Moving to Boston from the Bay Area to start school at MIT, I had already mentally prepared to reduce my outdoor climbing and indoor climbing train time. Paradoxically, while being in the Bay Area, while I had access to world-class climbing destinations within a 4 hour drive, distance was a barrier that made those destinations inaccessible for me as a college student. To my dismay, there was really no good climbing between the Bay and those world-class destinations, such as Yosemite.
After spending some time in the Boston Area though, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and diversity of all-weather climbing areas within a couple of hours. Not only does Boston have decent rock climbing destinations accessible for one day trips, it also offers some of the best ice-climbing in the country.
Training at MIT
While during my first couple of years at MIT I didn’t have much free time to go explore outside Cambridge, I was still able to keep training on a regular basis on campus. It turns out that a number of years ago, the MIT Outing Club (MITOC) turned an old squash court in Walker Memorial into a small bouldering wall. While the wall is not as large as other climbing gyms like Brooklyn Boulders or Central Rock Gym, it is only 2 short minutes away from my office, and I can go anytime for free. The climbing wall not only keeps me decently trained for summer expeditions, but it has introduced me to a number of great climbing partners and to the great MITOC community.
I feel incredibly lucky to have access to great outdoor areas, convenient training walls, and an incredible community of like-minded people! The support resources at MIT are mind-blowing. Through clubs like MITOC, you can get access to organized trips, outdoor gear, and even cabins in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for very cheap. Large events, such as Winter School, a four-week course during IAP, allow hundreds of participants to learn outdoor survival skills for the New England winter, and practice activities that are otherwise difficult to learn.
Ice Climbing in Banff, AB during a Spring Break Trip
For example, activities such as ice climbing require a lot of gear and experience due to their delicate nature. Unlike rock climbing, ice climbing involves both knowledge about specific winter conditions, as well as additional technical capacities. After all, we are only climbing frozen water… It was through Winter School that I was able to learn how to ice climb, an activity that for the past 4 years has been keeping me wishing for the winter to come!
While New England might not have the same reputation as climbing destinations out west, being at MIT for the past 5 years has helped me discover more diverse and accessible climbing destinations than I was ever able to find in California. The strong community and incredible resources at MIT facilitate getting outside and enjoying my time here like no other place before. Now, every year I am consistently looking forward to the winter and the ice climbs that it brings with it.
Check out a collection of my winter adventures here!