Rock Climbing Pennsylvania: Self Sufficient Climbing at Philadelphia's Livesy Rock

Dan tying in at Livesy Rock.
Life's been pretty hectic since Dan and I got back from the #jtreetweetup. We woke up Saturday morning with the itch to climb outside, our two main choices being Birdsboro and Livesy Rock. 

Birdsboro was the location of my first sport lead day, indoor or outdoor, and I have a special affinity for the area as a result. But it's an hour away, and we only have six quickdraws between us. By the time we made it out of the house around lunchtime, our chosen destination was Livesy Rock.

Livesy Rock is located within the Wissahickon Gorge in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. just a short drive or bike ride from the city. The Wissahickon is, in my opinion, the most amazing part of Philadelphia, and the reason I first started to feel at home here. It's an incredible little refuge, and so close to the hustle and bustle of the city. As far as I've found, there are no guides or maps of routes on the main wall or the nearby bouldering area. The main wall does, however, have a dozen bolted anchor points on top, which are accessible via a short hike up the back side of the wall.

We set our first toprope up over a mostly vertical section of the wall. The rock itself is really quite remarkable, and boasts a number of really neat features. I'm almost entirely sure the rock we climbed is schist with a little bit of quartzite, which flakes off all over the place, but is generally very solid. The rock looks rippled, and the ripples have broken apart to create little crimps, jugs and a few little cracks. The first most obvious line wasn't too difficult, likely around a 5.6, and we created routes from there by adding new holds and taking holds we'd previously used out of our list of options, just to make things interesting. We might've gotten up to a 5.9, but I'm not quite sure.

We set up the second toprope on a different set of bolts on an overhanging section of the wall. The most challenging part of the day was equalizing the anchors, seeing as some of the bolt placements didn't lend themselves to easily placed equalized systems. We had to use slings of all different lengths, but it was certainly good practice! Dan set the second and more difficult one, and had to reset it again before it was perfect. The overhanging climbs were great, and we only had enough time and energy for a few before packing up and heading out.

Dan reminded me after we'd finished cleaning the anchors and started the hike to the car that it was the first time we'd had a completely self-sufficient day of outdoor climbing. (Bouldering aside). This was a big deal, and something that had completely slipped my mind. One of the greatest things about the #jtreetweetup was being around so many experienced, fearless climbers and learning from their skills and confidence. For the first time, we were able to set up our own toprope climbs, keep each other safe, and have a great time doing it.

I know the only way we all become better climbers is through learning and sharing knowledge, and I welcome the chance to climb with people like the #jtreetweetup folks who know a lot more than I do. But the self sufficiency and confidence in my skills is something I'm constantly working toward in climbing, and in life, I suppose. Knowing Dan and I can go out and climb on our own with our own gear safely, and have a good time is really important, and was a really big deal to me. He was incredibly diligent, careful, and meticulous in anchor setting and belaying, and I was able to place complete trust in our system as a result. Being self sufficient is pretty awesome!


Do you remember the first time you climbed outdoors? Or the first time you tried something you learned something on your own?

Comments

Greg Pfeil said…
Thanks for this. Now I have some places to check out next time I visit my family (although the conditions will probably suck during Christmas).

And congratulations on getting out on your own – that's like the tipping point for getting outdoors more often.
lydia said…
Awesome! Philly is such a good time. My friend Nikkie (who lives there and who you should totally climb with!) went exploring around this area and found some boulders and such. How awesome to have outdoor climbing so close, such a beautiful place. And yay to you and Dan for self sufficiency! I know that must feel so good. Excited for you guys!
Justin said…
I love Philly's backyard crag, glad you guys had fun there too this weekend.
lydia said…
Awesome! Philly is such a good time. My friend Nikkie (who lives there and who you should totally climb with!) went exploring around this area and found some boulders and such. How awesome to have outdoor climbing so close, such a beautiful place. And yay to you and Dan for self sufficiency! I know that must feel so good. Excited for you guys!