Access Victory at Rib Mountain State Park, WI

Rib Mountain Sate Park just southwest of Wausau, Wisconsin hosts incredibly hard quartzite rock formations forged some 1.5 to 2 billion years ago. The area offers great bouldering, and climbers have visited Rib Mountain for close to twenty years. However in 2003, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began developing a long-range Master Plan for Rib Mountain State Park and determined that: “Rock climbing will be prohibited in the abandoned quarry area as rock conditions havebeen determined to be unstable and unsuitable for climbing.” However conflicting information from the State made the status of climbing access in the rest of the park, particularly bouldering opportunities along the trail, unknown.

In June 2012, a local climber named Shawn Brunner attempted to secure official bouldering access in the Park and sought clarification from the Park’s Superintendent , who simply reiterated that: “Rock climbing or bouldering with ropes or other technical gear is not allowed in Rib Mountain State Park, and violators are subject to arrest and prosecution.” Unhappy with the response, Shawn started contacting Park officials to seek official approval to boulder. When DNR didn’t respond, he contacted the Access Fund for help. 

The Access Fund reviewed the Master Plan with Shawn and identified a few things that helped bring DNR to the table. Shawn set up a meeting with the Superintendent, the Regional Director, and the Access Fund. The meeting went well, and DNR admitted that bouldering was never considered in the original Master Plan. Although DNR was concerned with the potential impacts associated with bouldering, they were willing to allow it if the Environmental Resource Department (ERD) approved the activity. Shawn created a map with GPS coordinates of all the bouldering at Rib Mountain, and passed it along to the ERD so they could visit the area and determine if bouldering could be allowed. 

On January 11, 2013, the ERD determined that bouldering was feasible, and DNR will now allow bouldering at Rib Mountain State Park with crashpads and chalk. However roped climbing and fixed gear are still prohibited in the quarry. For more information, visit Vertical Midwest on Facebook.


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