Climbing at College Rock with Daniel and Erin


Saturday, 27 OCT 12


I was still a bit weak in the knees and woozy in the stomach when I met up with Daniel and Erin at the parking lot. I’d just left the “track” at Gillette stadium from the Car & Driver “editor for a day” event, and the combination of sharp turns and melted rubber had done a number on my stomach. What I needed was some fresh air…

And that’s the best part of outdoor climbing during New England’s fall – the atmosphere. The leaves crunched under our boots as we walked up the path to the clifftops, and the breeze was cutting through the bare trees around us. Above all though, I love the smell of the leaves.

Fall air has the same sharp crispness as Winter air, but it has that extra scent of fallen leaves permeating it… Not enough to be annoying or overbearing, but just enough to remind everyone that fall has arrived, and that there are leaves on the ground.

As if the leaves could be missed.

That’s actually one of the dangers of climbing in the fall – slipping on leaves. Daniel and I took great care to rope in farther from the cliff edge than normal, making sure that if we somehow slipped on a patch of wet leaves it wouldn’t cause an abrupt ending to our climb.

From there, it was honestly climbing much like any other. The rock was a bit greasier than I’d expect for a cool fall day, which lead to much frustration when trying to work on the hard routes, but we were able to power through most of the sections we tried:

  • “The easiest 5.11 around” – 5.11 (easy)
    • It may have been an easy 5.11… but it was still hellishly hard. Daniel and I tried it, but both got stuck at the same part – what looked like an easy side-reach up to a solid pocket turned out to be a horrible slopey hold, where you had to bump up nearly two feet to the next pocket hold. We tried and tried… but no go. Each time we moved onto a different route instead.
    • Info: This route went up a sheer wall to the right of an arete – following a solid start you move onto some very thin moves, do the bump move described above, and then move up past a roof to the top out.
  • Corner Dihedral – 5.8+
    • The route that I moved onto after flailing on “The easiest 5.11”. This was to the right of the previous route – where the arete turned into an interior dihedral. It was still tough – the holds were amazingly greasy and slick, and moving out from the roof that the 5.11 passes by is made up of a few dead-hard moves.
    • Info: Start in the corner, and stem up to the roof about 10ft up. Requires some near-horizontal stemming. At the roof, move around to the left using the arete, and then power up over the roof.
  • My nemesis wall – ranges from 5.4 to 5.10, depending on route.
    • This isn’t really named “My nemesis wall”. Instead, this is the wall where I took one of my more memorable falls a few years back. Thus – it is my nemesis.
    • We started this route as it was getting Dark, and by the time I was on it the darkness was nearly complete. So I climbed with a headlamp. Erin took a 5.7ish route up quite cleanly, but thanks to the darkness I went for a much simpler route – not the full 5.4, but something around a 5.6 if I was to guess.
    • Info: Far to the Right of the other two climbs, three edges down. Follow Solid holds moving through a crack system upwards, and then top out either directly over some stacked slopey rocks, or move left of the cliff. I moved left from the main hand-crack system onto the ledges to finish this out, since it was so dark.

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