This is a really cool boulder in the middle of a field. Pretty undeveloped - there is potential for some cool problems.
Turn west off of Highway 169 on the road just before the rock/landscaping company (about 2 miles past 145th St. W coming from Shakopee). The road comes to a T after 0.3 mi, take a right and follow the road into a dude's yard where a sign reads "No parking beyond this point." The road turns left. Walk for 10 minutes (0.5 mi) with marsh on either side, climb a small hill and stop where the gravel road, called Middle Road, intersects the park's main loop, the Mazomani Trail. The Big Rock, a gray and black bulk, larger than a city bus and approximately the same shape, sits out in the open past some trees on the right. Look for 'Glacial Boulder' on this map: www.fws.gov/Midwest/MinnesotaValley/documents/louisville_tra>>> Also check out this article in the Star Tribune: www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/19490764.html?page=2&c=>>>
This contains the same finishing moves as the stand start version of Beehive but begins with a series of fun crimp moves. Start by sitting to the right of the main route under an excellent jug to the lower left of a small overhanging section. Both feet are close beneath the jug, but you may have to sort through the grass a bit to find your left foot chip. Move left off of the jug into a short series of crimps. Then reach the shelf/crack above the start and traverse left from there, finishing wit...[more]Browse More Classics in MN
By Nathan Migdal From: Bloomington, mn Aug 20, 2014 CONDITION REPORT
Last week, I paid the big boulder a visit for the first time in several months. It was good to be back, except for the: heaps of trash around and on top of the rock, tick marks on every kind of hold imaginable, and colored chalk marking some of the best problems like they were goddamn gym routes.
As a result, I am strongly considering removing the routes I added to this page in the hopes that it will deter this vandalism and further embarrassment to the rest of us. I'm pretty ashamed, actually.
Whoever you are: realize that this is not acceptable behavior for climbers anywhere, regardless of how much or little traffic an area receives. Thank you.
The Louisville Swamp contains the closest real rock to the Twin Cities. While the Big Boulder (granite) is the main attraction (I've done at least two dozen problems on it), there are two other bouldering areas to explore. One is located on the Mysterious Island in the middle of the swamp itself. It has problems on solid, nearly quartzite-like sandstone. It is only accessible in winter as you have to cross the ice to get there. The other is my personal favorite, The North Shore Overhangs. I am not going to tell you where it is, but if you find it you will be looking at some of the steepest moderate bouldering (V1-V4) in Minnesota. I have been working the lines there for years and some are really, really good. I'm talking sit starts on 8-10 foot sandstone roofs with funky topouts. There are more difficult lines to be done...
I like your enthusiasm. I would say keep going for it on posting the problems. I'm sure most lines on the big boulder have been climbed but if you put up the descriptions then it gives others a better idea of what they can find on it. Then when I'm there again sometime I can try them out too.
Yeah, I guess the cat is out of the bag, but why not. I just hope, as do all real boulderers, that the areas will not be trashed by the unclean and uninformed...like the citizens who insist on building a campfire on the northeast side of the Big Boulder. The bottom of the boulder has delaminated as a result, and the small foothold that used to be there is not there anymore. I also found a large campfire had been built next to, but not under (thank God!) the North Shore Overhangs last fall. The party-goers also left two dumped cans of beans on the ground, lots of beer cans and some large sausages were scattered about. Lucky summer conditions are so harsh down there or it would be party central in no time. I cleaned it all up, and am happy to report most all signs of the fire are gone. Spring flooding usually refreshes the Overhangs area each season anyway.
Can it honestly be said that ANY route on this boulder is 3 stars? Don't get me wrong, I think its cool that this boulder is in the middle of a field right in Shakopee, but a 3 star route should be "great" and I have to say that anything on this rock does not fall into that category
I feel like Beehive is an aesthetic line up a pretty clean face and for the grade deserves three stars (bouldering isn't geared towards the easier grades). That being said, I was there last week with a better climber who was working on a cool ascending traverse problem that covered that whole face of the boulder and it definitely looked like it would warrant three stars. But then again I just gave a problem near the Flatirons three stars today that four others had given no more than two stars. Talking about this is just silly though, as its even more subjective than grades. I understand that it could be deceiving to call a climb awesome if it is a chosspile as then people will be dissapointed for making a trip out to the boulder - but I definitely don't think that is the case here. And yes, beings that it is in Minnesota affects it a bit, but not much as I live on the Front Range where there is endless bouldering and I was pleased to spend an afternoon tinkering around in the swamp.
I have had two very good summer sessions down in the Swamp the last couple of weekends. I am totally astounded at the lack of bugs, but the drought must have impacted the little blood suckers. I was curious about the new ss route that starts from the little round hueco/pocket on the east face of the boulder. From the looks of the chalk, the new line goes slightly right and straight up from the pocket and may be a first. The pocket is also the start for another sit start project I have been working on. It goes right for six feet and joins a standing start problem I did back in January of 2006. The standing start version, which begins with an orange sloper (six feet right and six feet up from the pocket) for the right hand and a black crimp for the left, seemed pretty hard. There are a few footholds, but the bottom of the problem is undercut pretty sharply. It took the ultra-dry conditions of January to send it. I called it Sports Medicine and figured it was at least V4. The sit start variation has to be a couple of grades harder than that. It may be one of the hardest problems on the boulder.
Hey guys! Just went out and climbed it with some friends for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was pretty good time! Also we took care of the "pocket of pain" and had some intense bee extermination going on, check out the video here
Andrew - What bad ass videos! Laughed muh ass off through the extraction of the bees in the pocket of pain video (and got a kick out of the dino-ish start) ... and, I'm surprised how well the two videos did the place justice. NOICE.
it's always great to hear feedback, I'm glad you enjoyed the vids! we're planning on getting back out there again soon. we for sure will have to run into eachother sometime, do you climb at midwest mountaineering much?
My buddy and I went out here yesterday, and this boulder has some incredible features, and is worth the trek!
That aside, some clarification on the directions...
The road you want to turn off of (about 2 miles after 145th) is called Bluff Drive. You go west on Bluff Drive, then turn right at the T.
If you go all the way down and through the persons farm house road, you will have to cross some train tracks. Be very careful and inspect your car before crossing them! They have about a curb high bump you have to take, and it could severely damage your vehicle if it has a low ground clearance. (If you don't want to risk it, park about 300 yards up from the persons farm house on a pullout on the east side of the road.
We had a difficult time finding this place, and where we should turn off, that is why I am clarifying. I would love to know these other two places that you are talking about Paul, but it seems you are determined to keep them a bit of a secret (although some searching on the north side of the lake might yield results) ;)
Just to clarify, are they both in the park itself? Or are the North Shore Overhangs actually at the North Shore (aka Duluth and above)?
Next time we go out we are going to bring a brush and try and get the east/northeast side, it's really dirty. The Bees are docile as well now it appears.
Yeah I think that's what was confusing (for myself included), the only reason we drove past the train tracks was because it seems that their are about 2 parking spots before the gate (which is the entrance I believe), and we didn't want to park in the guys yard. I really didn't feel like we were parking on the wildlife refuge, but it's really hard to tell. Best thing to do (and what we will do in the future) is park up before the yard, and walk in (only adds a minute). Thanks for the clarification, it's a great area, and wouldn't want to get people upset at the climbers! :D
By all means, please do not park beyond the sign that says "no parking beyond this point" (or something like that). Always park BEFORE the farmers yard and walk in. Cory has contacted me and I have given him directions to the NSO along with some sketchy beta on some of the better routes. I would wait one more weekend so the Renaissance Festival is over. I will be going back in a couple of weekends and clear the trail, stamp down the tall grass and brush off the holds. The fall season is about to begin!!
Cool to see that people are still climbing at the swamp- I've never climbed on the erratic, but the sandstone overhangs by the lake were pretty fun- I sessioned there a few times when I still lived in the area.
If you all enjoy climbing on granite boulders, head out to Swede's Forest one weekend- lots of fun stuff in the V0 to V5 range, with a few harder problems there as well.
I always wanted to climb on the stuff on the island, but never had the chance to get out there.
By Sam Daley From: Minneapolis, Minnesota Dec 17, 2009
Chris, or anyone who knows, where is Swede's Forest? I have only heard whispers of the bouldering there. It is always fun to explore a new place.
Also, does anyone know if the ice is thick enough to walk on yet? I am interested in exploring the island.
There is an on-line guide that can be found on the Prairie Walls website, or just Google Swedes Forest and you will find it. There are also a number of videos showing some of the better problems. Swedes is good and worth the trip, but some the problems are a little mossy. Be very careful about access, which is no problem now, but don't do stuff like build fires or camp by the old quarry. The DNR gets very crabby about things like that. Keep a low profile and send. As for the Island, only one way to find out about the ice...take the first step and see what happens!
Merry Christmas everyone! This last Wednesday, while briefly bouldering (amid snowfall) the swamp's ISLAND with Sam et al, it became clear that this rocky oasis holds possibly the highest quality sandstone bouldering in the state. Paul, your description of this rock as being nearly quartzite-strong was no exaggeration. If only the Mysterious Island were larger and more of this near-perfect sandstone could be found around the swamp... Besides the NORTH SHORE OVERHANGS,(which actually feel chossy by comparison) and a few mediocre outcroppings, this bomber, weather-strengthened rock appears almost exclusively on the island. The potential for stellar traversing lines pretty high. Now with all of the snow we've gotten, I can't see bouldering here for a while unless a massive broom and leafblower-armed cleanup crew get to work on the place. Those of us there on Wednesday were talking about preexisting problems and ask that anyone with definite established Swamp Island climbs be a hero and post some info on them. This spot is pretty remote, so traffic shouldn't get too heavy out there... ever. Happy holidays.
Hey Nathan, glad you were able to mount an expedition and explore The M Island. Conditions out there are pretty harsh in winter; the island catches blowing snow from all directions and drifting is a problem. Even on sunny days, the rocks can be thickly coated with frost and ice. Once spring arrives, the climbing gets better, but as the ice melts water starts to surround many of the boulders. I have done some problems out there; the obvious tall sharp arete, some sit starts and traverses and a couple of sit starts on a boulder sitting on the south side of the island that looks like a little flat iron. I have also been eying a couple of lines on the north side of the island. One in particular, a sit start under a dark overhang, seems like a good, hard line. Overall its just a fine little lump of sandstone that is unlike anything else around here. Next week it's supposed to warm up, so let's all get out there and send!
Anyone up for an island expedition in the next couple of weeks? After hearing what ya'll had to say, I'm ready to see what it has to offer. Maybe we can get some of that gov't bailout $$$ and build a bridge so it can be sent in the summer too
I checked out the Overhangs a couple of weeks ago. It had dried out and was in climbable condition, but covered with sand and muck from the spring/summer flooding. I figured it will take a day or longer just to clean and brush it all off. The mosquitos were terrible! Now, I expect the area will be flooded again for at least a week. Probably same thing for the approach to the Big Boulder....water covered trail for at least a week or more. Such is the nature of swamp bouldering I guess, but fall flooding like this is pretty uncommon in my experience.
The swamps fall colors are dwindling and everything still seems to be underwater (as of wednesday of last week). I scoped out the overhangs and they were still swimming in at least six feet of water. I might check it out this weekend with my mtn bike, but without any high hopes.
Either way, october's a beautiful month for the swamp.
Anyone been out to the boulder lately? Im thinking about trying to snowshoe in there sometime this week. It will obviously have a good deal of snow on it, but I am hoping to find some overhangs that are dry. Tons of snow means no need for a crash pad!! I grew up in Louisville township, and if I knew about this place back then, I would have been out there all the time. I need to go out there and climb everything I can. Definetly the boulder, and Island, and if I can find these overhangs!!! But Im pretty sure there won't be a trail to even get to the boulder. Luckily I live 5 mins from vertical endeavours now!
By Sam Daley From: Minneapolis, Minnesota Feb 4, 2011
Zach. I just went snowshoeing at the Swamp on Tuesday. The winter makes it easy to see the rocks clearly. You will not have any problems finding the North Shore Overhangs! If you make it out before it snows again, you should be able to enjoy top outs that I cleared on the island!
However! If you are out on the water be careful near the shores there are a few places where runoff has melted and thinned the ice, tread lightly!
I checked out the NSO yesterday. Melt water is running down the face just about all along the length of the crag. In other words, it was soaked. Aside from that, a nice day to be out. By the way, is that a copy of Vertical Jones that you have there Nate? That is pretty much the article that started it all back in the last century.
The middle road past the train tracks is flooded. I walked about 200 yards through 2-3 feet of water and gave up after I walked within a foot of a 3 foot snapping turtle. Seemed like a little too much effort. I went to the 145th parking lot and hiked to the trail where it splits to jabs farm but that was majorly flooded also. Looked for the Northshore Overhangs but no luck. It might be possible to go south from the lot past the Ehmiller site to the rock but I didn't have time to try it.
You have posted one of the best problems on the boulder. You are not the first, but I get the feeling it hasn't been done corner to corner for a while now. Most people start from the gaston on the west face and go up and left from there. I agree with your rating. By the way, the man eating snapping turtles are gone and the approach is back to normal; even better than normal. Same for the Overhangs except the ground under them is totally saturated. Bring a tarp to put under your pad and avoid during weekends until the Ren Festival is over.
The road into the Big Boulder is no longer under water. Wood ticks are out already. Otherwise the boulder is in good shape. I swear the split in the boulder is getting wider each year and the west face is a little more overhung than it used to be. Maybe one day it will fall over completely.
Has anyone done a complete traverse of the Big Boulder? I don't know of anyone who has. Its occurred to me that it may be one of the last great problems to be done on the boulder. I know when the flood waters retreat and the boulder is open for business again, that is going to be my next project. I welcome all to try it, too. Let us know if you send it.
Robin - go to this map address It should be a picture of the rock on Google and there should be a map icon on the bottom right. Click on the map and choose Earth view. 169 to Bluff Dr, right on Jordan. Park before the parking sign. Walk the road, take a left and keep on going along the path. You cannot miss the rock.