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Farley Ledge Access Situation
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By monk
May 1, 2009

I understand the situation much better than when the thread started. Thanks to everyone for helping me understand.

Can I suggest a compromise? What if the WMCC hosted the route information on their site, but would only give access to one route per day (or couple days). Every so often the site would change what route was shown. I'm thinking of MP's 'Featured Route' section. That way people can get a good idea what's available at Farley while still making route information slightly inconvenient. The WMCC could also explain the access situation on the route web page.

Censoring a collaborative web site like MP should not be taken lightly (and Lost City was a TERRIBLE precedent). But I understand where the WMCC is coming from and in this case I support taking down the routes. I also think the compromise above is a good one and I would ask the WMCC to consider it.


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By jrathfon
May 1, 2009

I am a very local climber and am out at the crags 4-5 days a week. Upon seeing the overcrowding issues on a weekend day (yes there was a goat, yes cars were parked in the neighborhood and along rt. 2) I have not returned on a weekend. I tend to rotate my crag usage and typically only frequent Farley once every few weeks. The crag is actually crowded (lot close to full) on nice weekdays as well. I have and will always offer up route info at the crag. Most days I am at Farley, I show at least one group through the climbing. I also usually have a conversation with these newcomers about the Falcons/closure, the access issues and typically suggest other nearby noteworthy crags, and supporting the WMCC's efforts to maintain this access and all of the nice anchors, trails, parking, etc. One of the biggest things I enjoy about climbing is the adventure, the feeling of not knowing how I will exactly solve each situation as I get to it. I have enjoyed many areas on the east coast that are word of mouth, or go out with somebody who knows and can't seem to find any problem with this type of access. Sure it's not the most convenient thing, but if it helps access, it's no big deal. On any sunny day you will be guaranteed to find somebody with route info at Farley, if not 10, so if you really want to climb at Farley, you will google it, find the parking lot directions on the WMCC page, then hike up the trail to the cliffs and see the readily apparent 20 odd lines within first glimpse, chat with a fellow climber and go to town.

I am in favor or MP removing all route information for Farley. I believe an area description for Farley, much like that of the WMCC webpage (link this), should be given, outlining the climbing, a little history, and the VERY real current access threats, and the reason for not listing routes. That way MP can continue to be an informative database for this climbing area, yet it will address access concerns.

I used to think many of the same arguments posted here ("elitists", "club", a guidebook does not increase access, make all things public knowledge, etc.), but upon becoming more involved in the WMCC and just climbing with many of these guys, I have changed my opinions. The WMCC is working for the better access of ALL climbers. They have put years of work into this access, worked with many landowners, secured parking, maintained trails, fundraised up the wazoo, brought many great events to the Valley to strengthen our climbing community, established hundreds of routes, ousted a vandalous school-yard bully hooligan, and have maintained countless anchors. The group does not consist of insular locals who are trying to hoard all the climbs (or sandbox) for themselves, but are rather outgoing members of OUR climbing community who have been working tirelessly and thanklessly to maintain access for OUR climbing (many of whom have already posted on this thread).

As far as accessable route guides, whether accessable via the interwebs or print: I've done a little polling while out at Farley, as I'm talking with people who are new to the area, recommending routes, etc., I usually ask how they found out about Farley. One third heard all the buzz about it through friends or at the gym, one third had come with a friend who had been there before, and the other third saw a little internet buzz on forums, routes on MP, pics on facebook, were intruiged, than googled it, found the internet information and came out. The internet routes have definitly contributed to Farley's popularity. Through a combination of the community easing their collective use and route info not being published (cutting down on newcomers traffic), the crowding issue will definitely wane.

On a side note, I am quite distressed to see numerous new small fire remnants around many of the bases to Western Mass crags in the last 2 months and the last week. I have also on 2 occassions told climbing groups they were IN the falcon closure area at Farley and that the birds squawking and hovering above were INDEED falcons. When I was out last, there was no tape along the base of the cliff marking the Falcon closure, it was just down on the lower trail. I have also seen many holes dug at the cliff bases from dogs who like to dig, maybe these dogs should be left home.

Jeremy

P.S. should we bring shovels, rakes, mattocks, sledges, etc. to the trail day?


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By rob sullivan
May 1, 2009

Zeb:

Please understand that I am not trying to be disrespectful when I pose the following question but this issue is VERY important to me: Are you suggesting that reading about climbing on the internet is more important than actually climbing?


Jeremy and Peter:

What's wrong with goats? He/she seemed very well behaved.


Rob


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By zebra
May 1, 2009

Rob:

Yes, that is one way of interpreting what I posted.

A less naive way is the following: the freedom to access information is more fundamental than the freedom to climb.


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By Jon LaValley
May 1, 2009

So the short story is that all the climbing at Farley is privately owned. These landowners have expressed their wishes that there not be a guidebook to rock climbing at Farley Ledge. As climbers I think it's not to much to ask that we try to honor their wishes. Some of these private landowners professionally manage other parks which have climbing in them for which information is available on MP (Rose, Mormon).

The access issue at Farley is a big wall, not a boulder problem, and the WMCC has been working for almost a decade so far to reach a point where the crag can support more traffic than ever, but they are still working within limitations. The WMCC is also working on improving it's communication and transparency and will be updating it's website soon (www.westernmacc.com) It has been a learning process.

The WMCC realize that this approach may not be popular with some people and have wrestled with this. There are certainly larger ideological debates to be made within this discussion but we're concerned with the reality on the ground at Farley Ledge. Farley is open to those who are willing to reach out for a tour or do some exploring.


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By Lizz Bartlett
From Arlington, MA
May 1, 2009

Of course, all the free posted info does no one any good if the area is closed.

Cheers!
Lizz


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By jrathfon
May 1, 2009

Hey Rob,

Christina: Awwwwwwwwwww, look at that cute puppy!!
Goat: bleeeeaaaaaaaatttt!
Jeremy: Um, Christina, I think that's a goat...

Haha, I agree, the goat was definitely well behaved compared to a lot of crag dogs, note I did not mention any angst towards aforementioned goat.

But yes, the real issue is preserving access. Yeah, having to talk to people at the crag to glean info is inconvenient, and we may have to stray from our introverted tendencies as anti-social climbers, but I feel that's a small price to pay for awesome climbing.

As for my understanding of the land at Farley, there are three major private property owners, plus NE Utilities who can pull the plug on climbing access of their leased state land. Thus, ALL of this climbing is a priviledge and could be revoked. On an aside, just because land is public, doesn't mean you are allowed to climb on it, numerous state/federal parks and lands restrict climbing, it's a priviledge not a right.

Edit: Woops, Jon beat me to it.


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By Eric Engberg
May 1, 2009

rob sullivan wrote:
Zeb: Please understand that I am not trying to be disrespectful when I pose the following question but this issue is VERY important to me: Are you suggesting that reading about climbing on the internet is more important than actually climbing? Jeremy and Peter: What's wrong with goats? He/she seemed very well behaved. Rob


Rob,

Don't be offended - he doesn't listen to his father either - it's the age thing.... His point is valid if somewhat idealistic - that censorship in all forms should be fought against. In this case its too bad that the info was ever posted - it was pretty well known that there was not supposed to be any written documentation published. It has been made to work that way - for the better - at Lost City - for many years.

The WMCC has a very tough balance to keep here - they need as widespread support as possible to raise the $$$ to secure access. Yet to a great degree they are asking people to buy a "pig in a poke" (one of the expressions us old peple use). As has been said mutiple times here - if people take the initiative to get there on a nice day the odds are overwhelmingly good that a friendly local well show them around.

The other issue that hasn't been mentioned yet is that there has been an agreement to keep things a little more challenging by not creating another "Parking Lot Wall". As long as that is adhered to it will help with the crowd control to some extent.


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By JSH
Administrator
May 1, 2009
JSH @ home <br /> <br />photo courtesy of Gabe Ostriker

Eric Engberg wrote:
In this case its too bad that the info was ever posted - it was pretty well known that there was not supposed to be any written documentation published. It has been made to work that way - for the better - at Lost City - for many years.

Lost City is a terrible example and a terrible comparison.

First, access and ownership aren't at issue there.

Second, Lost City is the most egregious example of sandbox elitism there is. I am sorely, sorely disappointed that MP has perpetuated this very undemocratic, selfish practice, especially in light of the recent closures of the Trapps and Nears. There is simply, absolutely, no justification for keeping the route information for Lost City hidden. I am just plain disgusted by the Lost City perpetuity.

>>>>The WMCC has a very tough balance to keep here - they need as widespread support as possible to raise the $$$ to secure access. Yet to a great degree they are asking people to buy a "pig in a poke" (one of the expressions us old peple use).

I have two questions:

First, the parking situation was always known to be a problem for Farley, even pre-WMCC. So, why was all the publicity and money spent towards, essentially, perpetuating and adding to a problem that was already known, and known to not have a good solution?

Second, to put a really callous view on the $$$ issue: why would I spend my time and money towards a group that turns around and says to the climbing public: "go away, we don't want your kind here"?


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By rob sullivan
May 1, 2009

Thanks Eric and Zeb:

I wasn't offended, just a little confused. I thought maybe Zeb was trying to be ironic.

You and your son are both correct in that censorship - although too strong a word for what we are discussing - is the enemy of any free society. However, pragmatism has its place as well.

Eric, I think all your points hit the mark, especially the 'pig in the poke' thing. And as Jon stated above, we need to do a better job getting more of the whys out to the climbing population.

And JSH, I would be pleased to give you a tour of Farley. I'd would be happy to answer your questions and fill in some of the gaps in your understanding of the history of this area while we climb. Let me know.

rob_sullivan@yahoo.com


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By JSH
Administrator
May 1, 2009
JSH @ home <br /> <br />photo courtesy of Gabe Ostriker

Rob, that's a very kind and generous response to me, personally, and I appreciate it - but I'm looking at this from the perspective of Average Joe Climber.


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By Eric Engberg
May 1, 2009

JSH wrote:
Second, Lost City is the most egregious example of sandbox elitism there is. I am sorely, sorely disappointed that MP has perpetuated this very undemocratic, selfish practice, especially in light of the recent closures of the Trapps and Nears. There is simply, absolutely, no justification for keeping the route information for Lost City hidden. I am just plain disgusted by the Lost City perpetuity.


The reason for not publishing beta for Lost City isn't in response to Access issues. It's to preserve a sense of adventure. I don't think that is an elitist attitude but if you think it is then I assume you also would be in favor of handicapped accessible approaches, grid bolting and so on. Wouldn't want to exclude any one or force themselves to rise to the circumstances.


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By Brian Rhode
From Boston, MA
May 1, 2009

I’ve greatly enjoyed climbing at Farley on about 15-20 weekend days spread out over just under 3 years. On several of my earliest visits there, I showed up on my own and mooched rides with a variety of friendly locals- just met right there, sharing the climbing, belaying, projecting, socializing and generally having a good time. They expressed opinions of route ratings and quality, and were enthusiastic to get feedback on their development efforts. They humored me in hangdog efforts, and pointed me in the direction of lesser known climbs down the ridge. In short, I never sensed a whiff of elitism, or any negativity to an outsider at all, on the contrary- having a good time was the main item on the agenda.

Absence of a written route posting is no kind of hardship for anyone visiting this area. After one visit you’ll have a pretty darn good knowledge of the lay of the land, and will be into your own discovery thing from then on anyway.

From what I’ve read here, I believe supporting the WMCC in their efforts to conform to the wishes of the crag-owners is a good idea. There’s the right to ‘freedom to access information’- always important, but then there’s also diplomacy in a delicate situation.


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By Lanky
From Portland, ME
May 1, 2009

Eric Engberg wrote:
The reason for not publishing beta for Lost City isn't in response to Access issues. It's to preserve a sense of adventure. I don't think that is an elitist attitude but if you think it is then I assume you also would be in favor of handicapped accessible approaches, grid bolting and so on. Wouldn't want to exclude any one or force themselves to rise to the circumstances.

Careful, Eric. Clear strawman argument there. I've got no personal stake in the Lost City issue but this is probably the most reasonable discussion I've ever seen in an online forum and I'd hate for it to slip into flameage.

To me, the key fact is the clear likelihood that access will be compromised by continued heavy use of the crags at Farley. I think that trumps the other concerns here, and unlike some folks upthread, I don't have faith that the average climber who learns about Farley on the web will respect request to tread carefully if route beta is easily available online.


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By JSH
Administrator
May 2, 2009
JSH @ home <br /> <br />photo courtesy of Gabe Ostriker

Eric Engberg wrote:
The reason for not publishing beta for Lost City isn't in response to Access issues. It's to preserve a sense of adventure. I don't think that is an elitist attitude


No, Eric, it's not "adventure", and it is elitist. I'm not going to bother with your "adventure" strawman (though I'm tempted, and you well know that Lost City is pretty darn far from "adventure") ... but it's *WELL* known that Lost City is kept by the locals for the locals, who don't want the riff-raff there. Period end.

I appreciated your acknowledgment that Lost City is a bad parallel or precedent for Farley, though.

Taking it back to Farley: one thing that has impressed me, is that every local I've ever met (and even those I haven't met, but am tossing out tough questions to on this board), has been generous and kind in offers to show me around. That's another sorely-missed thing from Lost City, and it would be truly unfortunate if the urge to protect it changed that.


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By rob sullivan
May 2, 2009

JSH wrote:
Rob, that's a very kind and generous response to me, personally, and I appreciate it - but I'm looking at this from the perspective of Average Joe Climber.


JSH:

Bring him (or Joan) along too.

Until the access is bomb-proof, this posture the only sustainable way. I don't really think it's ideal but that is why we are trying to change it.

Help us out by getting involved (and bring Joan with you).

Rob


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By Jim O'Brien
From Branford, CT
May 3, 2009
My new avi

Plain and simple truth is that the access situation sucks in the North East. I know that most of the climbing in my home state of CT is on private property and climbing is tolerated, not sanctioned. Removing route info for Farley may be the way to restrict the masses of climbers who are looking for variety.
Let me share my first experience at Farley: We drove up on a recon mission to check the place out, a nice afternoon with my son- we climbed a couple of routes blah blah blah. Getting to the area was no problem, finding the crags were- so we went out exploring to scope things out and found ourselves bushwacking and generally doing things land managers (WMCC) would frown on. We happened upon a group of folks who shared some beta but we still wandered around for a while. (they didn't seem too happy to see us, but hey it's New England)
So my point is that with the growing number of rock gym grads, there is a bunch more people looking to clip bolts around here. Without supplying them with pertinent information, excessive wandering will ensue.
The next time I visited, I had a bit of a clue and there were more locals on hand. Al R. was there, recognized us as CT climbers and gave us a quick tour of the sport areas (wish I had a note pad).
Really is a sticky situation- no information is bad. Too much information is bad.
Perhaps one of the WMCC should step up and be the Mass admin. Mono is a "admin at large" taking up the slack in places where necessary- like Mass. That way the admin can ensure only appropriate material is posted in the route database.
Anyway- good luck, I have my own problems with people posting route info that shouldn't ;)


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By lucander
From Stone Ridge, NY
May 4, 2009
Lucander off the GT Ledge on p. 2 of Keep on Struttin.

I don't climb at farley enough to weigh in on this but a note on Lost City: the lack of available information is a 4-decade old tradition dating back to Art Gran's first guidebook on the Gunks. Gran left this crag out "to preserve the spirit of adventure." It's inconvenient, but it's a tried tradition that (1) allows for somewhat of a relief from crowds, (2) preserves a sense of true ground-up onsight climbing, and (3) offers a unique experience compared to other crags in the area. If information on every crag in this 20+ mile long ridge was published the book would rival that of the New River Gorge or Joshua Tree.

The parallel to Farley is that Lost City's silence is a historical tradition whereas Farley's traditions are in the making. Let's see what this generation does, it's going to be an interesting debate because information is so wide open nowadays.

DL


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By snowdenroad
May 4, 2009
bolts

I strongly believe the wishes of the private land owners should be respected, and that the info be deleted.


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By Nick Wilder
Site Landlord
From The Bubble
May 14, 2009
Personal Photo

After many discussions with the WMCC, MP admins, and the Access Fund, we have made a decision to pull the routes from this area, but leave the area information available.

I want to make this clear: this is an issue with the land owner, who does not want this info published. It is NOT a situation where locals are trying to keep this to themselves.

I have posted this Access Issue Note on the area page:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The climbing is on private land the landowner (not the local climbers) is requesting that climbers do not publish information on the routes at Farley Ledge. The Western Mass Climbers Coalition folks are trying to help assure that the landowner's wishes are respected, and users are requested NOT to post route information on Mountain Project.

Since Farley is all on private land, the owners have the ability to take access away at any time if they feel that overcrowding is happening. And they are sensitive to this overcrowding and watching it.

In order to protect the access that we do have at Farley, we are taking down route information should be taken down in order to respect the landowner's wishes.

The WMCC is working on a longer-term solution for the area, and will make information more readily available so that folks understand the issues and don't feel that access is being restricted simply to keep the area sacred to the locals.


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By christopher adams
May 14, 2009

Thanks for complying with the landowner's request. It is appreciated.


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By Peter Gill
May 15, 2009

Thanks to all at MP for honoring the local landowners wishes and supporting local climbers efforts to keep Farley open for everyone.

As a local I am willing to assist new visitors to Farley with route info. Send me a PM.

If you want to get involved and support this project please visit the WMCC website at: www.westernmacc.com. Right now we could really use $$$ because there is no such thing as free parking....


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By Colin R
From Ottawa, ON
May 7, 2010
Getting ready to top out....

One question with regards to parking and that is are there contingency parking plans? In Bolton VT, parking can fill up but the town has agreed to and created a series of contingency plans of "if main parking lot is full, park further down the road near such and such. if that area is full park at this other spot. etc..". Without these additional plans larger problems can occur like people parking on or near private property which really pisses off the locals and threatens access. The area description says that the parking has room only for 8 cars.


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By Lanky
From Portland, ME
May 10, 2010

Dudemanguybro wrote:
You are not allowed to climb at Farley.

No, no, no. You misunderstood. YOU aren't allowed to climb there. The rest of us are fine.


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By Colin R
From Ottawa, ON
May 10, 2010
Getting ready to top out....

Dudemanbro/JulianM,

You guys should come climb at Bolton some time. I'd be happy to show you around. I am not being sarcastic either. There's enough climbing in New England to keep everyone happy for a long time to come so no need for trolling. For the record I was at Farley this weekend and had a great time. The townsfolk were super friendly too.


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