Consider donating to the Access Fund!
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?
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!
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 email@example.com if you are interested in development.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ragged Mountain Foundation
Matthew Conroy, Board President, email@example.com
Mike Morin, Northeast Regional Director, firstname.lastname@example.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
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.
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.
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!
Western Massachusetts Climber’s Coalition 3rd Quarterly Meeting
August 17th, 2016, 7:00pm
Central Rock Gym, Hadley, MA
- Minutes will be posted via Facebook, Website and email
- 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)
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
- 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
- At present, Mountain Project info should be limited basic access information
- Tony discussed potential land acquisitions for parking access
- 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)
Each 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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition
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!