In the annals of rock climbing history, there are areas and crags that we as climbers recognize instantly: Yosemite. The Gunks. Eldorado Canyon … Sitting oddly in that group is an area that has a wealth of history and for a time held its own for the standards of the day, but is now relatively unknown outside of its local climbers, despite having historical luminaries like the Stettner brothers and John Gill leaving their mark. That area is Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin.
The argument could be made that at the time, Devil’s Lake climbers (and the few outsiders who knew of the place) felt their climbs were too short to be significant; that they were merely “practice” climbs for larger objectives at more famous areas like Yosemite or the Tetons. However, the hardest routes at Devil’s Lake from the ’60s to ’80s rivaled anything being done elsewhere difficulty-wise.
The impetus for this whole post came about in digging through some archival ’60s-era photos for use on our Instagram. We reached out to Rich Goldstone, a climber more famously associated with the Gunks, who had taken the photo in question. He provided many more photos and backstory that seemed too long-form for […]