Sometimes Hiking Into a Thunderstorm is Worth it.

Our destination was Raven Rocks, a small sport climbing crag on Truman Lake, a wildly long snaking river system in the Ozarks. The weather was going to be beautiful and we had all day so we took it nice and easy that morning. Neither of us had been there but the Mountain Project directions and the little guide we had seemed straight forward enough. After an hour or so of driving we turned down this long dirt road that took us back into a mix of forrest and farm land. After several miles of this we turned right for the standard approach rather than the alternate because the hike would be shorter. It ended up being much shorter because after parking the car, loading up our gear and making our way across a “farmer’s field” we were approached by a woman on a four wheeler asking us what we were doing on her property. We tried to explain we were trying to find this climbing spot, but when she mentioned the words “trespassing” and “prosecution” we quickly apologized and scurried back down the trail to our car.

Road Ends in Water
Road Ends in Water
Yes it does
Yes it does

Deciding that the alternative route was now probably the better approach, we drove back a mile or so and then stopped at this intersection for a lovely chat with some locals on a fun looking offroad vehicle. They were out drinking beer and cruising around. They laughed when we asked if they wanted to join our climbing adventure, but they pointed us in the right direction, giving us warning that the road wasn’t maintained. We headed off and slowly made our way down a well rutted road, which had the best sign I’ve ever seen. It said “Road Ends In Water”. The sign was true enough though as the lake peeked through the trees at the end of the road, it certainly did end in the water. We parked the car and started hiking.

Now this is where most sane people would have turned around and called the day a wash because before us was a very dark sky and we could hear a low rumbling sound in the distance. But as one might surmise, climbers are not the most sane people so we forged ahead anyway, thinking that if it rained, well we’d just play in the water and have a good time of it. The alternate approach turned out to be an hour and half hike through a muck field, across a brambly rocky shoreline and some log scrambling around a trash filled inlet. We finally arrived at our destination and were so stoked at the rock. It looked so fun and well bolted. And just as we got out our gear, it started sprinkling.

Approach to Raven Rocks with Storm Clouds behind.
Approach to Raven Rocks with Storm Clouds behind.
The sky is ominous!
The sky is ominous!

We laughed, stashed our gear under a tree and decided to scramble around the back side of the middle tower to scope out the place. Such a beautiful spot. Isolated on this lake and not a soul in sight. As the rain tapered off a boat pulled up to drop some fishing lines near the rocks. We geared up and climbed up the most prominent tower, a 50 foot pinnacle, rated at 5.8. A super fun climb with a stunning top out view. We climbed the other routes on this wall as pontoon boat pulled up so they could watch us climb. We obliged by stunning them with our amazing climbing skills (luckily they were easily impressed) and we moved over to the harder north wall for a few more routes.

Raven Rocks Main Pinnacle
Raven Rocks Main Pinnacle

It was getting towards evening and our beer drinking pontoon friends asked us if we wanted a ride back to our car, having told them about our long and treacherous hike in. We looked at each other smiling and said that we would love that but we wanted to get in a few routes. They said they would explore down river a bit more and come back. We happily used the time to put up a sweet overhung technical climb and by the time they got back we were ready to go.

Happily jumping onto their boat we were greeted with ice cold waters and some great conversation as they ferried us back to shore near our car, bypassing the tiring hike. We thanked them with some homemade Beta Bars and waved goodbye.

Pontoon Captain
Pontoon Captain
Happily accepting a ride back
Happily accepting a ride back

Now having time before sunset, we blew up our floating tubes and floated in the bathtub warm water as the sun went down, fully satisfied that we were rewarded with a beautiful day of climbing and a free boat ride because we decided to hike into the storm.

Sunset on the lake
Sunset on the lake
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