Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Hideaway

I’m in Rhode Island this week visiting family, and decided yesterday to check out a spot in Massachusetts that I hadn’t yet climbed at: The Hideaway.

The Hideaway is actually two small areas, the Hideaway and the Happy Valley, separated by a ten minute walk. Like Great Barrington and Farley, the rock is gneiss; unlike those areas, the access situation is stable. I think that Tim Kemple decided to include the Hideaway in his New England Bouldering guidebook to relieve the pressure on GB and Farley while their access situations were straightened out. The Hideaway is one of those areas that makes you wonder “how did anyone ever find this place?” It’s a ten minute walk from the car, in a flat deciduous forest completely devoid of any stone. Not surprisingly, the climbing here was discovered and developed by Ward Smith et al, the motivated members of “Team Tough” who developed much of the sport climbing at Rumney. Most of the bouldering is on small cliff bands, and though the area is pretty small, there’s a high concentration of quality hard problems.

The Lurking Blocs of the Happy Valley
I started out at the Happy Valley, which was unfortunately still damp from rain earlier in the week. It felt like déjà vu; the last time that I tried to climb in Happy Valley, the wall was seeping and soggy despite it not having rained in at least a week. Still, the boulders here are amazing. The curved, overhanging swoops of gneiss are so clean and picturesque they look like fancy new gym walls. There were several problems I wanted to try, especially one called Sleeping Giant. Twenty feet tall, twenty degrees overhung, with beautifully sculpted incuts the whole way to a blank mantle over a perfect landing. It would definitely be five stars anywhere.

Sleeping Giant Climbs the Far Side of This Wall

I tried Sleeping Giant about ten times before my hand slipped off the crux holds and I fell flat on my rump. With it being wet, and the temperature ninety degrees, I decided to leave it for another day. I also tried Press Your Luck, which was much harder and just as damp, but had the sort of guidebook description you can’t say no to: “Stand start on a sloping jug. Big Money, No Whammies!” Okay...

Press Your Luck
The climb was two moves to what looked like a crux mantle. I did the first (easy) move and decided I wouldn’t press my luck. I moved on to the Hideaway, which was much drier. I tried Ward Smith’s testpiece Y2K9 for a while, but it too proved too much for me. I did some mellow climbs to cool down, then headed home. I’d recommend this spot to anyone in the area, provided it hasn’t rained for at least a week so the gems at the Happy Valley have time to dry. While New England lacks the expansive climbing areas found in the Northwest (even Pawtuckaway is only the size of two or three of Leavenworth’s larger areas), the small areas scattered about do have some amazing problems on really great stone. The weather, however, is another story...

The Millenium Boulder at the Hideaway

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