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Rat Rock/Umpire Rock - North Face

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By tom - Posted on 24 April 2008


Rat Rock/Umpire Rock
Central Park
New York, NY

1. Rat Rock Traverse V0 **
Start: At small "starter" flake on the overhanging right side of the north face.
Go: Traverse left without using the top. Return right.

The most frequently climbed problem in the park.

2. High Traverse V1
Start: Same as Rat Rock Traverse.
Go: After making the opening move of Rat Rock Traverse, move into a higher traverse, using hand holds 6" to 1 1/2' above the easier ones on Rat Rock Traverse.

3. Low Traverse V2
Start: Same as Rat Rock Traverse.
Go: Move immediately down a right-leaning crack just left of the starter flake. At the bottom, move left into the right-facing flake, using only the right side of the flake. Continue left (crux) using handholds generally at chest level. If any hold feels "good" it is probably "off-route."

4. The Exterminator V5 *
Start: At the very bottom of the right-leaning crack mentioned in the Low Traverse.
Go: Traverse left into right-facing flake staying even lower than the Low Traverse. Match hands on the bottom of the right-facing flake, reach out left for a side pull, reset feet, snatch the two-finger knob with the right hand, reset feet, match on side pull and continue with the same finish as Low Traverse.

5. The Maze V3 (extremely contrived)
Start: On the left side of the north face.
Go: Move right to sloping side pull beneath the finger jam/slot. (Avoid the finger jam/slot.) Bump right hand to small side pull fin just above finger jam/slot. Reset feet and cross over to irregular crack just below the top. Move right to small finger dish. Left hand matches on side pull part of the same hold. Right moves straight down to the bucket hold on the large middle crack. Match. Reach right to small side pull, reset feet, cross over with left hand to good high hold just below top. Move right into crack. Then down another shallow crack and eventually to the bottom of the large right-leaning crack, then up to starter flake and finish with either of the traverses listed above.

6. Layback V1
Start: At the extreme low point of the crack mentioned in Low Traverse.
Go: Layback the crack to the top of the boulder.

7. Little Overhang V0+
Start: Same as Layback.
Go: Instead of laybacking the crack, move up a little and then reach out right for a hold at the bottom of the starter flake. Move feet right and bring the left hand over to a side pull on the starter flake. Power to the top.

8. Koma's Roof (aka Rat Trap) V9/10? **
Start: Sitting beneath the large overhang on the right side of the north face. Hands matched on undercling.
Go: Out, up and over.

Currently has seen only 2 or 3 ascents. Start may be body-size specific. All the climbers who have completed the start were fairly short in height. If you start with the right hand out on the first sloper the grade drops to V7.

9. Overhanging Traverse (aka Polish Traverse) V5***
Start: At the bottom of the right-leaning crack, just left and below the "starter" flake.
Go: Move up and traverse right past the "starter" flake following hand holds just below or at the lip. Traverse right onto the small holds of the small west face and continue to a crack. Finish by moving right along the lip of the rock and step off.

This was a long-established problem with several variations before it became known as the Polish Traverse. It acquired that name in the early 90s after a number of strong climbers from Poland began working the problem extensively.

Variations: No-Feet. V6 Speedy Gonzalez: Skip the dished-out hold above the lip halfway along the west face and also skip the pinch hold that most people use ... going straight from the low sloper and crimp with one big move to the crack. V7

10. Highway Connector V2 *
Start: As one ends the left-to-right version of Rat Rock Traverse or the High Traverse.
Go: Stay high as you move right toward the right-leaning crack. Use holds above the "starter" flake and below the lip to link up with the Overhanging Traverse.

An excellent link-up problem that is fun to do by itself.

See for the original page beta.

see: to download the NYC Bouldering Guide PDF, old school

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (4 votes)
tom's picture

Rat rock is the most popular bouldering spot in the city. On almost any evening or weekend you'll meet other climbers here. The North face isn't quite as dramatic as the West Face with the Polish Traverse, or the higher East Face, but it's a great place to get started.

I'll try to remember my camera one of these evenings so I can get a photo and start marking the routes. But I've no idea about grading, so if someone wants to add that - please do!

Rat Rock was my first outdoor climb after starting this winter in a gym. And I assume there's no shame in being outclimbed by that little girl.