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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

Arial view of Hanging Mountain cliff.

Hanging Mountain

Now Open: October 2nd, 2021

Intro | Land Acknowledgement | MESA Review | Parking | Closure of Corps Wall | Guidebook | Map | Trails | Facilities | Falcon Closure | Grants | Route Development | Donate to Hanging Mountain

Hanging Mountain lays in the small, southwestern Massachusetts hamlet of Sandisfield, just three miles from the Connecticut border. The WMCC owns 14 acres of mountainside and jointly manages the area with Connecticut’s Ragged Mountain Foundation through a Joint Stewardship Committee. The RMF split the purchase of this parcel with the WMCC, creating the only climber owned area in Southern New England.

This approximately 1000-foot-long series of southeast facing cliffs, ranging from approximately 60 to 240 feet in height, contains granite, granitic gneiss, and large pockets of friable schist. As the name may suggest, portions of Hanging Mountain can be unstable, at times shedding significant amounts of stone: wear a helmet, especially when belaying, and expect to encounter at least some loose rock.

The WMCC wants this land to feel like a safe space for all visitors, including but not limited to BIPOC and LGBTIQ individuals, people with disabilities, people of all genders, all bodies, all abilities, and all neurotypes.

If you do not feel safe, please contact the WMCC JDEI Committee at JDEI@Climbgneiss.org, and we will work to change that.

Land Acknowledgement

It is with gratitude and humility that we acknowledge that we are learning, speaking and gathering on the ancestral homelands of the Muhheaconneok, the Indigenous peoples of this land.

Despite tremendous hardship in being forced from here, today their community resides in Wisconsin and is known as the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.

We pay honor and respect to their ancestors, past and present, as we commit to building a more inclusive and equitable space for all.

MESA Review

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.

More information about NHESP can be found here.

Parking

The parking is located at 43 South Main Street, Sandisfield, MA. Google Map to Hanging Mountain Parking Lot.

The primary parking area and the trail head can be found at the edge of the talus; the shoulder of the access road offers additional spots. There is a designated Accessible parking space for visitors with disabilities. Please park considerately and make the $5.00 suggested donation by cash at the “iron ranger” or by credit card, PayPal, or Venmo through our online donation platform. You can make a one time donation, pay $60 for the year, or set up a recurring monthly donation. 

A smaller, spill-over lot can be found on Army Corps of Engineers (federal, public property) land just across both Route 8 and the Farmington River.  Exit our property, turn left (north) on route 8, cross the river and take a quick right, cross a steel bridge and take another quick right into a small, circular parking area.  Again, please park considerately.

Closure of Corps Wall

At this time the Corps Wall is closed. Climbing is currently an unauthorized activity on the US Army Corps of Engineers abutting property.  The WMCC and RMF are currently in negotiations to re-open access.  It is critical that we respect these rules.  Any climbing at the Corps Wall during this closure could compromise future access for climbing at the Corps Wall.

Guidebook

PDF of the guidebook is available to download for free: Hanging Mountain Guidebook. The Corps Wall descriptions have been removed as requested by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Updates will be made regularly. Please do not submit feedback directly to Mountain Project as this is being made available for free and can be regulated for Justice Diversity Equity Inclusion components by the WMCC. Please share input about routes at: tinyurl.com/RouteFeedbackHangingMountain .

We are open to feedback about implicit bias in route names. If you have input on how to help you or someone else feel more welcome and safe, please submit input at: https://tinyurl.com/SafeSpaceHangingMountain.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

The main access trail is located beyond the kiosk at the end of the parking lot. A map of the area is posted on the kiosk and signs clearly indicate each crag. It is of utmost importance that visitors stay on established trails to protect endangered and protected species.

Facilities

The WMCC provides an ADA accessible Porta-Potty located in the main parking lot for most months of the year (not available in the off season). Please, always be prepared and bring a ‘wag bag.’

Falcon Closure

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

The second and third pitch of the Squirrel wall will be closed  February 15th – June 15th every year. The first pitch, the Acorn Face, remains open. There will be clear signage at the cliff indicating which routes are closed; please obey all signage. JUNE 2022 UPDATE: The closure is extended to June 24th, 2022 to allow the young chicks to fledge the nest.

Grants

Hanging Mountain would not be possible without an astounding $93,500 in grants from partner organizations.

Access Fund: The Access Fund not only backed the purchase of Hanging Mountain with a Climbing Conservation loan in 2019, but has also funded the project with two Climbing Conservation grants in 2020: a $2,000 and a $5,000 grant for a total of $7,000. Thank you to Dolci Mascolo for writing these grants!

Appalachian Mountain Club: The AMC has been supportive of the Hanging Mountain project, generously awarding the WMCC with a total of $23,500 towards Hanging Mountain in 2021. The AMC is also providing an additional $11,000 in technical trail work from the AMC trail crew, which will be completed in 2022. Thank you to Dolci Mascolo and Bill Fogel for working on these grants!

Conservation Alliance: The Conservation Alliance awarded the WMCC and RMF a $30,000 grant in 2020. Thank you to Rob Sullivan for writing this grant!

MassTrails: The WMCC is a 2020 award recipient of a $25,500 MassTrails grant. The MassTrails grant is a reimbursement grant. The WMCC will also match 20% of the total project cost. Thank you to Jeff Squire and Dolci Mascolo for working on this grant!

We are so grateful to all of these generous organizations and to the volunteer grant writers. Many of these volunteers are still working hard to manage these grant funds.

Route Development

The WMCC owns 14 acres of mountainside at Hanging Mountain and jointly manages the area with Connecticut’s Ragged Mountain Foundation through a Joint Stewardship Committee. Due to the presence of endangered plants on and around the cliff NO ROUTE DEVELOPMENT OR TRAIL WORK SHALL BE DONE WITHOUT THE EXPLICIT APPROVAL AND SUPERVISION OF THIS COMMITTEE. Violation of this can result in the closure of the entire cliff by the state. A route development protocol is in place and must be followed at all times.

In Nov. of 2019, the WMCC and Ragged Mountain Foundation accepted a $79,500.00 Climbing Conservation Loan from the Access Fund to purchase the Hanging Mountain property. Since then, the WMCC has invested $31,750 into the driveway and parking lot and more on materials for trail work and biological surveys. We need your help to pay off the Access Fund loan and fund future projects. There are still trails and other infrastructure to develop in 2022. Thank you for your support!

Donate

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

Hanging Mountain Zoom Presentation Oct. 7th

-Hanging Mountain Zoom Presentation-

Wed. Oct. 7th, 7:00-8:00pm

 

Curious about what the WMCC/RMF Joint Stewardship Committee has been working on this summer? Join us on Zoom for an eye opening presentation on the Conservation Easement and Management Plan, MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, a brief overview of routes, infrastructure, and finances, as well the phased opening plan!

 

Missed the meeting? No worries. Here is a link to the Zoom presentation:

Watch Now

Passcode: @HangMount1

-Published Sept. 25th, 2020

-Last updated Oct. 13th, 2020

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