Rock Climbing in Southern Illinois – Jackson Falls

April 27, 2012

True Adventures trip to Southern Illinois last weekend.  Eight people’s worth of fun and awesomeness. Miranda led the trip and did a fabulous job as always.  It’s maybe six hours south of Chicago, and totally worth the drive.  Hundreds of sport climbs and trad climbs.  All in a gorgeous canyon, terrific hiking, a pretty waterfall, and free camping.  Which is very cool.  Make sure you bring your own water for camping as there isn’t any there, aside from the little creek if you’d like to filter your own.  They’ve recently put up some more signs to make it much easier to find the camping.  Climbs range from 5.6 to 5.13.  So happy.  Such a great, relaxing, excellent climbing spot and place to experience nature.  Have any questions about where are the best spots to climb?  Feel free to email me.  I can give some pointers on how to get into the canyon and where to go once you’re in.


Joe rocks his first lead, a 5.9 no less. Near Munchkin.


Why'd I skip the first bolt I wonder? Or did it come unclipped...


The westy performs flawlessly, what a machine.



Random Clips

September 10, 2009

I haven’t posted in a while and have a hadful of random things to talk about that have occurred the last month or so.

First is this video of my friend Tadd Maudlin, cruising on his sailboat off the coast of Belize, doing a dance that I used to do in college and most likely still do called “the Trimmer”.  I’m very jealous of him – bought a boat and is cruising on it indefinitely with his girlfriend, they are now in the Carribbean off Belize – follow them on their blog at 

Speaking of boats, mine was broken for two long weeks – the motor went out while we were sailing, so we had to sail her into the can with pretty much no wind – super fun and challenging.  Then I tried a zillion differnet things to fix her, all to no avail and making it worse over about ten days.  Called a boat mechanic named Doug Pietz recommended by my boat neighbor.  He met me out on the boat and proceeded to tear into the motor fearlessly – fixing three problems, each of which could have been a major issue on its own, all in the span of under two hours.  A true professional and it was really amazing to watch him work.  I was very impressed with his skill and his pricing and efficiency and fun attitude.  If you need boat engine work done certainly call him at 847 533 9030, he is spectacular.

This past weekend I went to another lake house, also in Michigan and on the shore of Lake Michigan and its spectacular giant sand beaches – they are truly stunning if you have a chance to check out the west coast of the lower peninsula definitely do, they seriously rival many of the great beaches around the world in my opinion in the summer, and also very cool to experience in the wintertime.  Stretches a couple hundred miles up the coast.  Here’s a view from the kitchen:

 View of Lake Michigan from the west coast of Michigan

Took different crew sailing each day of the air and water show including Friday – very fun and gorgeous days.  Check the picture of the enormous American flag on a sailboat we saw. 

At the Air and Water Show in Chicago 2009

At the Air and Water Show in Chicago 2009

Went to Devil’s Lake one Sunday a couple weeks back to rock climb with some climbing friends, great time had by all.  Gorgeous, perfect day and terrific group of climbers. Devil's Lake near Upper Diagonal

This weekend we head to Lake Superior to kayak the Apostle Islands for five days, should be a great trip, sevn of us are going, really looking forward to it.

Went to a Purdue football game last Saturday, very fun to see all my old buddies and wander by my old apartment.   In college I managed to jump a car over the embankment shown below, they seem to have put up posts to stop this in the future.

Scene of trouble back in the day

Scene of trouble back in the day

22 Climbers to Jackson falls, So Ill

June 8, 2009

And no injuries!  And all had a great time!  Very fun weekend with True Adventures.  We had seven cars, three of which went early.  Of those three, only one was able to decipher the last bit of directions .2 miles is quite different from 2 miles.  No worries, we caravanned at the end and managed to pick them all up – cell phones are fabulous.  We also all managed to stay in the same campsite.  I love Jackson Falls as there are no rules, and even better no cost, camping is free, and the area is beautiful.  We arrived late Friday night and everybody managed to get their tents up and sleep.  Read the rest of this entry »

Bouldering (Climbing) at Hidden Peak in Chicago

May 18, 2009

Went bouldering again at Hidden Peak over the weekend.  I’ve never really gotten into bouldering but really enjoyed myself there.  There was a great vibe, lots of guys helping each other out, encouraging one another, and working out boudering problems together.  Picture three or five guys standing around and taking turns working out the same sequence of moves up a short rock climbing wall, each one falling off at the same spot, then gradually trying different ways of doing the hard move, and each one doing it better and better until it finally goes. 

“I toed in with my left foot”

“Crimp hard with your right”

“Set your feet after the dyno, then drop knee and reach up right for the sloper”

“Pinch with your right, cut your feet, right foot on the chip, left hand into the hueco”

Very fun with a great feeling of accomplishment after it’s done.  A decent workout with sweat and sore back and arms the next day.  I’ll be going back.  Bouldering works your core, and the climbs are much shorter, no ropes are used.  You simply jump off and land on the padded floor when you’ve finished a climb.   Density of holds is much thicker.  Means you can get in many more climbs, and typically the moves are more difficult and acrobatic in a more condensed fashion than a typical route.  Endurance isn’t key but core strength and crimp/grip power are.  It seems most of the great climbers are also accomplished boulderers.

I’d love to get a bouldering wall built in the first floor parking of Park Community Church, working on it.

Boulderers at Hidden Peak, Chicago

Boulderers at Hidden Peak, Chicago

To get to Hidden Peak and info on climbing there:

937 W. Chestnut St., Chicago(312) 563-9400 CTA – Take the Blue Line to the Chicago stop. Cross Chicago and go north on Ogden. You will walk under a bridge and turn right onto Chestnut. Driving – 90/94 from downtown. Exit at Augusta/ Milwaukee. Turn left at the light onto Milwaukee. Follow to Chicago Ave. Turn left onto Chicago. Cross light at Ogden and turn left at Sangamon. Continue on to the end of Sangamon, and turn right onto Chestnut. 90/94 from the North – Exit at Ogden. Turn left on Ogden and follow it to the end. Turn right onto Chestnut. Head through stop sign at Sangamon. LakeShore Academy is on the right.  Has eight rope routes and 2,200 feet of climbing surface mostly for bouldering. Hours Monday-Friday 12 noon -2 p.m., 5 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays 12-4 p.m. Fees Annual pass – $375 Day pass – $10 Lunch pass – $7 Children’s pass – $7 Shoes – $5 Harness – $2 Full gear – $6 Monthly pass – $55 10, gear punch pass – $40 10, punch pass – $80 Weights – $29 Please note – Hidden Peak is located inside Lakeshore Academy.

Ice Climbing Tomorrow With 17

January 30, 2009

Taking 17 (!) people ice climbing tomorrow!  Yikes!  Should be a great trip, have three excellent leaders heading out of the city around 5:30am to get to the icefalls and set the ropes for us.  The rest of us are leaving around 7:15am.   Below are a couple of the emails we sent out before the trip to give you a taste of it.


Ice Climbers – 

We had a spectacular response, the trip closed two hours after the signup became available.  We have a bunch going and are going to do our best to get everyone on the ice at least once, we think it will certainly be possible but we’ll need to be efficient in getting people geared up before climbing and “un-geared” after climbing.  Fun and positive attitudes will help it be a great day for all of us.
Seems we’ve been lucky and gotten lots of cold weather 😉
Please email me your shoe size.  We have adjustable crampons and would like to batch people with similar shoe sizes.  We have a couple sets of boots with crampons that snap on to them that we can share if they fit.
Know that this is an inherently dangerous activity and you could certainly get hurt in any number of ways.  We’re going to do our best to be as safe as possible, but it is ice climbing, and ice climbing is quite dangerous.  On that note please sign and return the attached waivers to me via email or fax at 312 794 7094.  Make sure you do that before Friday or you cannot come.  If you’d like to back out no worries, just let me know and we can refund your money.
I’ve attached a map of Starved Rock State Park – when you enter the park,  you’ll need to sign in at a small blue cabin – it’s on the right just after the parking lot to the visitor center before you go up the hill – it’s a bit abandoned looking, there is a piece of paper on the porch where you need to sign in.  After doing that, continue up the road – go up a fairly steep hill, then take a left into a parking lot, park near the trolleys.  Ideally we will all arrive fairly close together and can hike down to French Canyon as a group.  If you’re late, the trail begins to the right of the cabins, by some totem poles.  Head down and go left when you see the french canyon, and go down some stairs.  It may involve some wandering to find it, I haven’t actually been there, only to Wildcat Canyon.  Map is attached.  Plan is to climb the easier French Canyon icefall and then maybe do the larger and steeper Wildcat icefall, we’ll see how the weather is, if the climbs are solid, and if they are available.  To get to the park itself, you take 55 south to 80 west to 178 south, exit 81, then follow the signs.
Bring hiking boots (heavy snow boots won’t fit the crampons), layers!, rain pants/ski pants, rain jacket/waterproof coat/shell, sunglasses/safety glasses, a thin hat that can fit under a helmet, lots of gloves (especially water resistant/proof), extra socks, and maybe chemical hand/foot warmers.  You might also want another set of dry clothes for dinner and the drive home.
You are responsible for your lunch, drinks and snacks.  We’ll have some food and some warm drinks and soup.  Afterwards we’ll meet at Duffy’s for dinner – you’ll drive by it on the way in, it’s in the little downtown area.
If you have the Motorola Talkabout walkie-talkies please bring them, the two canyons are about a half mile apart.  We’ll use channel 7-7.
Please remember to thank Jeff and Chris and Drew profusely for going early and setting up the ropes for us and for spending their climbing day getting all of us on the ice.  Also others helping out such as Nadine who is coordinating the food along with Chris for us.
I’ll send out rough riding groups, but we can sort it out at the church – let’s plan to meet in the parking lot at 7:15am on Saturday.
If you want to go hiking before or after your climbing, it’s a beautiful place.  Right on the Illinois River.  Apparently the eagles winter there.  There’s also a pretty amazing lodge that you can check out (and use to warm up in if hiking and climbing and warm drinks and lots of layers don’t work for you).
I’m sure there will be more emails to follow, but this is the plan for now.  My cell should work there but may not – it’s 773-965-2546.  Jeff’s I know works in the park, he’s at 312-505-2813.
Looking forward to it!  😀
PS – This is a True Adventures ministry event, our basic tenets are to do especially adventurous and fun activities in the outdoors with Christians and non-Christians and share a meal together afterwards.  In the past we’ve gone caving, sailing, sea kayaking, midnight canoeing, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting.  Watch for more events this year.


And the second email a couple days before the trip:

Almost time to climb!!

We’ve been really lucky – the weather’s been amazing for ice climbing – and supposed to be cold through Saturday, where it should warm up a bit for us.  Should be plenty of great ice for us.
Plan is still to meet in the church parking lot (1001 North Crosby) at 7:15am and head out shortly thereafter.  At Starved Rock, let’s wait up for each other about ten minutes or so in the parking lot near the trolleys and totem poles and hike down together.  If you’ve missed us for whatever reason french canyon and wildcat canyon are fairly easy to find with some wandering and lots of stairs, cell phones and walkie talkies should work.  Our rope chiefs will be leaving around 5:30am. 
If you’re not coming please let me know – we have people that would like your spot.
Plan is to climb in the easier french canyon and then climb the more severe Wildcat formation – they may not be available in which case we may climb at Tonti canyon – which is definitely worth the hike even if we don’t climb there – two very cool ice formations in a pretty impressive canyon a few miles past French and Wildcat.  Coincidentally the Munising Ice Fest happens to be this weekend (not because of my brilliant planning, wish I could say it was) so fingers crossed there won’t be as many other climbers around.
Plan to head to Duffy’s for dinner in Utica afterwards, it’s a few minutes from the Park in downtown Utica, we drive right past it at 

101 Mill St
Utica, IL 61373

(815) 667-4324.

If you don’t have a fax or scanner, bring the waivers Saturday, no worries.  We’ll have some blank ones there if you need them.
Rides as follows, (drivers you’re responsible for finding your riders Sat am):
Rachel, Leah, Kristen in Rachel’s car (or Leah’s or Kristen’s)
Sean, Jason, Keith, Andrew in Andrew’s car
Katy, Amber, me in my car
Liz, Nadine, Colin, Nick in Nick’s car 
Chris, Jeff, John, Drew – our champion lead climbers are organizing themselves.
Did I forget anything?  If so let me know, any questions email or text or call me, 773-965-climb.
A brief lesson on what will happen if you haven’t climbed before.  First you will put on a harness around your waist and legs and snug it down.  Then you’ll fit the crampons (spiky metal boot thingers) to your boots and strap them on.  Then tie in to the rope.  Next put the ice axe straps on your wrists and take hold of the axe handles.  Check out your belayer’s setup and have him check your harness and knot.  Then cruise up to the ice and say “climbing” and wait for your belayer to say “climb on!”  And off you go, up the icefall.  Easy as that 😉  We’ll show you how to do everything.
If you have happen to have “gaiters”, used for hiking in deep snow, bring them to keep from cutting up your pants with the crampons.
Can’t wait!

Chicago Ice climbing and Chicago Skiing

January 16, 2009

Heading out to go ice climbing at Starved Rock State Park tomorrow with a couple buddies, doing some recon for the Park trip on the 31st.  

Ice climbing in Antarctica

Ice climbing in Antarctica

 Then going downhill skiing at Alpine Valley with six friends or soon-to-be friends on Sunday. 

Hucking off a cliff not in Illinois

Hucking off a cliff not in Illinois

 I’m pretty excited about winter being back.  Much prefer these real winters to the half-hearted winters we’ve been having.  You can now get out and do all sorts of fun winter activities.  An employee of mine is heading up to Wisconsin to go snowmobiling. 

Wisco Snowmobiling

Wisco Snowmobiling

 Good times!

Mountain biking, Sailing and the four hour work week in Chicago

October 5, 2007

The season is winding down here in Chicago!  I’m maxing it out – took about 12 people from church out Saturday.  4 pukers, all girls which was strange, not normally like that.  Then we got into an anchorage, grilled out, swam, everybody felt better.  Then back to the harbor.  hugely successful day for the True Adventure ministry, met some very cool people that I’m sure will join us on future expeditions and adventures.   One guy has a plane he flys to go climbing – good guy.  Need to get on a trip with him to the Red. 

Sunday got out mountain biking to Pelos with 2 buddies, Jon and Kevin.  Jon was horrendously hungover, I thought he was going to die – still drunk when he got in the car.  Turns out his dog had been hit by a car the previous day –  ouch, he was bloodied up but ok.  The ride was great – gorgeous day, lots of single track, and on mostly trails I hadn’t been on before, which is amazing as I’ve been there probably 50 times to ride.  Great day, new bike performed well.

Then yesterday went sailing for lunch to think over “the Four hour workweek” and fill out some of the sheet – Tim Ferriss is amazing – lives my dream – he’s a firecracker, filled with energy, and asks so many of the right questions and articulates so many thoughts I’ve had about life, love, happiness (= excitement).  what would you do that would excite you?  Every day?  The last time I really felt like that was traveling around the world for six months – hoever it’s been 7 years since then.  I need to do some more stuff, the city doesn’t give me life all the time.  Wilderness and adventure and experiences do.  The guy I report to for True Adventure always asks “What would give you life”.  Great question.  do stuff that gives you life, excitement.  I’m working on it.  got much of my work streamlined, more to go.

Then yesterday night too 2 girls from church sailing because we didn’t have enough room for them Sunday.  Was a blast, they are hardcore christians, which is all good, from my hometown, and totally game for adventures.  They’ll be coming to more trips.

Looking into the personal assistant thing out of India – we’ll see how that goes.