Throwback Thursday - January 2000

New feature here at, on "Throwback Thursday" we will post an old significant news item...

1/7/00 Farley Ledge, MA
Yesterday, at Farley Ledge, Pete Ward sent the arete project after six months of working on it. Micah Jessup reports the feat as follows:

 "I saw my friend Pete do something amazing today. A 6 month project in the backwoods of Massachusetts on a striking ships prow of quartzite that breaches out into thin, wintery trees, a very New England boulder. Thin edges scar the face until 2/3 height where everything ends until the top's sloping rail almost twenty feet above a marginal landing. Six months ago, Pete hit the lip with his left hand, all six and a half feet of him reaching to the slopey top, but the summer humidity laughed at him while his hand slipped and he took the long fall. Friends stood amazed, he had actually touched what everyone else wanted.

Since that one lucky, humid day no one else has touched the top again, they climb easily to the blank section and then, feeling the commitment and distance, just peel off with a fluttering heart. Sometimes Pete gets sad and can't stand under the weight of this beautiful piece of rock, knowing it will expose all his weaknesses.

Pete getting "Big" on an early attempt on this amazing arete. Photograph by Joe McLoughlin.

Pete getting "Big" on an early attempt on this amazing arete. Photograph by Joe McLoughlin.

Today it is crystal clear and 28 degrees, a blessing for my big-handed, sloper-loving friend. He smiles and gives a tour to some new people, telling stories about each boulder problem, who did what, how humid it was that day, how the mysterious non-local climber says its actually hard. After a few classics, we easily warm, shuffling through leaves, air curling smoke-like from our mouths, rock glittering with ice spots, smiles creating a good energy. We walk towards the ship like prow, I joke that only Pete makes this huge boulder seem to be the right scale and that everyone else becomes dwarfed. The base has been smoothed out a bit, but the biggest boulders jut up dangerously. A plethora of pads get laid down. I try, then our other friend, but we feel humbled as always and Pete's first try sends him down onto the pads too.

I say I am feeling too warm and fuzzy to try such a hard route, it exposes the weaknesses of many, a massive dyno to ~20 ft and then a slopey top out that hasn't been done. Then more people come, another pad is added to the stack plus three more sets of hands, with ours, that made 10 arms shaking at Pete as he launched with such style to the top on his second try. He hits the smooth sloper with a sweatless hand on this 28 degree day, breathes deep, matches and then traverses to the front of the boulder to top out. Everyone yells up with encouraging words, I scamper around, moving pads, anticipating where he will land. Soon a heel goes up, his waist now at the 20 foot mark, right leg dangling straight down, we all become quiet, not believing that he is almost there. He yells, or cries, he is so scared, he can barely do anything, but ask if we are still spotting him. Only one of us snaps out of our awe and yells up to keep him going. Then he is done. So much time on one boulder, in a tiny corner of woods, by a tiny town, my tall, big-handed friend Pete Ward, and his commitment, sitting on top of a legendary classic new boulder problem in Farley, Massachusetts. Big, V9, highball."