September 4, 2006

Indian Rocks

So there we were in the SophX prep and an alumni tour comes through. We had sleeping bags everywhere, tents in various states of assembly and a full fledged repacking of rations going on in one corner. Not exactly a photo op, but most of the alums looked on with polite curiosity. A pair of excited adults came up after my brief overview and talked about their days rock climbing at New Hampton.

They were fired up that we were still doing adventure programs and proud that they had started the climbing program here. We chatted about where they climbed and I expected the usual places I knew. Turns out they had walked to the crags with their gear climbed every afternoon and then walked back. Okay, I consider myself no slouch when it comes to hiking but the closest climbing area I knew of to school was more than 20 miles away in Rumney, hardly a day hike. My jaw dropped and I pressed them for more details. Vague directions emerged and then the tour was moving away. They had to go off to enjoy the rest of their reunion.

I promised myself I'd find this hidden gem back again and climb there. Last week Dave and Ted and I found a hole in the faculty orientation week meetings and went for a climb! Overall the crag is sweet! It's probably fifty to sixty feet at it's tallest.

We tried three lines and there is probably one or two more on the main face. There are also one or two other corners we didn't explore. Overall the rock was fairly clean with not much lichen but quite a bit of loose rock and lots of pebbles and larger stones on a shelf about 3/4 of the way up the main cliff. It would need some cleaning for program use, but nothing that would seriously impede normal climbing. As Ted put it, by Cannon standards it's bomber, by Rumney standards dangerous. You get the idea.

Here's the center of the three lines we tried. That's Ted on lead and Dave belaying. I haven't been climbing in far too long so I'm probably way over estimating the grades but I'd venture a guess that it's mostly 5.7 with one 5.8 move. Ted might have a different opinion having led it.

This is the right hand line which we top roped. We followed a route with one bolt on it, seeming to indicate some previous activity at this site. The line goes up just left of the right angling ramp you can see in this picture. Again I'd say this was in the 5.6 - 5.7 range with maybe one harder move.

Dave attempted another line to the far left. He was climbing in sneakers so he had some struggles with it. As you can see it has a little roof and an upper slabby section. Seems like you could stay left on the blocky bits or come right onto the slabs. Dave thought it was do-able but didn't send.

We didn't explore the far left section, but as you can see it seems to have some potential.

It was exciting to be climbing without a guidebook, just judging whether or not a route seemed like it would go. I was also satisfying to be following in the footsteps of NHS alums.

I'll share more as we explore the area some more.

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