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Drapers Bluff

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About Drapers Bluff:

Open letter from Eric Ulner, owner of Drapers Bluff - May 17, 2009: It is with great regret that we announce the immediate closure of our Draper's Bluff property to climbing and any general recreational use. We had allowed the general public open (day) access to our property from the date of our purchasing it in October, 1996 through autumn of 2008. In the latter part of 2008, due to ongoing annoyances caused by non-climbers, we posted signage indicating No Access to non-climbers. We had experienced several occasions where non-climbers were acting irresponsibly and had endangered the physical wellbeing of climbers. Just this past week, we were informed that (unbeknownst to us) the Legislature of the State of Illinois had made a significant change in the language of the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act. The Act can be read in its entirety here: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2081&ChapAct=745%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B65%2F&ChapterID=58&ChapterName=CIVIL+IMMUNITIES&ActName=Recreational+Use+of+Land+and+Water+Areas+Act. For many many years, the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act protected private landowners from liability by essentially stating that as long as a property owner did not charge admission, they would have a greatly limited liability if the entrant was present for recreation or conservation purposes. This language has been changed to hunting or recreational shooting only. With this change, any private property owner in Illinois can be held liable for a hiker's sprained ankle, an equestrian's injury from being thrown from a horse, a drowning from a fishing accident, or a climber's groundfall injury. Whoever the lawmakers are that voted for this change should be held responsible in the next election cycle. We can think of only one reason that such a change in this Act would take place...money. There are dollar signs in they eyes of trial lawyers who would stand to gain from the increase in lawsuits. No one can convince us that there was no lobbying taking place by trial lawyers for this change. We never thought we would see the day that we would have to close Draper's Bluff to climbing. It has been a pleasure to meet new climbers from the area and those passing through. Many of our friendships have been forged in this way. We are left with no choice, though, but to close our property to anyone. We have but one house to live in and are not willing to risk it to pay off the grieving family of a climbing fatality or lifelong rehab expenses of a spinal injury. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will not take responsibility for their own actions, trial lawyers who smell money, and legislators who cater to both. We encourage the climbing community to become active in seeing a change in this legislation. We wish to be able to re-open our property to the climbing community. More information regarding this and what can be done will be posted at www.ilclimbers.org Trad, Sport, and mixed-pro climbing, and bouldering.

It's only minutes to Cedar Bluff, and Ferne Clyffe State Park, and about 25 minutes to Jackson Falls.

Inasmuch as the majority of the climbing routes at Draper's Bluff are on privately owned land, and that the development and maintainence of the "park" is done at the expense of the land owner, please remember that donations are suggested and welcome. There is a chemical toilet at the parking lot, trails are maintained, routes are cleaned and equipped, and the Bluff is open to public use, all without a required charge. Please realize that Draper's Bluff is a great resource, and the owners wish to keep it accessible to climbers. Remember to sign in at the kiosk at the parking lot, and please donate -at the kiosk- to the upkeep and maintainence of this great climbing resource in southern Illinois.

The majority of Draper's is bounded on the East and West by property owned by other landowners. Signs at the kiosk and on the property will inform you of restrictions and closures. Don't go east (right) of the wire fence; access there is touchy, to say the least, so don't screw it up. An access scramble about midway in the South Face will get you to the top. Another access gulley is hundreds of feet west, on State Park property.

There's plenty to do without trespassing; hunting is not much of an issue on the portion that is privately owned and developed by Eric Ulner. Respect the signs, stay on the plentiful established trails, and try to appreciate the amount of work it took to make so much climbing available, so easily accessible. Undergrowth used to be taller than a 6-foot man (or woman), ticks were legendary, and climbers used to have to hike an up-and-down mile to get here and back. If anybody wants to b---- about the development, ask 'em if they'd rather it be closed completely, and tell 'em they should drive home in their solar-powered car. Development of the property was undertaken with the advice and cooperation of the state wildlife authorities.

There is no camping allowed at Draper's Bluff. If someone is doing that, it is ONLY by special permission of the owner. Don't take it upon yourself to camp. No camping is allowed on the Camping Ledge, either.

The bluff can be climbed year round, though the southern exposure gets kinda sweltering on the hottest summer days, particularly on second pitches. It's an especially excellent choice for early spring, late fall and winter temperatures, when the sun beats down directly.

There is a plentitude of trad, sport and mixed-pro climbs, one-pitch and multi-pitch routes, as well as bouldering. Height goes up to 120'; some climbs traverse to a second or third pitch, some go straight up. The property has been developed to include easy (5.5 - 5.8) sport and mixed-pro routes for beginning climbers, while ever-harder trad and sport routes, up to 13+, continue to be developed. The potential for bouldering is just beginning to be tapped by the local radicals; the boulders had been hidden by overgrowth for decades. There's a good supply of 10's, 11's and 12's, and some classic trad routes, from 5.7 to 5.11; mixed pro climbs from 5.8 to 5.13. Some routes can be TRd by accessing the top anchors via one of the access gulllies, or by climbing a route to a common ledge or the top.

For the sake of highlights: Bloody Nose, 5.6 trad; "C" variation, 5.8 trad; Dust Doctor, 5.8 mixed; Ant Killer, 5.9 trad; Book Shelf Blue, 5.9 trad; High Over Camp, 5.9+ trad; Blue Roof, 5.10 trad; Southern Exposure, 5.10 trad (2nd pitch bolted); Back to School, 5.10+ mixed; Never Pass a Chance to Get Pumped, 5.10+ mixed; Trial and Error, 5.11 trad; Cornbread, 5.11a sport; Kittens 2nd pitch, 5.11b sport; Kittens 1st pitch, 5.12b sport; The Outline, 5.12a sport, 2 pitches; Samantha, 5.13a mixed; Smell the Coffee, 5.13a/b sport (full height, 1 pitch); Son of a Preacherman, 5.13a/b sport (full height, 1 pitch).

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Nearest town or city: Lick Creek
Directions: From the south on Interstate 24 north to Tunnel Hill Road; west (left) to Rte. 37; left to Buncombe (a small town, easy to miss), turn right (west) at Main street, go about a block to Lick Creek Road; make a right onto Lick Creek Road and stay on it until you come to Cedar Grove Road on your right. Very shortly after passing Cedar Grove Road, you will come to an open field with a turn-in and parking area, and a covered kiosk/message board, right in front of Draper's Bluff.

From the south on Interstate 57: go north to Lick Creek Road.

From the north: get to Interstate 57, go south to Lick Creek Road.

On Lick Creek Road, drive east (slowly and carefully, keeping an eye out for farm equipment and animals on the road). You'll soon see Draper's Bluff on your left; keep driving. One of the many fields you'll see will have a turn-in and parking area, and a covered kiosk/message board, right in front of Draper's Bluff. If you get to Cedar Grove Road, you've gone just a little too far. (If you get to Buncombe, you've gone way too far; turn around, let somebody else drive, and follow the directions from Interstate 24 above.)

Park in the parking area, sign in at the kiosk, please donate to the upkeep and maintainence of Draper's Bluff at the kiosk,and follow the trail to the cliff. Stay on the plentiful established trails, and remember that much of Draper's Bluff is privately owned, and is open to climbing by the good graces and hard work of the owner. Respect any and all signs that express restrictions.

You can easily get to the Cedar Bluff parking area by taking Lick Creek Road east a short distance to Cedar Grove Road, and following it up to the church. To get to Ferne Clyffe State Park, stay on Lick Creek Road, east, to Buncombe, then north (left) on Rte. 37 to the Park entrance. You can also get to Jackson Falls by going further north on Rte. 37, to Tunnel Hill Road, east (right) to Hwy. 45, east (left) to Ozark Road, etc.

Latitude, Longitude: 37.51470, -89.04360
Access Issues: Open Letter from the Eric Ulner, owner of Drapers Bluff: May 17, 2009. It is with great regret that we announce the immediate closure of our Draper's Bluff property to climbing and any general recreational use. We had allowed the general public open (day) access to our property from the date of our purchasing it in October, 1996 through autumn of 2008. In the latter part of 2008, due to ongoing annoyances caused by non-climbers, we posted signage indicating No Access to non-climbers. We had experienced several occasions where non-climbers were acting irresponsibly and had endangered the physical wellbeing of climbers. Just this past week, we were informed that (unbeknownst to us) the Legislature of the State of Illinois had made a significant change in the language of the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act. The Act can be read in its entirety here: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2081&ChapAct=745%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B65%2F&ChapterID=58&ChapterName=CIVIL IMMUNITIES&ActName=Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act. For many many years, the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act protected private landowners from liability by essentially stating that as long as a property owner did not charge admission, they would have a greatly limited liability if the entrant was present for recreation or conservation purposes. This language has been changed to hunting or recreational shooting only. With this change, any private property owner in Illinois can be held liable for a hiker's sprained ankle, an equestrian's injury from being thrown from a horse, a drowning from a fishing accident, or a climber's groundfall injury. Whoever the lawmakers are that voted for this change should be held responsible in the next election cycle. We can think of only one reason that such a change in this Act would take place...money. There are dollar signs in they eyes of trial lawyers who would stand to gain from the increase in lawsuits. No one can convince us that there was no lobbying taking place by trial lawyers for this change. We never thought we would see the day that we would have to close Draper's Bluff to climbing. It has been a pleasure to meet new climbers from the area and those passing through. Many of our friendships have been forged in this way. We are left with no choice, though, but to close our property to anyone. We have but one house to live in and are not willing to risk it to pay off the grieving family of a climbing fatality or lifelong rehab expenses of a spinal injury. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will not take responsibility for their own actions, trial lawyers who smell money, and legislators who cater to both. We encourage the climbing community to become active in seeing a change in this legislation. We wish to be able to re-open our property to the climbing community. More information regarding this and what can be done will be posted at www.ilclimbers.org
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Forum Discussions (6 posts)

  Subject Author Replies Last Post
With Replies Draper's Closed? DRodino 2 May 05 2010, 12:29 PM
With Replies Thanks Eric Ulner K-mann 1 Nov 17 2008, 11:03 PM
With Replies Camping Draper's / Cedar Bluff K-mann 2 Nov 17 2008, 12:39 PM
With Replies Unlock for edit exposed 1 Aug 17 2005, 5:33 PM
With Replies Draper's Bluff featured in Rock & Ice andy_lemon 2 Aug 09 2004, 9:55 AM
No Replies Area and Route info for Draper's Bluff in s. Illinois jds100 0 Nov 23 2001, 2:20 PM