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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Archives for August 2014

Akron Urbex

Scalin’ The Rooftops of Akron

Abandoned New York, Akron

Urbex NY - Abandoned New York

Entering the premises of an Abandoned New York Asylum

I ended up getting blackout drunk at the Village Inn last weekend, and met a few older women who I’ve been hanging out with recently after work.  Carol let me borrow her son’s bicycle to explore Abandoned New York for the time being until I leave at the end of the month, which is completely awesome.  I made a few skydives in the past few days because of open slots on the plane and life really could not be any better.  As boring as Akron is everything is turning around slowly toward greener pastures.  I’m saving up a ton of money working for the next month.  I already paid off my AFF and coach jumps for my Basic “A” license and have moved on to saving a few grand towards South America or China.  Just waiting on my passport and other options to open up before I solidify my plans.  Anyway, with all of that said, I spent the day packing my ass off and finished up on the drop zone around 4:00.  Darrin and I finalized plans for the end of the month so it looks like we will be leaving September 27th for Cross Keys, NJ and getting some jumps in over the course of a 3-day period.  I’m hoping to get in 15 jumps total or 20 jumps to get my numbers up around the 50 mark.  Anything will help at this point to reach my goal of 200 so I can start flying wingsuits and preferably take an FJC Base course in Twin Falls, Idaho.  I spent the rest of the sunny, cloudless day roaming the streets of Akron.  I grabbed some grub at Nick’s Deli and hit the road for a 16-mile adventure.  The 8-miles there felt like a breeze despite my lack of exercise over the past few months.  I pedaled and lolly-gagged along the bicycle path until hitting the main road.  Climbing hills of any grade suck using a mountain bike, but my limited options gave me no other choice.  Either that or stay cooped up in the shitty trailer on the airport for the rest of the beautiful day and that just was not a viable option.  I turned in off a main road across from a jail and adjacent to a correctional facility.

Urbex NY - Abandoned New York

Just relaxing on the roof – Abandoned New York

My heart pumped faster and faster as I approached the abandoned asylum.  Half of the building still running and the rest of it vacant and dilapidated.  Unsure about which side remained running, I decided to set my bike down near a basement window and scope the place out a bit before proceeding with my urban exploring.  I noticed cars all parked in the lot beyond the rusty, white water tower so I deducted that half to be off limits.  The other end looked more run down and completely desolate.  I peaked in a few windows and noticed dusty walls with paint chips spread across the floor as if small crumbs of white popcorn covered the tile encroaching on the hallways.  I remained incognito and casually walked over to the nearest sturdy pipe that ran parallel up the wall of the abandoned building.

Urbex NY - Abandoned New York

Pipe climbing in Abandoned New York in Akron

This pipe, about four inches in diameter and 30+ feet long curved right to the top of the roof.  I climbed 15 feet before no problem when I scaled the walls of the high school down the street, but this became a different challenge.  The pipe appeared less sturdy and spanned a greater distance.  I didn’t waste time contemplating it.  I clasped the pipe in both hands and propped my feet against the wall climbing like a spider up the face of the brick.  Every five feet I took a break on the mounted bolt plates holding the pipe against the wall of building until I reached each window pane.  When I almost reached the top I needed to make a quick decision.

Abandoned New York

Don’t look down!

The last ten feet was not bolted into the brick wall so the pipe dangled freely.  I yanked a few times on the pipe to solidify the sturdiness of the other anchors beneath me.  The pipe did not budge.  Without thinking I scaled the final ten feet and curled all of my fingers over the top of the roof, pulling myself onto the 3rd story.  I looked out below and noticed a police car entering the area and immediately ducked down as to not be seen.  After two minutes I poked my head out and realized he drove onto the correctional facility at the other end of the parking lot.  I spent the rest of my time exploring the rooftop of the insane asylum.  Ladders continued to go up making a 4th and 5th story.  At this point, the adrenaline wore off and the fear of being caught subsided.  I climbed the next three ladders, a shade of brick red smeared across my hands, seeping into each crack and crevice of my fingers.  A creepy locked door loomed over the city of Akron with an empty room full of blue curled up paint chips scattered across the floor.

I tried propping the door open without any luck and proceeded to climb the final ladder.  The view, simply spectacular, my mind at peace, and body calm.  I sat up there for a few minutes soaking in the scenery below.

Abandoned New York

Looking out over the city of Akron from one of the highest buildings!

Fields of green and a sky of blue, with the tiny evergreen trees and buildings beneath me.  I felt on top of the world, as I always do, when scaling buildings.  This felt different.  I never climbed a building this tall or one that sat on a semi-vacant lot.  I limited my time on the adventure since I did not scope out the area much prior.  However, I did end up entering the building.  I noticed doors on the 1st floor remained locked to keep out home bums and other trespassers, but most people don’t scale 40 foot tall roofs to explore vacant buildings.  Me being an exception accessed the inside of the building from the rooftop.

Abandoned New York

Across the way is a correctional facility

I jiggled the handle of the door and sure enough, it popped open.  But fuck, to my surprise the light shimmered on and freaked me out.  On all my adventures into abandoned structures, never once, was electricity still running.  I walked down the stairwell reading signs saying, “DO NOT OPEN, FIRE EXIT, ALARM WILL SOUND!”  Normally, without electricity that issue does not matter.  However, I did not want to push my luck so I backed off.  When I approached the end of the stairwell another light shined in through the glass door.  This made me turn around and find another way out.  Maybe I entered the wrong building, I thought?  I decided to get the fuck out of there.  I didn’t notice cameras or any alarms that sounded, but maybe I triggered a silent alarm.  I know from previous visits past this site that it is guarded at night time, but most people during the daylight don’t have the gonads to do it.  I ended up down climbing the same pipe, which felt much easier than the climb up.  As soon as my feet touched the ground I grabbed my bicycle and jolted for the nearest road.  On my way back to the airport I noticed two antennae.  One sat 150 feet tall and the other looked more like 300 or 400 feet.  Man oh man, what an adventure those will be next week.  The sun sat perched slightly above the horizon and an hour or so of daylight remained.  I decided to leave the other adventures for another day.  After all, I needed to go off the beaten path through fields and woods to access them and I did not have the proper equipment.  The day rocked!  May the coming weeks be full of thrill and the unknown as I explore other parts of abandoned New York.  Peace!

As I continue to work and explore the remnants of the past through urban blight and exploration, a few places come to mind worth exploring in Abandoned New York.  I highly recommend checking out the RTA Subway System in Abandoned Rochester if you have the opportunity.  As well as taking a look at Perrysburg, NY and Dansville, NY respectively and exploring Castle on the Hill along with the JN Adam Memorial Hospital.  If you have any other suggestions on locations in Abandoned New York please feel free to leave a comment.  My wife and I are always open to exploring new locations and graveyards.

Abandoned New York

Last picture I got from the rooftop before heading down the pipe for my Abandoned New York adventure…

Rock Climbing Canada

Oh Canada…Written Consent?

Rock Climbing Canada

So I ended up rock climbing Canada today with Brian Piper. He’s another avid skydiver at the WNY drop zone. He picked me up from the Akron Airport at about 9 AM. We drove past the border patrol and into Canada fairly easy despite my lack of a passport. Apparently a license and birth certificate suffice if you don’t have an EDL or passport. The French border patrol officer inquired if I had proper authorization from both of my parents to enter the country. My brows cringed in a confused manner and I responded, “I’m 25?” He reiterated his question again.  I spoke a bit louder this time, “Ummm? I’m 25…”

He apologized after reading the documentation for a second time to verify my birthday. Maybe, he confused me for a 15 year old boy and Piper, well he just kidnapped me. We joked back and forth about that as the day progressed. After a three hour drive and horrible directions from Piper’s old climbing guide, “The Escarpment”, we ended up at Rattlesnake Point.  GPS died once crossing the border since neither of us planned accordingly for international voice and data services. We ended up making a few U-turns and filled the long ride bullshitting different stories back and forth.

Rock Climbing Canada

Rock climbing Canada at Rattlesnake Point!

The map lead us to Rattlesnake Point wall instead of our original destination of Buffalo Crag wall. Noon loomed upon us before we even realized it so we decided to set up some routes on Buckingham Palace and another 5.8 climb.

My last climb happened about two to three months prior in Summersville and New River Gorge. I died then from being out of climbing shape. Today appeared worse.  My arms flailed in a tiresome fashion as I tried clenching onto polished hand holds with a death grip pinch and crimp. My calves shook and tingled as I attempted to pit my toes in any crack, or crevice on the face of the cliffs. After several failed attempts my feet slid off the glassy surface of the wall. I spent much time up there, but never made it past the last pitch of any route due to the conditions.

Piper attempted to trad the route right of Buckingham Palace, but it ended in a down climb. He showed me the basics of trad climbing with the different nuts and camps. I top roped the last route of the day cleaning any trad gear from the wall. After climbing the crack and almost reaching the top with an overhung tree I slipped and fell about ten feet.  We made three climbs for the day by 4 PM before heading back to the US.

Neither of us experienced the blood rushing forearm pump where your veins pop out and arms throb from strenuous activity, but for a one day climb we utilized our time wisely.

Rock Climbing Canada

Rock Climbing Canada

Top rope rock climbing Canada

If you’re interested in checking out Rattlesnake Point and rock climbing in Canada I’d highly recommend checking out the following – Rock Climbing Rattlesnake Point

They have a list of the different routes and difficulty for east and west cliffs, along with the longitude and latitude of the conservation area so you can easily input this into your GPS for directions. I will make a note saying that a lot of the routes are polished as this is one of the more popular walls at Rattlesnake Point, however, they also have other walls you can hike to that are a little further away and less polished.

Most of the area is designed for trad or top rope. You can anchor into the top cruxes with your gear and walk down the stairs to top rope or you can simply set gear as you go using your trad rack depending on your experience. The view of the area is pretty amazing so even if you aren’t a climber I’d highly recommend just visiting the park for hiking and/or camping. I am not positive about the costs of camping, but a day pass runs about $12 to park and gives you access to anywhere in the park. It’s a year round climbing area and the cruxes have all been tested by engineers to determine their structural capacity. The ones that have silver tags on them have been tested and are verified to hold you…so you can sit back and relax. As a rule of thumb, I would always use redundancy whenever possible just in case something goes wrong you have a backup anchor to hold you.

Below is a trail map of the Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area with trails for rock climbing Canada

Rock Climbing Canada

This gives directions to the other climbing wall – Buffalo Crag, which we did not have time to climb, however, you can access Rattlesnake Point climbing wall via Bruce Trail. It also lists the other trails on the map if you are interested in checking out the rest of the park for some hiking. Thanks and enjoy.

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