Minnesota’s New Climbing Guide Aims for More Diversity – Duluth News Tribune | Gmx Pharm

DULUTH — Of the 24 photos of rock climbers in the second issue of Rock Climbing Minnesota and Wisconsin, published in 2012, only three are of women.

When Katie Berg, a University of Minnesota Duluth graduate student, and St. Paul’s Angie Jacobsen took on the task of putting together the book’s third edition, the duo wanted to make sure climbers who were women, people of color, LGBTQ, and of different body sizes were being photographed.

Guide photographer Angie Jacobsen scales Palisade Head on Lake Superior’s north shore.

Contributed / Paul Kralovec

“We really wanted to give them something representative, so they could look at a book and say, ‘Oh, I could go rock climbing. There’s someone who looks like me,'” said Jacobsen, the book’s photographer.

She said photos of men and women are closer to 50/50 in this issue.

Berg, the book’s author, also tried to include more perspectives by using more than 100 interviews to describe rock climbing routes across the state. “I’ve tried to make sure I get as many different voices as possible, a lot of them in the same ways,” she said.

It made the descriptions “more universal,” she said.

Published by Falcon Guides, the book was released in July. Unlike the previous version, it doesn’t include crags in Wisconsin, instead focusing on more than 1,100 routes in Minnesota and Onishishin in Ontario, just 10 miles north of the Minnesota border.

The author poses for a photo with climbing gear around her waist and over her shoulders.

Advice author Katie Berg with climbing gear.

Contributed / Don Noll

The two started the project in August 2019 and eventually reached 14 of the 15 crags described in the book. (Canada was out of reach during the pandemic.)

Not every single route was climbed by the duo, but through a combination of climbing themselves, interviewing fellow climbers, reading old guidebooks and brochures, and browsing websites and apps that discuss many of the routes, each route has a name in the guide , a difficulty rating, quality rating and description.

The names of the climbers who first ascended a route are also included, if known (the first climber traditionally names a route). Confirming some first-time climbers involved searching through newspaper clippings, Berg said.

Berg estimates that she rewrote 90-95% of the last guidebook.

This is the second guide from Berg, an English professor at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids. She previously taught at Lake Superior College and the University of Minnesota Duluth while living in Duluth.

Her first travel guide, North Shore Adventures, published by Adventure Publications in 2018, included more than 40 ways to hike, bike, and paddle along Minnesota’s Lake Superior shoreline.


Guide photographer Angie Jacobsen poses for a photo while climbing the Cathedral Spiers of Custer State Park in South Dakota.

Contributed / Mark Wright

It is the first handbook for Jacobsen, a “science nerd” and “data nerd” who is currently doing commissioned work on COVID-19 data. Not only did she take many of the book’s photos and curate the others, but she also designed the book’s maps and other graphics.

Both experienced climbers and climbing guides, Berg focused on the writing while Jacobsen focused on the visual.

“The best part was that she took on the stuff that was the big nightmare for me in my last guidebook, because I liked the writing side and didn’t want to mess with maps (topographic maps) and all that,” Berg said. “She took over the parts I didn’t want to do.”

By organizing climbing trips to different areas of the state, everyone was able to experience something new.

Berg is already familiar with all of the North Shore areas like Palisade Head, Shovel Point, and Sawmill Creek Dome, but has more to climb from Red Wing and the southern half of the state. “You’re pretty amazing,” she said.

For Jacobsen, that meant climbing the North Shore more than ever before.

“It was kind of intimidating,” she said. “How am I supposed to do that? I was never there. But we organized these trips and got people to climb and take photos and it was great. That was really cool.”

Berg echoed this, saying the process of writing guides has resulted in meeting more members of the state’s climbing community. They were all willing to share their thoughts on what they had just climbed, she said.

“The biggest thing that really stood out was the generosity of the community,” Berg said.

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