Climbers Gain Access to Holy Boulders in Illinois

Josh Cothren on Crimson Flower (V9) at the Holys. Photo by Jason Kehl

Josh Cothren on Crimson Flower (V9) at the Holys. Photo by Jason Kehl

10/15/12 - After a period of uncertainty, climbers have secured access to the Holy Boulders in southern Illinois.

Although located near Shawnee National Forest, the Holy Boulders site is on private land. The landowners have allowed climbing since 2004, but recently put it up for sale, threatening public access. The Access Fund, a non-profit climbing advocacy organization, worked with local climbers and the landowners through a multi-phased conservation project to preserve access. On Monday, October 15, they announced that they had successfully acquired the Holy Boulders site, allowing public access for climbers.

“Areas like the Holy Boulders that are so special—it's really important for us to take initiative and try to protect these areas for future generations,” said professional climber Matt Segal in a press release.

The Access Fund is still working to find a long-term owner. They obtained temporary ownership of the Holy Boulders with funds from their revolving loan program, which allows them to take quick action on threatened areas. They hope to raise an additional $185,000 from the climbing community for a permanent title, which will be transferred to a long-term owner.

The Holy Boulders feature beautiful pockets and crimps on grippy standstone that's often compared to the climbing at Fontainebleau, France.

Concerned climbers can find more information and make a donation at