Hanging Mountain to Open Oct. 2, 2021

Hanging Mountain in Sandisfield, MA will open to the public on Oct. 2, 2021. 

The Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition (WMCC) and the Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF), in partnership with the Access Fund, purchased the 14-acre Hanging Mountain parcel in November of 2019. Previously, Hanging Mountain, a small mountainside with ten distinct crags, was privately owned and closed to climbing.

Now, after the construction of an access road and parking area, building a network of approach trails, and developing approximately 70 rock climbs, the WMCC and RMF are ready for climbers, hikers, birdwatchers, and other users to recreate at Hanging Mountain.

The Hanging Mountain Stewardship Committee would like to thank the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Access Fund and a group of very devoted volunteers for their many contributions. Without the help of these parties, opening Hanging Mountain simply would not have been possible. 

The WMCC and RMF want to stress three important points to any visitors to this special place.

  1. The WMCC and RMF intend to open Hanging Mountain in phases. Only “Phase One” of the parcel will open on October 2. Construction and development of Phase Two is underway, with portions of Phase Two expected to open in 2022. PLEASE obey signage indicating which portions of the cliff are closed. If you want to help with Phase Two, click here to sign up.
  2. WMCC and RMF advise climbers to wear helmets due to recent rockfall events at Hanging Mountain.
  3. Nearly all of Hanging Mountain has been designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Protection as “Priority Habitat,” which means that several rare species have been identified on the property. The WMCC and RMF are asking users to PLEASE stay on established trails and obey all signage.  If climbers, or other recreational users negatively impact the populations of these rare species the WMCC and RMF may be forced to restrict public access to portions of Hanging Mountain.

 

More About Hanging Mountain

Hanging Mountain, formerly private property which had been closed to climbing for years prior to being purchased by the WMCC and RMF, with crucial support from the Access Fund, offers a valuable new resource for southern New England climbing, with routes up to 3 pitches  long and a good balance of traditional, mixed, and sport routes with grades, to date, from 5.8  to 5.13. There are approximately 70 routes that are open for climbing in several sectors. It is located in an easily accessible and beautiful setting in the southern Berkshires, three miles from the Connecticut border. A large number of people and organizations have put in a great amount of time, effort, and money into the efforts to make this area available for climbing, with much more required in the coming years as we move forward into the future phases of this project.

While we are excited to have a portion of the cliff open after all of these efforts, we must also sound some notes of caution. Hanging Mountain is in an area that has been designated as a highly sensitive (and legally protected) environmental zone, particularly due to the existence of several rare and endangered plants. These plants have been located on sections of the cliff as well as along the base and in the wooded areas, so development of routes, trails, and other infrastructure on the property has been, and will need to continue to be, very carefully planned and accomplished. All users must stay on developed trails, routes, and staging areas as well as using only designated parking areas. This area is being carefully monitored by the State environmental authorities, so we cannot allow the ‘free for all’ route development or the creation of ‘social trails’ that has been common elsewhere. There may also, when necessary, be seasonal closures to protect nesting raptors.

An additional concern at Hanging Mountain is that while much of the crag consists of excellent quality rock, primarily granite, that offers wonderful climbing, there are also areas of dangerously unstable rock and a history of significant rockfalls in certain parts of the cliff—a major one happening just a year ago. This is another factor that has to be taken into account both as the area is developed  and during normal use—wear a helmet!!!

Finally, as our parking area is required to be fairly limited and no legal back-up parking as yet exists, it would be best to try to make your visits during what are likely to be non-peak times.

Please read and follow all rules and instructions that are posted online, in the kiosk at the parking area, or in the PDF guidebook that will be available by the opening date.

-The Hanging Mountain Stewardship Committee

 

Check out the Hanging Mountain Crag page for more details about parking, etc.

Posted Sept. 7th, 2021

A Letter from the President

Dear Western Mass climbers,

I am honored to accept the role of WMCC President. Thank you for your support and thank you to my fellow board members for their confidence in me.

I am still fairly new to the Western Mass community, and I continue to meet new people and learn more about the history of climbing access in this region. The more than 20 years of hard work and dedication from past volunteers is humbling and I hope to continue this work as best I can.

My commitment to you is to lead with thoughtfulness and transparency. My goals for this year are to continue to grow our membership base, create systems for volunteers who want to get more involved in the organization, and stay focused on our mission of securing access to climbing in Western Mass. It’s important to me that as our community expands and our number of crags grows, we are thoughtful about creating equitable access for everyone.

Thank you for this opportunity.

Gratefully,

Stephanie Giguere

President of the Western Mass Climber’s Coalition

 

Published July 7th, 2021

New Leadership

New Leadership

As planned, Wayne Burleson stepped down from his position as President of the WMCC last week. He will remain on the board through September of this year. The board elected former Vice President, Stephanie Giguere, as the new president, and Dolci Mascolo and Sara McFadden to be Co-Vice Presidents, effective July 1st.

Wayne stands in front of table with WMCC banner with microphone in hand. He is wearing a black sweater and jeans.

A message from Wayne:

“Hey WMCC and friends! I am very excited to welcome Stephanie Giguere as the new president of the WMCC, and also Sara McFadden and Dolci Mascolo as Co-Vice Presidents. It has been an exciting year of challenges and transitions. Our acquisition of Hanging Mountain, ongoing negotiations about Farley and new JDEI initiatives have kept the board busy. Oh yeah, and the pandemic. I have been very proud to lead and serve our local climbing community, especially amidst larger issues in climbing and society.

I ask you all to support WMCC even if the magic of climbing is just a small and local contribution to the greater good. Happy climbing and stay safe!”

 

Published July 7th, 2021

Tekoa Remains Closed to Climbing

This is a reminder that Tekoa remains closed to climbing. Tekoa Mountain is managed by the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and climbing is prohibited due to concerns for endangered and protected species. The area is under camera surveillance and any activity there will be reported to the Environmental Police.

Please respect this closure. Only by respecting closures can we work to build positive relationships with land managers.

Published April 8th, 2021

Letter of Solidarity with the AAPI Community

The Western MA Climbers’ Coalition stands in solidarity with the Asian American Pacific Islander community in the wake of last week’s tragedy in Atlanta. The loss of Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, and Paul Andre Michels is another example of the ways in which dangerously oppressive systems continue to harm communities of color. We know that the climbing community is impacted by the continued acts of violence toward marginalized communities and reaffirm our commitment as a Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee to continually stand against, and work toward ending the ways in which certain communities experience violence and oppression.

Published 3/23/2021

Hanging Mountain Update, March 19th, 2021

Most of the 14-acre property at Hanging Mountain has been designated as Priority Habitat by MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP). As a result, Hanging Mountain and any work performed there is heavily regulated to ensure that the WMCC is in compliance with the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act and Wetlands Protection Act.

The WMCC recently submitted and received approval of a Land Management Plan, the first step in the important process to develop Hanging Mountain in compliance with state regulations. Currently the WMCC is working with NHESP to file a Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) Review. Once successful, the WMCC will be able to apply for a permit to complete trails and infrastructure on the designated section of Hanging Mountain. Upon approval of a permit, the state will allow a portion of the property to be opened to the public for recreational use. We cannot give a specific date for opening at this time since the timeline is dependent on the state regulatory and approval process. However, we are working with advisors to meet the state requirements and deadlines.

For more information about the MESA review, visit the Hanging Mountain Crag page and listen to the Off Belay Podcast, which features the board member and HM committee member, Dolci Mascolo. In the latter half of the podcast, she discusses what the MESA review is and what it means for Hanging Mountain.

Thank you all for your support throughout this process!

 

Published 3/19/2021.

New Farley Parking Beta

The WMCC is excited to announce a new partnership with the Franklin Regional Transit System (FRTA). The Town of Erving and the FRTA have arranged the inclusion of a park & ride transit system between Erving Center and Farley Ledges. The ride system allows both advance and immediate reservation of a bus that will take visitors to and from the main Farley parking lot for a very low fare. Weekend services run from 9:30am-5:30pm, weekdays from 6:30am-7:30pm.

 

How to use the FRTA service to get to Farley:

  1. Pre-book a ride through the FRTA Access app (Download through Google Play, Apple).
  2. To make booking trips easier, users can type in “Farley Ledges” and “Erving Municipal Parking Lot” as their drop off/pick up point.
  3. Make sure to bring cash for the fare.
  4. Drop off any bulky gear and extra climbers at the Farley lot.
  5. Park in Erving and wait for your ride to arrive!

Where to park:

Park at the Erving Municipal lot, 8 West Main St., Erving.

The municipal lot is located at the junction with Arch St., just past the Freight House and  Erving Station Chocolates, across from the former Crooked Tap. Stop at the Freight House for coffee or lunch (they have great vegan options), or the Erving Station to get a sweet treat for the ride home!

Additional parking available at Arch Street in the Pearl B Care Historical Building parking lot.

Although Erving is the pickup point for riders coming from the east, the “Zone 1” service extends from Erving to Greenfield therefore riders can book from any location along the route for the same fare.

Cost:

Fares MUST BE PAID IN CASH. No change will be given– those overpaying will receive a credit towards future rides. We suggest bringing $1 bills.

The fare is $3 per ride for the person making the reservation and each additional person on the same booking is half price. Therefore, six people will pay $1.75 each for the shared trip.

Covid-19 Precautions:

FRTA vans are currently limited to six passengers at a time. Masks are required.

 

Visit the FRTA website and FRTA brochure for more information.

 

Published 3/17/2021, updated 3/19/2021.

Mass Fish and Wildlife staff tagging peregrine falcon chick in Western MA.

Farley Ledges Peregrine Falcon Closure, 2021

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 2021.

Email us at wmcc@climbgneiss.org if you have any questions about this closure. Thank you!

 

Photo of local climber and Mass Fish and Wildlife employee, Jessie Brad, tagging a peregrine falcon chick. Photographer: Shayne Burke.

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-