Climbing in Greater Boston

You don’t have to leave Free Solo to enjoy outdoor rock climbing near Boston. From bouldering to trad and sport climbing, various routes challenge everyone from novices to advanced athletes, according to Harvard Mountaineering Club president Vladislav Sevostyanov ’19.

South of Boston, the old Quincy granite quarries offer around 100 climbs, some reaching 80 feet, with scenic views, as well as some great bouldering. Unlike sport and “traditional” rock climbing, which requires ropes and anchors, bouldering is a freehand activity involving horizontal and vertical acrobatic maneuvers along rocks up to 20 feet off the ground, Sevostyanov explains. Prepare to face the weekend crowds in Quincy or head for the less traditional and sporty routes of Rattlesnake Rocks in the Braintree section of the Blue Hills Preserve. Or, for hundreds of unique boulders, head to Lincoln Woods State Park north of Providence, Rhode Island: piles of boulders are scattered amid hiking trails, picnic areas and a swimming pond.

One of Sevostyanov’s favorite places is the Red Rocks Conservation Area in Gloucester. Traditional and sport routes, and some for top-roping – when climbers climb the rock using a rope they’ve already attached to the top – center around a wall with a vertical crack known as “The Zipper”, he reports. There are also plenty of enjoyable ‘slab’ routes: more easily scaling rocks at lower, non-vertical angles that rely more on balance, foot strength and traction. Enjoy lunch with views of Gloucester Harbor from the cliff top of Red Rocks or end the day at Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream in nearby Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Sevostianov also recommends Hopkinton’s College Rock Park: the eponymous rock is 35 feet high with alternating front and back routes, offering one of the easiest climbs around. Or, he adds, try the Crow Hill Ledges in Leominster State Forest off Route 2. After tackling towering boulders of gneiss, climbers can cool off at Crow Hill Pond.

An exciting weekend leads to the climbing mecca of New Hampshire. Around Rumney, at the southern end of White Mountain National Forest, world famous routes stretch through Rattlesnake Mountain. Another choice, says Sevostyanov, is to go deeper into the range, near North Conway, and discover the 700-foot-tall Cathedral Ledge: “a incredible traditional climbing destination.” Inexperienced climbers can hire mountain guides or just start small and learn locally. “We run clinics and skills sessions, and are a resource for anyone who wants to climb, find partners, or meet people in this community,” Sevostyanov says of the Harvard club, which was founded in 1924. most important in climbing culture is mentorship. It can be incredibly daunting to learn the ropes otherwise, not to mention insecure. It’s also how friendships develop for the life.