Purple Quartzite, Why Purple?

Why is Purple Quartzite, Purple? Have you heard of the one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater? Well, then keep reading. Just kidding, that has nothing to do with this.

In the last post, we looked at how Quartzite is formed, the type of rock, and other rock you can see at Devil’s Lake.   If you missed that, see here. What we didn’t answer is the question “Why is it purple?”

Let’s take a quick step backwards—Purple Quartzite is VERY unique.  Almost all Quartzite is white or gray.  What is crazy, is that often Purple Quartzite is referred to as Baraboo Quartzite because Baraboo, Wisconsin and Devil’s Lake State Park in particular, has the largest display of the rock in the purple color in the world.

So now to answer the question we started with… “Why is Purple Quartzite, Purple?”

IMG_6325The color of the rock at Devil’s Lake State Park is due to iron being present when it was formed.  Likely there were other specimens in addition to the iron (which would likely make a more reddish color) that were present that helped make the deep purple colors that can be found.  This could have been the flora and fauna that existed in the location at the time (a loooooooooooooooong time ago).

Something else that is interesting to note is that the Iron and other “things” that helped make the purple color, had to have been specific to the Baraboo area.  History and the geography tell us this because the bluffs you see at “The Lake” were at one time part of a larger mountain range that reached up to the Wausau area (and probably taller than the Rockies!).  The Quartzite that you find in that area, however, is grey in color (due to the lack of that same iron content).

Baraboo HillsSo imagine Wisconsin with a massive mountain range, really really tall and really really big extending almost the entire state on a diagonal.  Yep, that is likely what it used to look like here.  Thanks a lot glaciers for stealing our mountains and leaving us with hills ; ). (Note: truly magnificent, hills).



Why is Purple Quartzite, Purple?

Purple Quartzite of Devil’s Lake State Park

Purple Quartzite of Devil’s Lake State Park

Taking on "False Perspective" a tough one at Devil's Lake

Taking on “False Perspective” a tough one at Devil’s Lake

Also referred to as Baraboo Quartzite

When heading to a climbing location, we typically stop to take in a view or two. A common question we hear is “what type of rock is this?”  Typically, between the huffs and puffs of carrying a 40 pound bag up a steep stair master (don’t worry, your guide will do that), we give a brief but compelling tail of the rock.  Since there aren’t a lot of huffs, puffs, or grunts going on while sitting here at the computer, it gives us a moment to dig a little deeper. The rock, Purple Quartzite of Devil’s Lake State Park is pretty unique.

The metamorphic rock, has been rumored to only be found in three places in the world with Devil’s Lake being the most climbable.  Metamorphic rock means that it was altered from another type of rock by extreme conditions (heat, pressure, superman, etc) to become what we see currently.

Sometimes mistaken for red or pink, it is indeed, Purple.  Purple QuartziteOther colors found in the park can range from white to green.  Green is typically the lichen that forms on the rock.  There are several areas in the park that also are tan and more textured.  This is actually Sandstone.  So back to that metamorphic business… Quartzite was actually Sandstone at one point.  A long, long, long, lonnnnnnnnnnng time ago, the earth went through a lot of changes.  There was a whole lot of pressure and a whole lot of heat and a whole lot of time.  What came out of the oven was Quartzite.  There was likely more sandstone in the park at that tQuartzite with Sandstoneime, however much (or all) of it was underwater.  Sandstone is very soft compared to quartzite.  So the water washed away much of the sandstone but left the quartzite.

Next time you head to the park, try to find the patches or full climbing areas that are sandstone.  They differ greatly in texture, look, feel, and climbing from the Quartzite we all know and love.

5 Climbing Specific Exercises to Improve your Climbing Strength

Keith Kubiesa, Apex Guide and Personal Trainer of Coachkubi.com helps climbers of all levels work through their weaknesses to become better climbers. Keith has provided Apex clients with 5 Climbing Specific Exercises to Improve your Climbing Strength.

1) Suspension Training

Climbing is very core intensive and requires a lot of Body Tension. Instead of doing sit ups to train your core, focus on stabilizing your body by using TRX bands or rings. Some of my favorite movements are knees to elbows on rings and body saws on TRX straps. They key to these movements is to minimize momentum by using your core to stay tight, body tension at work.

2) Shoulder Mobilizer & Stabilizes

Shoulder injuries are prevalent in climbing and we tend to neglect our shoulders when training for climbing.  This leads to larger surrounding muscles upping the chances to get injured because of a lack of mobility.  Focusing on movements that require a large range of motion in the shoulder socket (internal and external rotation) will help reduce injury and strengthen. My two favorites are 30 seconds of push pressing and 30 seconds of holding light weights above my head (very light weights help focus on keeping keeping my arms locked and hands behind my head when performing the hold) and Y, T, W on TRX straps (10-15 reps each). The key here is not to get huge strong shoulders but to protect and prevent injury.

3) Planks

This one is a combo of the first two points and includes both their benefits. Many variations here; side, rings, lifting one limb, feet in TRX, etc. get creative. The only stipulation is to keep your shoulders directly above your hands and your entire spine in a straight line.

4) Technique on the Wall

Every time you are at the climbing gym should not be a time to "perform" (by that I mean your focus should not be to finish problems). Spend a good amount of your time in the gym climbing a high volume/low intensity of easy stuff in which you can climb perfectly and with ease. Really focus on your technique and efficiency of movement.

5) High Intensity Circuits

Do something that will get your heart rate extremely elevated in a short period of time, then get on the wall and try to climb relaxed and with your same perfect technique you have been working on at the gym. If you don't have access to a climbing gym to do this same thing but instead of climbing do a isometric hold while trying to relax and bring down your heart rate. This form of high intensity training with active rest/recovery thrown in there will get you the most bang for your buck in terms of gains and time management. High intensity, low volume.  As an example, perform 10 burpees and immediately climb a route. 

Purchase The Gift of Adventure

Looking for something unique this holiday season to give is a gift?Happy Holidays

Apex offers the gift of adventure through gift certificates.  Climbers can choose their own adventure during a time that pleases them.

Share an Adventure with us this holiday season by calling 608-434-3360.

Happy Holidays from Lynn and Jill and the rest of the Apex Crew!