This past weekend, Tazer and I headed downstate to check out a climbing area, Holy Boulders, that was hosting a bouldering competition. This gave us the opportunity to see more of the beautiful Shawnee National Forest, check out possibly the premier bouldering destination in Illinois, and last but not least, spend some father and son time together on a road trip. Wins all around.
With over 200 bordering problems up to V13 (and more still to come), the Holy Boulders is a treasure for Midwest climbers. In May 2012, the Access Fund temporarily purchased the Holy Boulders when the Tripp Family (owners) put it up for sale.
Since then, they’ve been working in conjunction with the Illinois Climbers Association to raise the necessary funds ($115,000 needed of the original $185,000) to secure permanent ownership, then transfer it to a long-term owner that will keep the climbing access public.
The Third Testament is the third bouldering competition put on as a way to help raise the needed funds.
We went at the perfect time. With cold nights and cool days the norm these days, inherent warm weather problems like humidity, poison ivy, ticks, and chiggers were non-existent. The day warmed up quickly and it was a pleasure to walk through the forest, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and watch lots of people (200+ was the estimate) boulder.
From a spectator perspective, there wasn’t much to do except walk and view, which wasn’t a problem, though I had hoped there would be vendor booths to check out gear and get more info on the supporting companies. No such luck – the competition is geared towards the climbers only. It would be nice to see a more festival like atmosphere, so we’ll see if that changes moving forward.
The Holy Boulders abuts the Shawnee National Forest (the usual access is actually on Forest property), though the Tripp Family allowed parking and access through their private property. Camping seemed to be the norm for this fest, with tents set up along the read of the lines of cars. Might be a fun experience if we come back to actually compete (Tazer is very interested).
As mentioned, there is an ongoing campaign to raise the needed funds to complete the purchase. Even if you can’t go for a visit (and you really should, not only for the Holy Boulders, but all the great sites in the National Forest), this is worth preserving, so please donate today.