Climbing Crags: Ross Rocks, CT
Article by: Brian Phillips
Photos by: Brian Phillips & David Fasulo
Rhode Island like its diminutive size has little boulders with very little climbing that involves more than a half dozen moves from sitting on the ground. Few people realize that four and a half miles over the Rhode Island border in Killingly Connecticut there are 85-foot cliffs. Here lies Ross Rocks which many of the locals jokingly refer to as a Rhode Island crag located in Connecticut. Also called Ross Pond, it is 40 minutes from Providence and due to its proximity is mostly frequented by Rhode Island climbers.
The cliff has a long climbing history. The AMC climbed here in the 1950s as evidenced by the ring pitons on some of the routes that were probably aid climbed. There is no conclusive information as to who first climbed many of these routes despite claimed first ascents. Like all Connecticut climbing Ross Pond is not without controversy. There were four sport routes that existed here for a few years. They were very popular especially the climb La Mesa, a 5.9 on Table Rock. After a photo of the climb appeared on the cover of Rock and Ice in April 2013 all the bolts at Ross Rocks were chopped. http://issuu.com/rock-and-ice/docs/209-s?e=0/1819583
The cliffs range from 30 to 85 feet in height and in total are about a quarter mile long. There are four main areas: the Parking Lot Wall, the Party Wall which is easily identified by its large roof, the Orange (AKA Big Wall) which is the tallest at 85 feet high, and the North End which has some good trad leads like Disneyworld 5.7.
All routes can easily be top-roped and many of the routes can be led with adequate protection. The grades of the routes range from 5.5 to 5.12 and the grading is, like the rest of Connecticut, stiff. Some of the routes here are over-hanging and you may be placing gear while hanging off one hand so be comfortable leading at the grade. Examples of stiff leads are The Good Book 5.9+ around the corner from the Parking Lot Wall and Devil’s Lettuce 5.8 on the Party Wall. If you go to Ross Rocks to climb all you need is a 100 ft length of static rope or lots of long webbing to set up the climbs on top-rope. If you are leading you will need a single trad rack.
Ross Rocks also has some decent ice climbing that sets up in the corner of the Orange Wall. It is an 85-foot ice climb and depending on the amount of ice and how it sets up ranges from WI4 to WI5. However, conditions must be right for it to be in and some years the ice never comes in.
Dave Fasulo’s 2015 guidebook Rock Climbing Connecticut describes Ross Rocks. The ClimbRI website at climbri.org has the most complete information on the area http://www.climbri.org/ross.htm.
If you want any specific beta on the area or climbs shoot me an email. Brian Phillips firstname.lastname@example.org