WMCC Holiday Party, Dec. 2 @ High Horse

This year’s Holiday Party is also a special celebration for Earl and Glenna. We want to thank Earl and Glenna for all they have contributed to the local climbing community in the last 20 years, before they move.

It’s a potluck, so please bring food or dessert to share! Email Danielle Rao at eyell151@yahoo.com to let us know what you plan to bring.

When:

Sun. Dec. 2nd

6:00-10:00 PM

 

Where:

High Horse

in Amherst, MA

 

Bring:

Dish/Dessert

& cash for the bar

 

North East Local Climbing Organization Letter to Climbers

Dear Fellow Climber:

Local Climbing Organizations, Access Fund, partner organizations and land managers throughout the Northeast have been in discussions regarding what it means for us as society begins to reopen. Between being cooped up inside, gyms being closed, and nicer weather upon us, we sympathize with your desire to get out and climb. However, we are also concerned about how our behavior may impact the current situation as we head back out to the crag. When that time comes or if you do plan on climbing, please keep these notes in mind.

 

WHY WE ARE CONCERNED:

  • Distance: With high levels of COVID-19 cases in Eastern Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, traveling outside your local area may adversely affect mitigation efforts in our region, and contribute to the spread of the virus.
  • Density: We have a lot of climbers and only so many climbing areas. Too many people at a crag will make it difficult to practice social distancing; not only for fellow climbers but also for park employees, rangers, and trailhead volunteers. It may also overwhelm infrastructures such as parking areas, public resources, and trails and belay areas.

WHAT ARE WE ASKING:

  • Know and follow government regulations and health guidelines for your area.
  • Do not climb at areas that are not currently open, or on private or restricted property – this could impact longer-term access. Check with your Local Climbing Organization, or refer to the list of closures maintained by the Access Fund at https://bit.ly/CragClosures.
  • If you do go climbing, Stay Local – the closer you stay to your home the less chance for you and others to be affected by the virus.  Less than a 30-minute distance is ideal.
  • Respect rural communities that are still urging climbers not to visit.
  • Don’t go to the crag if you’re having any COVID-19 symptoms or think you may have been exposed.
  • You could be an asymptomatic carrier, so try to climb with those in your household or those you have been in routine close contact with.
  • Try to limit your group size to only you and your partner.
  • Don’t add to the burden on our first responders – select objectives that are well within your limit and climb cautiously. If an accident were to occur, it could put more people, besides the climbers, at risk of infection.
  • Avoid busy climbing areas and crowded trailheads. If you encounter a busy trailhead or crag, go to a second option, and maybe even a third or go home.
  • Don’t put the rope or gear in your mouth.
  • Don’t climb directly next to someone. Apply the six to ten-foot social distance guideline to your route selection.
  • Use hand sanitizer before and after climbing a route, belaying, and snacking.
  • Bring your mask and wear it when passing other parties on the trail or at the base. Consider belaying in your mask as well.
  • Be self-sufficient with food and water, and try to limit your use of public resources.
  • Be prepared to dig a cat hole or use a wag bag if public restrooms are unavailable.
  • Avoid sprawling your belongings at the base of a route.  Minimize the need for other people to touch your gear.

Our personal decisions on if, when, and how we climb will impact our communities on a level we could never have imagined before. We are asking for your help to keep our crags and communities safe in an effort to keep them open. Do what you can now so we can all climb in the future.

*The WMCC is still encouraging climbers to stay home and not climb at any of the Western Mass climbing areas. We appreciate all the people who have been respectful our decision.*
Published May 23rd, 2020

Next board meeting: Wednesday, May 20th at 7:00PM

Questions about closures and reopening of Western Mass climbing areas? Want to know how you can get more involved? Interested in hearing what happens behind the scenes at the WMCC and other Local Climbing Organizations? Everyone is welcome to join the meeting!

Agenda:

  • COVID response update (Access Fund, other LCO’s, etc.).
  • Farley Closure status (any feedback on compliance, local authorities, etc.).
  • Hanging Mountain updates, both funding and development.
  • Nominations and Election for new Vice President (since Cam is stepping down).
  • Other WMCC activities: social and/or fund-raising (as discussed in last meeting).

Join us at the Zoom meeting by following the link:
https://umass-amherst.zoom.us/j/98084264398?pwd=WGpQNXp3VWNhS1kvY0Z0UEtERUFLQT09

Meeting ID: 980 8426 4398
Password: 510
One tap mobile
+16468769923,,98084264398# US (New York)
+13017158592,,98084264398# US (Germantown)

For more information about joining a Zoom meeting, click here.

Covid-19 Closure

Farley parking lot driveway. Text on picture reads closed.

Dear climbers,

The WMCC board members have met and voted unanimously, in the face of the Coronavirus Pandemic, to close the properties we own – the Farley Ledges parking lot as well as our Hanging Mountain property – and to formally urge rock climbers to stay home from all Massachusetts crags we manage.

Although these two actions may seem contrary to our primary mission of preserving access to climbing resources, we believe these decisions are vital in order to protect all the citizens of the commonwealth, not just climbers.

We reach these decisions only after extensive deliberation with our national affiliate – the Access Fund – as well as reaching out to our local partners in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut.  Furthermore, these actions are consistent with the guidance all citizens of Massachusetts are receiving from our elected officials.  Lastly, our actions are in concert with Northfield Mountain Recreation Center, the majority owner of both Farley and Rose Ledges, which has officially closed it’s property.

Our rationale is as follows:

Because the Coronavirus Pandemic is an international crisis.   And since climbing is an inessential activity, which typically involves the following elements:  travel beyond one’s home community, close biological distance through sharing holds, anchors, trails and/or parking lots, and the very real possibility of an accident that would necessitate activation of – and potentially infection of –  local, volunteer search and rescue teams as well as burden already stressed medical resources.  Therefore, the WMCC believes Massachusetts climbers should place the welfare of the larger community above our own recreational needs.

Thanks for respecting our decisions.

The WMCC will continue to provide a venue for discussion and work hard to preserve and protect climbing access. Indeed, we believe these decisions will do just that by demonstrating to all stakeholders that rock climbers are responsible stewards of the land and dependable partners in a time of great need.

Thank you,

Western Mass Climbers Coalition

 

Published April 19th, 2020

2nd Quarterly Board Meeting

Wednesday, April 15th, 7:00PM

Quarterly board meetings are open to everyone. This meeting will be held via Zoom. You can use Zoom from your desktop, laptop, or smart phone. For more information about joining a Zoom meeting, please click here.

Agenda:

  • COVID-19 response (local plans and discussion of AF webinar)  – Wayne
  • Sandisfield update (funding and development) – Rob
  • Plans for Virtual activities (fund-raising, media release, etc.)
  • Farley signage update – Tony

Join Meeting

Topic: WMCC Q2 Board meeting
Time: Apr 15, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://umass-amherst.zoom.us/j/139897654?pwd=VDdqT0NpaHV0aHBBL1RQRzVrV3F1QT09

Meeting ID: 139 897 654
Password: 510    (I made the password easy for climbers to remember…)

One tap mobile
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Dial by your location
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Meeting ID: 139 897 654

Social Distancing

Hey Climbers,

Due to the current COVID19 situation, we are discouraging climbing at Farley. This is both to allow social distancing as well as to limit possible impact on local health and rescue resources. If you do choose to climb outdoors, we recommend you travel in very small groups (2-3), climb with extra caution, and seek out the less traveled crags. Be particularly aware of social distancing in the parking lot and trailheads. We will keep you posted on email and social media as the situation evolves. Our message is consistent with similar cautions in New England and worldwide.

Thanks and take care,

WMCC

Published March 19th, 2020

13th Annual Silent Auction Postponed

In the interest of public health, the WMCC has decided to postpone our yearly silent auction until further notice.

We’d like to thank those of you who made donations or planned on attending for your support and understanding at this time.

Our Silent Auction is an important fundraising event for maintaining access to our local crags. However, the safety of our community is our top priority at this time, because without our awesome community, our organization would not exist. We are hopeful we can reschedule once the situation with COVID-19 improves, so stay tuned for updates.

Email Danielle Rao at eyell151@yahoo.com if you would like to make a donation.

1st Quarterly Board Meeting 2020

Wednesday, Feb. 12
7:00 PM, CRG Hadley Party Room

Get in on the action! WMCC board meetings are full of lively discussions about places you climb. Everyone is welcome.

Agenda

  • Silent Auction plans (Danielle)
  • Sandisfield fund-raising update  (Rob)
  • Sandisfield route/trail development update (Jeff)
  • Membership Update (Wayne)
  • Tekoa update (Jeff)
  • Berkshires (Tim Murdoch)

Black Diamond matches Access Fund donations

Consider donating to the Access Fund!

Black Diamond has generously come forward to match all donations, up to $80,000, through December 14. This means every $1 you donate becomes $2, but we need your help to unlock these matching funds.

The Access Fund has played a huge role in helping the WMCC secure Hanging Mountain and property for the Farley parking lot through instrumental loans. Let’s consider supporting rock climbing access on a national level as well to protect these unique resources!

Right now, some members of Congress and the Administration are working to dismantle the regulations, environmental reviews, and public processes that protect our public lands and give us a voice. This misguided attempt to establish America’s fossil fuel-based “energy dominance” is coming at the expense of our public lands–home to nearly 60% of climbing areas in the U.S., key landscapes for many flora and fauna, and sacred lands to many indigenous tribes.

Over the last week, the climbing community has come together to raise nearly $73,000 toward the match. We are almost there—will you help us get across the finish line?

Please donate today, in time for your gift to be matched by Black Diamond, doubling your contribution to the fight.

Energy dominance at the expense of America’s public lands is not the answer. Access Fund is on the ground, fighting for our public lands, but we can’t do it without your help.

Thank you for your sustaining support!

Locals start development of Hanging Mountain

Many locals are already hard at work, donating their time and energy to establish this brand new climbing area. Dolci Mascolo, pictured below, and her partner, Ryan Stefiuk, have been busy developing new routes. Please note that public access is limited for now, as trails and other infrastructure are built. Please contact wmcc@climbgneiss.org if you are interested in development.

New Northeast Climbing Destination Secured!

Western Mass Climbers Coalition, Ragged Mountain Foundation, and Access Fund Partner to Acquire Hanging Mountain in Southwest Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition
Jeff Squire, Board Member Emeritus, jeff@berkshiredesign.com

Ragged Mountain Foundation
Matthew Conroy, Board President, matt@rockclimbfairfield.com

Access Fund
Mike Morin, Northeast Regional Director, mike@accessfund.org

November 20, 2019 – Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition (WMCC), Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF), and Access Fund are pleased to announce the acquisition of Hanging Mountain, a new climbing area in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Situated on 14 acres, Hanging Mountain may be the biggest find in Northeastern climbing in decades. Once fully established, this hidden gem will provide climbers with approximately 150 – 200 traditional and sport routes, some up to two pitches.

Hanging Mountain sits in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, just a few miles from the Connecticut border. WMCC struck a deal led by former board president Jeff Squire, to purchase the lands encompassing the mountain in early August. WMCC worked with Access Fund to secure a $79,500 loan from the organization’s Climbing Conservation Loan program.

Given the crag’s proximity to the Connecticut border, WMCC sought assistance from neighboring Ragged Mountain Foundation, whose mission is to protect recreational climbing and hiking in Connecticut. RMF recognized that WMCC’s efforts to secure Hanging Mountain would contribute significantly to opportunities for Connecticut climbers. With that in mind, RMF contributed over $15,000 to cover initial acquisition expenses and will assist WMCC with fundraising to pay off the Climbing Conservation Loan.

“We are deeply committed to preserving high and wild places, but at first we were uncertain about supporting the purchase of a crag outside of Connecticut, says RMF board president Matthew Conroy.  “It was only after walking this exceptional property and witnessing the energy and enthusiasm of the WMCC board that we were fully won over to the project. This is an undreamed of win for the region. RMF is proud to be part of the Hanging Mountain acquisition and hopes to continue its partnership with WMCC far into the future.”

Squire agrees, saying “Farley Ledge has long been our flagship crag but it’s starting to see the impacts from increased use. To discover and protect a virtually unknown cliff like Hanging Mountain, including access and parking, is a huge win for climbers in the region, and will help to relieve some of the pressures at Farley.”

Access Fund has collaborated with both WMCC and RMF on land acquisition projects in the past, including the protection of the Farley Ledge parking lot in partnership with WMCC, and the acquisition of Ragged Mountain in partnership with RMF. This new acquisition of Hanging Mountain marks the first time RMF and WMCC have collaborated on a climbing access project and one in a handful of acquisition projects pursued in partnership by local climbing organizations from different states.

“Projects like Hanging Mountain are exactly why Access Fund launched the Climbing Conservation Loan program in 2009,” says Mike Morin, Access Fund’s Northeast Regional Director. “Local climbing organizations like WMCC and RMF need quick access to funds and transaction expertise to rapidly secure new or threatened climbing areas for long-term conservation.”

Hanging Mountain is the 26th climbing area that has been conserved through the Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan Program. As a revolving loan program, loan money is repaid into the conservation fund, allowing Access Fund to loan the money out again to protect other threatened climbing areas across the country.

Community Support Needed 

We now need the community’s support to raise $120,000 to pay off the Climbing Conservation Loan and complete site improvements that will include an access road, parking lot, and trailhead amenities to facilitate public access.

A Note About the Property and Access

Hanging Mountain is a largely raw, undeveloped cliff that will require road improvements, a parking area, and a short access trail before it will be ready for public use. This unusually blank slate creates the valuable opportunity for the thoughtful development of climbing routes accessed by a network of sustainable trails planned and installed by the community.  These projects will all require significant time and effort to plan and implement. A joint committee comprised of both WMCC and RMF members have begun establishing a broad management plan and long range vision; both organizations will seek input, expertise, labor and financial support in the coming months. We anticipate a gradual opening of sections of the cliff over a period of time as the supporting infrastructure is put into place. In the meantime, please respect the initial closure, contact WMCC and/or RMF if you are interested in becoming part of the process, and stay tuned for an official opening date and access details in early summer 2020.

About Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition

WMCC is a 501(c)(3) grassroots organization that promotes the protection of natural resources and represents the concerns of rock climbers and human powered recreationalists in Western Massachusetts. Achieved through environmental stewardship, resource planning, and by maintaining strong working relationships with landowners and stakeholders, WMCC has been the leading voice for climbers in Western Massachusetts since 2000. For more information, visit www.climbgneiss.org/.

About Ragged Mountain Foundation

Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF) was formed to take over the stewardship and eventual ownership of Ragged Mountain in Southington, Connecticut with the goal of preserving access to an iconic New England cliff for climbers and hikers.The acquisition of Ragged Mountain was just one step in a larger mission that revolves around the preservation of, and public access to, the regions high and wild places. With this in mind, RMF’s mission is three-fold: (1) promoting safe, responsible, recreational use of local natural spaces; (2) advocating for recreational access (including but not limited to climbing); and (3) acquiring and preserving areas of importance to the regional climbing community. For more information, visit www.raggedmtn.org/.

About Access Fund

Access Fund is the national advocacy and conservation organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, the Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. Since 1991, the Access Fund has supported 76 land acquisitions by land trusts, public entities, and local climbing organizations, totaling 17,323 acres across twenty-seven states. For more information, visit www.accessfund.org.

Published Nov. 19th 2019