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Celebration on the Rocks: Bouldering at Blowing Rocks State Preserve in Jupiter, Florida

Contributed by Michael Restivo, Mike Off The Map and posted on Pocket Ranger and MiamiRealEstateCafe.com

As a rock climber growing up in Florida, the options for climbing on true outdoor faces are limited. Aside from the training we do in the gym, our closest options are the bouldering grounds in Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas. So when somebody told me that just two hours north of Miami, in the town of Jupiter, was some great outdoor bouldering, I was initially skeptical. When people think of the beaches here, they think of the South Beach life: endless miles of flat, white sandy shores, with the emphasis on “flat”. What I ended up discovering was some of the most extraordinarily unique beachside bouldering unlike anywhere else.

Blowing Rocks State Preserve in Jupiter, Florida.

Setting off from Miami, our group from the X-Treme rock climbing gym drove two hours north to the sleepy little town of Jupiter. Crossing over a small inlet, we made our way onto a desolate road and parked at the entrance to Blowing Rocks State Preserve. Entrance to the park is based on an honor system, and one or two dollars goes towards its preservation and upkeep. Collecting our cooler, gear, and crash pads, we followed a shady trail that opened up at the edge of the vast golden shoreline.

Blowing Rocks takes it’s name from the miles of rocky cliffs that line the shore. At high tide, the water rushes through its channels and caves, gushing out the top as if the rocks are “blowing” out the water. We were fortunate to find a particularly low tide day, and the caves were all safe to climb in without worrying about waves or water.

After getting ourselves settled on the beach, we immediately began our first climbs. Since the rocks over a variety of heights and overhangs, there are no specific routes and any climb and traverse is left up to the imagination. The climbs I found most interesting however, were the deep hollowed out caves with a skylight-like opening at the top where we would traverse our way around the cave and then top out by climbing out of the hole in the ceiling.

I started my first climb on the outside faces. It was a relatively simple jaunt up the side with a large bulge protruding out of the limestone wall. I felt my feet securely in place as my body contoured the rounded stone. I placed my right hand inside a deep pocket and let my left hand dangle, ready to lean forward and reach the small spire just over the lip. Suddenly I felt my foot slip out of its hold and I slid down the side leaving a nice scratch down my side. Washing myself off and putting off the little soreness, I jumped right back up and headed for my next climb.

By now our group had moved into the caves. The more experienced and able climbers set mazy routes that traversed the entire route of the cave, expertly guiding their hands along the roof and slowly hooking their shoes into the cracks before pulling themselves through the skylight. I was more interested in the tunnel itself. As a midday sun filtered through the cave, flooding the ground with an intense beam of light, I gripped two deep pockets and brought my feet above my body, hooking them into the cracks under the tunnel. Letting my body dangle for a moment, I pushed forward, gripping the inside and going vertical. Inside the tunnel, I had to place my feet into awkward positions putting one foot in front of me and one bent behind, getting my shoes firmly set and then reaching and pulling myself up. As my head emerged on the upper tier of the cliff, I reached out onto the shore and pulled myself out of the cave. It was by far one of the most interesting climbs of the day.

After a short break, we moved onto the smaller enclaves that dotted the shoreline. This cave, closer to the waves, was constantly dripping, but it had two openings in the roof, and a route that started in the very back. We meandered our way through the cracks, slippery and soaked with seawater, while being farther spaced apart. Although I myself wasn’t able to complete the route, I learned a valuable skill in slowing down my movements and securely grabbing each hold.

As the tide rose up in the late afternoon and made the caves harder to climb, we hiked back up to the beach for a little Cinco de Mayo party with homemade beer and music while our soaking gear dried out on the limestone cliffs. Blowing rocks is a unique climbing experience giving Florida climbers an opportunity to practice their trade on a one of a kind seaside landscape. As well as being an extraordinary state preserve, it makes for a great weekend getaway.

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