer short topropes. Long chunks of webbing would be useful for that.
ED NOTE: I am leaving JJ's description above as-is for historical sake, but please note that as of 2009 the park rangers have asked us NOT TO HIKE THROUGH THE CAMPSITES if anyone is camping there. Please see thread or map below for alternate ways to get to the problems. Chris E.
Also I am splitting the Group B bouldering page into it's seperate areas due to the volume of problems. Hopefully this will make it easier to find what you are looking for and be better organized. The 3 areas are Plan B Area, Backbone Ridge West Side, and Backbone Ridge East Side. See below:
Updated (2009) Group B topo with Plan B Area and the Backbone Ridge split into east side and west side. Alternate approaches are the dotted lines. Submitted By: Chris treggE on Apr 15, 2009
In many ways THE line on the backbone. Start out in the middle of the block on a good sidepull. Work straight up past hard holds and an almost ghostlike crimp up high to the horizontal. Go up through a niche at the top. A very tall, proud line. #14 JJ's old topo. ...[more]Browse More Classics in WI
Hey Trav, what we found works well is to drive towards Group site A. Park on the road(doesn't seem like a problem) before the camp and hike straight up the hill. You get to the back of the Plan B ridge near Press it out. From there you can get to the boulders easily. Short approach for sure, and less awkward.
If there are campers in Group Site B do NOT walk through the site!!!! Please either park at the paved parking lot with the multiple bathrooms and walk up the hill or park in the gravel parking lot and head down the road a bit and then up the hill. Park staff were VERY concerned about this!
By Chris treggE Administrator From: Madison, WI Apr 12, 2009
Nick-- thanks for posting this. I have been at least moderately concerned about this issue since last fall. One day this spring, I was one of 11 (ELEVEN!!!) cars parked to climb at Group B. All it will take is one camping family or group to complain about climbers there to get it looked at. Likewise, please don't yell expletives when you fall off your project. That will make any camping parent cringe and probably complain (yes I've been within earshot of that).
TO REITERATE: 2 options for parking for Backbone/Group B: Park at the bathroom and walk directly uphill. When you get to the cave walk along the ridge to the right. Alternatively, turn left when the road forks (towards site A) and park along the road on the right and walk directly uphill. You will come to Press It Out and then walk northwards to rest of the climbs.
FYI I was parked along the road for Barrel Ridge earlier this spring and when I was walking down from the ridge (sans pad), a ranger was inspecting my car. Asked me if he could help me at all. I said no, I was fine, and he replied that generally the only cars parked on the side of the road were people that were in trouble. I'm still not sure if that is cool or not.
That was running through my head as well when we were parked at Barrel Ridge, and I can see the rangers not wanting people parking on the grass like that. If this ever becomes an issue it may be possible to approach from the south by parking at the pull out for what I believe is the Gold Mine trail along the road to Twin Valley Campground, and hiking along that trail. It'd be a long approach, but its better than nothing.
By Chris treggE Administrator From: Madison, WI Apr 12, 2009
Correct, on that trail (really a nice hike) you go by the top of Barrel Ridge which would be to your north (left if hiking east).
Last week when I was in the main building buying my new pass for this year I was speaking with a female ranger. I let her know that I was a climber and said thank you for letting use their beautiful park. She kinda just said that they don't necessarily condone climbing but do know that we are out there and would like us to continue to keep the areas clean and stuff like that.