Climbing in Connecticut dates back before the 1930’s when college outing clubs such as the Yale Mountaineering Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club were the on the edge with exploring these wild places to climb. The state is rich with classics, put up by legends such as Fritz Wiessner, John Reppy, Sam Streibert, Layton Kor, Henry Barber, and many other local heroes pushing the limits of free climbing.
The Central region of the state boasts the Traprock Ridge which contains gems like Ragged Mountain Main Cliff, East Peak, Pinnacle, CatHole and tons of smaller areas. This area also has great potential for bouldering near the climbing areas. The rock is basalt, a volcanic rock from ions ago. The texture is somewhat smooth similar to bullet sandstone, but the sharp edges and unique features offer a distinct feel to the rock. There are as many face climbs as there are crack systems to climb in the area, perfect splitters are few and usually rounded off making for some interesting climbing.
The South Central region of Connecticut along the shoreline offers plenty of climbing opportunities. Most notable is Chatfield Hollow in Killingworth. The short approach, easy parking located on state land and a wide range of climbs, although few in comparison to the mid state traprock, make this a favorite quick fix destination for area climbers. You are treated to some high quality granitic gneiss here, overhanging faces and great cracks, well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Bouldering can be found everywhere in Connecticut, there are glacial erratic boulders strewn across the state thanks to the second ice age. Mystic, Haddam, West Hartford, New Haven, and even Fairfield County, offer notable bouldering areas. Hammonasset State Park even has camping with facilities in a state beach park with some bouldering on the shore.
Climbing in Connecticut is awesome, even though we do not have the sweeping ridge lines of some of our western neighbors, the character of the climbing makes up for any lack of height. Crag height ranges from about 110 feet to 30 foot power climbs. The grading here seems to be stiff to some (aka Sandbagged); many classics have been up since the 1930’s when a 5.7 was cutting edge! Many climbers find that the trad leads can be quite exhilarating, be warned that fixed protection is not always a given due to a tumultuous history in the state so be ready for some surprises and don't trust any descriptions listing fixed gear in guidebooks.
Historically, CT climbers have been held hostage to a small minority that enforce a super pure ethic at all costs and as a result top roping is common at all of the climbing areas rather then mixed routes or sport routes. This widespread top roping usually utilizes long static ropes or 1” webbing for anchors and often uses trees or a mix of gear and vegetation. This has resulted in widespread damage to clifftop ecology across most of the popular climbing areas. Fixed anchors have been proposed and talked about at many crags but, the minority who hold these areas hostage through vandalizing any conservation efforts, do serious disservice to our crags. One recent example were the anchors installed at the Great Ledge in South Western CT. Anchors were installed in the spring of 2011 to deal with widespread damage to the cliff top. Shortly after their installation a local father and son visited the crag and vandalized all the anchors redering them unusable and left the smashed bolts all over the cliff top creating a major eyesore. There are hopes, by many, that this narrow-minded view of this radical minority is dwindling in place of a more rational approach to climbing and conservation using a variety of techniques including, but not limited to, fixed protection. So please, look for bolted anchors or attempt setup a gear anchor before you tie off to a tree!!!
Currently there is only one guide book in print; The Falcon Guide- Rock Climbing Connecticut by David Fasulo, although there have been several other guide books published by the American Alpine Club and the Ragged Mountain Foundation which are out of print.
This state has tons of climbing, strong ethics and all that information is too much for any one person to take on. Please contribute your experiences and knowledge, every contribution is appreciated.
Check out Connecticut Climbers and Mountaineers and The Ragged Mountain Foundation
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Featured Route For Connecticut
: Connecticut Bouldering
: ... : El Duque Wall
This stellar climb starts on the jug and crimper just below the large arching crack on the left end of the wall. From the start reach up right to the crack system. Move up to a great jug and then begin the traverse of the arching crack. Climb the crack to the top of the arch and continue traversing out left to topout. Great climbing! Originally, topped out right. ...[more] Browse More Classics in CT
Cat Crack, a Connecticut Classic
Mianus River park boulder