Rock Climbing In John Boyd Thacher State Park
We’ve said it time and time again….
What are your hobbies?
Are you actively pursuing them?
Have they led to some epic adventures?
Marc here; you may already get the idea of what I’m about to talk about. Climbing… as in rock climbing.
Last week I was fortunate to get outside for the first time this year. Climbing indoors on plastic gets stale after a couple months so it’s nice to get outside and get my ass kicked.
That’s right. No matter how much training you do indoors it’s still a different ballgame once you touch real rock.
A few friends of mine decided to check out a newer climbing area that only recently allowed access for climbers. It was a 2.5 hour drive to John Boyd Thacher State Park, outside of Albany, NY. At that distance we knew it was gonna be a long day trip but we didn’t care.
The rock was calling and we all needed an ass kicking.
Without climbing we may have never even heard or visited this amazing state park. It was named after Albany’s mayor, John Boyd Thacher, and the land was donated by his widow in 1914. Since then the park has seen its fair share of visitors, but climbers are flocking to the area because of its limestone cliffs that JB Thacher dubbed himself, “cliffs higher than the Palisades.”
It was a beautiful park and it even had the most unique entry I’ve ever seen. To access the “climbing only” area, one has to squeeze through a crack that’s about 2-3 feet wide, descended about 20 yards, and is dark, slippery, and claustrophobic as all hell.
Yea, never seen anything like it.
Now that I think about it, that’s not really fair for everyone Mother Nature.
But whatever, not my rules.
If you have doubts you may not fit, don’t worry, there is a practice crack just outside the real vice. Take your packs off and form a human assembly line to get all the gear through.
The drive is relatively easy and it takes you through some farm country and backroads that seem otherworldly coming from the NYC area. My three friends that were along for the ride were glued to the windows to catch a glimpse of the greenery they aren’t accustomed to.
They each hail from Union City, Jersey City, and Brooklyn. Foreign lands to them indeed.
The climbing was amazing for only being 2.5 hours away. Most “legit” climbing areas on the east coast can be at least 6 hours away from the NYC area so this is welcomed, even though the area is still new and under development.
So many cliffs that have yet to see their first ascent can really make you daydream about the possibilities.
This new area chewed me up and spit me out. The next day it felt like I got hit by a truck. The climbing grades were sandbagged, meaning they were inconsistent and harder than advertised. Pretty common with new areas.
The trails were narrow and steep, making belaying for each other akin to a gymnastics balance beam. Our legs were trashed, sun beaten down on our backs all day, and we could feel our heart beats in our fingertips by the end.
It was f#$cking glorious!
Even though I didn’t perform to my standards, it was more important to just get out and explore. Seeing new land, getting dirty, and having a hell of a time while doing it. That’s more important than the actually climbing.
Substitute the word “climbing” in this entire blog with your favorite hobby.
Do you feel the same?
Sometimes we get so focused on the destination that we forget to look around and take in the journey.
At the end of the month, we have a trip planned to Spain and we are naturally going to do some crazy stuff. Climbing over the ocean without a rope (deep water soloing), stand up paddle boarding, crazy mountain hikes, and who knows what else.
Maybe you can give us some suggestions!
Regardless of what adventures were getting ourselves into, you can be confident that we will always soak in the journey that gets us there. Yes, that even means trying to find the silver lining just flying there.