Skip navigation

Category Archives: Climbing

On Saturday it was snowing and blowing in Duluth and it was expected to get worse during the day. We had planned to stop in at the 2018 Duluth Ice & Mixed Fest being held at Casket Quarry. This was our first visit to the Ice Fest now in its third year. It was snowing hard when we arrived so it was difficult to take photos. The camera was getting wet and automatic focus was not working all that well. There were a few climbers on the wall when we arrived. What sets this venue apart its the the fact that it combines rock and ice climbing on a 100 foot wall. The ice results from water seeping out of the rocks although the climbing club plans on farming ice on a section of the wall so they can provide a training ground for climbers. More photos from the day can be found on my website.

There was a fire going and some folks were gathered around the fire watching the climbers.

This climber was working up a crack on the face of the wall.

This climber worked his way up a crack and under the ice before making his way onto the ice to finish the climb.

On the way out we stopped to talk to some folks and asked where the name “casket quarry” came from. Apparently a business next to the quarry made vaults and stored them along the trail to the quarry. When climbers were asked where they were going to climb they would say “at the casket quarry”.

Willow River State Park is a popular rock climbing areas. I almost always find someone climbing on the sandstone cliffs above the falls. This past visit was no exception. I happened to have my long lens with me in anticipation of seeing some birds on the lower Willow River. I took a few photos of the climbers.





My wife and I drove down to Devil’s Punchbowl over the weekend. I was an exciting trip because the roads were still icy from Friday’s snow and ice storm. When we arrived there was already a truck in the parking lot. The walk down was “fun” because there is quite a bit of ice on the steps. When we reached the bowl we found an ice climber on the ice wall. I’ve been at the bowl over fifty times and this is the first time I’ve seen anyone ice climbing at Devil’s Punchbowl. We chatted about climbing for quite a while. I used to climb quite a bit in my younger days. He said he likes to climb at the bowl because it is easy to get his rope tied off at the top of the wall. His wife usually comes along to belay him but she broke her wrist so with his belayer injured he was working at the bottom of the wall. I took a few photos of the climber and a few close-ups of the ice formations.

Ice ClimberIce Formation

Ice Climber

Ice Formation

Ice Formation

I drove over to Willow River State Park near Hudson, Wisconsin this morning to check on conditions and do a little photography. I checked my log and discovered this was the earliest I had visited the park in the spring. Normally my first stop is at Willow Falls first but today I drove through the park to the nature center. As I drove into the parking lot I noticed a large number of swallows flying around in the open area. I was a little surprised since these were the first swallows I had seen this spring. There were also a number of Eastern Bluebirds also in the area. It is a little early for nesting and none of the birds were showing any interest in the bird houses. In a few weeks they will be staking out their territory.


Canada Goose

There are normally a couple of Canada Geese around the lake and today was no exception. I took a few photographs of them and then started walking along Little Falls Lake toward the falls. The trail was clear down to the boat landing but it looked to be covered with snow and ice beyond that point. There were a couple of Golden Eagles on the edge of the ice near the open water. They were a little far for a shot. There also were a number of Buffleheads in the open water. At least that’s what I think they were.


Ice Patterns

I decided not to walk to the falls because the amount of ice on the trail and started back toward the picnic area. There were some interesting ice formations on a little backwater area and I stopped to take a few photographs. When I arrived back in the picnic area there were a pair of bluebirds about. After some effort I managed to get a shot of one of them.


I then drove out of the park and over to the small parking area near Willow falls. The trail to the top of the hill was clear but the paved road leading down toward the falls was snow covered and icy. I took my time and managed not to fall. There were a couple of Wild Turkeys at the bottom of the hill.


As soon as I reached the bottom of the hill I could hear the falls so I knew there was a lot of water running. The spring melt is underway and there was more water than I had seen in previous trips to the falls. My preference is to shoot waterfalls when the water is lower because it offers the opportunity to take intimate photos of rocks and water. When the river is running at a high lever there is not much to shoot except a lot of water running. I took a few shots but there wasn’t a lot that interested me.


Rock Climber

I was just about to leave when two young men came down the trail. I noticed they had hardhats and climbing gear so I stuck around to see what was up. The area on the north side of the falls is a popular climbing area and that’s where they were headed. I watched the first climber follow the route and clip in along the way.

There areĀ  more spring photos of Willow River State Park on my Website.