Long slings/static rope are required in some spots to set up a top-rope. Leading is possible here on a good number of climbs but beware of rock quality. There are a few trad lines with supplemental bolts/pitons where needed and some fully bolted sport routes put up on otherwise unprotectable rock. Two of the sport routes that were bolted in 2012 and were chopped after the April 2013 Rock and Ice article with the Ross Rocks climb La Mesa on the cover and the rest were chopped later. So don't rely any bolts being there that are illustrated in this guide as there is a bolt-chopping terrorist still on the loose in Connecticut.
This cliff has a long climbing history. The AMC climbed here in the 1950s. There is a ring piton on the Party Wall roof that looks like it is from that era. There is no conclusive information as to who first climbed many of these routes. What route history is known is detailed at the end of the guide below. The cliff ranges from thirty to eighty feet in height and is about a quarter mile long. There is the potential for many routes here. There are three main areas: the Parking Lot Wall and a couple of climbs right around the corner, the Party Wall which is easily identified by its large roof, and the Orange (AKA Big) Wall which is the tallest at 85 feet high. Dave Fasulo's 2002 guidebook Rock Climbing Connecticut briefly describes Ross Rocks but it does not include any specific route information. There is a new edition of the guidebook coming out in 2015 that covers the area more fully. Below are photos/topos of the most commonly done routes at Ross Rocks. At the end are route descriptions.
Parking Lot Wall Right - (Left to Right) Red-Slippery When Wet, 5.8 G,
Orange-Tincture of Benzoin, 5.9, Yellow-Laughing Man, 5.9+, Green-Double Mantel 5.7
Around corner from parkling lot wall - Crack of Despair, 5.10 G
Around corner from parkling lot wall - Red-Hard Book, 5.9, Yellow - Metron 5.11
Mud, Sweat and Fears 5.8+
Party Wall - La Losa-5.8 (chopped in 2013), Blue-Bed Spins 5.5, Red-Devil's Lettuce 5.8 PG (Pink-variation), Orange-Pussy Wall (AKA Panty Raid) 5.9, Yellow-Thumper 5.7 Green-Topside 5.7
Table Rock - La Mesa, 5.9 (chopped in 2013)
Orange Wall (AKA Big Wall) - (Left to Right) Orange-Slacker 5.7R, Red-Specter 5.6R
North End - Gneiss Jugs, 5.8+
North End - The Gardener, 5.8
North End - Don't Bleed on Me, 5.11 (chopped in 2014), Disneyworld, 5.7
North End - Something Dirty, 5.8+ (chopped in 2014)
Route Descriptions and Known History
(Many of the routes here were unnamed and were given names in David Fasulo's 2015 Rock Climbing Connecticut guidebook to give them a point of reference.)
Parking Lot Wall (Left to Right)
Quick Step 5.5. Good beginner lead. Start at right of block and follow discontinuous crack on left side of wall. Surmount a small overhang and on to the top.
Fancy Footwork, 5.10. Just to the right of the Quick Step crack go up on thin flakes. The crack or anything left of it is off.
Finger Tricks, 5.12. A key foot hold broke off this climb a few years ago going from a 5.11a to a 5.12. Go up a thin balance face left of the Slippery When Wet crack to a great horizontal. Then smear, lie-back, grovel through the crux.
Slippery When Wet, 5.8. The obvious crack in the middle of the Parking Lot Wall. Climb it without using the horizontal to the left or any face holds. Gym climbers beware, a true hands crack climb.
Tincture of Benzoin, 5.9. Go up just right of right facing corner heading for obvious horizontal. Make thin moves on crimps and high step to gain a jug and mantel. Yellow-Laughing Man, 5.9+. Seldom done line between Benzion and corner.
Double Mantel 5.7. Start on right side under a small overhang and bump to a ledge and mantel that. Move right mantel another ledge and wander left on thin moves for a 5.7 to the top.
Around corner from Parking Lot Wall (Left to Right)
Crack of Despair, 5.10. Around the
corner from the Parking Lot wall is a tree with an obvious crack behind
it. This is harder than it looks. This may have been
damaged maliciously (according to Ken Nichols who climbs it
frequently). Don't take your anger out against individuals on the
routes. We all climb there.
Metron 5.11. A seldom done line to the left of the Good Book.
Hard Book, 5.9. Fun layback, under-cling up the blocky corner and traverse left to join Metron at 5.9. Harder when damp/humid. A less interesting variation goes up to the right instead of traversing to Metron.
Party Wall (Left to Right)
Mud, Sweat and Fears 5.8+. FA Dave Curry, June 2015. Takes great gear.
La Losa, 5.8. FA (lead): Brian Phillips, May 2012. Goes up the slab on the left. It was an unprotectable route that was bolted in 2012 and was chopped in 2013 after the April 2013 Rock and Ice article on Connecticut sport routes came out.
Bed Spins 5.5. A grungy corner that is sometimes done as an easy lead.
Devil's Lettuce 5.8 A Ross Pond classic. Follow blocky right facing corner to overhang. Pull overhang and layback in dihedral to a stance then skirt roof to the left and up. Good lead if you are competent on placing gear while hanging off one arm. A 5.8 lead for the 5.10 climber. There are some very old pitons on this climb that suggested it was climbed in the 70s or before. It was named Devil's Lettuce, and old time reference to marijuana, by David Fasulo due to the pot smokers who sit on top of the overlook. Pink is a variation at the same grade that traverses in above the overhang.
Pussy Wall (AKA Panty Raid) 5.9. This is a line to the right Devil's Lettuce that traverses right then goes up through overhanging rock. Be careful off loose rock.
Thumper 5.6. On the right side of the Party Wall is a pumpy 5.6 that goes up the left crack to a fixed anchor.
Topside 5.7. Just to the right of the 5.6 crack is another discontinuous crack that is about a grade harder due to a harder start. It finishes by traversing to the anchor shared with the 5.6.
La Mesa, 5.9. FA (lead): Brian Phillips Oct 2009. The fun face climb wanders up the face and angles up to a ledge on the left side of the spire. From here face out (exciting), turn the corner and hand traverse under the overhang, bump up, mantel, and go to the top. This unprotectable face was bolted in 2009 and was chopped in 2013 after the April 2013 Rock and Ice article on Connecticut sport routes came out with La Mesa on the cover. A variation of this route (Invitation to Dinner) was led on gear that went around the corner of the arete to get gear in and up the top on the left (east) face.
Orange Wall (AKA Big Wall) (Left to Right)
Slacker 5.7. The left of the two routes
up this 85 ft face goes up easy ground to an overhang. Pull the
overhang with no feet or go to the left and up an inside corner than to
the top. Route stays wet after rain.
Specter 5.6. The route goes up clean rock to an orange face. Crux is one thin move then mantel and on to the top. An excellent beginner climb for gym climbers to introduce them to some exposure.
North End (Left to Right)
Gneiss Jugs, 5.8+. FA: Brian Phillips
April 2014. Look for a blocky overhanging right facing corner.
Make deceptively easy bu strenous moves up the overhang to turn the
corner on the left. Up a short face then scramble to another face
that goes straight up the arÍte to the top. About 90 feet. Gear is
strenous to place on the overhang so you should be solid at the grade.
Beware of loose rock at crux.
The Gardener, 5.8. FA: Dave Curry May 2014. Just to the right of Gneiss Jugs is a corner that goes up to a slight overhang. Follow that straight up. It then traverses right to a great stance on a pointed corner. Go straight up the broken corner to the top. About 90 feet.
Don't Bleed on Me, 5.11a. FA: Dave Curry Oct 2013. Stick-clip the first bolt then go straight up to gain a handhold at the large overhang. Clip and traverse right toward a positive flake on the right. Surmount the overhang and go left to surmount another overhang. Up easier moves to an overhanging face and layback to the anchor. There is some sharp rock near the top hence the name. About 90 feet. Seven bolts to anchor. This was chopped in 2014 by some people who never led it and never will.
Disneyworld, 5.7. FA: Brian Phillips Aug 2012. Follow the dihedral just to the right of Don’t Bleed on Me to a face with a thin horizontal crack. Traverse following the crack and turn the corner. Follow easy ground to face. Go around the overhang to the left. Go up a flake and head toward the arÍte. Follow the arÍte to the top. About 90 feet.
Something Dirty, 5.8+. FA: Brian Phillips Aug 2012. Follow bolts to a break in the overhang. Pull through the overhang to an awkward stance and on to the chains. About 40 feet. Six bolts to anchor. This was chopped in 2014 by some people who never led it.