Thursday, October 27, 2011

White Stuff and a Soap Box

I've been meaning to get in some blog time the past couple of weeks but have gotten behind due to the busy nature of work (a four letter word, I say) and life (another 4 letter word, but without the implied negative connotation). Anyway, the climbing season is sadly drawing to a close here in New England.  We have been fortunate to have some unusually mild weather in October. I have now been to the Farley Ledges twice to climb and am excited to find a new place for craggin. It's not much more of a drive than the drive to Rumney. It is south so tends to be warmer. And the rock is Gneiss (nice!)  There are some trad lines to be had but the established sport routes are of good quality.

It was in the 40s this morning with a cold rain accompaniment. But by day's end, the temps had plummeted and the drive home was unpleasant.  Check out this shot Annie took from her car on the drive home through Southern Vermont.

Route 100 today - our first accumulating snowfall
I hear our friends out in Colorado got smacked this week with the white stuff, too. I saw it on the news and heard that only 2 days prior to their snowstorm they had broken the high temperature record of 80 degrees!  Of course the difference is when it melts and warms up there they can still go climbing. Here it is most unlikely.  I was planning to go to the Gunks again this weekend - and although the sun is supposed to shine a fair amount, temps in the low to mid 40s can be pretty miserable multi-pitching. And it's a long drive for 2 days in the cold.  Maybe we will get lucky like we did 4 years ago and get a warm weekend in November before we store the rack and move back to the artificial walls.

My experiences at Farley the past 2 weekends have left me with a bittersweet taste.  The climbing is good (very good) and the folks in the Western Massachusetts Climber's Coalition are to be commended. The access, maintenance and route development are outstanding accomplishments, all of which greatly benefit the weekend warrior like me. But what is it about the "sport climbing scene" that is so repulsive to me?  Without getting too far up on my soapbox, I'll say this. I believe that rock climbing has changed dramatically in recent years (I started climbing in 1992) and the growth of the sport may be attributed to the explosion of indoor climbing gyms.  The problem is that people learn to CLIMB in the gym, but they don't learn how to be CLIMBERS there.  When they take their "skills" to the real rock in a real outdoor environment, they are oblivious to things like impact, personal boundaries and climbing ethics.  I couldn't possibly count how many times I have witnessed sloppy (read "DANGEROUS") belaying, mouthy and disrespectful people and uncontrolled DOGS at the crags.  In fact, the dog thing seems to be TOTALLY out of control this year alone!  It seems everyone feels they have the right to bring their dog to the crags and let them have the run of the place.

Now anyone who knows me knows I LOVE dogs and I have been a dog owner most if not all of my adult life.  Annie and I would love to take Grace to the crags so she could be with us in a great outdoor setting - a Grace is a well-behaved dog.  But it simply is not appropriate - crags and cliffs are NO PLACE FOR DOGS. But I digress.  Perhaps I will blog on the dog issue again later. I just wanted to express my malcontent and frustration with people at the sport crags.

Yes, there are jerks everywhere and we certainly run across jerks at traditional climbing areas.  But the sport areas seem to be a magnet for jerks - and I think it is a direct product of the gym-to-rock phenomenon.  Last Saturday at Farley, there was a large group of climbers doing the usual social thing at the base of the cliffs. Some were climbing and belaying, some watching, many just hanging out and chatting it up.  A few beers were snapped open (and yes, some of these same beer drinkers were climbing, too) and then the weed came out.  Now I could care less if you want to smoke dope - really.  But to do it at the crag, ESPECIALLY a place like Farley which is on privately owned land, is just plain inconsiderate and disrespectful.  The landowners have been kind enough to allow climbing to be developed here and I would wager to say that if they found out people were smoking dope on their property, the cliff access would be lost faster than you can say "want a hit?" The inevitable lies ahead: Farley Ledge - CLOSED DUE TO IDIOTS. NO TRESPASSING.

Comments? Please post them here on the blog.  If I am not alone in this thinking, perhaps we can fashion a way to help educate the idiots and save our climbing resources today and for future climbers.

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