John Peterson's Connecticut Traprock Beta
Central Connecticut features numerous small traprock crags. Traprock,
a form of basalt, provides delightful climbing on well-featured steep
faces and cracks. Climbing in traprock requires some extra caution:
In general, be very cautious about leading on traprock. I tend to
lead at a level well below my usual on many routes. Many climbers
toprope here but the lead climbing can be very rewarding. None of
these crags are taller than a single rope length.
- Protection can be sparse, hard to place, and tricky to find.
- Holds occasionally break and some large rockfalls occur now and
- Routefinding can be difficult, especially on the less-travelled
- Ratings are somewhat sandbagged. I find a traprock 5.9 often seems
about as hard as a Gunks 5.10 on lead.
- Many crags are on private land; access is always an issue.
The best source of access information is the Ragged Mountain
Foundation. Please observe all posted regulations, especially "NO
PARKING" signs. Check the RMF web site for access information.
The guidebook situation is currently rather bad. I use the old
Nichols guide for obscure routes. The original
guidebook to Ragged is quite nice - you can use it to find most of the classic
The newer Nichols guides are hard to get and not
recomended. The RMF has published
a small guide book (just $6.00!) -
good reference but this doesn't cover the out of the way routes or
help much with finding the crags. Harlin's East Coast climbs covers
some of the better routes. Although Nichols lists hundreds and
hundreds of routes, the majority of these are trivial or even
positively awful. His stars don't always mean much: after going to
the trouble of locating the "off the beaten path" crags in his book,
you'll often find the ** and *** routes are hardly worth doing.
Certainly most of the unstarred routes on these crags are never
repeated (for good reason). On the other hand, most climbs on the
major formations are good.
Nearly all fixed gear has been removed. Fixed gear on the Main Cliff
is mostly back in but other Routes that used to be safely
leadable are now seriously unprotected. Don't trust the guidebooks!
Here are some of the better leadable routes. The ratings and stars are
mine (that is, non-sandbag ratings). Any unusual gear is noted. A
standard rack should include small camming devices and RP's. Many
other routes are leadable but either I haven't done them or I wouldn't
do them again. All of these routes are worthwhile.
Pinnacle Peak Area
Most of the stuff here is better top roped than led.
- Green Wall: Green Goddess (5.8+) ** Run out a bit at the very top.
- Rattlesnake Rock: Moondog Delight (5.7) **
- Pinnacle Peak: Zambesi Hatchet Head (5.8) *
- Pinnacle Peak: First Crack (5.4) **
- Pinnacle Peak: Second Crack (5.7) * A bit runout but still leadable.
Spider Wall Area
- Spider Wall: Tarantula (5.8) *** Good pro
- Spider Wall: Candle in the Wind (5.10a) *** Tricky pro in spots.
- Cracked Block: Loose Change (5.7) *
- Fox Den: Crack in the Ice (5.7) *
- Fox Den: Crack and Treat (5.9-) *** Classic
Main Cliff (Ragged Mountain) Area
Most of these routes are in Reppy and
Striebert's guidebook to the Ragged Mountain.
- Main Cliff: North End (5.9) *** Hard to pro the crux
- Main Cliff: Animal Crack (5.9) **
- Main Cliff: Aid Crack (5.10) *
- Main Cliff: Owl Perch (5.8-) **
- Main Cliff: Cemetary Vault (5.7+) **
- Main Cliff: Marlinspike (5.8+) ** A bit tricky to protect
- Main Cliff: Ancient Way (5.4) *** One of the best at this grade
- Main Cliff: Leftover (5.8+) ** Hard to protect at the start
- Main Cliff: Deception (5.7) *
- Main Cliff: Sunday Bulge (5.6+) **
- Main Cliff: Mays Way (5.4) ** 1st pitch is a good beginners lead
- Main Cliff: Unconquerable Crack (5.10a) *** Classic!
- Main Cliff: Subline (5.11a) *** A tough lead!!
- Main Cliff: Bombay (5.9-) **
- Main Cliff: Wishbone (5.7) **
- Main Cliff: Kor Crack (5.9) * Big nuts help
- Main Cliff: Bushy Groove (5.8) *
- Main Cliff: Juniper Wall (5.7+) *
- Main Cliff: Vector (5.8) ***
- Main Cliff: Side Entry (5.6+) **
- Main Cliff: Weissner Slab (5.4) ***
- Main Cliff: Tower Crack (5.7+) *
- Main Cliff: Faceout (5.8+) * RP's at crux
- Main Cliff: Weissner Crack (5.8) ***
- Main Cliff: Knights Move (5.4) *
- Main Cliff: Wet Wall (5.6) **
- Main Cliff: YMC Route (5.9) *** Avoid hard to protect start on left
- Main Cliff: Broadway (5.8) ***
- Main Cliff: Carey Corner (5.7) **
- Small Cliff: Layback (5.5) * If you avoid initial overhang
- Small Cliff: Diagonal (5.6+) ***
- Small Cliff: Spread Eagle (5.5+) *
- Small Cliff: Black Troll (5.5) *
- Owl's Lair: The Bad (5.7+) *
- Owl's Lair: The Ugly (5.8) * Missing flake now??
- Owl's Lair: Serendipity (5.5) ***
- Castle Crag: Glassworks (5.8) **
- Ampitheater: Journey to the Scenter (5.9) **
- Merimere Face: Thors Hammer (5.9) *** Big nuts
- Cathole Pass: Pegasus (5.8) ***
- Cathole Pass: Golden Book (5.6) *
- Evening Wall: Archangel (5.7) **
- Evening Wall: TNT (5.8+) **
- Looking Glass: Nuthatch (5.6+) ***
Overview of the Crags
Some personal opinions on the crags listed in the green Nichols book.
Rocks I haven't been to yet are not listed.
Both Lamentation mountain and Chauncey Peak have decent crags but this
is second-hand information - haven't been there yet.
- Porcupine Hole: Not much worthwhile
- Green Wall: A few excellent climbs
- Rattlesnake Rock: Some good routes
- Pinnacle Rock: Good toprope slab on left (Emerald City). The big
routes up the nose can be toproped with a little effort. Good leads
on the right wing. Lots of rock but not nearly as nice as the main
- Stone Haven: A few good topropes on the slab at the far end.
- Grafitti Wall: a couple of OK routes
- Spider Wall: many excellent routes
- Grond Cliff: some good routes
- Molar Buttress: garbage
- Cracked Block: small but clean and enjoyable
- Fox Den: some great routes
- Dam Wall: pretty worthless
- Lakeside: the Double Layback area is good
- Outback: a few OK routes
- Ragged Mountain: lots and lots of classics
- Small Cliff: crowded but clean; good routes
- May Crack Block: May Crack is OK
- Bloody Head Butress: not worth it
- Citadel: not worth it
- Owls Lair: good leads and topropes
- Wasp's Nest: garbage
- Cathedral Rock: painful jams, not worth bothering with
- Shooting Gallery: New Beginnings was OK
- Winter Wall: CLOSED
- Electric Rocks: Not worth the approach
- Castle Crag: Except for glassworks, mostly crap
- Ampitheatre: Many good longer routes
- Fall Wall: A few OK routes
- Merimere Face: Thors Hammer area is great
- Prow: Ariana is a good TR
- Chopping Block: garbage
- Cathole Pass: Pegasus area is great
- Evening Wall: (Lamentation) Good stuff here
- Wailing Wall: Pretty crappy place - dirty and loose in many places
- Looking Glass: Some superb routes here
- Training Ground: sort of dirty and loose in places but OK as a beginners area
- Prison Wall: Loose rock, painful jams. Maybe some of the routes
are good but I'm not going back to find them