Western Mass Crags
Chapel Ledge is tucked away in the quiet hills of Ashfield, MA. This spectacular setting has strong roots to the climbing history in Western Mass and has evolved into one of the area's premier beginner crags.
This southwest facing rock is boldly featured granite reminiscent of crags in the White Mountains or Yosemite. Slabs dominate the moderate climbing here; however, more difficult test pieces can be found on brief, overhanging sections of the walls. Additionally, some shorter walls yield moderate bouldering. Typically, the crag is free of the crowds one would see at Farley, but Chapel is popular with outdoor educators and other groups, so be prepared to see ropes on the main slab. Many groups that make regular use of Chapel, such as our local chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), are generous about sharing time on the rock, so don't be afraid of saying hello and sharing a belay.Read More
Many climbers traverse Route 2 in Farley, Massachusetts numerous times, looking for - but never quite catching sight of - Farley Ledges tucked behind the trees. While this search might prove to be an apt metaphor for one's entire trip, the high concentration of tall, hard routes and excellent bouldering make the effort worth it.
These southeast facing chain of ledges, like much of the rock in the region, is granitic gneiss. This stone is characterized by big, sloping horizontals, small edges and sweeping features. At least four waves of route developers have put up a variety of lines spanning the gamut of highball bouldering to committing traditional lines to pumpy sport routes. The climbing is best when friction is the highest. Generally, ideal conditions can be found in spring and fall, although the heavily forested areas provide ample shade on hot summer days.
Farley sees more visitors each year, especially on the weekends and holidays. Plan on seeing other parties. If the the lots are close to full, consider a visit to Rose Ledges or Mormon Hollow: both are within two miles of Farley and offer more solitude.
In fact, the willingness to climb at a different crag on heavy use days is one big thing individual climbers could do to preserve access to Farley. Farley has been closed numerous times by landowners disgruntled by our numbers, our behavior or both. The WMCC was born to deal with the last closure and we have kept it open. Our purchase of the seven acre plot allowed us to build permanent parking and trail access, but we do not own any of the stone. In other words, we have stabilized - but not guaranteed - our access to the climbing. Please, tread lightly so we can all come back.Read More
These two areas represent some of the finer bouldering in the Pioneer Valley. While these are technically two distinct areas, they are located from the same access point and are within a 10 minute hike of one another if you know where you are going. Like the majority of the rock around these parts, the boulders and mini-cliffs are gneiss with some outstanding features and quality. There are roughly 50 problems of all grades though these areas are noted for the more difficult problems in the V7 and up range.Read More
Mormon Hollow sits inside the beautiful Wendell State Forest in Wendell, MA, just a few miles south and across the Millers River from Farley Ledges. Although Mormon is smaller then Farley, its impeccable rock quality, high concentration of routes, and relative solitude - not to mention sun in the winter and shade in the summer - make this crag a very worthy destination.
This west-facing granitic gneiss ledge system offers approximately 30 routes on five tightly packed butresses. Locals know this “white” gneiss - like that of The Lost Crag or The Pinnacle at Farley - is especially dense and offers good gear placements, sound anchors and enjoyable climbing. Again, like Farley, Mormon offers a wide array of climbs including slabs, technical face climbs, powerful roofs and splitter cracks from 5.6 to 5.13. Unlike Farley, the tallest routes top out at 65 feet, yet this modest size make it possible for a climber to get a good sense of the area in a couple of visits. Additionally, most routes are equipped with bolted anchors and can be easily top-roped.Read More
The Main Cliff, a 70 foot overhanging wall, is located on private property and is currently closed. This cliff contains some of the first 5.11+ and 5.12 trad routes that were established in New England, and is second only to Farley in importance. The Gutter itself, a deep boulder-strewn ravine located north of the gated road, contains an interesting boulderfield and broken cliffbands where climbing is neither prohibited nor actively managed. Read More
The boulders at Reservoir Rocks in Great Barrington is comprised of compact and finely textured Gneiss which lends itself to technical and aesthetic climbing. Although there does exist a large main face home to some great top roping routes the spotlight belongs on the fantastic bouldering at “the Res.”. From easy warm-ups to cutting edge projects the Res., has a little of everything in a beautiful quiet setting…close by to a wonderful small New England town. Currently there are approximately 250 boulder problems on the existing boulders and new ones being discovered in the surrounding areas. Read More
The Roadside Crag is located in Montague, MA one mile from the entrance to Wendell State Forest and three quarters of a mile from Mormon Hollow. This tiny cliff offers suprisingly pumpy but mostly moderate bouldering with a one minute approach.
This northeast facing hunk of dusty but solid granitic gneiss is marked by a wealth of juggy horizontals and sees mostly shade. According to Western Mass legend, the first few body lengths of this 100 foot long by 35 foot tall craglett was hand excavated by a local llama farmer turned climber. The bouldering includes a V11, a V7, a V6, a V4 and several moderate eliminates. Additionally, Roadside features three bolted lines rated 5.10 or easier.Read More
Rose Ledge represents one of the regions most popular climbing destinations and deservedly so. The 40’-60’ cliff line contains a plethora of climbs for all abilities (5.4-5.13) though excels in both number and quality of moderates climbs. Some of the classic include Guillotine (5.8), Solar Flare (5.11b), Tennessee Flake (5.9) and Beginners Corner (5.5). The rock, similar to nearby Farley Ledge, is gneiss with obvious horizontal cracks and features. Several climbs at Rose are leadable with traditional gear though the crag remains most popular as a toprope area as access to the top is easy and straight forward. Read More
The Skinner area is located on the southern edge of Hadley, Massachusetts inside the beautiful J. A. Skinner State Park. Although modest in size, the high quality of both the stone and the routes themselves make Skinner an excellent destination for a solid day of climbing.
These two southeast facing crags are comprised of basaltic traprock, the dominate stone of Connecticut climbing. While most of the traprock in Massachusetts is highly fractured and heartbreakingly unclimbable - unlike Connecticut’s finer stone - some of this “Skinner stone” is bullet hard and quite challenging. Those familiar with basalt will note the absence of grit or horizontal holds and the corresponding importance of side-pulls, underclings and body position. The two cliffs - a lower tier of hard, bolted routes and an upper tier of more moderate top rope problems - top out at 30 feet and yield perhaps 25 routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.13.Read More
The aptly named Sunbowl is located in sleepy Sunderland, MA. Although the rock quality is fairly poor and the number of routes modest, the moderate grades, temperate micro-climate and easy access make this one of Western Massachusetts’s most popular crags for novice leaders or those seeking a quick workout.
As the name suggests, this southwest facing, wind-sheltered craglett is toasty on even cold winter afternoons - providing the sun is shining. However, ample tree cover offers shade in steamy summer days as well. The wall - approximately 35 feet tall and 150 feet long - is comprised of Mount Toby conglomerate and offers a maze of cobbles and pockets. Two slabby wings and a steep, central wall yield fewer than a dozen, well-protected sport routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.11. A long, V2 traverse offers a pumpy workout.Read More