Arial view of Hanging Mountain.

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)

Seasonal Peregrine Falcon Closure at Farley

peregrine-signEach year, a portion of cliff at Farley Ledge is temporarily closed due to peregrine falcon activity.  In an effort to support successful nesting of these state protected birds, the WMCC in cooperation with the MA Department of Fisheries and Wildlife enacts a seasonal closure for climbing and hiking.  Historically, prior to any formal investigation on the bird’s nesting patterns, the WMCC would enact a complete closure of the cliffs each season.  However after careful research and inspection conducted by the Mass F&W with assitance from the WMCC, the restricted area and season was refined to better represent the falcon’s needs by providing a substantial buffer zone while also allowing for recreational use.  Over the years, the falcons have continued to return and have reportedly been successfully reproducing!  The hard work  and partnership between the WMCC and Mass F&W is a demonstration of a positive and constructive working relationship to preserve sensitive cliff habitats while maintaining recreational access.

Closure details:  Feb 15 – June 15.  Signs have been posted throughout Farley.  This closure includes climbing on cliffs (from left to right): The Main Slab, The Pinnacle, the Yellow Wall and The Balcony, Pot Ledge Buttress, and Lover’s Leap.  In addition, all bouldering and roped climbing ABOVE the following boulder problems are closed: Terrordactyl, Tweaky Bird, Appetite for Destruction, and Mid-Sized Man. The boulder problems near Stereogram and Babies as well as the area known as The Four Tiers are OPEN.  If you are uncertain about where these formations are, just be sure to stay off the trails, talus and cliffs ABOVE the flagging tape and signs.

WMCC ANNOUNCES NEW PRESIDENT!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition

wmcc@climbgneiss.org                   www.climbgneiss.com

 

HADLEY, MA (FEBRUARY 24, 2014) – WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS CLIMBER’S COALITION ANNOUNCES NEW PRESIDENT!

 

One of the Northeast’s most active climbing advocacy groups, the Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition (WMCC), is proud to announce another milestone in its mission to protect our most valuable climbing resources.  After twelve years serving the climbing community, WMCC founding member and President Jeff Squire will be handing off the sharp end and stepping down as President of the organization (effective April 2014).

 

Squire will be passing the rack into the capable, charismatic and highly motivated hands of Peter Clark of Hadley, MA. Mr. Clark will work alongside the WMCC’s membership and five-member Board of Directors, bringing a diverse and deep skill set rooted in natural resource management, non-profit development, and sports marketing.  Mr. Clark has been involved with the WMCC for over a decade as a driven volunteer dedicated to bettering the climbing landscape and conservation of the vertical environment. Mr. Clark was elected President by a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors and has, along with Mr. Squire, crafted a transition plan to ensure that the long success the WMCC is paid forward into its next generation of leadership.  Squire will remain a Board member of the WMCC and a Special Advisor to Mr. Clark.

 

“The Western Massachusetts Climber’s Coalition has been on the leading edge of local climbing organizations since its launch in 2002.  The work completed under Jeff’s leadership is both inspirational and staggering.  Because of his drive, dozens of climbing areas including Farley Ledge are now secure; an achievement that will historically define climbing in Southern New England.  It’s hardly enough, but I know I speak for the entire WMCC membership and every climber who has ever walked the Red Trail at Farley in thanking Jeff for his tireless service on our behalf.  I look forward to the challenges the next 10 years will bring us and aspire to the example that Jeff has set for us all.” said Clark.  “The WMCC is in an exciting place with several shovel-ready projects.  With stage one of the Farley Ledge Preservation project nearly completed, we plan to work even harder to develop stronger relationships with landowners to further secure climbing access throughout the Commonwealth, grow support with private and government agencies as well as within our own community to strengthen our voice, and engage with future generations to educate the next group of stewards of these places we love.”

 

Squire, author of the original Farley Management Plan, which is directly credited for opening the door for climbing access remarked, “On a muggy summer evening in 2002, a few climbers got together to think about how to protect our favorite climbing area. We penned a few ideas on a napkin and at the top we wrote ‘Western Mass Climbers’ Coalition,’ which is exactly what we became.  Nearly fifteen years later, that spirit of banding together to protect the climbing experience has helped us negotiate access to several premier crags hosting over 2,000 routes and boulder problems and to represent thousands of climbers throughout the East Coast. Climbing and its community in Western Massachusetts is in my blood and will always be a part of my life.  It has been my sincere privilege to have worked with all of our dedicated volunteers, develop relationships with the landowners that let us climb on their land, and help build a cohesive voice to represent the interests of climbers everywhere.  I look forward to heading out to the crag!”

 

Integrated into one of the organization’s yearly events, we will be honoring Mr. Squire at the WMCC Annual Silent Auction (April 6th, 2014 at Café Esselon in Hadley).  We encourage everyone to mark their calendars, dry clean their puffy jackets and formal wear, and prepare for an evening of merriment!

2014 2nd Quarterly Meeting Agenda

2nd Quarterly Meeting Agenda

Tuesday May 20th / 6 PM / CRG Hadley

Auction Recap

  • Current financials
  • Final Farley loan payments

Rendezvous Planning

  • Current standing
  • Location/Camping
  • Other

Marketing/Membership

  • AMC/WMCC Summer event

Action and Outreach

  • “Peace time mission”  –  Outreach and Education
  • Farley management
  • DCR
  • Adopt-a-Crag

 

2014 1st Quarter Board Meeting

1st Quarter Board Meeting

 

MEETING AGENDA

Thursday February 6th / 6:00 PM / CRG Hadley

 

  1. 2013 Financial Review

a. Revenue generators

b. Opportunities for growth

i. Rendezvous

ii.Membership

 

2.  Silent Auction Planning

a. Pick date

b. Start volunteer list & tasks

 

  1. Board elections

a. Nominations/candidates

b. Board structure moving forward

 

  1. Website changes

a. Crag pages update?

b. Home page update

 

 

5.  Other new business

Access: Rattlesnake Gutter

June 2010

As you may or may not be aware, the WMCC has been actively working  with the Town of Leverett to develop management strategies for rock-climbing in Rattlesnake Gutter. Currently, climbing is neither prohibited nor actively managed in the Town owned portion of the Gutter, which includes the majority of the boulders and cliffs within the gated road.   In June, the Leverett Conservation Commission agreed to endorse WMCC efforts aimed at investigating the re-introduction of climbing in the area known as the “Main Cliff”-a privately owned section that has been closed to climbers (and the general public) since the late 80’s.

The Town of Leverett had recently purchased land for conservation purposes at the top of the “Main Cliff”.  This land was purchased using Community Preservation Act funding, which requires that land must also have a Conservation  Restriction (CR) placed on it.  According to state law, this CR must  be held by an entity other than the Town. The obvious choice to hold the CR was the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust (RGT), a local land trust comprised of passionate, mindful, and dedicated volunteers who work to protect land in Leverett.

The WMCC has had several meetings and conversations with the RGT since mid-September about climbing at the “Main-Cliff” and about the final CR language.  Despite these efforts, the final CR draft explicitly  PROHIBITED climbing and climber access to the top of the “Main Cliff”.
This final draft was submitted to the Leverett Selectboard for final approval at their  meeting on Tuesday, November 30th.  The Leverett Conservation Commission and the WMCC attended the meeting to speak in favor for continued access to the top of the “Main Cliff” and, specifically,  that the CR language should reflect the overall goals of the Town; 64 out of the 102 Leverett residents who responded to the Conservation Commission’s “Open Space and Recreation Plan Survey” ranked climbing as a recreational activity of medium to high importance.  Fortunately, democracy prevailed and the Select Board agreed that CR language which specifically prohibited climibing in this area was not appropriate for CPA funded, Town owned land.  They thus requested that the Conservation Commission and the RGT work together to come up with more community focused and diplomatic language.
The WMCC is committed to maintaining a positive working relationship with the Town of Leverett, private landowners, the Leverett Townspeople, and the RGT.  As you can imagine, future access at the “Main Cliff” is uncertain, and will require careful planning under direction of all stakeholders.  Thanks to those who came to the hearing and showed their support. For now, the best way to help is to follow the guidelines posted on our Rattlesnake Gutter Crag Page.
As always, your questions and feedback are appreciated!
-WMCC Board of Directors