Page Update StatusThe page is largely complete, though plenty of construction remains. I intend to return to the Quarries to be able to provide more route descriptions. Of course I will take more photographs: scenic overviews, marked-up topos, and action shots are all in the plan.
I also hope someday to add a section describing the Quarries' rich industrial and recreational histories.
Please contribute. Photos, topos, route descriptions, comments on the ratings. As each wall accumulates enough info, I'll promote it to a separate "Rock" page.
Quincy Quarries is arguably the largest, best, and best-known climbing area in the immediate vicinity of Boston. It is chiefly a destination for top-roping, with walls never exceeding 85 feet. Some walls have huge iron staples left over from quarrying operations, making it trivial to set up toprope anchors. Others have had eyelet bolts added at the lip. In some places you will have to run long slings from trees.
Bouldering is also popular here.
A few routes can be led trad.
Sport climbing is almost non-existent: one line of bolts on The Fortress, another (three bolts) on K Wall, two bizarrely placed bolts on the Blunt Arete (west end of M wall), maybe one or two more. A couple of old pitons have been left to rust in various other places, but don't even think about putting in new bolts.
Many climbs are slabby, but you can also find finger cracks, laybacks, sustained overhangs, and a big roof. Routes range from 5.2 to 5.12 and V4, but beware: ratings are rather unpredictable. Many, but not all, are sandbagged by at least a point. I will place the most egregiously sandbagged ratings in quotations. Where a climb can be comfortably led, I will follow the grade with a protection rating (G or PG). If I do not give a protection rating, assume that sufficient gear placements are not possible.
Getting ThereInterstate 93 (a.k.a. Southeast Expressway, also rte 1 and rte 3) to exit 8, just south of Boston.
You want Riciutti Drive (westbound), which is easy to find from 93 southbound: it's the first, sharp right from the exit ramp (where Willard St merges in from the left.) Thing are not quite so easy from 93 northbound: take exit 8 then follow signs for "Willard St" and "Quarry Hills": straight across Furnace Brook Parkway, continue straight instead of taking the left ramp onto 93 north, then take a sharp left onto Willard St. At the first intersection (with the southbound exit ramp), bear right (between Mr Tux on your right and the "Quarry Hills" development on your left): you are now heading west on Riciutti Drive.
Proceed west on Ricciutti Drive for about half a kilometer to some small parking turnoffs on your right. The first is usually gated, the second tends to be open on weekends, the third has no gate but holds only five cars (including a handicapped-only spot). Luckily you can also park along the street on the opposite side. Follow the obvious paved trail north from the five-car lot to the quarry.
Red TapeClosed after dark. Access is otherwise unrestricted. Quincy Quarries Reservation is owned and run by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
No bolting. Chalk is heavily used.
Routes MapThere are too many routes, and most are too short and obvious, for a route page for every route. My intention is to say a few words about each "wall", including pointing out a route or two on each that I find interesting. For a more complete listing with descriptions, purchase a copy of Boston Rocks.
The main quarry (the Granite Railway Quarry) is shaped a bit like a figure 8, with the west lobe (Little Granite Railway Quarry) smaller than the east lobe. (OK, not much like a figure 8, but that's the impression you get as you enter in between two major pits or lobes.) Climbable faces are known primarily by letters of the alphabet, starting west of the main entrance and proceeding clockwise. This page will follow the naming conventions from the second edition of _Boston Rocks_, which differs from the prior edition. The west lobe is largely flooded but has a walkway of blocks at the base of the walls. A walking path runs around the top of both lobes, with easy scramble routes to reach it.
Additional climbing (not shown) can be found in the adjacent Swingle's Quarry (east of the east pit of Granite Quarry) and Badger's Quarry (east of Swingle's), and there are some other rocks and pits in the woods, including Bernie's Quarry across the road and Bunker Hill Quarry nearby, not to mention Rattlesnake Rocks in the neighboring Blue Hills reservation.
Routes - West LobePerhaps as a deliberate remembrance of the days before the quarry was partially filled in, the west lobe is flooded with water. A causeway of large stone blocks runs along the water's edge, and will keep your feet and rope dry (except at F and G walls during high water).
"Rarely climbed" -- never by me. Moving on...
B Wall a.k.a. Pink Face
Short and easy ramp, routes from 5.2 to 5.6. Good for total novices. Toprope from trees.
C Wall a.k.a. Reflector Oven
Extends along much of the northern wall of the west lobe. 3rd-class descent routes mark the boundaries (in a corner on the western end; alongside the big ledge that defines D wall at the other end). Short (45 ft), less than vertical, and slabby. Some routes, especially the harder ones, do not follow any particular landmark.
To quote _Boston Rocks_ again, "Most climbs here are harder than the stated grade. Deal with it."
Blood Streaks "5.9" At the western end of the wall, look for drips of red paint. The start is hard (thin and balancy).
Flake Direct 5.6 A typical climb for C wall. Look for the large flake in the center of the wall, extending from the ground to almost half the wall's height. Going up the left side of the flake is 5.4, the right side is 5.5, face-climbing up the center of the flake is 5.6 (if you can find the holds) -- but there's a 5.10 variation just to the left of center. Once standing on top of the flake, reach for a horizontal crack and you're home free.
To the right of C wall, a large ledge about 15 feet off the ground (er, water) defines D wall. I haven't climbed anything here, and _Boston Rocks_ lists no starred routes.
E Wall a.k.a. Savage Wall
Basically a continuation of D wall, but there's a descent route in betweeen. D Wall's ledge devolves into a low-angle scramble, with some short routes (5.4 to 5.10) above that.
It starts adjacent to E fall, but the defining feature of F wall is a huge slab at its right (southern) end, just before turning the corner to G Wall. This is actually the longest route in the quarry, at 85 ft.
Friction Pitch 5.2 Head up the big slab, starting at its lowest point. Standard finish bears left; going up the flake on the right is 5.4. Despite the name of the route, most of the "slab" is covered with small horizontal ridges that offer good holds, making this a great route for children. For a true friction climb check out R Wall.
Weird blocky shapes make this face easy to recognize, even if it didn't define the opening of the western lobe of the quarry. A fantastic beginner-to-moderate playground, featuring a 5.6 chimney, a 5.5 cavelet, and a 5.3 crack among routes up to 5.9. Long slings may be needed to set a good toprope anchor. Descent is to the north of I wall, or via the scramble between C and D wall. Unfortunately, the ground at the base of the wall is sometimes under water.
The huge roof to the right (north) of G Wall. Access is via stepping stones through a marshy area. I haven't climbed the roof yet - there's a smaller overhang to the right, with variations from 5.6 to 5.10, that suits me fine so far - but Doucette's description of the classic roof route is worth quoting:
" Under the Big Top 5.10 PG * The biggest roof at the Quarries. There are several variations and all are intimidating. The upper 12 ft fell off in the 90s, making the climb harder. (FA Eric Engberg, c.1982)"
Basically a continuation of H wall after the overhang subsides. Slabby, with a pond at the base making access awkward. Haven't tried it, but routes are rated 5.8 to 5.11.
Routes - East Lobe
The left (west) side of the imposing Tower of Power is probably the second-most popular wall at the Quarries, and for good reason. Named routes range from 5.4 to 5.10+, and six of them get stars in _Boston Rocks_. Eye bolts for toprope anchors, but bring some longer webbing for a backup anchor.
Layback 5.6 G/PG Climb the left-facing dihedral with a crack. Slippery feet at the start make it muscular for the grade. If you're looking for a route to learn leading on, I recommend you look elsewhere (try Knights' Wall).
Lurch 5.7 Stay near the blue paint spill, except for the start, which is from the rubble to the left (otherwise it's Lurch Direct, 5.10a). Crux is at the top.
Unquestionably the most popular wall, and not just because it's the only shady spot on hot afternoons. Slightly overhung, with near-vertical cracks. The route closest to the arete is a mere 5.8; the rest are 5.9 to 5.10+. Eye bolts for toprope, increasingly sparse as you head out the prow. The top of this rock can look like a spiderweb on busy days.
Outside Corner 5.8 G/PG The leftmost of the big right-leaning cracks. No actual crack technique needed until the very end (and maybe not then, if you're tall).
Bombay 5.10+ The rightmost right-leaning crack (about a foot wide at the bottom - hint hint). When this crack ends about halfway up, look left for an impossibly thin crack. An easier variation goes a bit further right instead. Bombay was originally an aid line (Ironmonger A2).
Click on the topo for additional routes.
The low (15') wall from which the Tower of Power springs. Immediately adjacent to K wall is a wide chimney with a couple of short 5.10 routes; a couple of V-shaped notches next to that can be bouldered (V0 for the left notch, V4 for the right); then a deep overhang begins (with an A3 crack just to the right of the notches). The overhang peters out as you continue to the right (east) and there's a scramble descent route.
M wall occupies most of the northern face of the east lobe. The wall is taller and more interesting towards climber's right (east), where climbs from 5.5 to 5.10 negotiate some blocky overhangs. A popular wall once the Tower of Power gets crowded. Lots of eye bolts by the lip and some big metal bars a little further back.
Plenty of variations here in addition to the named routes: pick an overhang and pass it or pull it.
A small alcove at the east end of M wall. It's tiny: 12 feet tall. Some 5.3 and V2 can be found.
A fifteen-foot arete on the east border of the eastern lobe of the quarry, just north of the gap to Swingle's Quarry. Some short and easy climbing is possible. I don't think I've ever walked all the way over there...
The low (15') west-facing eastern end of the south wall of the east lobe, just south of the gap to Swingle's Quarry. (The long, even lower, north-facing section from here to Q Wall doesn't have a name.) P Wall is a popular bouldering area with climbs rated V0 to V2. So far I've tried a couple of V0s which were nothing to write home about.
Q Wall a.k.a. The Fortress
The Fortress's squared-off top looks vaguely military, but the name probably refers to the north-facing wall's forty feet of nasty 100-degree overhang. Holds are sparse and thin. Routes rated from 5.9 to 5.12. I'll let you know if I get more than one move off the ground this year.
A southwest-facing buttress of the Fortress. Easiest climbs (5.3 to 5.6) are in the shallow dihedral in the center.
Float Like a Butterfly 5.7 A good warm-up for Whitehorse: friction-climb the wide slab on the left, following the green paint. Finish straight up.
S Wall a.k.a. Knight's Wall
A south-facing alcove to the right of R Wall. A good top-roping spot for parties of mixed ability: A rather blank face on the left (up to 5.11), easier stuff in the middle and right (5.5 to 5.9).
Black Knight 5.5 G A small overhang makes this short route a perfect challenge for confident beginners. Start in a little dihedral on the right end of the wall, and search for the "magic handhold" above the overhang.
White Knight 5.5 G A few feet left of Black Knight, a left-facing edge with a protectable crack, heading up toward the big staple.
Big Biner "5.8" The face climb between the two Knights. Extremely hard for the grade.
When To ClimbYear-round if you like, but the best times are spring and fall. Winter is very cold, summer can be very hot.
CampingNone. This is an urban environment.
Additional ResourcesQuincy Quarries on RockClimbing.com
Boston Rocks (book).