Jake McCrary

Holy Boulders: The Pilgrimage 2023

This was my second time attending the annual Holy Boulders: The Pilgrimage. Here is the write-up from my 2022 trip.

This year was a blast. I met a lot of new faces and ran into a bunch of folks from the previous year.

The weather was fantastic. The band was fun. The campfire was jumped.

This year I primarily climbed with two Chicago climbers, Kyle and Brandon. In 2022, I had most climbed at the House Boulders during the competition. This year, I climbed in the Holy Boulders.

In terms of sends, I had a less successful trip than in 2022. But it was still a blast.

The Comp (Saturday)

We started off climbing at the Vultures Nest.

There, I got a pretty quick send of Embryo Statis (v3 on comp listing, v4 on mountain project). Then I the v5, Embryo Shell some. I made some decent progress on it but did not unlock the sloper sequence for the finish.

Next, we went to Open Gates and worked on Flugelhorn v6. Flugelhorn was pretty sweet, though none of us got the send on it. The first move kept shutting me down, though I did pretty ok on the rest of it. I’m eager to come back to it.

Then we went to the Bubble Wrap area to try out the v7 Bubble Wrap.

Bubble Wrap’s start is amazingly hard. I could barely get off the ground and in no way could move. We did knock out a v3 to the left of Bubble wrap (probably Pop pop, it starts on two underclings/sidepulls, goes up) and a v4 (further left, corner of next boulder over).

Next up was Bio-Terrorism. There we worked on Bioterrorism. I know I didn’t get the send, I kept falling slapping up towards a sloper on the topout. This one felt like it would go had I been a bit fresher.


Bonus day of some more climbing.

Brandon, Kyle, and I went to Atlas. There, we worked on Calypso v6.

What a sweet boulder. After some attempts, I felt like I had the bottom pretty dialed. I kept struggling to switch my right hand from a sloper to an undercling at the top. It felt close to going and I’ll need to come back for it.

We ended the day by doing a quick send of Atlas, a v4 around the corner from Calypso. This is a sweet climb, plenty of tension in it both physically and mentally. Mentally because you are almost climbing over another boulder which amps up the fear a bit. None of us used the big jug out left, it didn’t seem necessary.


It was a great trip and I look forward to getting back down there. The house on the property used for camping during the comp is for rent and I fully expect to rent it out at some point. The access to the boulders and other Southern Illinois climbing would be so good.

I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little disappointed with my tick list from this trip but I’m happy I tried and failed on plenty of boulders.