The best part about the climbing in the Upper Peninsula are the crowds… or the lack of them! It is not uncommon to find yourself at one of the best crags in the state on a sunny Saturday afternoon and be the only one there! Many of our climbing areas are hidden back in the woods and offering a peaceful wilderness setting, and the fact that many of these places sit on the edge of the largest freshwater lake in the world doesn’t hurt either!
Most of the rock climbing in the Upper Peninsula is found in the areas around Marquette and the Keweenaw Peninsula. There is a variety of climbing available from excellent beginner crags, to sport and trad routes up to 5.12.
Because some of the crags are challenging to locate, both the Marquette and Houghton locations have
seasoned climbers on staff to assist you in planning out your adventure. A just published guidebook: Marquette County Rock Climbing by Jason Schneider is also available, and there is an unofficial climbing guide for the Keweenaw that can be picked up at our Houghton store.
Marquette Area Climbing
Routes Ya Gotta Do!
These are the classic climbs and you won’t want to cut your roadtrip short without baggin’ these.
The Traverse is the local bouldering test piece located at a Marquette city park, Presque Isle. The setting for the problem might make it a classic in itself – situated directly about the crashing waves of Lake Superior – but it is the lower traverse rating at a stout V6 that really makes it the hardman route of the area. Both the Upper and Lower Traverse start from right to left with the Upper Traverse being the easier of the two.
This classic is also located on Presque Isle and is considered to be the best route in Marquette. Best climbed in the early morning as the sun is rising out of Lake Superior, the moves are flowing and very beautiful. There are several lines on the Pinnacle with the most popular line ascending the center flaring crack. 5.10a R
Located at Cliffs Ridge (Marquette Mountain) the Classic Crack is the prominate line in the center of the main wall. Aesthetic climbing on beautiful quartz rock wanders up the route with the crux being at the first small overhang and finishing with solid holds. 5.7 R
Located at Cliffs Ridge (Marquette Mountain) the climb has four overhangs stacked above each other. First time route climbers might struggle a bit searching for the unseen holds… but they are there! Each overhang hides a rock solid bomber that enables the climber to pull the roof. CLASSIC! 5.9
Houghton Area Climbing
Cliff Drive – More Info
A lot of people will be surprised at the quality of climbing found here on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Most of our climbing is found north of Houghton on the west side of Cliff Drive. The basalt cliffs provide a variety of climbing challenges from moderate to difficult slab/face climbs to easy to moderate crack routes. Routes range from 30-150 feet and there are just over 60 established routes in the area. Some of our favorite routes include:
Rated PG – 5.10
This is one of the classic sport climbs in the area. The routes only 35 feet and 4 bolts, but the crux is right off the ground and the rest of the route keeps you on your toes. The climb starts off with a slightly overhung sloper on the right and moves to a small in-cut edge on your left. Once you gain the arete you’re past the crux, but now have some very thin moves up to another overhang. Once to the overhang the holds become more positive.
Lie Detector – 5.8
This is probably our favorite climb in the area. It starts out on an easy slab and then moves into the crux at the slight overhang. The sequence can be a little tricky and can feel much harder than the rating. After the crux, finish on small face moves at the pine tree that hangs out over the route. Again, this route is great on lead, but can easily be top roped. This route finishes just below the start to Rated PG and makes for a super fun pseudo 2 pitch sequence. This route is ~70 feet.
Obsession – 5.7
This is one of the classic routes in the area and is a lot of fun for everyone. This route starts right at the base of the Obsession buttress and climbs up and through the small v-notch in the overhang. The route is great for the beginning leader and can easily be top-roped. This route is ~95 feet.