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Rock and Ice Climbing

Where to Climb

Climbing has always been one of the most active areas in the club -- the difficulty of course is that there is no good local rock! There is good local ice, but most of it is on public land and efforts are on to make local ice-climbing legal again (see article).

We primarily rock climb in the Adirondacks, the Shawangunks NY, Birdsboro climbing quarry PA, and at a more local spot in the town of Little Falls. Sometimes we also make longer trips, often over Fall Break to Rumney in New Hampshire, and over spring break to Red River Gorge KY or New River Gorge VA. We're lucky that though these destinations aren't exactly close, the 'Dacks and 'Gunks and Rumney are some of the great rock climbing locations in the country, and provide plenty of options for climbs short or long, easy or difficult, single pitch or multipitch, sport or trad.

We also ice climb regularly during the winters, most notably at our primary beginner spot Tinker's Falls (40 minutes drive), and at Salmon River Gorge (two hours) and in the Adirondacks (4.5 hours). Most winters, these areas create great ice.

In town, club members actively climb other things, frequently trees and artificial walls. It is even whispered that quite a few buildings in Ithaca offer great "buildering" potential, but this should never be done without permission from property owners.

Gear Use

We highly encourage all COC members to initiate and/or organize a climbing trip. Nevertheless, the necessity of using special climbing gear for the protection of rock and ice climbs requires some knowledge of gear use and rope handling. For a list of available equipment see our complete list of climbing gear. One goal of our Intro level climbing trips is to educate interested COC members in the use of climbing gear and bring them to a level of competency to lead climbing trips on their own. As a climbing trip leader you have to be a Restricted gear user approved by the Outing club to check out the climbing equipment listed in the Restricted Use Gear list.

Restricted Use Gear:

The gear listed below is either potentially hazardous if misused, or potentially irrevocably damaged if misused. As such, the items below may only be checked out to the listed individuals who are approved by the Outing Club to use them. Approval requires that a candidate climb with at least two approved club members and be certified by both as proficient in the proper and safe use of gear and showing appropriate leadership in demonstrating its use to others.

List of restricted gear:

  • Climbing ropes
  • Carabiners and belay devices
  • Static ropes, webbing, cordeletts, and other anchor-rigging equipment
  • Gear to protect climbs, such as cams, nuts, hexes and quickdraws


The Cornell outing club has a huge amount of gear to equip outdoor trips. All of this gear is located in the basement of Carpenter Hall. To borrow any of our gear, please contact our climbing chair(s) or our gear managerA descriptive list (with brands and ratings) can be found here. Below is a brief summary of our gear:

Rock-climbing gear:
  • 26 pairs of rock-climbing shoes
  • > 15 ropes
  • 17 harnesses
  • 27 helmets
  • A portaledge
  • Several carabiners, belay devices, rappel devices and quick draws
  • Several racks of rock protection
  • Anchor-rigging equipment
  • Maps and guidebooks for:
    • Shawangunks NY
    • Red River Gorge KY
    • New River Gorge VA
Ice-climbing gear:
  • 28 pairs of boots
  • Ice tools
  • > 15 ropes
  • Ice protection
  • Several carabiners, belay devices, rappel devices and quick draws
  • Anchor-rigging equipment
  • 27 helmets
  • 1 pair goggles