Rose Ledge consists of a series of small cliffs on the east side of the Connecticut River Valley, in very north central Massachusetts. Rose Ledge is principally a toprope area because the cliffs are quite short - not much more than 50 feet high, at most. Many of the routes can be led using a trad rack if you're so inclined, and there are a number of routes with pretty moderate grades, which makes Rose Ledge a great place to learn how to lead with trad gear. There are really no sport routes at Rose, due to the traditional ethic that is the norm at this crag. What Rose Ledge lacks in size, it makes up for in quality. It's absolutely worth a visit if you're in the area.
Rose Ledge is located on Northfield Mountain. Northfield Mountain is owned and operated by FirstLight Power Resources, formerly Northeast Utilities, which is a local utility. FirstLight has a hydroelectric reservoir at the top of Northfield Mountain, and you'll see related electrical infrastructure - overhead power lines, an electrical substation near FirstLight's Northfield Mountain Visitor Center, etc. - on your approach to Rose Ledge. FirstLight hosts summer outdoor programs and a winter cross-country ski area on the mountain, and Northfield Mountain's trails are popular with hikers and mountain bikers. A number of schools, colleges and universities in the area teach introductory rock climbing at Rose Ledge, and climbers regularly visit Rose from at least as far away as Boston.
The rock at Rose Ledge is horizontally stratified gneiss. The rock is pretty solid, and Rose Ledge is home to routes that range from 5.3 or so up through 5.13. There are a number of really popular routes at Rose. These routes date to at least the early 1970s, when Rose Ledge was frequented by Dave Rikert, and then by Al DeMaria of Vulgarian fame and Al's students and instructors from his excellent outdoors and rock climbing programs at the nearby Northfield Mount Hermon School (NMH). These routes -- including Fist Fight, Tennessee, Double Overhead Cam, Leave it to Beaver, Rikert's Corner, and Ben's Boot -- have been given these names -- the names that Al and his programs used in the mid-1970's -- on an "Also Kown As" ("aka") basis in this online guide, with modern route names used first, in order to make it easier for today's visitors to find these routes.
As of 2009, Al Rubin's excellent guide, "Rose Ledge Rock Climbs (2nd Edition)," is once again in print, and this guide is an encyclopedic source of information on rock climbing at Rose that provides far more information than we've assembled here, and Al's guide also includes a lot of information on routes that are less heavily used. As of January 2012, this writer was able to acquire a copy of Al's guide via the Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition website (see below). It's possible that Al's guide is also available elsewhere, either online or in a retail shop. Please consider supporting Al's efforts by buying a copy of his guide.
A note on climbing advocacy and access issues at Rose Ledge:The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition has done a lot of good work to improve and maintain access and trails to Rose Ledge; to maintain a good relationship between the climbing community and FirstLight Power; and to mediate conflicts between climbers and the folks who own property on Poplar Mountain Road, which is home to a popular but very small parking lot that is heavily used by climbers. The relationships that the WMCC has developed with FirstLight and the related Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center and local climbers and property owners have played crucial roles in keeping Rose Ledge open and accessible to the climbing community. Please see the WMCC website for current information on access and relations with FirstLight and local property owners before you visit Rose Ledge. Please follow WMCC's advice on any and all local issues regarding bolting (don't do it) and access to climbing at Rose Ledge, and respect any and all rules posted regarding climbing or access to Rose Ledge. That's the best way to assure that the climbing community will continue to enjoy access to this beautiful crag.
Driving Directions: (From the FirstLight Power Resources website)
Northfield Mountain is located on Route 63, two miles north of Route 2, or five miles south of Route 10, in Northfield, Massachusetts.
TRAVELING NORTH ON I-91: Travel Route 91 North to Exit 27. Travel Route 2 East for eight miles. Turn left onto Route 63 North. Travel two miles. Northfield Mountain is on the right.
TRAVELING SOUTH ON I-91: Travel Route 91 South to Exit 28. Turn left onto Route 10 North for five miles (heading toward Northfield). Turn right onto Route 63 South for five miles. Northfield Mountain is on the left.
TRAVELING FROM THE EAST: Take Route 2 West. Approximately 6.5 miles after the Erving Paper Mill, take a right onto Route 63 North. Follow Route 63 for 2 miles. Northfield Mountain is on the right.
TRAVELING FROM THE WEST: Take Route 2 East to Greenfield. Travel on Route 2 East/Route 91 north, getting off at Exit 27. Continue on Route 2 East for approximately 8 miles to Route 63 North. Turn left onto Route 63 North. Northfield Mountain is 2 miles up on the right.
Parking: Northfield Mountain has a Visitor Center, which is the most spacious option for parking. Please use the Visitor Center if you're bringing a dog to Rose Ledge. There is also a small parking area on private property on Poplar Mountain Road. Poplar Mountain Road is the first street on the east side of Route 63, south of Northfield Mountain. The Poplar Mountain Road parking area is about 1/4 mile up Poplar Mountain Road, on the left, across the street from an obvious private garage. This lot is private property and the owners have been gracious enough to allow cars to park here for years, so please be considerate. If there's a fee box in the lot, please pay to park in the Poplar Mountain Road parking lot.
An important note about access to Rose Ledge from Poplar Mountain Road: Un-neighborly and insensitive behavior in and around the Poplar Mountain Road parking lot and along Poplar Mountain Road has, at times, been the focus of some serious conflicts between climbers and the people who live or work on Poplar Mountain Road. Climbers' use of Poplar Mountain Road for access to Rose Ledge is a privilege; it's not a right. When conflict with the locals has flared, as it did in late summer 2009, access to Rose Ledge from Poplar Mountain Road has been lost altogether for years. Each of us has to do our part in order to assure that we can continue to enjoy the use of Poplar Mountain Road for access to Rose Ledge. Please park at the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center if the Poplar Mountain Road lot is full. Don't park on the shoulder of Poplar Mountain Road. Don't block the dirt road at the top of Poplar Mountain Road with your vehicle - it's a local property owner's access road, and they use it frequently. Carry your gear to and from the Poplar Mountain Road parking lot - don't drop it off on the dirt road at the top of Poplar Mountain Road. If you bring your dog to the crag, please use the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center parking lot for access to Rose. The locals on Poplar Mountain Road have specifically asked that you not walk your dog - on leash or unleashed - on Poplar Mountain Road, as that invariably causes a ruckus with the local critters. Laziness, insensitivity, or impatience with the short approach to Rose Ledge - even via the somewhat longer approach from the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center - are not acceptable excuses for creating or exacerbating conflicts between the climbing community and the folks who live or work on Poplar Mountain Road. See the Rose Ledge page on the Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition website for information on current access issues on Poplar Mountain Road.
Approaching from FirstLight Power's Northfield Mountain Visitor Center parking lot: Walk south on the Jug End trail (a ski trail in winter), beneath high tension power lines, until you reach the Rock Oak Ramble trail on the left. Rock Oak Ramble is a well maintained foot trail - a ski trail in winter - that climbs steadily up the mountain. Take the second right onto the Rose Ledge Foot Trail just before the main trail trends somewhat steeply uphill toward Yellowjacket Pass. This intersection is marked, as of Summer 2007, with a sign that points out both the way to Yellowjacket Pass, and the turn onto Rose Ledge Foot Trail. As you walk up the Rose Ledge Foot Train, Rose Ledge will begin to appear through the woods on the left side of the trail, initially as low, somewhat rambling outcrops, and then as increasingly taller cliffs. Approach time: About 35 minutes.
Approaching from the Poplar Mountain Road parking lot: Walk up the hill to the end of the paved road, and then up a trail that angles somewhat left into the woods. Cross the Jug End Trail at a high tension power line and walk up Rock Oak Ramble, approaching Rose Ledge as for the approach from the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center. Approach time: About 20 minutes.
This is a face and flake climb with a (formerly) Tennessee-shaped flake near its top. It is a bit runout at the top if you choose to lead it. Rated 5.7 in the 1970s, the loss of a key part of the Tennessee flake since that time has resulted in a change in grade to a current consensus of 5.9 to 5.11, depending upon your reach. To most folks, the crux of this route will seem like pretty solid 5.10, with small crimpy handholds, delicate, balancy footwork, and a long reach to more reassuring hold...[more]Browse More Classics in MA
By E thatcher From: Plymouth/ North Conway (NH) Apr 12, 2009
Climbed here for the first time today and there was some really incredible climbs for sure. The one thing that was a bummer besides height were the bolts. I'm not an ethical purist by any means (Rumney's home crag) and I agree with TR anchors to save trees, but the bolting here is a bummer at best and disgusting at worse. Saw at least a half dozen half drilled bolt holes were it looks like some one started drilling and then thought of a better place. Didn't look like Ken N.'s chopping work cause there was no damage besides half drilled holes. Worse then that were two bolts, presumably for TR. Both of them were on their own however, one was right above a perfectly suitable horizontal, and the other one WAS IN A HORIZONTAL CRACK, that could easily fit three bomber pieces...What the F#@!
By E thatcher From: Plymouth/ North Conway (NH) May 1, 2009
jrathfon, I'm glad some one responded. As I mentioned I appreciate the TR anchors meant to aid in saving the vegetation, but those bolts aren't needed in to back up a horizontal since cams would be perfectly suitable. I don't find the user group to be a valid excuse for throwing bolts in for TR were a gear anchor would be bomber. That argument is exactly the same to me as though some one were making an excuse for bolting a crack. "College kids want to lead the crack, so we protected it with bolts since they don't know how to place gear." If all of the gear anchors have bolts, then what's to push them to learn to place gear. By the way, I am a college freshman leading trad and have been since last summer. My position would have been the same before I started leading, so the school group and college student argument really doesn't hold water in my book. It sounds like you or other locals have put some good work into making the climbs accessible. I applaud that and say thank you, I certainly enjoyed it on my visit.
In the interest of historical perspective, I've reported the names that routes have been known by over the years based on the best information that I have. It's certainly possible that my information on ascents in the 1970s - and this is typically from my firsthand experience of these routes from this era - isn't the real skinny on the ratings, the first ascents or the routes' names when they were first climbed.
When I've become aware of a currently, widely used name for a route, I've updated my route description with that name in the interest of making it easier for people to find routes in this guide. I'm not interested in being the Righteous Route Name Police. If you want to post a helpful update on a route description that I've provided (don't be a troll about it), your feedback is welcome.
Mr. Rathfon's guide?? Yeah, that's what he'd like you to think. More like a WORD FOR WORD COPY OF AL RUBIN'S GUIDE. As an academic, I'd think you would be more cautious of blatant plagiarism. Tisk, tisk.
On this past Sunday, my car was broken into and over 5,000 dollars’ worth of gear was stolen at Rose Ledge in Northfield, Massachusetts.
Below is a list of what was stolen, with the more odd/personal stuff highlighted (pictures included at bottom).
Thank you - I've also included contact information for both myself and the police officer who came to the scene.
A full trad rack including:
a full range of C4s to 3 - some doubles a full range of C3s (except the smallest) a full set of ball nuts - LINK to picture 30ish stoppers - mostly BD but some DMMs in there, too. Standard, grey, Mammut rope. All gear was on a gear sling - each piece was attached with their own, gold, keyless Black Diamond biner. There is more misc. trad/climbing gear too, but that's the gist. All of this gear was in a Mammut Neon Gear 45 Pack.
There were also 2 large packs of camping gear stolen including:
a North Face Flight Series pack - red and grey - roughly 3500 cu inches an Osprey pack - roughly 4500-5000 cu inches - blue and grey a Jet Boil w/ all accessories a MSR internation stove - I bought this stove from EMS as a no return/as is - IT SAYS THIS ON THE BLACK BAG THE STOVE COMES IN headlamps - Tikka plus, Princeton Tec (one with just one led and 3AAA(all black), one with 4AA on back - (orange/black) two sleeping bags - one EMS 5 degree and one Mountain Hardware -30F, both with stuff sacks (I think the EMS bag is blue/grey and the Mountain Gardware is green/grey). There was a bunch of other camping gear - I can't even begin to think what else was in there. Thank you for your help and your keen eyes. (I've also attached the two pictures incase the links do not work.)
John Richardson 413-387-7160 firstname.lastname@example.org
Erving Police - Jim Loynd 413-423-3310 / 413-625-8200