I was born and raised in Northwest Wyoming in the heart of the Absaroka mountain range. My parents instilled a love and reverence for the outdoors before learning to walk, that has been a centering presence throughout my life. My family was also very involved in athletics and like many, never wanted to sit and watch from the sidelines after competitive sports careers were over. Climbing offered a perfect wedding of two things I couldn’t live without, simply put being active outdoors. I was first introduced to rock climbing at Vedauwoo in the mid 80’s and a few years later got more and more involved to the point where my life revolved solely around the pursuit of the vertical world. In my infancy as a climber I was more of an all-arounder. I would hang up my rock shoes each winter and swing ice axes and then when the ice melted it was back to boulders and cliffs. I had big dreams like trips to Alaska , Patagonia and maybe Asia. In the mid 90’s my son Lukas was born and I reduced the amount of high risk climbing I did. I still wanted to climb but didn’t want to leave Lukas behind. The limestone crags around Lander gave us exactly what we needed and I was quickly hooked on the limestone sport climbing of Sinks and Wild Iris. After moving to Iowa over 15 years ago from the Rockies for work, I was rather saddened at the prospect of not being able to rock climb anymore.
After having some of the best limestone in the country close to home, it seemed like a sick joke that I found myself in the Heartland, which, of course, had to be void of any good rock. After a few tips, I made to drive to Pictured Rocks and Indian Bluffs and checked out the cliffs. While it wasn’t what I was used to back home it was rock, and it looked quite good! Shortly after that I climbed many routes at “Pictured” (as the locals call it), Indian Bluffs and “Hoot”. I realized then that I might be able to make a go of it in Iowa after all. While I had to get accustomed to climbing in humidity, cleaning mud, spider webs, vacated bird nests, etc. from the generous pocketed rock, I made due and have had many great days of climbing and have met many great people above the banks of the Maquoketa river. Considering how many hours one must drive to find something similar to Wild Iowa if you are in the area, I would say it’s a special spot that we are lucky to have. I also find the river bottoms to be the best of what nature has to offer if you find yourself in the Midwest. While our dreams are often of road tripping to larger/more popular areas we are able to maintain good fitness climbing in Iowa. I encourage people who travel to the area to stretch your legs and pull on some pockets in Eastern Iowa. You’ll be glad you did and you can always raise an eyebrow telling people you rock climbed in the Midwest. Climb Safe and have Fun.