Rat Rock is an outcrop of Manhattan schist which protrudes from the Central Park bedrock in Manhattan. It is named after the rats that used to swarm there at night but it is also known as Umpire Rock. It is near the southwest corner of the park, south of the Heckscher Ballfields on the lines of 62nd Street and of 7th Avenue. The outcrop is roughly circular, about 55 feet (17 m) wide and 15 feet (4.6 m) tall with east, west and north faces that each present different climbing problems.
Boulderers congregate there - as many as fifty per day. Bouldering is the sport of climbing such large rocks. Some are regulars such as Yukihiko Ikumori, a gardener from the West Village who is known as the spiritual godfather of the rock. Others are just passing through, such as tourists and visitors who learn about the climbing spot from the Internet and word of mouth. Experienced climbers such as Mr Ikumori often show neophytes good routes and techniques. More experienced outsiders may be disappointed as the quality of the stone is poor, the setting is gloomy and the climbs present so little challenge that it has been called "one of America's most pathetic boulders".
The park police formerly ticketed climbers who climbed more than a few feet up the rock. The City Climbers Club approached the park authorities and, by working to provide safety features such as wood chips around the base, they were able to legalize climbing there.
- Jennifer Bleyer (October 7, 2007), The Zen of the Rock, New York Times
- John Sherman (1994), Stone crusade: a historical guide to bouldering in America, The Mountaineers Books, pp. 226–228, ISBN 978-0-930410-62-9
- Joe Glickman (March 11, 1998), "The Thrill of Bouldering: It Doesn't Have to Be High to Be Hairy", New York Times
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