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Fall Trip - Jackson Falls, IL

posted Dec 5, 2013, 7:20 AM by Kansas City Climbing Community   [ updated Dec 5, 2013, 7:25 AM ]

Day 1: Friday, November 1, 2013…

Weather conditions in and near Jackson Falls were less than perfect the day prior to the climbing trip, during which time there were thunderstorms with heavy winds and rainfall that Halloween evening. Luckily, the weather forecast cleared up for the weekend and a couple dozen Kansas City Climbing Club members left Kansas City at various times that Friday to head southeast on an approximately six-hour drive to one of southern Illinois’s climbing meccas, Jackson Falls.

A few of us KC climbers headed out early and arrived in time to catch a few hours of sunlight and help set up camp in preparation for the remaining KC climbers yet to arrive. The weather was about as ideal as one could expect for a Midwestern day in November and, most importantly of all, there were no downpours of rain. Thank you, Mother Nature. The rainfall from the day before did leave a few routes too wet to climb that weekend; however, the prior rainfall also offered enough precipitation to get several of the waterfalls flowing nicely, adding another level of enjoyment to the fall scenery.

The campgrounds at Jackson Falls were rather primitive—no running water (other than the waterfalls!) nor plumbing or electricity of any sort, and only one pit toilet to be shared among all of the campers on site.

There were a few camping areas to choose from, and little did we know we staked out some prime camping grounds for the KCCC that were soon to be a source of, um, slight contention (at least at first) with some weekend warriors from a nearby university’s climbing club. Apparently these co-eds frequently drive down to Jackson Falls for outdoor climbing club trips. And, as it turned out, they really, REALLY like camping in one particular area, squatters’ rights be damned. So, yeah, that was a tad awkward at first. However, although the university’s climbing club members arrived to the campgrounds disappointed to find us KC folks had already staked our claim on what they deemed to be their prime camping territory, we all worked it out by night’s end and found a way to share the land amicably…no need to start out the weekend with any unhappy campers/climbers, after all!

Aside from all of that, the day progressed smoothly into night as the handful of us already there got settled in at camp and stayed warm around a cozy campfire while greeting the arriving KC climbers as each carload trickled in throughout the evening.


Day 2: Saturday, November 2, 2013…

In the early hours of the chilly morning, a group of middle-school age kids camping nearby made all sorts of noise (including what sounded like fireworks), providing the KC climbers with our very own campground-wide alarm clock. If only it had a snooze button.

We gathered around the main camping area to eat a quick breakfast before making our way out to start climbing. Some members of the group left a little earlier than others, but after either taking the long and winding dog trail or rappelling down to part of the main climbing grounds, the majority of us met up in and/or near the climbing area called Mr. Jimmy. It offered a slab-slayer’s selection of sandstone routes with a wide range of difficulty levels, making it suitable for the majority of climbers on our trip—we had first-time-outdoor climbers and veteran climbers alike. Along with several slab routes, Mr. Jimmy and its nearby areas also had a few offwidth and crack routes to jump on. The names of some of the popular routes we tried out while there: Chimichonga; Luscious Babes; Spiders from Mars (another one!); and Chicken Shack.

After a full day of climbing, we all regrouped around the campfire to enjoy each other’s company and share a club meal. Many of the climbers brought delicious side dishes and desserts to share as part of the potluck. Grilled cheese (which was literally “grilled”) quickly became a popular new item served up by our club president, Bryan Schillig, along with hot dogs since the burgers accidentally got left in KC! The group of us ate, drank, talked, laughed, and kept warm around the campfire late into the evening before hitting our tents for the night.

Day 3: Sunday, November 3, 2013…

We all awoke with an extra hour of daylight for our final day of the trip, thanks to daylight savings time. Some of the KC climbers packed up and left without climbing shortly after breakfast to make the drive back home, whereas others decided to stay a little longer in order to get in a little more climbing time before hitting the road.  Since the burgers didn't make it to Southern Illinois, it was decided they would be cooked up for the December club meeting: Movie Night at the Cave!  Overall it was a wonderful trip with lots of climbing and camaraderie had by all.  If you've never been to Jackson Falls, keep in in mind as it's a wonderful place to climb!

Write up courtesy of Liz Horsley
Photos courtesy of Liz Horsley and William Shao