CT Climbing, Photo: Nate Labieniec
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 a long and wild history of access issues. There are several organizations associated with climbing in CT...
Check out Appalachian Mountain Club
, Connecticut Climbers and Mountaineers
and The Ragged Mountain Foundation
Please contribute your experiences and knowledge to MP and a few dollars if you can spare to any one of the above organizations, contributions are greatly appreciated
Tread lightly and climb on!
Conneticut Geologic Regions
Climbing Season For the All Locations area.
Weather station 1.8 miles from here
1,179 Total Routes
['4 Stars',75],['3 Stars',408],['2 Stars',450],['1 Star',217],['Bomb',7]
Browse More Classics in Connecticut
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Connecticut:
Featured Route For Connecticut
Enter The Colossus V4-5 6B+
: CT Bouldering
: ... : Colossus Boulder
This line has it all... It is the 400 lbs. elephant in the room. Start on the right side of the Colossus boulder on the obvious jug under the overhang. Fire up to two perfect crimpers and prepare to Enter the Colossus. Fire though the next section of holds to the lip at 20+ ft. About as classy as you can imagine....[more] Browse More Classics in CT
Latest Regional Forum Messages
Mianus River park boulder
Cat Crack, a Connecticut Classic
By Morgan Patterson
Aug 26, 2014
They show up that way because you rated them only one star, but appear based on community ratings... so says Nick.
By T Roper
Apr 16, 2015
if there is a map of the state showing regions why not list the areas as those regions instead of this coastal slope confusion?
From: North Kingstown, RI
Aug 25, 2015
I think including a map help would help? I have to agree with Mike that most people don't know what/where a coastal slope is. I found this map via a search for Connecticut coastal slope.
By Morgan Patterson
6 days ago
Perfect thanks Brian! Do you have a link for that map so I can cite it and use it on the CT page?
I made the change from N/S/E/W to the geographic regions for various reasons, one being to educate people who climb in our state. I switched to this language and to educate folks but also provide a different perspective on our state, one which includes its unique geological history. It provides a better perspective of the landscapes of CT.
I figured if I got enough complaints I would revert back to the generic compass references rather than the geographic ones but I think the terms really bring about a better sense of identity or understanding of the land and state as you peruse the state on MP and even drive through it in person. I took a few courses back in college about language, nature and culture... one of the things we look at was how the different uses of language link cultures and people to the land. N/S/E/W is a white wash of the uniqueness of our state and provides little understanding of our land, it's bland and provides no connection to the state. The current breakdown identifies with our land, provides perspective, and I think might educate a few people along the way.
Clearly I put too much time into this one...