When I confirmed my flights, I quickly reached out to Daniel. I miss climbing outdoors, as does he, and late-August is definitely a good time to get onto the wall. It’s hot, true, but also minorly less likely to be rainy… so I’ll take it.
After deliberation, we locked into a destination – Hanging Mountain, a new crag recently opened to the public. I’d first heard about it last November, when flying out for Dillon’s bachelor party, but honestly didn’t know much about it, aside from that it was in Western Mass. We dove into some research, locked in the details, and headed out early on Sunday morning.
Well… early-ish. I mean, it’s Daniel, right? And me. We do mornings… but not really.
As far as new crags go, it was amazing. As far as established crags go, it was also amazing. The rock was solid, the trails well cut, and the belay areas tolerably sized. The areas were beautifully close together, and it was basically abandoned on the Sunday that found us scaling the heights.
So what did we climb, you may ask? Well. We climbed all the things!
Acorn Face / Squirrel Wall: – Lost and Found, 5.7, Sport lead – Radiant Sky, 5.10d top rope, one cheat move… I admit.
Progressive Buttress: – Green New Deal, 5.7+, Sport lead – Nevertheless, 5.8-, Sport lead – She Persists, 5.8, Sport lead – Feel the Bern, 5.10, Top rope
(Edit: 20-Aug-2022, I realized that these weren’t my first outdoor climbs of 2022! Instead, my first outdoor adventure climbing was at Rumney, back in April! How crazy is that… I’ve climbed equal amounts on both coasts!)
How has it been over seven months, and I haven’t climbed outside??
I mean, I don’t think I have… And I have to admit, there’s good reason. An excessively rainy spring, far longer than most, leading into a summer approximately a billion degrees during the day doesn’t really lend itself to getting out of town and rock climbing.
But none of that matters now because I went climbing!!!
My friend Lexi and I headed out leisurely on a Saturday… it was a bit impromptu, with our plans varying the few days before. Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, and we found ourselves eating breakfast sandwiches in the morning and then starting the drive while the day was still comparatively young.
Our goal was Ozone – to do a bit of exploring and just feel out the climbing. This would be our first climbing trip together, and her first outdoor climbing in 7 years or so, and we weren’t aiming to push grades or do anything particularly crazy… just get out on the rock and enjoy ourselves.
So… we did! We climbed, we crushed, and we had a great time!
Okay, so… photos. There really weren’t any. Since, you know, we were climbing. But I did get a cool shot of Lexi looking up at an impossibly tall section of the wall! And of some BBQ that we had afterward!
What did we climb, you may ask? Well, ask that I may answer!
Stairway to Heaven – 5.6, Sport, Lead
Stigmata – 5.7, Trad, Lead
Rusty Cage – 5.8, Top-rope (climbed on Stigmata anchors)
It’s been a while since I’ve been back to Massachusetts… I think it was for Dillon and Liz’s wedding, wasn’t it? That’s sounding right… though I frankly can’t believe that was only six months ago. These last few months have felt like forever, and it was high time that I got back East. The rock was calling, family and friends beckoned, and I hadn’t seen my Grandma in far, far too long…
Jeeze… how long has it been since I’ve climbed at Rumney?
I mean, it’s where I learned to climb, man! Rumney, Quincy, Hammond Pond, The Gunks, North Conway… okay, it’s one of the places I learned. Joshua Tree should be in there too, maybe Black and White boulders… Red Rocks…
Okay, Other Ben, I get the point. But still!
I definitely learned to lead sport at Rumney, that’s a clear statement. Back when Kasia and I had a borrowed rope, with borrowed draws, and the guidebook was out of print so we just sort of climbed on a wing and a prayer? Those were the good times.
How I survived those good times alive, I’ll still never know… do I have a blog post about the time I ran out of draws 7-clips in, and traversed to another climber to borrow two of his? No? Maybe?
I learned lessons at Rumney. Good lessons, to say the least, and lessons that I’ve been lucky enough to carry across the globe since those carefree, halcyon days.
Since then, Rumney’s grown and expanded, just like the rest of us.
It’s become more popular, more official, and new zones have been purchased and opened up for public use. New guidebooks have been published, and new parking lots graded and opened.
Truth be told, I kind of felt like a small-towner going to visit a old friend who’s been killing it in the big city. I mean… I remembered when I used photos of the guidebook to find routes! Now there’s apps, fancy guidebooks, and actual signage! Huge new swaths of rock, being developed and climbed by folks I knew back in 2009!
Daniel and Brian took the day off from work with me, and we drove North, as early in the day as we felt viable. See… you don’t want to get there too early, because then the rock is still cold and damp from the evening frost and morning mist… but the later in the day you arrive, the less climbing there is!
We got there just in time for the hail to hit Daniel as he worked his way up a route… Which, you know, isn’t actually the worst thing while rock climbing. I mean… we had helmets on, and it was cool enough that we had long sleeves too… so we were pretty well armored against any pain or injury. And the nice thing about hail? It doesn’t make the rock wet!
So… Daniel just sorta kept climbing. Like a boss.
Brian and I followed suit, and an amazing day on the rocks was had by all. We started off at Buffalo Pit, a new area that I hadn’t been to before, and then dove down to Below the New Wave… somewhere that (I’m pretty sure) has been around since before I started climbing at Rumney.
Both spots were amazing, and both spots saw us sending a glorious number of really run routes… and I even climbed a bit harder than I was expecting, which was a super nice ego boost!
And, of course, as is tradition, we hit up Tilton Diner on the way home. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve climbed at Rumney, then gorged on amazing burgers and milkshakes… but you know what? It felt like I’d never left.
Buffalo Pit: Lonesome Buffalo (5.8) Sunnyside Up (5.10c) Mr. Buffalo to you (5.4)
Below the New Wave: Bullwinkle Goes Ballistic (5.10a) Into Air and Pleasant Danger (5.8) Son of Sammy (5.8+) Couch Potato (5.9) Sixth Sense (5.6)