The best climbing area in Massachusetts, Farley is a popular day trip destination for climbers from Boston (1.5 hours) and other parts of MA. While there are several walls scattered all over the south faces of the mountain, most just make their way to the Wall of Early Morning Light and nearby cliffs, which are directly uphill from the main parking lot. This is probably due to a combination of two things: (1) these walls host some of Farley’s best long single-pitch sport climbing; and (2) most climbers are lazy. The upside to this is that if you’re willing to hike a bit and explore, you’ll find a number of secluded walls with good quality climbing and no crowds all over Farley.
The rock at Farley is gneiss, and offers a very different climbing experience from the schist of Rumney or the granite of North Conway. The rock tends to form smooth horizontal ledges that can be surprisingly smooth and slopey. An Australian friend of mine described one of the harder sport climbs at Farley well when he said “It’s all baby bums up here!”. There are also vertical cracks and corners around that make for great traditional climbing challenges, with the tough gneiss rock usually offering solid gear placements.
The climbs here are not particularly tall, so a 60-meter rope and 12 draws should get you up and down almost everything. There are a number of worthwhile mixed and purely traditional climbs at Farley, so bring a rack if you want to have access to everything. There is also a good deal of bouldering scattered below the cliffs with a good range of grades, so bring a pad or two and walk around the trails if that’s what you’re after.
A couple of things to note with regard to climbing at Farley: (1) Please only park in the designated lots, and avoid parking along Route 2 outside the lot. The Western Mass Climber’s Coalition has worked hard to ensure stable access here, and respecting the parking and other posted rules will go a long way to helping maintain this. (2) There is no published or online guidebook to Farley as part of the agreement with landowners, so specific information on routes will be difficult to find online. However, people are very friendly and helpful in providing route information here, and it’s likely you’ll be able to find someone to give you the scoop. (3) There are peregrine falcon nesting closures for many of the eastern walls from early season to mid-summer. Pay attention to posted signs and avoid climbing in peregrine nesting areas.
- Yosemite Crack 5.9
- Barn Door 5.10
- Pea Pod 5.10
- Cuttlefish 5.11-
- The Beach 5.11d+
- Hard as an Oosik 5.12a
- Bandwagon 5.12b
- Target Practice 5.12b
March-November are all quite climbable. Because of the south-facing aspect of many cliffs, it’s possible to climb during colder months if the sun is out.
There is no camping immediately near the climbing and it’s prohibited to camp or sleep in your car at the parking lots. There are some nice established campgrounds a short drive away though, such as Erving State Forest campground (see map).
There are no water sources at the parking lot or cliffs, so your best bet is to find somewhere in the nearby town of Erving to the east along Route 2.
The food options immediately nearby the climbing are limited, but if you drive East or West a bit along Route 2, you’ll come across some good options in the town of Erving or Millers Falls.
The nearby campgrounds have showers, and you can also go for a dip in the Miller river along Route 2 if you’re desperate.
Massachusetts has some surprisingly good mountain biking around, much of it maintained by the North East Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA). Information about trails can be found on MTB Project or Single Tracks.
There are some nice places to swim out in western MA, including the Miller river just next to Route 2. There are convenient parking areas next to the river if you drive east on Route 2 for a couple miles from the climbing.
By Tyler Wellman