In 1932, the cost of a postage stamp was 2 cents and Amelia Earhart flew over the Atlantic. Also, believe it or not, the Chicago Cubs made it to the World Series. Climbing rocks at that time was something goofballs did instead of playing stickball.
In the spring of that year, a group of Berkeley law students formed the Cragmont Climbing Club (CCC), named for one of the local rocks they liked to scramble on. They used hemp ropes and padded clothing for protection and practiced taking falls on belay, building toward bigger and better things.
The CCC eventually merged with the Sierra Club’s Rock Climbing Section and began making trips to Yosemite, where several of the founding members were among the first to use ropes to climb in the park. Ultimately they were also in the first party to ascend the Higher Cathedral Spire, introducing aid climbing and influencing a generation of homegrown mountaineers.
The CCC lives on today, 3 years past its 80th anniversary, and continues engaging Bay Area locals in climbing and conservation. Like the venerable club, Cragmont itself is an institution. It has more history than just about any other climbing area in the US. Compared to the Shawangunks out east or Stoney Point in Southern California, the humble park near UC Berkeley has at least a few years on the earliest recorded climbs.
Several respectable top rope stations and a few impressive trad routes make this park more than just a place to work out. Crowds form on the weekends, so arrive early.
Also see: http://www.cragmontclimbingclub.org/
By Brian Gruters
Brian writes about science, conservation, and ways that people interact with nature for various publications, as well as his blog, briangruters.com. He is an aspiring surfer, member of the Southern California Mountaineers Association, and likes to explore mountains and canyons.
Quote of the week:
“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” ―Edward Abbey