Rock Climbing the North Shore

Parker Hoen


Rock climbing can be a daunting and scary activity but there are routes along the North Shore for all ages and skill levels. Climbing is a great way to get some adrenaline pumping and can be done in a relatively safe manner. It is a great way to test your strength and endurance, along with your mental control. Rock Climbing attracts many daredevils, but it is also enjoyed by many everyday adventurous, just like golf! If you have moderate strength and the proper equipment and or instruction, rock climbing can be a very enjoyable experience. To get started we recommend first identifying the type of climbing that you want to do. This includes mountaineering, trad, sport, top roping, bouldering, and free solo. Along the North Shore, most of the routes are “Top Roping” which means you, the climber, is securely attached to a rope which then passes up, through an anchor system at the top of the cliff, and down to a belayer at the bottom. The second step is to properly gear up. We recommend stopping by a climbing store such as REI to talk to an expert and make sure you are getting the right gear. Most climbers’ arsenals include rope, cord and webbing, carabineers, quickdraws, harnesses, belay devices, rappel devices (descenders), ascenders, and slings. The final step is to locate your route. This can vary, depending on your skill level. Below we have highlighted some of our favorite routes on the North Shore. Tettoguche State Park has over 100 different routes, and we shared some popular spots from Palisade Head and Shovel Point, both of which are a bit more advanced. We also identified the new North Shore Adventure Park for climbers who are just getting started. Overall climbing is a great way to experience the beauty of the North Shore while incorporating some fitness and adrenaline.


Tettoguche State Park

Shovel Point- This is the easier of the two cliffs on the shores of Lake Superior. Shovel Point is popular with many novice top ropers but you can also find a few classics for the enjoyment of all skill types. This spot is popular with tourists, and they will most likely watch you climb and ask questions, so if you want some cheerleaders, this is a good spot. Many climbers recommend “The Great Yawn” and “Dance of the Sugar-Plump Faeries” along with making sure you bring a lot of webbing!

Palisade Head- The flagship of Minnesota climbing, Palisade Head boasts over 100 routes in itself. The cliff is breathtaking and offers jaw-dropping views of Lake Superior. Climbers will be sure to get some adrenaline pumping as this cliff stands some 300 feet over the shore. All of the climbs here must be rapped into the lead or top-roped from above. There is a strict no-chalk ethic in the area but nailing/bolting is prohibited. A free permit to climb is required by the state park and can be picked up at the park headquarters. Some routes we recommend are “Phantom Crack” and “Gun Fight”.

Temperance River State Park

Carlton Peak

This peak is an Anorthosite, which is a very strong but abrasive rock, so experts recommend bringing some old carpet to protect your rope. This is a top-roping route, but you are not allowed to bring your own bolts. All of the climbs names are numbers, and they all climb the right facing corner of the rock. We recommend route “16”.

Directions: From Tofte (HWY 61) go North onto Cook County Road 2 for about 2.5 miles and follow signs to the Britton Peak parking lot. Hike about 30 minutes to Carlton Peak.

North Shore Adventure Park

This relatively new park features a 30-foot cliff named “Eleanor”, after Eleanor Roosevelt, and is the first installment of the privately-funded North Shore Adventure Park. “Eleanor” is perfect for beginners and other climbers who want to either perfect their technique and or work on speed. The second phase of the park will include an Olympic-sanctioned climbing tower, an aerial ropes course and a zip line, which will hopefully be complete by June of 2020.

Directions: From Two Harbors, travel north on HWY 61 for 28 miles and the park is at the intersection of HWY 61 and Outer Drive on the left.

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