Over the course of many years and over a hundred trips, I've cleaned and climbed many boulder problems in the woods of Mont Rigaud. In 2020 Socrate Badeau and I published a new guide to Rigaud climbing including both routes and boulders. The grades are to be confirmed, since in many cases I was the only one to have climbed the problems until 2020. Louis-Philippe has since listed some of the boulders on The Crag. There are still new lines to be cleaned, climbed and added to the guide, so expect updates in the coming year.
Western Mass is an awesome place to be a climber. In no particular order: countless trips to Farley and Rose Ledges for sport climbing, cleaning Pepper's trad gear, and bouldering; many solo trips to The Hideaway, where I cleaned the "classic" Bulldozer Slab for Henri; one frozen day at Happy Valley (jugs are no good when they are full of ice); many sessions with Henri/Pepper/Amar/nobody bouldering at Roadside (a couple warm-up traverses and a few hard problems climable year round); sport climbing at Sunbowl (fun, especially when you catch warm rays in the dead of winter) and Skinner State Park (top-roping in the fall is the way to go, but the insect infested sketch-fest with Pepper was memorable). Highlights include: sending One for the Rest of Us during one of countless "reading sessions" at The Hideaway, Pepper and I spending a cold wet few hours getting a likely first ascent of a dirty crack system at Farley Ledge, sending an anonymous hard problem at Roadside with a foot of ice under the crash pads, cleaning and getting FAs on many boulders at Rose Ledge, including The Rook (props to Kurt for helping me explore and clean).
After five days of meetings in Denver, i escaped to Castlewood Canyon to pebble wrestle in the beautiful fall colors. I stumbled upon the Titanic boulder and sent Kate Winslet on my second session. Photos!
Henri and i flew to New Mexico so i could drop him off with G-Mom in Santa Fe. En-route we spent an afternoon bouldering. Photos!
Following Seth's advice and using his enormous car-camping tent, we headed up to Governor Dodge State Park, WI. Highlights include: 0) the Madison Children's Museum, 1) swimming and wiffle ball at Cox Hollow Beach, 2) Henri getting a couple of first ascents (some of which involved a lot of cleaning), 3) Nick meeting a crew of boulderers from Milwaukee and sending Grounded for Life with their beta/cheering/pads, and 4) NBC, HPC and DH going canoeing in Cox Hollow Lake and seeing a sleeping snake on a stump and a snacking deer. Another great park in southern WI, woot!
Sherlock and i spent four fun days bouldering in the Yosemite high country before a three-day backpacking trip. Nick's photos, Sherlock's photos.
A family camping trip to Devil's Lake gave me a session on the Rail Gun boulder. After warming up on a variety of problems on the uphill side of the boulder i made a few attemps on the namesake problem. Things were starting to feel dire when Henri and Daryl came up the trail to cheer me on for one last (succesful!) attempt. Other higlights include a morning walk along the West Bluff Trail, and a delightful dinner at the Little Village Cafe.
Ben and i played hookey and headed up to DL for some mid-week bouldering. Checked out the North Shore boulders then headed up to the Rail Gun boulder where i made substantial progress on the namesake problem. Ben's first time bouldering outside, woot!
A free day in Salt Lake City turned into a multisport day when i spent the early morning bouldering at the five mile boulders, including the surfboard arrete, before heading up the road to rent telemark skis at Alta Sports and hike to late-season powder.
A pair of days off in the middle of the week gave Henri and i the opportunity to drive up to WI and check out Devil's Lake. We kept each other warm in the tent, Henri went for a dip in the lake, and we each climbed a few rocks. Photos!
Rok's Blog says it all, but the bottom line is AWESOME.
A couple talks in the Bay area gave me an opportunity to check out Castle Rock. I climbed a bunch of easy problems, and eventually sent The Slap (V4). Needed more pads/spotters to top out Yabo Roof (V5)...
A visit to the Lowell Observatory offered an opportunity to hit up Priest Draw for an afternoon. I returned to the Bat Cave, where i sent a few V3-4 lines and generally enjoyed the fit locals styling the roofs.
A job interview in Bern, CH, was a good excuse to meet up with Rok and Molly in Zurich. We drank the better part of a case of wine, but Rok-o and i still hit the rocks the following day. It took a while to warm up and find good problems, but we eventually hit the Hardcore and Traversenblock boulders, both of which had many quality problems in our range. Needless to say, this got me stoked for academic life in Switzerland!
Rok and i met at Gare Lyon in Paris, caught a train down to Fontainebleau and spent a few memorable days wrestling the world famous sandstone boulders in the forest. Highlights include Le Tiroir, La Quille, and Le Meilleur des Mondes. We got rained out on the second day and checked out the chateau in town. Rok's Photos!
An exoplanet meeting at Jackson Lake Lodge gave me a chance to check out the pebble wrestling below the big peaks. I spent a few hours bouldering at Boulder Town with Dave, then came back on my own after the lunchtime thunderstorm. Sent some fun V0-V4 problems. Photos
I took advantage of some time at the Aspen Center for Physics to climb at Independence Pass. I got out four times, the highlight was climbing with locals Lauren, Ian, Tyler and Sam, who showed me Bicep Wall. Photos!
I took advantage of an astronomy meeting in Flagstaff and teamed up with Kaitlin, Paul and Mike to check out the classic roof problems at Priest Draw for an afternoon. I like to imagine my abs would be stronger if i lived in Flag. As it is, i managed to send a couple of fun horizontal problems (The Fin, and a variation on the Bat Cave involving a desperate heel hook and a rewarding throw to the lip) but was wrecked for the next few days.
Rok and i caught a train to Ticino, the Italian-speaking corner of Switzerland. We had a lot of fun bouldering in Chironico. Lots of quality problems very close together, no crowds. The rock texture is perfect and we both lost some skin. Notable sends include Snowdonia, Shock Wave, and Jack in the Box. Rok's photos!
Rok, Molly and i drove up to Gold Bar to boulder. After an hour's hike we were in the Sanctuary, where we climbed many fun boulders in the V0-V2 range. Notables sends include Midnight Lichen, a V4 that Rok onsighted and that i flashed. Rok also sent Road to Zion (V5) on his second go. Sick!
Rok had the brilliant idea of me phoning into my usual Monday morning telecon from the Starbucks in Leavenworth. I made it just in the nick of time, but once my work was done for the day (about 10:30 AM), why not boulder with him and Loretta? We started at the Carnival Boulders, climbed fun V2-V3s. We then headed to the Fridge, where Rok and i sent the fun V3 on the right side, then Fridge Center (V4), before the three of us decided we don't know how to slab climb (or at least it scares us). We then headed up to Forestland, where Rok showed us his favorite crimpy face climb (The Real Thing, V4), which i eventually sent, but only after cursing Rok and his love for crimps. Ended the day with some tries on The Physical, which is just as awesome as it looks. We'll be back!
Rok and i headed up to Leavenworth for a day of bouldering. Started at Swiftwater, where we did a few different variants of the heel hook problems, as well as a V3 on the Hate Boulder. We crossed the road and sent the ellusive Lead Pants. Rok even sent the V4 variation for extra personal satisfaction. I stuck the high-step on Sleeve Ace, then we headed to the other side of town to the Star Wars boulder. We sent the V2 and made actual progress on Darth Maul before ending the day throwing ourselves at the Barn Door and enjoying the sunset. Rok's Photos!
We (Rok, Molly, Daryl, Henri and i) made good use of Nate's car by heading out to Leavenworth. We sent a bunch of fun V3s (Pretty Girl) and a V4 (Pretty Burly). Henri ate lots of dirt and generaly enjoyed himself. Photos coming soon!
Michelle and Arthur took Daryl, Henri and i bouldering in the hills outside of Santa Barbara. Photos!
Rok orchestrated a big outing to Leavenworth: he, Molly and me in her truck; Elizabeth, Loretta and Nick (another one) in another car. We checked out a few areas and all the problems were super fun on grippy rock. Here are some photos.
Rok and i did some climbing before my wedding in lieu of a bachelor party. We started with two days at The Pond, near Ponderosa in the Jemez. This is the best bouldering in NM but the summer is not a good time to climb there: way too hot! Nevertheless we took naps and read under big overhangs and even sent a few fun V2's and V3's. On the drive back to Santa Fe we passed by Las Conchas a little ways West of Los Alamos and new we had to return. We spent a day climbing the bolted routes there the following week. The setting was idylic and the routes super fun. The shade and a couple extra hundred feet of elevation kept the temperature more reasonable. Here are a few photos.
Rok and i returned for more of the same. Warmed up on the BLM's (10a, 10c, 10d) then i worked on Megatherion, which felt much better than my previous thrashings almost exactly three years to the day. Should go in one or two more tries. Rok kindly cleaned up after me :-)
Wow! It's been over a year since my last foray on real rock. Ben picked up Rok and i and we headed to World Wall I in the hopes that we could find a free route despite two overflowing parking lots. Most of the cars must have been hikers because we found the uusual WWI warm up climbs empty. We did Reptiles, and two of the BLM's (10c and 10d). Felt good (if a little nerve-wracking) to clip bolts!
Rok and i borrowed Molly's truck and headed up to Exit 38 to check out the relatively new Neverland crags. A lot of the climbs were still damp from Saturday's rain but we found a relatively dry 10a to warm up on and then thrashed on the wetter 10b next to it. We then moved on to a mercifully dry two-pitch 5.9 friction slab which was pretty fun, despite the heart-wrenching screams of a woman climbing a three-pitcher off to our right. She and her partner made it down safely, if a bit frazzled.
Daryl and i rented a car and headed up to Exit 38 to climb at Interstate Park. We never found the crags we were looking for (inexplicably, seeing how we had both been there before) but we climbed fun short routes at Gritscone and some big mystery slab that we mistook for Gun Show. Daryl led her first 5.10 (a flash, no less), and i did my first long sport lead (ie: it required two raps to get down), so it was a great day overall.
Frank picked up Rok and i at 11 for a leisurely afternoon of climbing on the Great Northern Slab at Index. Frank played rope-gun all afternoon, which offered Rok and i a low-stress opportunity to practice crack climbing. We started on a 5.8 fist crack (The Lizard), which led to easy climbing to our second belay. From there we followed a 5.6 hand crack (Pisces) to an arrete up to a solid bolted anchor. We checked out some of the climbs higher up (they were wet) then rappeled down a pitch and set up a top-rope on a 5.10a thin-hand crack (Libra). It was dark by the time we'd all safely reached solid ground. I dragged my camera up the cliff to record the action.
Rok Daryl and i bailed on Vantage at the last minute and joined Brian, Obadiah, Evan and Frank in an exploratory trip to the Tieton River area near Yakima. While the western portion of the state got rained on, we enjoyed some easy trad climbing. Rok got to rough up his new trad gear, i led a couple 5.5 cracks and Daryl got to clean trad gear. A great mellow day of climbing with great folks! We enjoyed pizza in Roslyn on the way home. My few photos are here.
Matt, Daryl and i drove out to Exit 38 and climbed at Interstate Park.
Went to Exit 32 with Rok and Daryl for the first route climbing of the season. Climbed some old classics at Blackstone, and generaly enjoyed the weather in the company of hordes of other climbers.
Rok and i went to New Zealand for a conference but showed up a couple weeks early for some sight-seeing. We ended up spending the bulk of our time bouldering at Castle Hill, which didn't suck. We took photos. Rok's TR!
Rok and i headed up to Exit 38 hoping to climb lots of 5.10's at Amazonia. We found the good climbs wet and the bad climbs... well, bad. We decided to check out Bob's Area but walked too far up the path (most of the way up Mt Washington, in fact!). We evenutualy realized our mistake and retraced our steps, ended up climbing at Chainsaw Wall, first on a horribly awkward 5.8, then on an equally bad 10b. When Rok hung on a draw the gate broke, leading to some tense moments... I cleaned the route on rappel then we beat a hasty retreat to the Rogue Brewery.
Rok and i borrowed Daryl's car and drove out to Exit 38 to climb at Nevermind. Rok worked on the 12a, i on the 10d. Stumbled back to the car in the dark. It felt good to lead again after a 4-month break.
Gabe hooks his way up Baby Crackhead.
Rok on Classic V2.
Justin picked up Rok and i and we headed up to Gold Bar in his sweet Land Cruiser, despite the pouring rain. The drive up was muddy, but we were rewarded with some awesome bouldering in the woods, despite the damp conditions. We met Justin's friend Gabe, who cleaned and sent a new V4: Baby Crackhead.
Rok and i woke up stupid-early to climb at Exit 32. The weather and our climbing both improved throughout the day. I sent Aborigine, Rok sent Psycho Wussy, i then spent 45 minutes getting to the top of Megatherion, leaving Rok with insuficient time to give Bust the Move more than one burn. A very exhausting day.
Rok shakes out before tackling the crux of Bust the Move.
Mike clips on his way up Aborigine.
Mike, Ryland, Eric, Rok and i headed to World Wall I to climb some steep sport routes. I took a big whipper when i failed to clip the anchor on Aborigine. Rok and Mike worked on a Bust the Move. Ryland and Eric worked the 10's on the wall.
Cam, Rok and i zipped up to Little Si in Daryl's sexy little Saab. Warmed up on Reptiles and some 10d, then i worked on (and got worked by) Aborigine. Cam and Rok moved on to some other 11's. We had quite a full day of climbing and i, for one, slept 11+ hours that night.
Eric, Rich, Rok and i drove up to Exit 38 for to climb some "sick shit". While Rich and Eric enjoyed climbing in the sunshine, Rok an i chose to climb on the cold and damp Nevermind wall. We climbed some 10's and 11's, and were pretty tired by the end of the day. The four of us ended the day with some delicious lasagna at Daryl's place :-)
Stephanie, Amber, Rok and i headed out to Vantage to escape the rain. We got a bit of drizzle -just enough to scare off some of the other climbers- but otherwise great sunny weather. Amber did her first outdoor climbing, Stephanie took her first lead falls, while Rok and i realized that months of studying have not made us any stronger. Climbed some fun 10's, though.
Nate, Rich, Eric and i beared the chilly weather and blustery winds to get some climbs in at Exit 38. The cold rock was finger-numbingly good after so many months in the gym :-)
Eric reaches the anchors after his first ever lead. --photo by Kevin Halverson
Rok sticks the crux on Blue Light Special. --photo by Kevin Halverson
Eric, Joe, Kevin, Rok and i crammed ourselves and all of our gear into Eric's fabulous Subaru and headed down to Smith Rock for some late season sport climbing. Here's what Rok had to say about it:
"On saturday we did two routes on the gigantic jugs just left of Gumby - they are not in the guidebook. The leftmost is 5.8 (we didn't do that one but it looked jugtacular), the middle line is 5.9, which we did and it was really really fun, and the right line is 5.10a, which has a tricky upper section. Then we did a 10a on "the peanut" (leftmost end of the morning glory wall) which I didn't like at all - kind of short, slabby, not too interesting. Next was Chicken McNuggets, 5.10b up in Cocaine Gully which has an interesting approach... the climb was super fun, really makes you trust those spooky looking knobs sticking out of the wall. The 11b next to it, Vomit Launch, looks awesome, as does a 12a a little further left. Nick and I then headed to the Shipwreck wall and tried Blue Light Special 5.11a which is also really really good and has a pretty powerful crux at the beginning. There is another 11a on shipwreck that also looks really good.
Sunday we did Captain Xenolith 5.10a which left my fingers completely numb (it was probably around 40 degrees) and was not pleasant to warm up on at all. We also did Helium Woman 5.9 next to it. Then we went back to Shipwreck and did 5.10b Walking While Intoxicated which has an awesome crux and fun moves to the top. I got on Blue Light Special again and flailed. I wanted to have a try on toxic 11b, but it was getting late and really really cold so we called it a day and headed back. Not a huge number of routes, but we had a blast. We definitely needed more time, as we didn't even get a chance to check out the west side crags at all... or about 70% of the rest of Smith for that matter."
Rok and i took Eric out for his first climbing in two years. He did super well, sending a 5.9 as a warm up and getting to the top of a couple 10c's. I had some route-finding issues on a 10d...
Rich and Amy came out to Exit 32 for a change. They both climbed like super stars, and even humoured me as i grunted my way up a cruxy 10c.
Casey and i headed out to Exit 32 for some early morning sport climbing. The rock started out cold and a bit damp but warmed up as the sun inched over the mountains.
Amy ended her climbing hiatus by climbing outdoors for the very first time. I set up top ropes on a bunch of 5.9s and she sent one of them on her first try!
Nate and Casey came out to Exit 38 to try some local cragging. They climbed a bunch of 5.9's and joined me in flailling on that damn 11b...
Rich and i took Lucianne and Jill out to Exit 38 to show them what this climbing business is all about. Taking advantage of borrowed gear from Rok, Mark and Nate (thanks, B351), i led some routes for them to top-rope on. The women climbed super well, both eventually getting to the top of a 5.9. They even learnt to belay! Rich learned to belay top-rope and to belay with an ATC. I dicked around on a stupid-short 11b.
Rok, Rich and i did some sport climbing at Exit 38. Rok and i took a bunch of falls on a tricky and (given the recent rain) sometimes treacherous 10d. I redpointed an 11a (clipping the anchor while in free fall...), which Rok then flashed in his usual euro-style. Rich worked on a 5.9 and a pair of 10a's.
Went up to Exit 38 with Michele and Jonathan, who both had personal bests by onsighting a 5.9 and 10c, respectively. I worked on a pumpy 11a.
Rich and i drove up to Exit 38 to sport climb. Rich pushed his limits on some 5.9's and i flailed on a crimpy 11a. We even felt our way up a 5.7 in the dark!
Nate feels his way up Flaming Arete.
Rok clips in on American Heavy.
Nick grunts on Junkyard Patio.
Nate, Rok and i headed up to Squamish for some sport climbing. The trip had an ominous start as we got caught climbing a slab (Charlotte's Web) in the rain. We took shelter under the overhanging rock of the Forgotten Wall, where we did some more climbs. The weather steadily improved as we explored more of Cheakamus Canyon. We spent the night next to the roaring waters of the Cheakamus River and spent Sunday climbing at Rogue's Gallery before drving back down to Seattle.
Nate, Rok and i headed up to World Wall I at Exit 32 for some sport climbing. The crag was surprisingly crowded, so we mostly ended up climbing stuff we'd done before (except Nate, who was here for the first time). The sun set as i flailed on a steep 10c. The hike back down was interesting as none of us had brought headlamps. (We would like to learn from our mistakes but where's the fun in that?)
Nate, Rich, Rok and i headed up to Exit 38 for some sport climbing. Nate onsighted a rather long and exposed 5.8, Rich learnt to belay, Rok onsighted a soft 5.11, and i eased myself back into climbing after months of sitting on my ass :-P
Cam, Ben, Rok and i drove up to Exit 32 to climb sport routes at World Wall I. Ben got his first taste of cragging as we warmed up on Reptiles & Amphetamines and Devil's Advocate (both 5.9). I flashed a couple 5.10c's (Son of Jesus, BLM-5), while Rok and Cam climbed some really hard-looking shit. I took a few falls on -but finally finished- BLM-6 (5.10d) The weather was awesome, the mozzies where a bit of a nuisance and we were the last out to the parking lot. Sure beat sitting in a dark auditorium all afternoon!
Nate on top-rope in Boulder Canyon.
Back clipping in Boulder Canyon. --photo by Nate Kaib
Matt, Nate and i headed up Boulder canyon for some top-roping and lead-climbing. Nate got his first taste of real rock and i got hucked off a 5.12 with a deceptively easy start. We almost made it back to Denver in time to catch our respective planes.
After yet another late night of Galactic Structure homework, Rok and i convinced my roomate Casey to drop us off at Little Si on his way up to Snoqualmie. We had a very relaxing day, taking turns leading nice sport routes (Human Foot, 5.8; The Big Easy, 5.10a; Streetcleaner, 5.10a; Kinder, Gentler Carpet Bombing 5.9; Sweet and Sticky, 5.9). The weather was spectacular and apart from the odd mosquito we didn't have a care in the world.
SON OF ROCK, from Fiona Campbell
Twenty or so of us headed up to the Smoke Bluffs in Squamish on Saturday to enjoy the beautiful weather and learn (or teach) a thing or two about climbing those big natural climbing gyms they've got out there. From what I've heard everyone from outdoor-first-timers to seasoned veterans had a good day out climbing. Thanks to every one who brought food to share at the potluck - yummy chicken curry, deluxe sandwiches, and at least two kinds of cookies! (You might think that organizing an event in the smoke bluffs on the same day as a bike race would have been a problem but instead we ended up having a lot of the crags to ourselves.) Ending the day with a dip at Murrin park was just right and for those who stuck around - prizes! Notable among them are Ella and Juha who worked on trusting their feet and now have a new chalk ball to help them trust their hands, Loretta who constructed her first top-rope anchor and was rewarded with shiny new sling, and Boris whose nut placements were rumoured to be bomber enough that we had to give him one to practice with. An extra big thanks to all the instructors who volunteered to share their climbing time and knowledge with other VOCers!