For MP's lack of diversity I took this photo. Men ...
The phrase "happy hunting grounds" comes from early interpretations of some Native American concepts of heaven. The place they described was a mirror image of this world, and a utopia of sorts; a place of peace and abundance.
At Devils Lake however, Happy Hunting Grounds is a long, stand out classic for the grade which demands a cool head, and control of your footwork. Its also a showcase route for the Hawks Nest, and starts out on the right side of the wall. This technical face route follows an incipient seam system up a gorgeous swath of stone passing marginal small wire placements and 5.9 climbing. A thoughtful and positive 5.11- crux with a few good pieces of gear awaits at 2/3 height, and is followed by more airy climbing on good holds with spacey pro. Aim for the small notched roof before the angle break, and then romp to the top.
This is a fairly serious lead for the grade, and you'll want to make sure you are up for it. The 1979 guide offers this captivating advice if you question your skills: "Leaders who fall on this climb may go to the happy hunting grounds". That said, it is also a gateway route to other more difficult, bold pitches at the Lake. It's an inspiring line, one to remember, and it takes a pretty light rack!
Doug and Chris please change this up if there have been "modern" placements discovered. Otherwise a good selection of small to medium wires and a rack of TCUs should do the trick. It does seem like we always had a few placements before the crux though? Maybe they were only rated for mental weight... I carried both RPs and Loweballs on my rack there back in the day.
So heres how my interest came to be for this route:
Magic Ed had a thing for this climb saying how he always wanted to lead it but was intimidated. We did it on top rope, being that I'm fairly tall I had no problems with the route, in fact I couldn't see why he had a problem with it.
So just to work My buddy up I let him know that I was gonna do it...Wooo Hooo this got him goin' but still not on the route. So anyway it was time to pony up.
During my lead I actually slipped before getting my gear in whew.......But held on got the gear and the lead. This climb lead to a flurry of 5.10 leads that afternoon
One of my finest days at the lake
Oh & Magic Ed.......Climbed the route, like a kid on a quarter Horse ride at the market 2 weeks later
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Campton, NH May 22, 2003
I agree that there is no AO on the route (unless you lead it and pull on gear through the crux--efficient but lacking in style points). The crux move, though is definately 5.11a. Maybe 5.10d. Certainly not 5.10a like the header states. I led this climb last summer, and the crux could not be better protected ( a bomber stopper and a Lowe Ball). The start however is serious, and akin to soloing 5.9. All in all, this climb is a great bold lead, and great mental training for leading some of the other bold harder leads in the park (Callipigeanous Direct, Son of Great Chimney, Orgasm Direct, etc).
Yo punters, As far as I know the FFA was by Pete Cleveland in the mid to late 60's and the first lead is a toss up for either Tommy D , Prunes Bechler or Ralph Schimdt. I believe Tommy was quite keen on this route back in the day. Great DL route. Peace and f-nes Steve S.
By JJ Schlick Administrator From: Flagstaff, AZ Sep 8, 2013
Well that's just a list of usual suspects. Anyone else got two cents laying around?
I am pretty sure that the first free lead of Happy Hunting Grounds was done by Andy Cairns. He was a graduate student at U.of Chicago at the time when I was an undergraduate there. I seconded Andy on the climb but I wound up taking one fall. Andy, however, lead the climb flawlessly. The year would have been 1974 or 75. Hope that this helps.