Want to go the extra mile to help the Holy Boulders? Become a monthly donor and know you are making a huge impact. With as little as $5 a month, together we can repay the Access Fund loan and continue to protect the Holy Boulders for climbers for years to come.

Monthly Donation
ICA Achievements at the Holy Boulders

  • Local representation and site knowledge during initial acquisition with the Access Fund
  • 4 trail days, 2 of which were Access Fund co-sponsored adopt-a-crags
  • Trail building and maintenance
  • Boulder landing cleaning
  • Retention wall and other erosion control
  • Terraced steps
  • Burn preparation through removing and diminishing woody debris piles, raking around boulders, building fire breaks and lines
  • Controlled Burn
  • Overall site cleaning and maintenance for competitions
  • Initiation and oversight of a 16 acre burn to promote forest health
  • 3 successful Bouldering competitions with net profits donated directly to the Access Fund for acquisition of over $55,000
  • Countless dollars extra from advertising via social media for donation to the Holy Boulders, t-shirts sales, sticker sales, etc.
  • Public education regarding forest management and climber education regarding leave no trace ethics via trail days and social media
  • Unification of the climbing community towards an important goal of acquiring the property, especially via the competitions


Help Protect Holy Boulders in Southern Illinois

On October 10th 2016, the Access Fund transfered ownership of the Holy Boulders to the Illinois Climbers Association. The ICA is proud to take on the huge responsibility of repaying the remainder of the Access Fund's revolving loan of $90,000 and the long term management of the boulders.

Access Fund Acquires Holy Boulders

The Access Fund acquired the Holy Boulders in Southern Illinois. While private landowners have historically allowed climbing access at the Holy Boulders, known for its Fontainebleau-like perfect sandstone friction and aesthetic lines, they decided to sell the property, putting the boulders at risk of indefinite closure. With a narrow window of opportunity to protect the Holy Boulders, local climbers and the Illinois Climbers Association reached out to the landowners and the Access Fund to help protect this hidden gem of the American bouldering community. After months of working with the landowners and local climbers, the Access Fund reached an agreement to protect the Holy Boulders through a multi-phased conservation project. The Access Fund secured temporary ownership of the Holy Boulders using funds from the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, a revolving loan program designed to quickly save threatened climbing areas. The Illinois Climbers Association now needs help from the climbing community to raise an additional $90,000 to repay the loan and to raise even more funds for long term management and property taxes to keep climbing access open for future generations. Please make a
donation to the Protect What’s Holy campaign today to ensure long-term access to the Holy Boulders. With your support, we can protect and steward the Holy Boulders forever.

Holy Boulders History
The Holy Boulders have attracted professional climbers and strong athletes from around the country. The area features 150 developed problems and potential for hundreds more that climbers of all abilities can enjoy. “My first impression of the Holy Boulders was incredible,” says professional climber Jimmy Webb. “The rock quality is second to none and is probably some of the best sandstone I’ve ever climbed on.”

The Holy Boulders sits on a 78-acre tract of farm and forestland that the Tripp family has owned for over 47 years. In 2004, local climbers discovered the Holy Boulders from aerial photographs and introduced himself to the landowner. After initial concerns of liability, the family gave climbers verbal permission to climb at the boulders. For eight years climbers maintained a positive relationship with the Tripp Family, offering small tokens of appreciation and keeping information word-of-mouth so as not to jeopardize access. In May of 2012 climbers spotted For Sale signs on the property and learned that the landowners were planning to sell the property. “Climbing is a finite resource,” says professional climber and Holy Boulders regular Matt Segal. “Especially 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.”

Access details
The existing parking area and approach off Macedonia Road remains the current point of access for the Holy Boulders. Please remember that parking and the initial approach are on Shawnee National Forest. Do your part to keep the Holy Boulders area beautiful by following Leave No Trace principles. The property still bears windfall damage from an inland hurricane in 2009 and volunteer help is necessary to improve trails and install a new trailhead in the near future. View a map of the property and stay tuned for updated access information at

Without the local expertise, passion, and dedication of climbers Matt Bliss, Phillip Carrier, Dave Chancellor, Leif Faber, Jim Thurmond, Jason Kehl and many others, this victory for the climbing community would not have been possible. 

Previous article courtesy of the Access Fund