Thursday, June 18, 2009

Turtlehead Boulder, Borderland

One of the traditions of bouldering is to name the rocks. It's a bit of a mystery to me who gets to name a boulder. Maybe it's the first climber to find a rock and bother to name it. Perhaps the honor should go to the first to climb it. Giving a unique name to a rock has obvious advantages, if for no other reason than to help other climbers find it.

Several of the boulders in Borderland State Park have names that have been published online on New England Bouldering and the Mountain Project. I've been able find - if not climb - a few of these rocks including the Ames Boulder, Hardly Working and the Ridge Boulder.

One rock I like may or may not have a name already, but for now I call it "Turtlehead" because it looks like the head of a giant tortoise emerging from the bowels of the Earth. It is right in the middle of the French Trail, not far from its intersection with the West Side Trail. This boulder is in an area with many other good climbing opportunities for beginning and advanced climbers.

This is not a large boulder - maybe 8 feet high - but it has a variety of climbs good for beginners. A few routes have generous handholds and footholds, and one side has a sloping slab with small finger-holds where a climber can practice trusting the grip of his shoes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Ridge Boulder

Thanks to the good people at The Mountain Project and their detailed information about bouldering in Borderland State Park in Sharon and Easton, Massachusetts, I found another good climbing boulder close to home. As if carefully placed in the forest by the giant unseen hand of God, the Ridge Boulder sits in the forest at the end of the Ridge Trail about a tenth of a mile up an old woods road from Mountain Street in Sharon.
This big granite erratic is about 15 feet tall and offers many different routes to the top. So far, I've been able to climb four of the easier routes, but there are at least that many more that may be forever out of reach for me but might be fun for those with more favorable power/weight ratios.

On our first visit to this rock, climbing buddy Shai and I met Aubrey, a local climber with lots of experience in the area. He generously offered a couple of beginners lots of good tips and let us use one of his crash pads. Aubrey was wearing a climbing helmet. Many may think that wearing a helmet for bouldering is overkill, but it turns out that Aubrey is a neurologist. Now, when a neurologist - someone who knows a thing or two about head injuries - wears a helmet, I pay attention. Call me a dork, but I now wear one too.