Gi'me Som'a Dat Suga'

, Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The rock formation Sugar Loaf stands as an iconic reminder of the history of Winona. I've always made gentle fun of Winona's love for the formation. It isn't a natural formation at all, but a remnant of a quarry project that was shut down in 1887. Winona is proud enough of it to keep it lit at night, which isn't an easy task when people like to stand at the top and throw rocks through the lights below.

Sugar Loaf is a fun destination, though. There are a variety of geo-cache sites close to it. But the thing that draws me there the most lately is climbing. The routes up the rock are not really very challenging, but it's a fun and close place to practice some skills. We can practice multi-pitch skills even though the rock is only about 50-feet tall. The rock doesn't take a lot of traditional protection, but there are solid bolts up the south face. The bolting pattern is rather funky though, so sometimes I skip some of the bolts and substitute traditional gear where I can get it.

Most people climb unroped up the southeast arete. It's an easy climb, with one exposed move right at the top. It isn't a hard move, but a slip there would send you on a quick ride back to the bottom. This route gets harder in the middle of winter when snow covers all of the holds. Snow cover, a bitter wind and crumbly rock combine to give this climb a mini-alpine feel in the winter. Good training for the Hillary Step, as my friend Tom says.

Of course the view from the top is great and the breeze feels nice. One day I stood on the top and watched a bald eagle sore on the currents below.


  1. dmarks said...

    You beat me too it. I was going to do a Sugar Loaf post. I have a lot of pictures, old and new. Including some of befure it got carved. I've only climbed the bluff once: straight up the back side (did not know there was a trail), but not on the rock itself.

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