Where to Rent Climbing Shoes at Devils Lake
Graduates of our climbing anchors class are psyched to share their new skills with friends, and often invite family members, co-workers, etc. to come out climbing at the Lake soon after. The most common challenge of taking friends climbing is a small but important detail: Where do you get climbing shoes for your friends? While renting climbing shoes seems easy enough, it can be tough because most places that rent climbing shoes aren't open early in the AM when you want to leave for Devils Lake. The Madison REI, for example, doesn't open until 9:00 AM - a reasonable opening time, but then you don't get to the trailhead until 10:30, at the earliest - kind of late for a climbing day. This means your friends need to rent their shoes the day before, which means an extra trip to the store, and possibly an extra day of rental fees.
Do your friends really need climbing shoes? If you want them to have fun and enjoy their first climbing experience at Devils Lake, then the answer is definitely "yes." While athletic people CAN climb easy routes in sneakers, it's pretty difficult for a beginner to climb anything harder than 5.3 - 5.4 in sloppy tennis shoes. Do your friends a favor and help them find good shoes; it's worth the time and energy, trust me.
The best way to solve the shoe rental dilemma is to rent your climbing shoes at Devils Lake. By renting your climbing shoes here, you can leave from home early in the AM and never have to pay for extra days. There are two places in the Devils Lake area that rent shoes. Wheeler's Campground (608.356.4877, 8 AM - 9 PM (Sun - Thurs) or 10:30 PM (Sat - Sun)) is the closest place to rent climbing shoes, about 3 minutes from the Devils Lake North Entrance. Lollie and Marc run a great little climbing shop there where you can rent shoes ($10/day), pick up a Devils Lake guidebook, buy chalk, or replace that #5 nut you left behind last weekend.
The other option for climbing shoe rentals is Wildside Adventure Sports (608.356.9218, 10 AM - Varied PM) on Hwy. 12 in Baraboo. Wildside is the best general outdoor sports retailer in the area, carrying cycling, hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing supplies. Climbing rental prices are the same as Wheeler's (shoes $10/day, helmet $5/day), so your rental choice mostly a matter of convenience and logistics.
I typically find Wheeler's the better choice for climbing shoe rentals because they are closer to Devils Lake and open earlier in the morning (8 AM versus 10 AM). Wheeler's is also a good bet for camping, so if you don't already have camping reservations inside the state park, you can solve both your campsite and shoe rental needs in the same place.