This Sunday around 7 am I drove down to the Quarries with my friend Sukes, only our second time climbing outdoors this year. My friend Dwight biked down to meet us, and after our usual stop at Dunkin’ we were on the wall with our anchor set up by 8. It was Dwights first time climbing outdoors, luckily he had a decent camera on his phone, since I’d forgotten mine.
We were top roping, basically the only type of climbing I’ve experienced so far. This winter I got some quick draws, a rope and a helmet to use at Rumney later this season, but we’re still getting warmed up right now.
But first, a little history
One of the interesting things about Quincy Quarries is how much it’s changed in the past 10 or so years. As with any area, the rock itself has changed, but the Quarry today looks much different than how it is described in a guidebook I picked up in Acadia, called Rock Climbing New England. Before the big dig, the Quarry was about 20 feet deeper, some of it was on private land and fenced off, and a much greater portion was filled with water.
Today the once 70 foot walls have been filled in with dirt from the big dig to reduce the cliffs to 50 foot climbs, and the private land has been opened up allowing access to a few more walls. Almost all the routes in my guidebook look radically different. Since I’m new to climbing, I only know the Quarries in the state they are today. There are some convenient anchor bolts on top of cliffs you can scramble up in sections. A good portion of the Quarry is covered in graffiti as well which can make starting holds slippery.
First pitch of the day
Since we haven’t looked into the new route descriptions much, we don’t always know what a routes agreed rating is, which can be fun, and sometimes frustrating. A few weeks ago Sukes and I were climbing with our friend Mike on some new routes for us, and I hadn’t made it up the harder one, so that’s what Sukes and I set on first.
I climb in the gym with Dwight, but he hadn’t made it outdoors yet, and was a little challenged by the granite, and small, questionable footholds. Sukes and I sent the first pitch, which I felt pretty good about after floundering at the crux on my previous attempt. Dwight gave it a good effort, but decided to call it so we would have time to set a different route.
I was interested in which route we’d been on, so I did a little searching this afternoon and found a great site with details on the various quarry walls. They also had a great diagram of the routes on K wall, one of the highest and probably most popular. Oddly, we were the only group there until about 10 and then by 11 one or two other groups were trickling in.
The route we hit first was described as “Pins”, a 5.9 that mostly goes straight up a small crack system. The crux is right in the middle of the wall where there is a large pocket. It’s labeled in green in the diagram of K wall.
Resetting and bouldering
While Sukes pulled the anchor I coiled up my rope and we headed over to the shorter M wall to set on a route Mike, Sukes and I had a good time on, figuring it would be easier and give our fingers a rest. While Dwight was climbing with me on belay, Sukes, who apparently has balls of steel, solo’d the ~5.5-5.6 to our right and topped out at about 25-30 feet.
Dwight eventually had to head out, so Sukes belayed me up the pitch, which I couldn’t find a description of, but maybe varied between a 5.5 – 5.7. It has an interesting start, with a big slab and juggy holds in the middle and a couple fun moves near the top. After a clean climb, Sukes and I were feeling good but not particularly interested in setting up another anchor, so we started bouldering.
To our right on the M face, there were some nice undercling moves and a crack system leading up to a big jug ledge that we attempted a few different ways. As it was getting towards noon we headed out and avoided getting burned from the peak sun of the day.
We’ll probably be hitting the Quarries again next weekend in preparation for some picturesque climbing in a few weeks up in Acadia, which we made a trip to late last fall.
I can’t wait for some views like this: