Thursday, May 21, 2009

West Bluff - Alpine Club/Beautiful Soup Boulders

In the Southern corner of the West Bluff Talus fields lay two premier boulders with 3 of the hardest problems at the lake. The landings are friendly, for the most part, and the approach is relatively easy once you find your way to it the first time. All of the problems are classics for their grade and are very high quality.

Starting at the Apple Orchard, take a right out of the parking lot and drive to the "T" intersection. Take a right and follow the winding South Shore road into the park. You've got two parking options. First one is to park in the boat launch parking lot right at the base of the hill on your right. This option is better for weekends and busy days. If it isn't as busy take a left onto Cottage Grove Road that looks like this:

And this:

And look for some of the parking spots on the side of the road:

If you do park in the boat landing parking lot just walk back up the road and start hiking along Cottage Grove Road. It takes an extra couple of minutes and will help you warm up a little.

When you get to the end of Cottage Grove Road, about 5 minutes maybe, start following the paved tumbled rocks trail. Another 4-5 minutes of light hiking will bring you to a small straightaway that looks like so:

Then you'll turn a corner and see a "S" curve in the trail:

Stop and turn left. If you see this:

Start walking up into the talus field. You'll start to see the Alpine Club Boulder in a minute or so.

There are two problems on the Alpine Club Boulder and both are worthwhile and fun. Corner roof starts on the left side of the boulder and climbs up a small roof to a mantle topout. It checks in at about V3 and is a good warmup for the brutal testpiece next to it, Alpine Club.

Alpine Club clocks in at a very hard V9. It's a classic boulder with two very pure moves that climb up a bulgy face. You start on the obvious ledge and move up to a right hand sloper. Lock it off and then pick a hideous sloper or an awkward gaston. Your have your choice and each one has its difficulties.

Alpine Club is one of the most classic hard problems at Devil's Lake and is worth any amount of time you can spend on its frustratingly hard moves. As of this time it only has 4-5 known ascents.

Nic on the first move to the sloper

Remo trying the crux second move

Katie trying out the crux move

Just uphill from Alpine Club is a nice tall wall that hosts a serious contender for the hardest climb a the lake. There are three known problems on the boulder, even if one of them is a traverse.

Beautiful Soup is an old Eric Z. problem that starts on the left side of the wall, to the left of the pit. Start left hand on a good sidepull and right hand on an OK ledge. Move up to a small and sharp right hand crimp and then find your way, either by throw or other trickery, up to the deceiving ledge up high. Traverse off right on moves that really shouldn't be underestimated. At V8 this is a very fun problem to work on and offers a good intro to hard climbing at Devil's Lake. Dynamic and powerful moves make this a DL classic.

Remo setting up for the move to the ledge, just above him

One of the other problems on the boulder is a traverse into the start of Beautiful Soup. I believe this comes in at about V4/5 and starts in the bottom right corner of the pit. If anyone has more info on this please let me know.

That brings us to the Keymaker. Brian Sandona put this up back in the early part of this decade and it still stands unrepeated. It has a tentative grade of V11 and is waiting for a repeat. It starts on the traverse and follows Beautiful Soup up to the juggy ledge. Instead of traversing out right you follow non existent crimps and top out the boulder direct. Hard and unrepeated, hopefully this one will receive some attention this fall.

There also seems to be a V2 mantle on the boulder to the right of Beautiful Soup. It starts on a pretty obvious looking ledge and goes straight up.

That's all I've got for Alpine Club and Beautiful Soup. Let me know if you want to know anything else!


  1. Do you know how hard beautiful soup is if you top out straight up, but don't traverse in as for the keymaker?

  2. I'm not actually sure. My best guess is either V9 or V10. The holds just seem to run out for a section right after the rail. I'll try to find out though! Hope you like the site!