Jake McCrary

Holy Boulders: The Pilgrimage

I drove down Friday, November 4th and arrived late enough to miss the movie but early enough to enjoy the campfire and setup a tent at a reasonable hour. I ran into some climbers I had met at Pere Marquette and again at the First Ascent in Peoria. That was a fun.

The weather Friday evening was bad. At the property that allows camping during the competition, it was super windy and chilly. There was also a thunderstorm overnight.

You could hear many folks dealing with failed tents and moving into cars throughout the night. Luckily, Jenn’s tent (which I was using) kept me dry all night and stood up to the wind. It was windy enough where the side of the tent would occasionally hit my face and, in the morning, the exterior of the tent was dry despite it raining for hours overnight.

The rain Friday evening caused the start of the competition to move from 9 a.m. to noon. This gave the rock time to dry and for volunteers to go confirm the trail and problem signs were still up.

The weekend was a blast. The number of boulders, combined with the signage pointing you towards boulders, and the labels at the starts of problems really made this a great weekend for a first time Holy Boulders visitor.

During the competition, I climbed at an area called the House Boulders. This is a new purchase by the Illinois Climbers Association that is a short hike away from the Holy Boulders.

I mostly climbed at the Best in Show boulder but started off the day on a slab V1 on a nearby boulder.

At the Best in Show boulder, I flashed a v4 and worked and sent a v6 and v5. According to what I wrote down the names of the problems are:

  • God Loves a Terrier, v4
  • Best in Show, v6
  • sit-start from start of above v6 into the above v4

I think I may have the Best in Show name wrong and I should have written down Short Show but I’m not really sure and these boulders are not online yet.

Whatever the name, the v6 was incredibly fun. The way I did it involved at least one, maybe two, heel toe cam(s) and you moved around quite a bit.

The v6 shared a start with the above mentioned v5 and a v8. The v8 and v6 shared the first few moves with the v8 then continuing direct to the top while the v6 moved out right.

After doing those problems, I moved over to a neighboring boulder that can be described as stunning. One face of the boulder was long and practically at a perfect 20-30 degree overhang. People would walk around the corner of the boulder and stop, staring at the rock before them.

There I climbed a v5 sit-start that was the left most boulder on that face.

After the competition, there was food, drinks, a band, a large fire and good times. I have no idea how I did in the competition but doing well in the competition wasn’t the point of the weekend.

I also did some bouldering on Sunday and this time in the Holy Boulders area.

First I worked on The Red Sea, a classic v6. It was fun and I wish I would have been able to stick the crux move. Definitely seems like something I could climb with some more attempts.

Next I moved over to work on Shadow of a Man This was also a really fun problem. It took some effort but eventually managed to link the moves together to get the top.

After that, I tried the v6 sit-start extension and, on my flash go, made it to the crux of Shadow of a Man but fell. I left after that to go pack up my tent and make the long drive home.

There is so much climbing here. If I lived closer to this area I could imagine going here frequently.

Overall, the weekend was a blast. It would not have been nearly a fun had I found multiple crews to climb and hang out with. Without Brandon, Kyle, Jack, Robert, Israel, the Peoria folks, and others the trip would have been a lot less enjoyable.

Bouldering is good but bouldering with a crew is great.