Protect Climbing on Pennsylvania State Game Lands!

See the message below by the American Alpine Club regarding climbing access issues in Pennsylvania.  

The vast majority of climbing in Pennsylvania is located on PA Game Lands, which hosts exceptional climbing opportunities at Haycock Mountain, Hunter's Rocks and Coll's Cove, to name just a few. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management is currently studying the feasibility of having the PA Game Commission implement a free permit system for secondary users of PA Game Lands—including climbers, hikers, and mountain bikers—who do not possess a hunting or furtaking (trapping) license. The permit system would allow the agency to disseminate educational and safety information and collect data from secondary users, but it would also close PA Game Lands to all secondary users, climbers included, for nearly six months during hunting seasons (except on Sundays).

Hunting seasons are defined as:

  • The last Saturday in September until the third Saturday in January
  • The second Saturday in April through the last Saturday in May

These proposed closure periods would prohibit climbing and other forms of outdoor recreation during some of the finest times to enjoy Pennsylvania’s Game Lands. While the Access Fund supports the goal of the permit system to disseminate educational materials so that climbers can safely coexist with hunters and help conserve the environment, a blanket closure during hunting seasons is unwarranted and unduly restricts a large group of PA Game Lands’ stakeholders. Across the country, there are many excellent examples of climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, paddlers, and equestrians coexisting with hunters during hunting seasons. And the free permit system also is an opportunity to incorporate secondary uses into Game Lands’ management decisions, and educate secondary users in a way that will preclude the need for closure periods.

We need your help to make climbers voices heard by Monday, January 26!

The public is being asked to comment on the proposal, and you can submit your thoughts on this closure to the Pennsylvania Game Commission using our letter writing tool below. We have provided the following bullet points to guide your thoughts. In addition to personalizing the bullet points, tell the commission who you are, where you live, and why the game lands are an important resource. Finally, thank them for considering your comments.

  1. I am supportive of the proposed free permits for Game Lands if they are accessible and easily obtainable by secondary users, and used by the commission to inform management decisions and educate secondary users on safely coexisting with hunters and trappers and protecting natural resources.
  2. I do not support the extensive closure periods that are proposed for secondary users during hunting seasons. There are many excellent examples from across the country of state and federal game lands being successfully managed for multiple uses during hunting season.
  3. Properly administered, a free permit system should effectively educate secondary users about safety and responsible use of game lands during hunting seasons, eliminating the need for a closure.
  4. There are exceptional climbing resources on PA Game Lands, and rock climbers are important PA Game Lands stakeholders and provide economic benefits to local communities.
  5. Rock climbers nationwide have proven to be responsible stewards of public lands, state and federal game lands, and are able to coexist with hunters.

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Boston Chapter Mountaineering Committee Supports Protection of Eagle Bluff

In April 2014 the BCMC donated $10,000 to the Access Fund to support the acquisition of 165 acres containing the Eagle Bluff cliff in Clifton, Maine (east of Bangor). The Access Fund has now raised the required $150,000 and the purchase and assignment of the land and the cliff to the local Clifton Climbers Alliance has completed.  
Few climbers know about Eagle Bluff, so here is an introduction to the area and the preservation effort.

Eagle Bluff

Eagle Bluff is a 200’ granite cliff that provides excellent climbing.  The crag features over 130 cracks and sport climbs as well as bouldering below the bluff. It is particularly useful as a place for instruction and novice climbers because it offers high quality moderate climbs and opportunities for top roping. If you google “climbing guide for Eagle Bluff, Maine” you can find the information you need to climb there.

There is a hiking trail that circumnavigates the cliff and a trail that leads to the top where there is an excellent view. The state of Maine operates the Parks Pond Campground just 7 minutes away so there is a place to stay nearby.

Protecting Eagle Bluff

In the mid-1990s, climbing access was threatened when the property was listed for sale. The Access Fund started working with the local climbing community to fundraise, but the previous owner was unwilling to wait, and local climber Donald Nelligan stepped up to purchase the property. Donald passed away in the Summer of 2013 with no provision for the future of Eagle Bluff, and the Nelligan family closed the cliff to public access due to liability concerns and immediately sought to sell the property, which includes the cliff and the surrounding 165 acres of land. The Access Fund launched a major campaign to raise $150,000 to purchase the property and make some modest access improvements. The fund-raising is complete and the cliff is once again open for climbing and hiking under the management of the Clifton Climbers Alliance.

Boston Chapter Mountaineering Committee (BCMC) Supports Protection of Farley Ledges

In 2007, the Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition (WMCC) successfully raised over $65,000 and purchased a 9 acre parcel at the base of Farley Ledge, in part due to a $6000 contribution from the BCMC and $5,000 from the Boston Chapter Executive Committee. This will allowed the WMCC to restrict non-climbing development at the base of the crag and provided the climbing community with sustainable access to the greatest climbing and bouldering resource in New England outside of the White Mountains or Rumney, NH.

Farley Ledge is largely owned by Northeast Utilities, but their site license contains a recreational stipulation requiring that they provide recreational opportunities. As a result, access issues were over the parking and approach trails.

Only 1.5 hours from downtown Boston, the rock quality is unrivaled, comparable to English grit in its best moments, and offers the only true multi-pitch experience in Massachusetts. Farley Ledge contains some of the states best traditional leads as well as many previously bolted sport climbs up to 5.13b. The recent bouldering explosion yielded some of the most impressive and hardest problems in the state (V12/V13). While being riddled with several test pieces, Farley Ledge also contains several moderate climbs and problems that are well worth the visit.

The rock at Farley, like much of rock in the area, is gneiss. It is characterized by big sloping horizontals, small edges and sweeping features. The climbing is best when friction is the highest. This translates generally into ideal spring and fall conditions though the heavily forested area provides ample shade for those hot summer days.

In the year’s following 2007 Farley Ledge has become a primary rock-climbing destination in New England, and it includes one of the most impressive sections of the nationally recognized Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, maintained by the AMC Berkshire Chapter. The area is used by hikers, hunters, bird watchers, bikers, rock-climbers, spelunkers, cross-country skiers, outdoor education groups, schools, and other outdoor enthusiasts.