Saturday, we woke up to spring like weather and decided we must take advantage of it. It was unbelievably warm and comforting to drive with the windows down again. Therefore, we went to meet up with some friends for a few climbs at one of our local areas, Bradley.
Despite Bradley being one of the closest outdoor climbing areas to our home, we haven’t really been there all that much. That does not suggest, however, that it is a place not worth going to. There are many nice things about the area.
One thing I found comforting, was that while the non-climbers there do not necessarily know more about climbers than any other non-climbers, they seem to have accepted climbers as part of their community and welcome them. We walked by people hiking or walking their dogs who instantly recognized what we were there for and welcomed us with a friendly comment or two. Some of these comments, while meant to be harmless, still held some of the misconceptions of climbing that people who do not climb have. For instance, saying they hoped we never actually needed to use those crash pads, or assuming we were probably ice climbing because it was winter, even though there was not ice there. Regardless, it is always nice to be greeted with a friendly response. There are many places where people doing other activities keep to themselves and refuse to say anything as they pass you. There are also places where you get a million questions about what all your gear is like no one there has ever seen a climber before. It felt nice to head up the approach seeing smiles, hearing cheerful greetings and encouragement, and feeling like we were expected and accepted there.
Another nice thing about Bradley, is that the approach is on the easier side. To clarify this, it is not a super short approach but a decently flat approach. We are particular in what is considered a short approach these days after climbing at Lincoln Woods, where you can pull your car right up to many of the boulders, Rumney, which has some road side boulders, and Chatfield Hollow, which is like three minutes into the woods. Compared to approaches such as these, it is a little on the longer side. Probably a 10 to 20 minute walk in (or at least it feels this way, I didn’t actually time), depending on your speed. The approach is definitely on the easy hiking side.
The nicest thing about Bradley, is that the rock is created with beautiful colors that make the boulders look like real works of art. Some of them look like various natural colors of paint seeped down from the top like the melting snow leaving rich colorful patterns. Others have a stunning combination of chocolate color browns. It is very unfortunate that some of them have been tagged with ridiculous graffiti.
We walked up the snow covered approach, which only resembles a trail due to the snowmobile tracks and footsteps from those who have hiked after the snow fell. The sun was shining blindly, bright with a warmth reminiscent of a summer day. The snow shushed beneath our feet as it slowly began to melt with each step.
Once we reached the boulders, hearing the excited grunts and try hard yells of our friends and fellow boulders, we settled our gear in front of Busted Shadow. Five or more people were switching on and off the boulder giving it their best strength and probably some skin. It was exciting to watch the progression, the trial and error, the beta exchange, and the helpful hands that boasted climbers into projecting positions. You could tell by the facial expressions of strain and the exasperated noises, that everyone was giving it their all. However, they were all having fun as well. Jokes bounced between them, smiles and laughs slid with ease across each face, and a plethora of encouragement sounded across the scene. All of them pieced together large portions of the route, and each expressed a desire to come back for the final send.
Gradually, everyone started to disperse to new boulders wanting to explore as much as possible and map out which climbs demanded a return trip. The next goal was to look at Suspect Device. Many of the climbers quickly continued to the next boulder upon seeing how much water was seeping down the overhung route. However, Josh and Jonah decided to stay and give it a few tries seeing that for the most part the necessary holds were dry, at least for the bottom half. The melting snow rained down from the top, but as long as one stood close to the wall, they would find spots of dry area to keep their shoes from getting damp.
Jonah was excited to get on the climb, but found after a few days of climbing in a row, the skin on his fingertips were begging for a break and refusing to allow much progress. Josh, however, was in his element on the tiny crimps and making quick progression. It was inspiring to watch with what ease he accomplished each move and began to link them. We felt certain this climb will turn into a send, but with the wet, snow/ice covered top and the desire to save some energy for the next day of climbing, it would have to wait.
There was a wall of easier climbs, submerged in dripping water, that I managed to make some sends on. Could soaked hold climbing raise the grade? Probably not. They were easy enough, for me, to not make note worthy accomplishments, but fun none the less. It is important for anyone planning a trip to Bradley to note, though, that this is not a location known for easy bouldering. There are only a handful of climbs V6 or under, from what I heard. It is a great spot to try hard though and admire some gorgeously colored rock.