Hanging Mountain Update

We hope to announce a date for the soft opening of Phase One in the next two to three weeks! We are currently awaiting permitting before opening, and Hanging Mountain remains closed to the public at this time.

 

The 2020 Phase One opening of Hanging Mountain will include six crags on the right side of the cliff, featuring about 60 established pitches of diverse grades and styles. The left side of the cliff is still largely undeveloped and will not be open until Phase Two in 2021.

 

We want to thank everyone for their continued support of such an epic project!

 

Volunteers stand near the new Hanging Mountain kiosks in the Hanging Mountain parking lot.

Photo by Dan Jazwinski

Farley Lot Reopens July 6th, 2020

Good news; the Farley lot is reopening Monday, July 6th!

WMCC volunteers will be present the first weekend after opening, and updated maps of Farley crags and trails will be available at the main lot.

Parking is always a concern when climbing at Farley Ledges. In order to secure a spot in the main lot, plan to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon for the ‘second shift.’ There is parking across Route 2 on along Bridge street, but this area can quickly become overwhelmed as well. Please have a backup plan prepared and visit another climbing area, such as Mormon Hollow, Rose Ledge, or Hideaway if there is no parking available for Farley.

Please consider the following social distancing guidelines:

  • Climb with just one partner when possible. Keep groups small.
  • Wear a mask in the parking lot, on crowded belay ledges and near other parties.
  • Keep gear organized and in your pack- “no junk shows at the base.”
  • Spread out and explore new crags. There are over 450 routes and 500 boulder problems at Farley. If you don’t know where to go, ask whoever’s around for suggestions and directions.
  • More guidance is listed in the letter signed by Northeast LCO’s

-Posted July 3rd, 2020-

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

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

Special WMCC Board Meeting

There will be a Special WMCC Board meeting Wednesday, June 26th at 7:00 PM, CRG Hadley.

The main point of discussion will be the acquisition of the Sandisfield Crag (Hanging Mountain) in collaboration with the Ragged Mountain Foundation and the Access Fund.

Jeff and Rob will lead discussion about the finances and schedule, including latest interactions with the landowner.

We plan to vote on this at the meeting.

Peregrine Falcon Closure – Farley Ledges

Farley Ledges Peregrine Falcon Closure, 2019

The WMCC, in accordance to the wishes of Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife and abutting landowners, maintains a voluntary, seasonal closure of selected routes to enable nesting pairs of Peregrine Falcons to hatch and raise their offspring in peace.

Please stay off all routes on the right side of Pot Ledge Buttress (starting from “All Your Base”) to the K2 Buttress.  If you are uncertain about where these formations lay, obey any posted signs as these areas are clearly marked.

The closure ends June 15th 2019.

WMCC Welcomes New President and Board Members

At our September 26, 2018 meeting, we welcomed our new President elect-Wayne Burleson, Vice President-Cam Weimar, as well as three new board members, Michelle Dedischew, Chloe Bartram, and Chris Schafenacker. The current board is made of the following seven members:

 

Wayne Burleson – President

Cam Weimar – Vice President

Danielle Rao – Treasurer

Tony Gardner – Board Member

Michelle Dedischew – Board Member

Chloe Bartram – Board Member

Chris Schafenacker – Board Member

 

Special thanks to outgoing board members Jeff Squire, Pete Clark, Al Rubin, and Josh Surette!

Notes from the 2016 3rd-Quarterly Meeting of the Board

Meeting Notes

Western Massachusetts Climber’s Coalition 3rd Quarterly Meeting

August 17th, 2016, 7:00pm

Central Rock Gym, Hadley, MA

Board Logistics

 

Posting minutes

  • Minutes will be posted via Facebook, Website and email

 

President Succession

  • Josh Surette succeeded Peter Clark as President of the WMCC. Jeff Squire will propose a succession plan for president and board

 

Signage and Parking

  • Kiosk will be made for the Sun-bowl, Great Barrington, and at various locations in Wendell State Forest (Road-side, the Sanctuary)

 

Membership/Donations

 

Access Fund Joint Membership

  • WMCC will pursue additional membership options independent of Joint Membership with the Access Fund, including: direct emailing one time donors, local events with joint membership transparency.

 

Central Rock Gym donations

  • Will pursue a $1 optional donation with new CRG members; and will email all CRG members to give donation option

 

Celebrating WMCC Success

  • Agreed to better promote WMCC success, including its Volunteer Stewardship Agreement (VSA) and Climbing Management Plan (CMP) with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MA DCR).  MA DCR owns and manages public property such as Wendell State Forest (Mormon Hollow, Road-side, the Sanctuary/Bear Mt.). This is the first formal partnership between the state of Massachusetts and a local climbing organization.
  • In Great Barrington.  the WMCC actively partnered with the town, landowners, and local climbers to protect the aesthetic and environment at the boulders, with many trees exempted from felling during logging operations at the organizations request.

 

Land Protection/Land Owner Relations

 

Department of Conservation and Recreation MOU

  • Department of Conservation has signed a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement (VSA) with the WMCC at Wendell State Forest (WSF). WMCC will draft a climbing Management Plan (CMP) for Mormon Hollow (and eventually all of WSF), including a history, stewardship and rough outline of climbing resources for DCR and public access. WMCC will finalize hardware in Wendell SF and Wayne B. will pursue climbing agreement with private landowners

 

Montague App

  • Jose presented about guide smart phone app/guide project for climbing in the town of Montague. The WMCC is not directly affiliated with this project, but will explore a similar project for creating an online Rose Ledge guidebook

 

Great Barrington

  • At present, Mountain Project info should be limited basic access information

 

Farley

  • Tony discussed potential land acquisitions for parking access

 

Rattlesnake Gutter

  • WMCC will pursue a stewardship agreement with town of Leverett for climbing located on public land

 

Marketing and Events

The Western Mass Rendezvous is back for its 8th Annual celebration of recreation and stewardship in our local climbing resources. The 2-day event kicks off on Saturday, September 24 with a USA Climbing Youth Bouldering Competition, and will include a screening of Reel Rock 11, a BBQ and Beer/Wine garden, a trail project and climbing tours at Farley Ledges. Register soon to ensure your spot in the competition, at the film, and on one of the tours.

 

Learn more and Register at www.climbgneiss.org. The full schedule of events is also listed below.

 

Saturday, September 24

8AM-6PM: USA Climbing Competition ($50 online by Sept. 19)

7PM: Beer Garden and BBQ

8PM: Reel Rock Film Tour ($15 online by Sept. 23rd)

 

 

Sunday, September 25

8AM-9AM: Breakfast (Free-Farley Main Lot)

9AM-12PM: Trail Project

1PM-5PM: Climbing Tours (Free rope and bouldering tours)