Wednesday, June 10, 2009


When I was a junior and senior at Simsbury High School in Simsbury, Connecticut back in 1971 and 1972; some of my friends and I used to go climb the rock cliffs of "Ragged Mountain" located in Southington, Connecticut. Paul Tuller, Bill DeMallie, Arno Schwartz, Tony Trocchi, Mike Paine, and a few other Simsbury High friends used to scale these rock trails as we had climbing ropes, caribiners, "hexcentrics", and other climbing apparatus to assist our climbs.

We used to "belay" each other as one person would be bolted into the top of the climb with a "hexcentric" nut wedged into a secure part of the rock with a caribiner attached to the hexcentric nut and the rope run through the caribiner. We would then wrap the rope around the back of the person on top of the climb and he would take up the slack rope as the climber ascended the climbing route. If the climber stumbled of slipped the "belayer" on top of the climb would put the rope across the front of his chest and be able to hold the climber so that he wouldn't fall.

In rock climbing sometimes you are literally hanging by your fingertips. Rock climbing is almost similar to playing chess as you have to look at the rock above and each side of you trying to figured out what your next moves will be for hand and foot placement. You then go over potential moves in your mind and then execute your plan to attack the rock.

One kind of scary situation is when you encounter and overhang above you when you have to reach up and in back of yourself so that you can scale this rock projection. This type of situation sometimes causes "sewing machine" legs as your legs start to involuntarily shake at the thought of no longer climbing vertically up the climbing route.

There are some times in a climb where you can use a "chimney technique" where you encounter a long vertical crack in the rock. What you do is put your hands next to each other with one hand on top of the other inside the vertical crack and push your arms away from the crack while you feet are on the rock and start creeping up the rock. Some of these techniques are easier to learn by seeing and doing that describing with words.

I remember one trip to "Ragged Mountain" I was with Bill DeMallie and Arno Schwartz. I was "belaying" Arno on his climb when he slipped quite near the top of the climb but I was able to save him from falling about seventy feet on to the rocks below.

We camped at the top of the mountain after our climbing day was through.