Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rattlesnake Mound - Not a Summer Destination(AKA Ticks Suck)

I always like days without plans. They're lazy and fun and you really don't have any expectations. Last Saturday Katie and I went to a coffee shop near our house and just had a super lazy morning. It was supposed to rain but that didn't seem to be happening. It was sunny and breezy which was a nice change from the 95, humid and stagnant of the week before.

On a whim we decided that Rattlesnake Mound might actually make for a good summer spot because of the lack of trees and high winds. We picked up our stuff from the gymnasium and started the drive up.

We obviously forgot how awesome the dells are during summer when we stopped to get gas.  I got to add two more oversized roadside objects to the list.

A nice bear with graffiti inside of him

And a dinosaur sticking out of a gas station

I truly love Wisconsin.

Well, we got up to Rattlesnake and were blown away with how different it was during the summer months. It was so much more prairie like than either of us expected. The grass was about knee deep and it was beautiful out. There was a nice wind and I kept on thinking to myself that climbing conditions were fantastic!

You can practically see the ticks in the weeds

We spent a couple minutes warming up and then hiked around looking for the Start Destroyer boulder. There was a nice looking V3 and an undone project. I'd heard conflicting rumors about the project. One saying it was amazing and another saying it was choss. After seeing it myself, I like to think it was right down the middle.

The project was supposed to traverse a small seam right above a featureless roof. While that line would be proud and probably very hard, it was most definitely an eliminate. The lip of the boulder is well within reach and it'd be madness to not use it.

Katie set to work on the right line, which looked ok in its own right, as I started pulling ticks off of my legs. Katie did the line quickly but the topout looked less than enjoyable. I asked her how is was and her reply was a distinct "one star".

Katie came down and started pulling ticks off of herself while I got the pads set for the left hand line. It starts on a pretty cool left hand gaston and goes up to a crimp right under the lip. The way that I worked it followed both the lip and the seam and seemed like it'd be a fun addition to the area. The topout could use some more love and next time I'm out there I'll pull the tree off of the topout, but after that it'll be a nice problem. Probably V5 or so?

I only had 4-5 goes before it started to rain and we decided to take off. Making sure to brush the ticks off of our pads we started our way back to our car. It seems that we walked through a neighborhood of ticks though and we ended up running the last 100 feet back to the car. I think we counted 6-8 ticks on my legs when we got back out to the road.

Most of them were big things and were pretty easy to get off of us. We did see one really really tiny one though but didn't think much of it. Fast forward to yesterday and Katie started getting a fever and a headache. In the afternoon she went to a doctor and they pulled a tick out of her neck! She's got the meds now though and it should be out of her system in about two weeks.

So Rattlesnake is definitely not the place to go in the summer. I still can't believe how many ticks we ended up pulling off ourselves. The total easily went into the dozens. Never thought it'd be that bad!

Here are some other pictures from the day.

Katie on Star Destroyer right

Katie attempting the elusive "Double Heel on the same hold" technique


  1. Sounds like a perfect spot for Sock Hands!

  2. I think you have officially beat Remo's record as strange attracter of tics!

  3. Yeah the ticks are super bad this year. Thanks the Rattlesnake beta. Both my and my buddy Jay needed antibiotic as well after an April trip to thr Dodge. Ticks seemed to be worst at "The Complex". Hope Katies feeling better. ce

  4. So next time you go into a State Natural Area posted for No Climbing....
    "The topout could use some more love and next time I'm out there I'll pull the tree off of the topout, but after that it'll be a nice problem." I understand why climbing is disallowed.

    1. Hey there! I'm always surprised when someone takes the time to comment on here now! That said, thanks for commenting and voicing your concern. 8 years ago, when this was written, rattlesnake wasn't posted as a state natural area. Those signs went up 2 years ago I believe. And if you've ever had the chance to look at the map of the area, you'll know that the sna boundaries are anything but clear for this area. Additionally, the tree in question is dead and my moving it would have been a matter of pulling it to the side.

      All that said, you're correct. SNA's are unique places and we shouldn't climb in them unless approved by the state. But to imply that a blanket decision to ban climbing, made by the state of Wisconsin in the mid 90's, had anything to do with any real actions made by climbers, is short sighted. That decision was made with no input from the climbing community and had nothing to do with any particular incident.

      Instead, the state decided to classify rock climbing as "high impact". And because of that, and only that, rock climbing isn't allowed at rattlesnake.

      Thank you again for commenting and being concerned about climbing in SNA's. I honestly appreciate it.