(Informal) Trip Report: Hammond Ponds – Newton, MA
Just as I was trying to figure out how to write an intro to this trip report, a pretty sweet climbing video was sent my way. Normally, climbing videos are all about some sick first ascent on a crazy 5.15 in Spain or some dizzying bouldering problem in rural China. I love those videos, but I got to admit – I love this video more.
(Now is when you go watch the video – even if you aren’t a climber. Just hear me out.)
So why do I love this video so much? Well, every once in a great while, it’s really nice to just forget about numbers. So much of our life is focused around these darn digits the world becomes calm when you just stop focusing on them. For a moment, your age doesn’t matter. You can act like a little kid. All those stressful numbers preceded by dollar signs fall away. Bike rides don’t have a distance requirement. Runs don’t have a pace to beat. And rock-climbing routes are all about movement and the thrill, not the 5.something.
For a brief moment in time, being outside doing something you love is really about that thing you love. You know – the passion, stoke, thrill, or whatever it is you call it. You’re challenged and enlightened. You’re using all your senses and you feel alive. It’s a sweet feeling.
And for me, that’s what Sunday of this past weekend was all about.
Rob and I met up with Andy (@aframe) and his son Jack at Hammond Ponds just outside of Boston. Joining our group for the first time was fellow #ClimbChat participant Laurie (@laurietewksbury) and her cousin Caroline – a first time climber. I have to admit I was totally skeptical at first when I looked up the directions and realized we were literally going to be climbing in the woods behind a mall, but I am so very glad I went.
Somehow out of nowhere were these massive rocks comprised of this almost unnatural looking stone that Andy informed me was called “puddingstone”. I’ve been so accustom to granite that this stuff felt like gym rock with its combination of smooth pebbles and rough sediment. Crazy stuff and apparently it’s the state rock of Massachusetts. (Now you can say you learnt a new fact today!)
I have to admit that I have no idea exactly what we climbed or what those routes might have been called. I won’t even begin to make a guess of difficulty or even describe what moves we all used. Sunday was about having fun. We climbed a bunch of routes on what I think was “Lower Walls”. Gave bouldering a good effort in “The Alcove” and then moved on to a fun wall that I really don’t know the name of.
Andy and Jack showed off their pretty mad skills and got a few rappels in. Rob finally learnt for once and all I won’t drop him even if I get pulled off the ground. Laurie was glad to know that after a year away from climbing she still had it in her. And first time climber Caroline was quickly becoming addicted to both climbing and playing with loose chalk. All good stuff.
That last wall was where it really sunk in that while I had no idea what I was doing, I was having fun. The afternoon sun was blinding me, some sharp rocks were chewing my hands up, and I stuck my first outdoor dyno (ok, clumsy attempt – but I’m counting it). For all I know the route was a 5.3 (it wasn’t), but seriously – I loved every minute all the way to the very top. And that’s what being outside should be all about, right?
Thanks for a sweet day of climbing Andy, Jack, Laurie, Caroline, and Rob!