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Climbers buy the new bouldering area in Illinois

Climbers buy the new bouldering area in Illinois

Access Fund and Illinois Mountaineers Association (ICA)They are excited to announce the purchase and protection of House Boulders, a new bouldering area and protection corridor in southern Illinois.

Located in the heart of the country, the House Boulders Mountains are located on the western edge of the Shawnee National Forest in the Mississippi Bluffs area, named for its stunning views of the Mississippi River Valley. This acquisition preserves 20 hectares of land – which has the potential to cause 70 boulder problems at all levels – for recreation and wildlife habitat.

The property is adjacent to Holy Boulders, an area for mountaineering that the Access Fund purchased in 2012 and then transferred to ICA for long-term ownership and management. It also has the same high quality and fine-grained gray sandstone. However, the Boulders House stands alone in its unique setting – a solid boulder pile on the slopes of a westward sloping hill nestled among hardwoods.

ICA board member David Quinn climbs into Boulders House. Photo by Kevin Sirzga.

While only a handful of people have climbed into the property in the past with the landowner’s permission, this purchase guarantees permanent mountaineering access for all. In the fall of 2020, the ICA heard that the property was for sale, and after contacting the landowner, they approached the Access Fund for financial support through the Climbing Conservation Loan program. With the support of the Access Fund, ICA was able to purchase the property for recreation and protection.

“We are committed to preserving mountaineering in Illinois,” said Philip Carrier, president of the Illinois Mountaineering Association. “And we are proud that this acquisition will allow climbers in the Midwest and beyond to play an important role in maintaining not only their mountaineering future, but also the health of the land.”

The House Boulders is located next to the Illinois Land and Water Reserve, just north of the Clear Springs and the Bald Desert, covering a total of more than 10,700 acres of state and federally protected land. Indigenous biodiversity is an extraordinary landscape and includes the habitat of endangered or endangered species. In this area, a natural phenomenon occurs every two years as dozens of species of reptiles and amphibians migrate for hibernation between lower altitude habitats and drier higher altitude slopes. The acquisition of House Boulders adds protected land to this corridor.

The Boulders House is also in an economically depressed area where Jackson County has the highest poverty rate in Illinois at 25 percent. The purchase will help boost the growing economy of outdoor recreation and tourism in southern Illinois, and will add another source of entertainment that draws more visitors to explore the region’s rich beauty. When visitors come to climb, they find dozens of wineries, breweries, rental cabins and amenities to support and enrich their stay.

House Boulders is ICA’s second land acquisition, the first transfer of sacred boulders from an access fund in 2016. House Boulders is the 33rd Mountaineering Area to be protected through the Fund’s Mountaineering Protection Loan Program (CCLP). The ICA raises over time to repay a protection loan and returns money to help the Access Fund save a new or threatened mountaineering area in the future. Since the founding of CCLP, the Access Fund has lent nearly $ 3.3 million to protect more than 4,000 acres and more than 5,000 mountaineering trails worth a total of $ 7.5 million.

While securing the initial budget of the Boulders House, ICA needs the help of local climbers and environmentalists to raise $ 80,000 over the next three years to pay for conservation loans and complete purchases. ICA has already started raising funds through the return of its annual contest, Holy Boulders: The Pilgrimage, which took place on November 6, 2021. The competition brought together more than 300 climbers from across the country and raised more than $ 15,000. Visit the site for more information and direct funding for the project ilclimbers.org/houseboulders.

Access to details

It will take some time for this area to be officially opened for normal public use. ICA will create a new parking area and a new lane along Hutchins Creek Road, as well as a new half-mile lane to provide sustainable access to the boulders. The progress is expected to begin immediately with volunteer support as ICA seeks additional funding for improvement. Check the ICA website for updates and ways to participate. ilclimbers.org

About ICA

The Illinois Mountaineers Association is a local nonprofit 501 (c) (3) whose mission is to preserve and access mountaineering areas in Illinois through training, conservation and cooperation. ICA currently owns and manages the Boulders Sacred Climbing Area. ICA works with local, state, and federal agencies to encourage the preservation of mountaineering areas through policy and oversight. See for more information ilclimbers.org.

About the Inbox

The Access Fund is a national advocacy organization that guides and inspires the mountaineering community towards sustainable access and protection of the mountaineering environment. Founded in 1991, Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers across the country in all forms of rock climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering and bouldering. US National and Local Mountaineering Access Fund by Protecting Public Lands, Rehabilitating Mountaineering Areas, Purchasing Threatened Climbing, Protecting Access to Private Lands, Inspiring Mountaineering Support, Guiding Responsible Climbers, and Replacing Old screws work. See for more information accessfund.org.

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