How do you feel about ladybugs? Are they cute and harmless? Or are they demonic, bloodsucking creatures that have no place in the world?
Ladybugs, man. How could they elicit such complicated feelings?
Now, picture this:
My buddy put up this slab route that gets extra positive near the top such that you can’t even see anchors from the bottom. After our group was done giving their best attempts on the route, I climbed up to clean the route. The bottom 80% was incredible, cool rock. I mean it was just high foot, lock-off, next hold, repeat. The rock wasn’t too sharp or too dull, and there were no other lines close to mine. Plainly, everything was fine.
Right after this deep ledge, the sun hit the rock hard. All of the sudden it was sweltering. The rock burned if you hung too long, and the flake and surrounding rock now was pretty sharp. I looked up…oh, how I wished I had not…
There they were…an army of LADYBUGS. EVERYWHERE. Then they were just all over me. In my shoes. In my shirt. Probably nesting in my hair. These guys were either really aggressive or really friendly…or both. Either way, they were insane. Red-orange wings contrasted the deep red classic ladybugs as they flew past each other, fighting for the next piece of me. It might have been in my head, but I’m telling you, they bite. Anyway, I won’t go into much more detail, but you can imagine how setting up a rappel and rappelling down went…yes the bugs liked to hang out on the rope too…
Unless you’re crazy about ladybugs, that probably sounds like a terrible experience. Which is how I felt. But the climbing at Jackson Falls made up for that, plus some.
Jackson falls is like that feel-good crag that has it all. There are a ton of different walls/areas, and everything is nicely spread out. Each crew can get their own cove, or frequently, their own wall. There’s just so much space and stand alone walls. The slab is as scary as it should be, but there’s some good stuff there to help with getting comfortable on slab. And the rock…the rock is nice. Perfect texture and good bad holds! The forest is also amazingly comfy. There’s shade from the trees and the rocks themselves. Everywhere you look, there’s a spot (free or already taken) for a hammock. The protection, as run out as might expect in southern IL, but it was bomber. Not to mention some nice trad routes with really easy placements.
No matter where you are, Jackson Falls is well worth the trip. It’s like the mac’n’cheese of crags. It doesn’t always do you right, it may not work wonders for the gains, but you feel good climbing there, and it’ll make you better. It’s a comfort crag. It’s got whatever you need it to have.
Ladybugs or not, get some mac’n’cheese! Climbing or otherwise…