The Wissahickon Bouldering Scene:
Welcome to the Free Wissahickon Bouldering Sampler, everything you could need to spend an afternoon bouldering in Wissahickon Park. The schist in Wissahickon does provide for really fun problems you just have to know where to find them. Wissahickon isn’t without its gems, but you should know a lot of the hard climbs are eliminates, some of the problems need to be cleaned regularly, and loose rock and poison ivy are not uncommon in the park. Finally I don’t plan to cover all of the park’s bouldering, just the highlights of the bouldering in the park just west of Lincoln Drive.
Most people come to boulder in Wissahickon when you don’t feel like going to the gym, are new to outdoor climbing or you are stuck in Philadelphia for the day so I have put in a good amount of thought into providing you with decent landings as the travelling folk and newbies tend to not have tons of spotters or pads. If you are transitioning from the gym to outside expect to climb at least 2 grades below what you are projecting in the gym and don’t get discouraged. It is just harder outside. Lastly, if you enjoy this guide or have any changes you think are relevant please leave us some feedback via the form on the front page.
1. Climbing and Bouldering are both Dangerous…
By continuing to read this post, as a reader of Pebble Pusher Bouldering Guides, you assume all risk associated with the activities described in this guide. Your safety depends on your own good judgment. The activities described in this post may lead to dangerous situations, and can result in serious injury or death. Bouldering and other forms of rock climbing require a significant degree of experience and instruction, which is outside the scope of this article.
There are hazards and dangers that are not described in this guide and we make no guarantee that the information in this guide is accurate. We could be completely wrong about everything so you follow this guide at your own risk because we are certainly not an expert just a dirt bag boulderer who wants to help climbers enjoy their limited time.
Another disclaimer I do not own all of the videos in this article. I found a lot of them on YouTube and compiled them for your benefit. Let me know if a video gets taken down.
2. Getting There
Parking in Philly can be difficult. There are two places to park depending on what area you go to and while the walk between the two parking areas is only 30 mins, if time is of the essence I recommend drive from one parking area to another. The cell service in the park is pretty good, so you shouldn’t run into too many issues of getting lost.
Revolutionary Ridge Boulders Parking: Use Google maps to find: Hermit Lane, the GPS coordinates are:
40.025586, -75.200052, or click the link. Just park along the road in front of the trail entrance.
Danger Damn Parking: Use Google maps to find the intersection of Rochelle and Freeland Ave in Philadelphia. The GPS coordinates are:
40.017605, -75.205967, or click the link. Just park on the street and walk down the steps at the end of the road.
I’ve documented a few problems at the following areas. I’ve tried to get a diverse selection of problems at different grades, but Wissahickon bouldering is limited. Check out the directional videos and the GPS coordinates to get you where you need to go. Finally the number of beta videos in this article will be noticeably lacking, because I don’t climb very hard and there are not many YouTube resources to pull from. If you climb a problem that’s missing a beta video and put it on YouTube let me know so I can link to it.
The bouldering on Revolutionary Ridge is one of the more peaceful places to boulder in the park. Yes you can see and hear the cars on Lincoln drive, but you are not at risk to get run over by some reckless biker. The ridge is one of the less busy areas of the park so it gives you the feel like you are actually bouldering in the woods. This is where I recommend you start your session. From Hermit Lane follow the path into the woods at the T, take a left and follow the trail under the Henry Ave Bridge. At the first Y take a right and follow the path to the point where it starts to double back on itself. You will see some boulders on the ridge. These are the revolutionary ridge boulders.
DRUNKEN FISH BOULDER: This is the boulder closest to the top of the ridge. This boulder has some graffiti on it which is where it gets its name. It may be small but it has a few fun problems and eliminates on it. GPS Location
1. V6 Beer Battered Crimp Sticks: Sit start under the boulder on the jug. Using the detached block for feet, climb out the left face on crimps avoiding the right and left arêtes.
2. V4 Awkward Arête: Sit start under the boulder on the jug and avoid using the detached block for feet. Climb out the arête using some interesting hand positions. Beta Video
3. V3 The Snack that Smiles Back: Sit start under the boulder on the jug and avoid using the detached block for feet. Climb out to huge ledges and top the fish face. Beta Video
4. V2 or V0- Squishy Fishies: Sit start under the boulder on the jug and avoid using the detached block for feet. Follow the ledge out and right to top out. The V0 version uses the detached block for feet. V2 Beta Video V0- Beta Video
THE REVOLUTION BOULDER: From the drunken fish boulder, look downhill and towards Lincoln Drive and you will see the revolution boulder. GPS Location
5. V0 The Germantown Blunder: Sit start the big holds on the corner. Reach the big seam and pick the right holds to climb the face avoiding the dirt covered rock to the left. Beta Video
6. V1 Franklin was a Lady’s Man: Sit start the big holds on the corner, climb out the arête and top out. Beta Video
7. V3 Dirty Dishes: Sit start on crimps on the face, pull to the perpetually wet, dirty dishes hold and finish climbing the face without using the holds on the arête. Beta Video
8. V3 The Intoxicated Patriot: This is one of my favorite problems in the park. Sit start the big holds on the corner, traverse the face without using the upper most seam, until you reach the big flake then top out. Beta Video
9. V2 I’m Bringing Lobsterbacks: Sit start with one hand on the lip and one hand below the lip. Pull through the side-pull and flake to top out. Beta Video
HIDDEN CAVE BOULDER: From the Drunken Fish Boulder head down the hill and away from Lincoln Drive. You will see some big boulders down by the river, go around them to find the ‘hidden roof’. The boulder has some really good problems, but you will probably need multiple pads, several spotters, and some brushes as it seems to get pretty green. GPS Location
10. V1 Skeletons in the Closet: Sit start matched on the jug, climb the lip to big crack and top out through the crack. Beta Video
11. V5 The Hidden Treasure: Sit start matched on the jug, traverse under the roof until you can climb out the roof, avoiding the sketchy flake on the ceiling, and topping out through the bulge.
12. V8 Watch your Back: Sit start with matched hands on the jug, traverse under the roof and continue traversing under the roof to top out on sloping edges.
COWARD’S BOULDER: This boulder is closer to the car than the drunken fish boulder and if you are standing on top of the drunken fish boulder looking toward the car it should be slightly down the hill to the left. GPS Location
13. V0 Running from a gunfight: Sit start matched on the jug. Make a couple thuggy moves to gain the jug and top out. Beta Video
PRIDE ROCK: On the way back to the car look for the boulder down the steep hill on your left before you make it to the first Y. GPS Location
14. V3 Simbasa: Sit start matched on the jug. Find the good holds a while climbing the left side of the boulder and top out over the front. Beta Video
The Danger Dam Bouldering is the area with the highest concentration of climbing. However for those with little experience climbing outside it can be a little intimidating. Most of the pure lines are pretty easy and don’t top out. The area is heavily trafficked and you should also be on the lookout for reckless bikers, but some of the lines are fun and worth while. While there are more boulders in this area I have picked my top 3 favorites
DANGER DAM BOULDER: This is the boulder that is directly to the right as you walk down the stairs. It may be short and it doesn’t top out, but it has a few fun problems and eliminates on it. GPS Location
15. V6 Half a Hobit’s Tale: Start on the block to the left of the main boulder. Traverse right avoiding the good top jugs to reach the low jug on the right arête and drop. The full “A Hobit’s Tale” problem starts as far to the left as you can go, so that you traverse the slopers then go under the arête and use the big ledge before you make it to the start of Half a Hobits Tale. It is so long that a more accurate grade might be 5.13.
16. V2 Russian Roulette: Sit start in the seam at the bottom of the boulder. Follow good holds up and left to the Finish hold. Beta Video
17. V2 Hounds of Zaroff: Sit start in the seam at the bottom of the boulder. Follow good holds up the arête to the finish jug. Beta Video
FUNKY SLAB: This boulder has the highest quality of stone in the park. Clean, featured and topable, this is a must climb boulder. GPS Location
18. V2 Pigeons Playing Ping Pong: Sit start under the boulder on the jug and avoid using the detached block for feet. Climb out the left face on crimps avoiding the right arête. Beta Video
19. V5 Clear Your Hips: Sit start the jug move left to a good pinch, then up to good slopers and top out. From the stand starting on the slopers it goes V3 and is called “Hips Cleared”
20. V8 Super Freak: Sit start the jug in the middle of the boulder, climb straight up on bad slopers.
21. V1 The Barn Door: Start in a good side-pull for your left hand at head height. Climb good holds up and left to the top out. Beta Video
22. V1 Look Mom, No Hands: Start on the right side of the boulder and ‘walk’ up the boulder without using your hands. Beta Video
THE NOSE: Around the corner from Funky Slab and further away from the stairs there is a boulder on the relatively steep hillside. GPS Location
23. V1 Diggin’ for Gold: Sit start and move to the first crimp then traverse left through edges to top out the left side of the boulder.
24. V3 Concrete Jungle Boogie: Sit start, climb the arête and top out.
25. V1 Brain Surgery: Sit start the right side of the nose. Pull through a series of crimps, jugs, and edge to top out over the right side.
Thanks for visiting the Wissahickon Bouldering Sampler