White text on a dark blue background: $1,000 match. Central Rock Gym logo.

Porta Potty Fundraiser

Do you give a sh*t about keeping our crags free from human waste? We sure do!

The WMCC pays $5,000 a year to maintain porta potties at each of our main trail heads (Farley Ledge and Hanging Mountain). These plastic thrones are more than just convenience for YOU, our visitors, they are also crucial in keeping our crags free from human waste. Because no one wants to step in poo if they step off the trail…

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

We need YOUR help to make our goal. The first 50 donations of $25 or higher will receive this adorable(?) sticker:

A poop emoji climbs a rock face with a background of new england forest and the WMCC logo in the botton left.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

A man wearing shorts, a T-shirt, harness, climbing shoes and an orange helmet stands on a slabby rock wall, looking at the camera and smiling.

Ray Drewitz Memorial Fundraiser

The WMCC recently lost Ray Drewitz, 40, a beloved member of the Western Massachusetts climbing community. Friends of Ray are raising funds to dedicate a new welcome kiosk at Farley Ledges in Ray’s honor. Ray grew up in Ashfield, MA and was an avid member of our climbing community. Ray loved the outdoors, and having a memorial to him will allow us to think of our friend whenever we climb there. Thank you for your contributions in his honor.

Make a donation here.

2024 Access & Demographics Survey

Want to help the WMCC from the comfort of your own home? Take our survey! We need as many people as possible to take our Access and Demographics survey. It doesn’t matter where you live or how often you visit the crags we steward – if you visit Farley, Hanging Mountain, or other crag in Western Mass, we want to hear from you!

What will we do with data from this survey? The results of this survey will inform our long term goals and strategy, will add valuable data to future grant applications and help us compare usage over time. The survey is anonymous and will take about five minutes.

COMPLETE THE SURVEY

Text: "*Urgent Access Update at Farley Ledges* NO NIGHT CLIMBING" appears on top of a photo of the view from the main cliff at Farley looking out at the Millers River and orange foliage.

Access Update for Farley Ledge

To respect the wishes of the landowners and preserve long term access to Farley, the WMCC is requesting that NO ONE CLIMB AT FARLEY AFTER DUSK. Climbers should leave Farley by dusk and should not climb with headlamps or lights of any kind.

The majority of Farley Ledges is located on PRIVATE PROPERTY. Recent discussions with several landowners have brought to our attention issues with lights and noise after dark. Climbers need to respect the landowners’ right to peace and quiet. It is a privilege that we are allowed to recreate on THIER land.

Please remember:

  • Keep noise levels down *no music* – While this is always important when climbing outside, it is especially important at the Speed of Life Boulder and other boulders along the lower Red Trail at Farley. Sound travels even if you cannot see a house.
  • Keep dogs leashed – Neighbors have complained about dogs entering their yards, disturbing their dogs and chickens. Keep your dogs on a leash and out of their yards.
  • Tell your friends so that we can maintain good relationships with the land owners and access to this incredible resource!
1% for the Planet logo

1% for the Planet Partnership

We are pleased to announce the Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition has joined 1% for the Planet as an environmental partner! This partnership reflects our dedication to conserve all aspects of the climbing environment in Massachusetts.

 

1% for the Planet is an accountability partner for businesses that are ready to reject business as usual and give back to environmental partners making a difference around the globe. Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, their members have given hundreds of millions of dollars to environmental partners to date.

 

“The intent of 1% for the Planet is to help fund these diverse environmental organizations so that collectively they can be a more powerful source in solving the world’s problems,” writes Yvon Chouinard, co-founder of 1% for the Planet.

 

Learn more by viewing the WMCC’s profile here.

WMCC in the News

Find the WMCC and other Local Climbing Organizations featured in the article: “LOCAL CLIMBING GROUPS TAKE COMMUNITY TO NEW HEIGHTS.”

Local Climbing Organizations, or LCO’s, have many roles. This article articulates the many roles of an LCO in preserving outdoor spaces, taking care of crags, building community, raising interest and awareness, promoting diversity, developing new routes, monitoring wildlife, managing trails, promoting climbing safety and advocating for climbers. If you support this work, make sure to volunteer, donate, or become a member of your local LCO!

The WMCC logo is white on top of a background of a watercolor rainbow.

RESPONSE TO USA CLIMBING’S TRANSGENDER ATHLETE PARTICIPATION POLICY

We believe that USA Climbing’s recently updated Transgender Athlete Participation Policy is transphobic and will cause harm to the sport and so many people we love. We believe that the new policy is antithetical to USA Climbing’s stated belief that “every athlete should be allowed to compete in a respectful, safe, and harassment-free environment.”

The new policy places an undue financial and emotional burden on trans athletes by requiring them to “prove” their gender identity.

One need only look at the ordeal of Caster Semenya and the horrific examinations and tests she endured to see what would happen to athletes as young as 12 years old in USA Climbing events if they have to “prove” their worthiness for inclusion in a specific gender category. 

It is time to reframe our thinking about gender and consider the dignity and rights and equal protections for all athletes in climbing regardless of their gender identity.

We also firmly agree with and want to amplify:

@climbcrux: “[The Policy] also invalidates diverse trans identities by asserting there is a specific, expensive, time-intensive, emotionally taxing path a person must follow to be “recognized” by USA Climbing as “legitimately” transgender.”

@catlikeacat explains – “As of today, 22 states have passed legislation banning access to the gender-affirming healthcare. If the trans athlete lives in one of these states, they legally cannot access the medical care needed to maintain eligibility. But more importantly, this policy specifically involves minors’ bodies, healthcare, and decisions that should only be left up to the minor themselves, their family, and their medical provider.”

We call on USA Climbing to repeal the new policy. Then, and only then, can USA Climbing get back on the path of living their stated goal of creating and maintaining a respectful, safe, and harassment-free environment.

We request the following:

  • Review the USA Climbing Transgender Athlete Participation Policy, published on September 26, 2023, and make immediate revisions to remove restrictions for youth;
  • Directly involve transgender, nonbinary, and intersex athletes, their families and coaches, and subject matter experts in the policy-making process;
  • Suspend the new eligibility requirements during the interim and revision period to allow transgender, nonbinary, and intersex athletes the ability to participate.

We call on our entire community to stand up against this new policy. 

Are you with us?

Signed,

Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition, Ragged Mtn Foundation, & CragtVT

WMCC logo     Ragged Mountain Foundation Logo     Blue and green logo for crag VT

Scaling New Heights: Western Mass Climbers Coalition Earns Land Conservation Award from Access Fund

Each year, the Access Fund recognizes individuals and Local Climbing Organizations for their stewardship, dedication to the community and sustainable access through the Climbing Advocate awards. We’re thrilled that the WMCC was chosen for a 2022 Land Conservation award for our work to conserve and protect Hanging Mountain in Sandisfield, MA. WMCC Operating Executive, Stephanie Giguere, accepted the award in person this November at the 2023 Access Fund Climbing Advocacy Conference.                           

In 2019, WMCC members Rob Sullivan and Jeff Squire secured an opportunity for the WMCC to purchase the mostly undeveloped cliff. With the help of the community and key partners such as the Ragged Mountain Foundation, Access Fund, Appalachian Mountain Club, and others, the WMCC was able to purchase the 14 acres and begin developing the area. The WMCC built a parking lot, kiosks, trails and belay platforms, all with meticulous concern for conservation of the natural environment and sensitive species that inhabit the area.

Our vision for Hanging Mountain extends beyond the thrill of climbing; it encompasses a commitment to environmental stewardship. We are working hand in hand with Access Fund to implement sustainable practices, protecting the delicate ecosystems that make Hanging Mountain unique. This award is not just a recognition of past achievements but a commitment to a responsible and sustainable future.

We are immensely grateful to the Access Fund for recognizing our efforts and providing support that will further fuel our mission. As we reflect on this achievement, we are more committed than ever to expanding our impact. Hanging Mountain is just the beginning. We invite you to join us on this journey, whether as a climber, supporter, or partner. Together, we can continue to scale new heights, not just in the vertical world of rock climbing but in our shared commitment to conservation and community.

Stephanie, a 30 year old woman wearing a Hanging Mountain T-shirt, accepts the sandstone award from another woman, who is smiling.

Introducing our 2023 nominees to the board of directors!

There are five open seats and six nominees for the 2023 WMCC board elections. Danielle Rao, Rob Sullivan, and Josh Seamon-Ingalls are running for re-election; Nick Friedman, Justin Raphaelson, and Jenifer Dickinson are new nominees offering a diverse set of skills and experience.

The election period runs from Sept. 1st to Sept. 30th and the five nominees with the most votes will be elected to the board of directors.

How do I vote in the election?

On Sept. 1st, current members will receive an election ballot at their listed email address. Members have until Sept. 30th to vote. If you are not currently a member but would like to vote in the election to show your support of a candidate or help shape the direction of the WMCC, become a member by Sept. 24th. If you are a member and did not receive the ballot, please email us.

Please email aubrey@climbgneiss.org with questions about voting or wmcc@climbgneiss.org with questions about your membership status.

Jenifer Dickinson

Recently moving to the Berkshires in Massachusetts from NH, Jenifer has been ice climbing since 2013 and rock climbing since 2017.  She has a background in Conservation biology, experience with land trusts and Conservation Restrictions, and currently works as the Stewardship Coordinator for the Berkshire Natural Resource Council.  She is working  to foster a long term plan for climbing on BNRC land.  In addition to her career, Jenifer has volunteered extensively and participated in her climbing community during her free time.  While living in NH, she sat on the Monadnock Climbers Association Board for several years.  She also became the Chair of the Mountaineering Committee of the NH Chapter of the AMC in 2021 and participates in the AMC Inter Climbing Chapter which coordinates AMC branches and their fundraising and activities. Passionate about providing access for all, she became a mountaineering volunteer leader through the AMC in 2018 and has been co-leading ice climbing events in NH ever since.  She hopes to use all these skills and work to help in building a stronger, more supportive climbing community.

Nick Friedman

Nick Friedman is a Western Massachusetts native who cut his teeth climbing at Reservoir Rocks in Great Barrington. Twenty years later, Nick’s love of climbing has brought him all over the world and keeps him outside several days a week. Nick’s outdoor enthusiasm extends beyond climbing to skiing, surfing, hiking, and mountain biking.

Professionally, Nick is an accomplished entrepreneur having founded several mid-sized companies (400+ employees). With nearly 15 years of executive leadership in the private sector, Nick has extensive experience serving as CEO, CFO, CMO, and CSO, as well as board experience having served as president, secretary, and treasurer to various companies. Currently, Nick is Chief Strategy Officer to Theory Wellness Inc, one of the largest cannabis companies in the country, which he co-founded in 2017.

Over the last year, Nick has begun to volunteer his time to WMCC on access related issues. Most notably, Nick has been instrumental in helping WMCC secure permanent access to the climbing at Farley ledges, by acquiring and developing a new parking area on Old State Road, which remains under development. Nick is passionate on issues of conservation, access, and land management for outdoor recreation, and has personal use familiarity with nearly all WMCC’s managed areas. He looks forward to the opportunity to complement WMCC’s board with expertise in accounting, fundraising, legal, marketing, and strategic planning.

Selfie of a woman with medium length brown hair wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap sitting with a smiling man wearing a baseball cap in front of mountains on a bright day.

Danielle Rao

Danielle has been a member of the WMCC for 17 years and is the current board treasurer. She first started volunteering for the WMCC at annual events like the Winter Thaw and Rendezvous. When it came time to purchase the Farley parking lot, Danielle started the WMCC’s most popular fundraiser, the Silent Auction, now in its 16th year. This event alone has raised over $120,000 for the WMCC! Danielle is a property manager and a small business owner. She and her husband Jon LaValley (founding member of the WMCC) love to climb locally and road trip around the country climbing and biking. When she’s not climbing, she’s usually reading in a sunny spot, gardening, or doing yoga.

Justin Raphaelson

Justin Raphaelson is a writer, lawyer, climber, ultrarunner, mountaineer, and conservationist. He also has a passion for taking cross country road trips to explore the great outdoors. Sensing the urgency to inform others of the beauty within our own country, and most importantly, maintaining that beauty for future generations; he started documenting his journeys on his blog jccrosscountry.com, eventually publishing a memoir in 2020, Take to the Unscathed Road. A property and criminal defense attorney based in Worcester, Massachusetts, Justin is a graduate of New England Law-Boston and has a B.A. in History from Clark University. He is also an executive board member of the Greater Worcester Land Trust. Justin deeply enjoys conservation projects and has worked with a number of climbing organizations over the years such as SNECC, CRAG-VT, and WMCC on access projects.

Josh Seamon-Ingalls

Josh is a Valley native who grew up in the hill town of Leverett and now lives in Northampton where he spends his days teaching math, meandering around with his Golden Retrievers, and continually plotting rockwall-based journeys with his partner Laura and son Wilson. He considers CRG Hadley along with Farley and Rumney to be his homes away from home. He is WMCC’s Volunteer Coordinator and looks forward to bringing his years of program management experience to the position. He also led the group that created WMCC’s Operating Executive position. Josh has been teaching for over 20 years and has over a decade of experience managing sport nonprofits at the local, regional, national, and international levels. He has chaired boards as well as held positions ranging from secretary to treasurer, and been an active member of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging initiatives and Judicial Committees. Outside of climbing Josh enjoys leading international trips, participating in triathlons, folding origami, and having cookouts with his friends.

Rob Sullivan

Rob began climbing in 1990 during his junior year at UConn, cutting his teeth on that state’s terrifying trap-rock, and later, on the magical stone of the Shawangunks. Rob moved to Southern California – just northeast of Joshua Tree – and spent four years climbing all over the American Southwest. Rob joined the WMCC soon after moving to Western Mass in 2001. Here, he worked closely with the founding members of the WMCC to re-open Farley and bring a certain bolt-chopper to justice. Rob was instrumental in the acquisition of Hanging Mountain and continues to develop and secure access to other climbing areas in western Massachusetts. Rob serves on the Joint Stewardship Committee, which manages Hanging Mountain, and as the chair of the Access Committee. Rob lives in Florence, MA with his wife Andrea, daughter Chloe and two dogs: Huan and Mollie. He teaches high school English in Enfield, CT.

15 people stand inside a building posing for a picture.

WMCC Board Retreat Recap

The weekend of June 24th, 2023 was a rainy one, but that didn’t stop nine of our board members, plus several other key community members, from meeting at the Legion in Sandisfield, MA for the second annual WMCC Board Retreat. With 11 board members from locations across Massachusetts, the board meets regularly on zoom, but rarely in person.

The retreat kicked off on Friday night with a potluck dinner. After coffee Saturday morning and time to dry off from a damp night, President Andy Nueman started by acknowledging all the accomplishments from the last year and reviewing goals from the previous board retreat. Lively discussions continued through the morning until the rain came down so hard that we could no longer hear each other speak! We took a break for lunch and reconvened our climbing access discussions in the early afternoon. When the rain finally broke, we took a hike around Hanging Mountain and toured the soon to be open crag: The Beech. After our hike, the board and Operating Executive met once more to discuss board related topics. After a long and productive day, Jon LaValley cooked burgers on the grill and we enjoyed each other’s company by the fire.

Another soggy night brought wet and humid conditions Sunday morning, but some found dry rock and climbed some pitches before heading home. Everyone left energized with big ideas for the next year!

View the full minutes from the 2023 Board Retreat here.