View Full Version : Catskills - Gang Roping Epidemic

01-11-2011, 05:42 AM
Granted this forum has a strong representation of crusty old guys (aka: ice climbers) so this is probably alot of preaching to the choir, but I wanted to open a thread to solicit opinions and perhaps some constructive ideas.

It was noted several times in recent threads about the drastic overcrowding, especially by groups, this past weekend. While numbers have increased over the years, this seemed a bit of a breaking point for me at least.

We have grown used to crowding on weekends at the Gunks: people with flexible jobs can climb during the week and the rest of us just go off the beaten track or climb early/late. It is much harder to do this with ice as the resource is in much more limited supply, the days are shorter, and excess climbing on a weekend can destroy climbing for an extended period of time.

I also have serious concerns for safety and access. Inexperienced gym climbers coming out rock climbing are scary but ice is a completely different story and without taking the time to learn from someone more experienced, i have real concerns that someone gets injured or killed: slip and fall setting a TR, killed by icefall, etc. And if people start dying, how long til the state restricts access?

I am interested to hear the thoughts of the group on:

1) why have the crowds surged and what, if anything can be done to manage this?
2) what can be done to better conserve the limited resource, including access to climbs and protecting the ice itself?
3) how do we keep it as safe as possible?
4) what should be the role of the guide services, who deserve to make a good living but are clearly driving some of the growth?

I have some thoughts but this is long enough already.

thanks, Michael

01-11-2011, 07:43 AM
Unfortunately there are no easy solutions. This is just like any other limited resource. Usually, a free market is most efficient at allocating limited resources. But the free market is also always "unfair" because those with more money can get more of the resource. So, analogously, we could set up an expensive permit system for climbing in the popular areas. At a certain price point, the overcrowding would be controlled. But this would be perceived as "unfair" by those who did not want to pay that much for the permit...

Another dark road to go down would be to exclude certain classes of users, such as top ropers or leaders, guides or non guided groups, beginners or experienced climbers. Always plenty of rationales why one group or another should get more of the resource, and lots of hatred always ensues...

Sadly, you might just have to live with the fact that this resource is close to a big population center, and our game has become more popular.

off belay
01-11-2011, 08:12 AM
I concur with you both. Maybe a start would be to have climbers and hikers exercise common sense and courtesy.

Yes I'm one of the old crusty ones, but it seems to me a lot could be accomplished if experienced climbers helped some of the newer ones. If you notice a safety issue say something, offer to help correct it.

Groups who set up an area and occupy it all day should at least have the courtesy to let others use their ropes or limit the number of climbs they set up. Maybe schools could go mid-week as they tend to monopolize an area and are reluctant to let others climb on their ropes.

Likewise if you set up a couple of climbs and plan on being there awhile offer to let others climb.

Just my opinion but a little common sense and courtesy is a good start.

Be safe and sane...well maybe not too sane.

Off Belay

01-11-2011, 08:19 AM
Most folks don't know that the guide services often talk to each other before busy weekends to spread the groups out; overcrowding is not in anyone's interest. And there are some unpublished gang-friendly toproping spots that we use to keep groups away from the more common roadside areas. Unfortunately, one of these is not yet "in" this year.

I realize the following may come off as defensive, but all the folks complaining about the roadside crowds - why didn't you go climb a ravine? Or hike into the Black Chasm? I think the guide services for the most part don't bring groups there. I'm sorry, but if you go to popular gang TRing areas, don't be shocked that you are surrounded by gangs top-roping.

01-11-2011, 08:55 AM
I have found that most larger groups often have several guides (or 'leaders') within their group. My suggestion (and the way Cloudsplitter plays it here in the Adirondacks) is simply that these larger groups subdivide into smaller and more efficient teams and each operate on their own program with their own guide/leader and utilizing different venues if possible. After everyone has a chance to climb/attempt a route- move on to a different route or venue! Then everyone gets more climbing in. (And as guide or leader, you don't have to stress about finding a suitable venue for your big group- you just mix in along with the other climbers out there.) I find it SO much easier for myself on busy weekends to roll this way, and it is arguably a better experience for all climbers...

I'm not tellin'- just sayin'.... <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/smile.gif

01-11-2011, 09:10 AM
I agree with the above. It is difficult using a limited resource with a growing host of users. Seconding Mike, I can say that we do our best both with rock and ice to keep group size to a manageable number, to use areas that won't put us in the way of the rest of the community and to be careful and reasonable with other climbers that we are sharing space with. This means that we use areas appropriate to the climbing ability of the folks we are working for.

We do try to communicate with other guides so that we don't overwhelm a given area but that isn't always possible and not everybody that guides is interested. It's tricky.

Sunday seemed to have the worst of it going, we came across a large group gearing up with packs and people strewn out in the middle of the road above the Kitchen and looking like mostly beginners/first time climbers. I believe that the same service had a large group at the Aesbestos Wall too, thus dominating two of the Catskills most popular areas.

It is critical that we as guides are sensitive to the fact that we are sharing limited resources with a wider community and setting an example for people coming into the sport.

On the other end of it, like climbing in the Gunks or skiing at Hunter, it is best to get out during the week if you can.

01-11-2011, 09:38 AM
I think that of all the points listed above, &quot;a little common sense and courtesy is a good start&quot; was probably the best.

I arrived at the Hell Hole/Kitchen as the large guided group was in the road gearing up. I then was behind them as we made our way down towards the ice. The guides were courteous and friendly and allowed me to pass their group.

As for the routes they were on, I had no issues with what they chose to get on... (for what it's worth, I was down in the lower Kitchen and did not see what was going on above the 1st corner). The part of the group that was down near us were TRing a line between the 1st and second corner, and I'm confident that there was no one in the Hell Hole that day that was itching to lead the line they were on.

Furthermore, the guide was courteous and friendly, and was willing to let me rap down on his rope after I had finished on the 1st corner to help expedite the process of streamlining what was going on.

Let's not all jump on the guides/guide services as the culprit of over-crowding and the inability to share routes though: In addition to the guided group, there was a group of 4 who arrived and set up TRs around the time I was arriving. In my opinion, this group was much harder to work with than the guided group. Not only did they set up on Purgatory for most of the day, but they also left their lines up in the way of others and even lowered down right over me as I was climbing instead of waiting or rapping on a line that was open (they then left their rope up and hanging over me as they went off somewhere else... it was all I could do not to hit their rope with my tools/crampons, and it was wrapped around my own line).

Contrast this with another unguided group of 5, the &quot;leader&quot; of which was a class act who shared lines, led routes that were open, and actively sought to work things out so we could all make the most of the available ice. I think the highlight of the day was he and I leading up 2nd Corner side by side, he on a pillar on the left, me on the groove on the right, having a conversation the whole way. When we got to the upper ledge 15' below the top-out, I let him move up first to set up off of trees while I then went up and set up an anchor on the bolts. It was crowded that day, but we made it work.

Even when things are crowded, it's possible to have a fun day and get on quality lines. Granted, I did not get on the route I wanted (Smear), but I could have if I were more driven and active about doing so. Nevertheless I had a great day, leading a few good lines and getting lots of mileage in despite the crowds.

We all just need to use &quot;a little common sense and courtesy&quot;.

01-11-2011, 10:57 AM
I dont think that anyone suggested that the guides are anything other that polite. I would consider myself on at least recognition terms with most and I am sure that they are doing their best to convey proper ethics to their groups.

I was told the biggest problem group at Asbestos was not guided and are have been a frequent nuisance over the past couple years as they smoke, thrash, bash and cook noodles.

Perhaps the guide services could post this forum on weekends where they have big groups and have coordinated. Then other climbers can at least make a choice before driving/hiking to a given locale.

Perhaps self imposed (we dont need any regulation here) limits on group sizes. Sometimes it really might just be too full or not appropriate for some groups.

Ice farming: Ed Palen at R&amp;R built his own area so that his clients had good access to appropriate ice.

PCooke - you should have pulled the rope into the stream...

I dont know if anyone here surfs, but the culture of surfing changed over the years as that finite resource got more crowded in many locations. It can be pretty aggressive with &quot;locals Rule&quot;, unwritten rules about priority in the lineup with priority to the best surfers (of which I am certainly not). I dont think that is what many of us want...but can certainly be tempting at times.

01-11-2011, 11:18 AM
&quot;PCooke - you should have pulled the rope into the stream...&quot;

Haha, I didn't think of that solution, though it would have been appropriate! As it was, I almost stuck their rope with my tools a few times since I was trying to do laps for speed to get a burn at the end of the day.

&quot;I was told the biggest problem group at Asbestos was not guided and are have been a frequent nuisance over the past couple years as they smoke, thrash, bash and cook noodles.&quot;

This description would describe the gang of 4 in the Hell Hole the other day as well.

Regardless, I think it's good for us to discuss this and to recognize that we all need to be cognizant of the fact that it's a limited resource with a growing demand.

I'm not sure what the local precedent is (I've only climbed in the Hell Hole a handful of times), but I'd imagine that something like the Gunks would be appropriate (Leaders get precedent over TRing). If this is so, I'd of course caution people to remain polite and work with the other users. And if things get beat out, work on hooking!

01-11-2011, 12:00 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wombat</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I dont think that anyone suggested that the guides are anything other that polite. I would consider myself on at least recognition terms with most and I am sure that they are doing their best to convey proper ethics to their groups.

I have issues with some guiding outfits - for example this summer one of them draped ropes all over the first pitches of Madame G, Columbia and whatever in between and let the ropes hang, while one of them was setting a rope the entire length of Madame G's. The ropes just hang there without anyone climbing on them, I wasn't much bothered by it (my attitude is there is always something else to climb) but a friend wanted to climb Columbia around them and they gave him an attitude.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wombat</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
Perhaps the guide services could post this forum on weekends where they have big groups and have coordinated. Then other climbers can at least make a choice before driving/hiking to a given locale.

That won't work well. Experience last year in Adirondacks - we got to Pitchoff at 8am, there is a guy sitting in his car with ropes draped all over the wall. He told us he had been there since 7am, his group didn't show up till 9. They were nice though and let us share ropes.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wombat</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
I dont know if anyone here surfs, but the culture of surfing changed over the years as that finite resource got more crowded in many locations. It can be pretty aggressive with &quot;locals Rule&quot;, unwritten rules about priority in the lineup with priority to the best surfers (of which I am certainly not). I dont think that is what many of us want...but can certainly be tempting at times. </div></div>

I'm not a surfer, but heard it gets to fist fights in the water. I like the idea - I'll come to Hell Hole just to watch better climbers punching gang top-ropers in the face left and right.

01-11-2011, 01:19 PM
That'll be especially funny when the local MMA training gym decides to go for a guided day of top-roping.


01-11-2011, 05:38 PM
Climb Choss!

That's my answer for rock, there's always some shitty little choss pile crag around that no one else wants to climb. I think in the cats its called deep notch?

01-11-2011, 09:45 PM
Hahahahaha! Well this is a nice way to vent all of our frustrations. Unfortunately, the folks that should be reading and learning from this forum probably aren't.

Some guides are gracious, others aren't. Some recreational climbers are gracious, some aren't. That's life. We are close to a population center with millions of people. If you're expecting smaller crowds hit the backcountry crags or climb on weekdays if you can. Otherwise brave the crowds.

A forum (maybe on climbcatskillice.com?) is a good idea but I'm doubtful that all users will use it or that the less-than-ethical groups will contribute.

I'm with Cramp on this one - if you're just learning to climb use the chosspile, it's a great way to learn technique.

01-12-2011, 12:05 AM
In the past few years, a ton of more people have been climbing outdoors. I have definitely seen an increase at &quot;easy to get to&quot; places. It's also scary to see how many new climbers are leading their first half seasons because they've been sport climbing or gym climbing for a year or two and don't realize the potential consequences that can happen outside, especially on ice. I know a few people who have decided to take it upon themselves to start leading on ice and it is their first season. It is scary! They can't possibly have the experience needed to do so, and most read a few books, and watch some videos, thinking that they have what it takes. Don't get me wrong some may be very strong climbers, but they lack the proper judgment IMO to fully understand the hazards.

I think the best way, and the way I have been helping some over ambitious friends looking to push it on ice, is to fully explain everything, if their going out, offer to go with them, I doubt any new leader would turn down an experienced climber tagging along. Critique them and make them understand. I truly think its up to the more experienced climbers out there to help out and talk to their friends or try and give advice to others out there.

Try to identify the leader and try to speak with them in private if you see something bad going on or something your worried about. I was out with some friends about a month ago, and saw a big group of about 9 people TRing on 4 lines, and the TR's were set up ridiculously with 2 lines on 1 cordellete off 1 tree etc..., they were loud, smashing ice down left and right, and being rather destructive. They even kicked down a 10 foot pillar that was forming because it was in the way... One climber shouted &quot;see if you can kick that down, its in the way of something i wanna try&quot;... I quietly watched them and started up a convo with the leader of the group and we chatted about some things trying to inform him that there doing irreparable damage to the climbs. He acknowledge it and had a discussion with his group. He was friendly and understood. I decided to move with my friends since I didn't want to be anywhere near them, but I think talking to him was the right move.

Mountain Skills
01-12-2011, 02:51 AM
Patience-the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties

Civility-the formal politeness that results from observing social conventions

Empathy- the ability to identify with and understand somebody else's feelings or difficulties

Sharing-to have or use something in common with other people

Yes our rock &amp; ice climbing resources are limited! A solution to that problem is to get involved in your local climber advocacy group. The GCC has a meeting next Friday at 5:30pm at the SUNY New Paltz College. They are open to the public. I would love to see more people get involved in taking control of what we all want. More rock and ice to climb legally. Minnewaska comes to mind. Ton of ice &amp; rock.

Ya know the Catskill's has a boat load of undocumented ice climbing routes. Try walking a couple hundred yards/feet past Japanese Falls. Your gonna get a big eye opener. It's out there people. Just waiting for you to be curious enough. Look at the stuff Ryan, Joe, and friends are doing. Those guys are getting after it by sniffing out new routes and challenging themselves.

Why are more groups climbing than in small groups of singles &amp; doubles? Yep, we have all heard it for the past couple of years folks. It's the economy stupid. Plenty more reason's for group climbing than described below, but here are just a couple. Some time's it's hard for clients to get out of the city when they have no transportation. It's a lot easier to get in with a group that provides transportation. The cost over all is less of course in a group setting. Groups are social and we all know how social New Yorkers like to be. I know I like it when good looking women are in the groups I guide. It makes the day more pleasant. Go ahead and burn me for that comment:)

Rates for single &amp; double clients can be expensive for a lot of people. Just cause ya don't got the loot doesn't mean you should not be able to experience what we all love. We all started out gang top-roping at some time or another. Not to say that's a good excuse, but it is a reality. If not, your either lying to yourself or a extremely lucky person with great friends. Guide services have to charge a decent rate for being guided because of insurance(we do live in the land of litigation), workman's comp(thieves, but glad if something happens to someone), &amp; higher education for the guides(it ain't cheap ya know).

Is it a good thing to tell people they are not being safe or not being courteous? It is until somebody becomes combative. Than you have a pretty interesting problem on your hands. Just be glad people don't take dogs ice climbing like they do rock climbing in the Gunks.

Do I think taking groups to the Kitchen is a good idea? Not really, it's to hard for beginners to learn the basics about good tool &amp; crampon placements. If you are under duress you ain't learning a thing except how to hang on a rope and lower.

I am certain I am part of this problem of gang top roping. We take into consideration every trip we take out that other climbers are going to be climbing around us. We purposely guide in areas that are not used by the masses. Not to say sometimes we always follow that, but it certainly is in the back of my mind at all times. I can tell you all I work pretty fricken hard to make people happy on a daily basis. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose miserably. So all in all, the 4 definitions above are what I like to leave the house with everyday after I tell the dog to &quot;have a good day&quot; and go climbing.

Doug Ferguson

01-12-2011, 03:41 AM
I think it's important to remember too that from a local economy stand point, getting more people to come up to the Catskills is a good thing. If just one of those groups go to a restaurant to eat afterwards, that's more than would've if they weren't there. Also for the guiding industry, more customers, more guiding, better for the guides.

Also, more people out, means more people outside. More people enjoying the outdoors, more people perhaps trying something new for the first time. More people hopefully getting an appreciation for the outdoors and the Catskills. Hopefully sharing their stories and getting more people motivated to be outside, hopefully kids! Epidemic? Lets talk about children not playing outside anymore because they're glued to their electronics!

Third, everyone needs to start somewhere. Many people are not fortunate enough to have friends who are experienced to take them climbing and give them pointers, that's where the group comes in. How many people who take group lessons actually go on eventually to climb on their own? I'm guessing not very many, but probably a handful that need that to get a start.

I don't think permits are the answer, there's no reason someone couldn't get to the route they really really want to do that day a bit earlier if they suspect that it's going to be busy.

Would I rather have a somewhat unexperienced group top roping rather than leading? Of course. At least they're out there enjoying it. I absolutely agree with courtesy as a must, and patience. Remember that some climbers, even though they're not as experienced as others there, have a real desire to climb and try, and if trying &quot;monopolizes&quot; a route because it takes them longer, be patient and realize that.

In my group experiences we were always the only group at the location we were at. In my experience climbing near groups, almost all of them have been friendly, patient, the guides willing to offer tips and tricks to me, and willing to share lines. We know that if we get to a location after a certain time, it will be tricky to get a route on the weekend, if there's something we really want to do, we're up and out early.

Lastly, it truly is amazing to see the &quot;boom&quot; of climbing in the Catskills....I grew up in the Catskills and not once as a kid did I ever see anyone climbing at Moores Bridge. I remember seeing a few cars every now and then in Deep Notch, but really, it wasn't seen....Nor was (or do I think it is now) a local sport. I would love to see locals getting out and enjoying their own resource. I'm talking people that live on the mountain top itself. Many think the climbers are nuts, crazy for what they're doing, have never been out there themselves, and probably never will. Wouldn't it be great if local kids were exposed to more than just skiing at Hunter and Windham? Wouldn't it be great if they were brought up in a culture where they could respect the area in which they live? Alas, way off topic.

Climb safe. Climb courteous. Have patience.

01-12-2011, 03:49 AM
See what we need to do is re-introduce the cougar, not the good lookin' ones in the bars mind ya, but the 200 lb ones that eat folks. That way, the ice climber will have a natural predator. Problem solved, next.

01-12-2011, 07:05 AM
You all have some great points. Although I feel last weekend saw an unusually large number of guided groups, traffic in the Catskills is definitely on the rise. I think one part of the solution is to publish information on quality lesser-known areas to draw climbers away from the classics. This was the impetus behind creating climbcatskillice.com. The very first areas we focused on were places like Hobo Wall, Herdman Wall, and Stoney Clove Jr - areas that are easy to top-rope and great for beginners to bash away on. We've tried to play these areas up as much as possible and indeed, traffic to these places is starting to pick up.

This strategy has worked to lessen crowding at some of my favorite areas like Red River Gorge and Joshua Tree. For example, I grew up climbing in Red River Gorge. 15 years ago, Military Wall was THE classic crag. You showed up, stood in line for an hour or two, and took your turn on one of the classics. Then, along came redriverclimbing.com, an online database for posting new routes. The number of routes in the Red has since exploded. Today, you can walk up to Military Wall and have your pick of any route on a busy weekend, if you'd want to - there is now so much more to choose from.

Already we're seeing traffic increase to areas like Hobo and Herdman. These are climbers that are being drawn away from places like the Hell Hole and Stoney Clove.

Best of all, climbcatskillice is a wiki, so anyone can contribute by adding new routes/areas, and even editing existing routes. Everything is free, and climbers can print mini-guides to show them around the crag.

Some feel that keeping information on new areas secret is the way to go, and I think this is a natural first reaction. However, this only forces the majority of climbers into the same handful of areas, only to battle it out, piolet-to-piolet (which may indeed offer good sport at times <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/wink.gif. The Catskills have tons of untapped quality climbing, so I think the best solution is to spread everyone out to minimize the impact on any one area. The ice, vegetation and our sanity are best preserved by this strategy. But it starts with your contribution. Climbcatskillice was created by the community, for the community, and no one single person can do it alone. So the next time you're out, snap a photo of your favorite undocumented line and add it to the database. Bonus points if it's beginner-friendly.

Happy Climbing,


01-12-2011, 07:41 AM
Two words: <span style="font-weight: bold">Guide books
The recent (last couple of years) overcrowding trend in the cats was in a large part created by Martys new guide. Iím not making a this statement to say he was wrong in creating such a book, but itís the top reason more people are climbing in the Cats. Up until that point, the out of print Cronk Guide (which had limited info and no pics) was the only thing outside of word of mouth (or some info here and there on neice) on what was available in the Catskills. When someone who has never visited the Cats or has only been to Stony Clove is sitting in EMS and opens the new Cats guide, how could they not want to visit? I mean most guides outside of giving you the beta are geared towards making you want to visit by showing you the best of the area.

Again I donít blame that aspect of a guide book, as we all want to make it look nice. I helped do just that with the PA Ice Guide a few years ago. But with that comes the initial surge of people who rush to check it all out over the next couple of season after a guide comes out. After that I think the slows down a bit, as those that have sampled the Cats move on, and others that have played enough at the main areas spread out to more remote lesser visited areaís. So I donít think this is the end and the trend IMHOP will not continue to be a rise in crowds, but leveling off and even get better at some point.

I remember when the Hell Hole (call it what you will these days) was empty. But with a spot 20 yards from the road, now boasting a wealth of bolted mixed lines, along with the ease to setup top groping, and a shiny guide point it all out, Iím not the least bit shocked its crowed and hacked.

01-12-2011, 09:19 AM
I think one point of discussion that has not been really addressed is the isue of toproping ice versus toproping. let's face it folks, toproping sucks, and if people could lead, they would. People who are gang toproping routes over and over are, generally speaking, very new to cli9mbing overall, or new to ice climbing at least. They don;t yet realize how quickly a lin eof ice gets destroyed by their actions. they are used to toproping a line on plastic or rock. You can toprope one route all day, and the next day a person would not really see a difference in the rock. THIS IS NOT THE CASE WITH ICE!

Those of us out there who know this have a responsibility to ourselves to make sure we educate those groups out there who are smashing the same piece of ice over and over again. They have to learn that ice is not rock, and must be climbed differently.

We must tell them to climb in smaller groups. We must tell them that if want to toprope a climb, do it once, and move on. IT'S NOT ROCK CLIMBING! It is up to all of us to educate. Make them know that what they are doing is incorrect. Some will probably get upset, or pissy, or downright defensive. Most beginners will appreciate the subtle education you give them. If you talk to 4 groups, and change the habits of three of them, I think you&quot;ve done your part in protecting the resource we all enjoy.

Toproping the same line of ice over and over again is simply not an acceptable way to climb ice. Please understand that. Do your homework befor you go out, Have alternatives in mind for after you finish your route. Move on...get some exercise.

I'm off my soapbox now.

01-12-2011, 10:27 AM
How is a beginner climber (in a guided group) supposed to learn to climb if after every person climbed on top rope once, they moved location? I understand the point that ice is treated differently than rock, but I think it's unrealistic for experienced climbers to expect this of beginner groups, especially at the beginner areas. I feel like that's asking the beginner skaters to only go around the rink once because every time they fall they will nick up the nice smooth ice. Does that skater intend to nick up the rink? No. Do they wish they were better? Yes. Is there any way they are going to get better without falling a few more times? Probably not.

Just because someone is a beginner on a top rope doesn't mean that they are not appreciating and enjoying the sport. Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, no?

Not all people are comfortable leading. If they want to top rope, I see nothing wrong with it. Better that than a person being over confident and falling or not setting an anchor right.

01-12-2011, 12:15 PM
Now there is an interesting question...

When is one persons right to an activity allowed to harm anothers? Climbers moved from hard aid to clean aid and free climbing partially in recognition of the damage done to the rock. Clearly wrecked ice is not not permananent damage akin to piton scars or placing unnecessary bolts on an ice climb (oops, another hot topic from last year...) But it can reduce the opportunities to better climbers for an extended period of time.

Other sports with limited resources do self-regulate by ability: winners keep the court in hoops and the table in pool, surfing as mentioned. They can also self-segregate by skill level, which we do often see. Strong leaders don't go to Asbestos and if they do, they should expect what they find. The issue is really at Moore's, where top-ropers wreck the right side pillars before than can even come in, and the Kitchen.

Does everyone have the right to climb wherever they want and however? Legally, they cant be, but perhaps they should be encouraged to stick to more appropriate TR areas as detailed on climbcatskillice or as suggested by other climbers and guides.

01-12-2011, 12:37 PM
I still say you all are barking up the wrong tree. Overcrowding and top grouping, gang toproping, or just toproping (whatever you want to call it) has been something to deal with other areaís long before it was ever an issue in the cats. This is not new to the sport.

I have seen the traffic in the cats explode since around the time of the release of the guide book (more toproping, leading, just more people really) Toproping is something we all have done to get better, it will continue, guides taking people out will continue as well. The total number of people is the real issue in the cats, from parking to crowed locationsÖ Rest assured there is a lot more ice that isnít being climbed in the cats then is, some of it just as grand and worthy as any, only you need not to be lazy and actually hike.

Randy J Goat
01-12-2011, 12:39 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wombat</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Now there is an interesting question...

When is one persons right to an activity allowed to harm anothers? Climbers moved from hard aid to clean aid and free climbing partially in recognition of the damage done to the rock. Clearly wrecked ice is not not permananent damage akin to piton scars or placing unnecessary bolts on an ice climb (oops, another hot topic from last year...) But it can reduce the opportunities to better climbers for an extended period of time.

Other sports with limited resources do self-regulate by ability: winners keep the court in hoops and the table in pool, surfing as mentioned. They can also self-segregate by skill level, which we do often see. Strong leaders don't go to Asbestos and if they do, they should expect what they find. The issue is really at Moore's, where top-ropers wreck the right side pillars before than can even come in, and the Kitchen.

Does everyone have the right to climb wherever they want and however? Legally, they cant be, but perhaps they should be encouraged to stick to more appropriate TR areas as detailed on climbcatskillice or as suggested by other climbers and guides.


This is pretty much what I have tried pointing out past several years in the CT/MA/RI forum and have taken alot of crap from some of the less expeirenced or more self centered climbers.Especially in CT and MA where there are a huge number of climbers compared to available ice routes and areas.Then some of the locals get pissy and wonder why so many of us are tight lipped about post reports on what is in or not.This thread is EXACTLY why many of us hesitate topost any conditions reports locally.

01-12-2011, 01:36 PM
Cats I think maybe your viewpoint is fairly narrowminded. No one is saying the beginners don't have the right to toprope and to learn. I think what we are trying to say....what I am trying to say, is that learning how to ice climb on top rope is different than learning to rock climb on top rope. You don;t alter the rock by toproping it 20 times in a day. However, you do exactly that on ice, and the sooner people realize, the sooner they will adjust their behavior.

As to learning by moving to a different location...they learn to do what we all do now, move efficiently, walk on varying terrain with and without crampons, access different locations, learn their local climbing opportunities...all that peripheral stuff that comes with ice climbing. It's not just about swinging tools. It's about becoming a well rounded and responsible climber.

01-12-2011, 03:37 PM
Totally agreed, I thought I would push the beginner argument because there didn't seem to many view points supporting it, not necessarily that my view point is narrow minded, just that is the direction I wanted to post in. Remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Fostering an appreciation in the outdoors might just be worth a route getting banged up by a beginner group.

Agreed, people need to learn when to stop hacking at the ice and keep others in mind as they climb, but that has to be very tricky when it's a group. Even if everyone does in the group does 1 climb up each, the route will still be torched compared to if only 2 people climbed on the route and moved on.

I do think though, that there is that line, or curve of learning, where beginners are going alter the ice, no matter how hard they try. And that should be expected at certain areas in the Catskills, especially the beginner ones. As they learn and progress they will learn those skills that are needed to not alter ice for others.

What would the alternative be? (I know that's the problem to be solved here) Would it be perhaps to climb where beginners don't? To wait for the waterfalls to be in or to get to the less accessible climbs where guides don't take clients? If I don't want to be around beginner skiers, I go ski something of my real ability and therefore avoid them.

Perhaps guides or leaders could offer up more direction towards not bashing the ice up so much on a route?

01-12-2011, 06:23 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: CatsKat</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

Even if everyone does in the group does 1 climb up each, the route will still be torched compared to if only 2 people climbed on the route and moved on.</div></div>

50 people taking one lap each* probably does more damage than 10 people taking 5 laps each. (Repeated laps teaches climbers to hook and be more economical with their swings. At least it should.)

* apparently this is not an unreasonable number, given what we're hearing about Asbestos last w/e.

01-13-2011, 03:21 AM
Why is this discussion in &quot;conditions&quot;?

01-13-2011, 04:10 AM
Old Crusty Dog(OCD) reply - &quot;shut-up&quot; and climb mid week or get up at O-Dark-30 and be first. If you're an OCD then what the hell you doing climbing in the TR areas anywho? You should be well beyond that. If the hoards have descended on a non-TR area then walk up to the little snot nosed punks, pull their ropes and lead the sucker with your straight shafted tools and Snargs. All the while talking about last nights encounter with a bottle of Scotch and a sheep. You'll be quickly transformed into the Climbing God you always thought you should be. If your job does not allow you to climb mid week get a new job or shut up. I mean you're a climber right? Climbing comes first right? Then bust out your carbide head lamp and climb at night, your wife will probably be glad your out of the house, that's if you have a wife,I mean an OCD should be 2 times divorced and dating the PrAna beanie, bippy top wearing hooch with one of those shag pads strapped to her back from the plastic palace. So quit your complaining and shut-up and climb.

Disrespectfully Yours,



Auto-X Fil
01-13-2011, 05:50 AM
I'm with Crag.

This discussion is akin to bitching about not being able to get on High E on a Saturday in October.

Even &quot;overcrowded&quot; places like Stony Clove are PACKED with untrodden ice and mixed lines. Find it, send it, repeat.

01-13-2011, 07:42 AM
Speaking of High E, a friend was complaining of a group of 30 conveyor belt climbing on it, in reply I said &quot;well, it is at most 15 other routes open to other climbers that day&quot;. Akin to that, I'd rather beginners trash known top-roping areas and don't venture into other places and spread their destruction. I agree that it's a pity about Moore's right and two columns at the Playground are sweet too.

01-13-2011, 09:18 AM
I understand everyone's concern about overcrowding and I agree with most of your comments. Here are a couple of &quot;realistic&quot; points.

-Charging would be a bad idea. As we all know the average climber isn't rolling in the money (as stated by another user). Also climbing is about being outdoors and enjoying it, that should cost nothing or a maybe a park entrance fee at most.

-Overcrowding can be attributed to many factors like guiding, growing popularity of the sport, location and ease of access.

-You can compare this to what I call the &quot;Leave No Trace&quot; tool. As people get introduced to new things especially something out of there normal realm, they lack the knowledge of how to conduct themselves in there new environment. So when hikers, backpackers, campers etc. were littering and damaging natural habitats a simple card was created breaking down how to act and treat nature. Through verbal preaching (in a friendly manner), advertising and lead by example this idea has had a great impact on improving behavior in the backcountry.

- I have brought a friend or 2 on some ice climbing trips because I wanted to share what I love to do with them and they truly wanted to give it go. Given I bring them to the &quot;Playground&quot; etc. I teach them proper technique and reasons for why they do and not do things that would be unsafe or damage the ice. It's called patience people. Just last weekend I took a buddy out and there was a small group on the playground hacking away. I would never dare get angry with someone who doesn't know better. Instead i climbed next to them and in a nice way told them how to swing the axe and where to swing it. Also that most of the time they need not to swing there axe to hard and trust there feet more. At the end of the day we all had fun, people learned and listened. I would like to think that the average newbie does not want to get hurt and disrespect other more experienced climbers. With that said, how about us as experienced climbers teach, give advice and be a little more patient.... be a good person next time you run into these large groups. If you feel you cannot handle it then like other people have stated on this post &quot;go to a more remote area (harder areas with no TR/Guided crowds)&quot;.

-One last thing. For the person(s) who are making comments of fighting like they do in surfing and would be game for watching this... grow up and stop talking/acting like you have no class or sense. If you are into fighting take up boxing or go watch a UFC match. That's all we need is the DEC or State Troopers to shut the place down for fighting with Ice Tools. I do not want to turn this post into an argument and I am just sharing my thoughts.


01-13-2011, 10:41 AM
Auto, I agree, somewhat. But your logic doesn't follow when a classic hard line like Purgatory gets abused. All the fat beginner flows I could care less about. That's why they are great...they are fat and easy. But when the lin egets crossed into setting up a gangrope on a testpiece lead route, well then I am going to try to educate people.

Auto-X Fil
01-13-2011, 11:14 AM
Part of the problem is that modern tools mean anyone can TR WI5 on thier first time out, but leading it is still somewhat fearsome due to ice's no leader fall rule.

No one TRs 5.11c on thier first time out...

I'm just an obnoxious douche because I think 1000' of WI3 is better than 100' of WI 5+. I don't ice crag other than to hone big-mountain skills, while this discussion is more for people who value such climbing as an end in itself. So, I'll
Bow out now...

Randy J Goat
01-13-2011, 03:52 PM
Absolutely, a little strength and modern tools and it is very reasonable to get up 5s on TR. Totally different leading it,even following takes some more skill.

Not too many peole complaining about TRs on fat,short grade 3 and 4 . It is the taller[ even single pitch]class 4 and 5 routes that are challenging for leaders as it is without being hacked up.This only makes crucial protection , or solid tool placements hard if not impossible to get.

01-13-2011, 05:07 PM
I am not a great climber, but i still enjoy getting out there. That does not mean I should lose my right to climb. What it does mean is I need to learn the proper etiquette. I have participated in a variety of sports, surfing, mountain biking, paintball, salt water fly fishing, kite surfing and the story is similar in all of them. Why this spike in popularity happens can be blamed on many things, but why does not matter, how it is dealt with and the results are. It takes one dick to make bad things happen, from lose of access to accidents. Most people who are new don't know, so tell them &quot;nicely&quot; and they will probably be gracious. By teaching proper etiquette we all win, by shunning people as beginners we only create more dicks. I was climbing with pcooke last weekend and the worst was this party that never cleared their rope, not the guided party of ten. The culprits were probably thinking to themselves &quot;fuck all these people, it shouldn't be this crowded. My rope was here first.&quot; Yeah it was not cool, at the same time I should of asked them to dress their rope to the side or pull it. It will get crowded, easy access always gets crowded, so make the best of it. If people are doing something dangerous or wrong, suggest a solution. If guides are ruining the day, ask them who they work for and call their employer. The great outdoors only exists far from a parking space.

Randy J Goat
01-13-2011, 06:51 PM
BHB , this is not at all about being a greta climber or at all anti beginner. Not about shunning beginners either.

Randy J Goat
01-13-2011, 06:58 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: welle</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Speaking of High E, a friend was complaining of a group of 30 conveyor belt climbing on it, in reply I said &quot;well, it is at most 15 other routes open to other climbers that day&quot;. Akin to that, I'd rather beginners trash known top-roping areas and don't venture into other places and spread their destruction. I agree that it's a pity about Moore's right and two columns at the Playground are sweet too. </div></div>

I do agree with this in some respects. Keeping the damage and peg boarding to certain areas is why us CT and MA climbers are so tight lipped about posting some of our better climbing spots....er, not that there are any. Drive up to north to find some.

Even with that, many of our best &quot;lead&quot; lines , or just our best lines have been getting found out and don't get to form as well sometimes as they used to because they can never get thick enough to fully form bfore they start getting wacked down or pegged out.So we have a few &quot;throw aways&quot; that we openly post about.Even those hopefully good discretion gets used , but dosn't allways happen.

01-13-2011, 07:31 PM
As far as the guidebook increasing toprope traffic argument, I call bullshit. It is not the guidebook that refers to the hell hole (kitchen) as a toprope area, it is people who post online about it. A regular poster has mentioned many times that the hell hole and moore's bridge are areas with easy toprope access.

Sorry Mike(s).

01-13-2011, 09:04 PM
I'm not really sure I want to get involved here as I don't climb in NY much and I agree with many of the point that have been made on all sides.

But I feel obligated to report that the one time I visited the Black Chasm, I was very frustrated to find a couple of guys toproping a hard mixed line that was very thin and very BOLTED. Instant Karma maybe? I'm not sure.

01-14-2011, 10:15 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: pcooke</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I'm not sure what the local precedent is (I've only climbed in the Hell Hole a handful of times), but I'd imagine that something like the Gunks would be appropriate (Leaders get precedent over TRing). If this is so, I'd of course caution people to remain polite and work with the other users. And if things get beat out, work on hooking! </div></div>

Is that what you think the precedent in the Gunks is?????

I've been climbing in the Gunks for 7 years now and I have yet to encounter a top-rope group that willingly pulls their ropes aside for someone wanting to lead it. More often then not, if you want to lead a route and when you walk up, there is already a party on it, your options are to wait or to move on. That's been my experience at least.

In a perfect world top-ropers &amp; beginners would go to Peterskill, a fantastic beginner &amp; top-rope area, and would leave the Trapps open for those who want to lead climbs. Perhaps more education needs to happen in order for this to become more of reality, but in the end you can only educate so far.

How do you educate a group that barely speaks English, yet is pegging out a popular climb in the Kitchen and using the base of another as their personal toilet/kitchen? How do you educate the group of climbers who don't give a s*** what you think because why should they? How do you educate a group where the guide thinks he has the right to be where ever because he's working ?

Maybe I just have extremely bad luck, but these are all groups I have encountered in the Cats. (BTW, I also know a lot of local guides and most of them are fantastic, super nice &amp; understanding people. Maybe this guys was just having a bad day.) IMO, if you want to avoid these folks the best option is to move yourself to another location.

01-14-2011, 10:45 AM
I think there are many ways to educate the types of people you are refering to Betty. If the toprope party occupied a route all day and refused to move their rope to share the line, well then a nicely placed core shot to their line with a wayward tool swing might show them the consequences of their actions. There are all sort of ways to educate...some nice...some not so nice:)

01-14-2011, 02:26 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: RangerRob</div><div class="ubbcode-body">... well then a nicely placed core shot to their line with a wayward tool swing might show them the consequences of their actions. There are all sort of ways to educate...some nice...some not so nice:) </div></div>

Stop with calls for violence please, somebody is eventually going to take them seriously and act on them. Then a weekend nuisance is gonna become a season long problem(ie. access, law enforcement, etc). reading this five pages shows that in most cases Elders, newbies, Topropers, leaders and Groups have been able to comunicate and reach aggrements. for those few exceptions walking away and climbing something else would be the wise choice. in a sport where most of the equipment is sharp and pointy and the enviroment is steep and unstable. thoughts of violence will not lead to anything good and will not solve any problems.


01-15-2011, 11:18 AM
PACT, it was a joke...I think people here can tell the difference. Drink some scotch and lighten up a bit! <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/smile.gif

01-15-2011, 03:59 PM
mmmm scotch

01-15-2011, 10:03 PM
Its always a joke until somebody who been drinking too much scotch misses the smiley face at the end and takes it seriously. <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/cool.gif

01-16-2011, 01:01 PM
Fair enough.

01-17-2011, 04:25 PM
I'm kinda new here, but I've been watching for a while. A two things:

1) The tone and civility of this thread says a lot about the community. Granted, the pool of individuals is much smaller, but I imagine a thread like this on rc.com would instantly degenerate into angry mayhem. It's nice to see, especially as there are strong opinions here.

2) I think the calls for education amongst beginners present the best option. The best, strongest communities are self-policing and experienced climbers can do a lot to influence the development of newer folk. And it's a hell of a lot better (and more effective) to politely 'say something' than scurry home and bitch about it in a thread (not implying that for this specific thread, but we know it happens elsewhere).

Where's the line? Which behaviors should be addressed and which should be ignored? Maybe we feed the crusties a bottle of 30 year and see what they come up with.

But if we can speak with a clear, unified voice on what is and isn't acceptable in this community, I'm willing to bet things can slowly change...and better, safer climbers will result.

01-17-2011, 06:05 PM
Ummmm... Bob, I think he just called you a &quot;crustie&quot; <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/laugh.gif

01-18-2011, 05:04 AM
Thanks for the input everyone. When I get a chance this week, i will attempt a summary of what has gone up (the good, bad and funny). Then maybe the &quot;Crusties&quot; and &quot;kinda news&quot; can perhaps agree on some concrete steps. Apparently the epidemic has spread to the Chasm.

01-18-2011, 05:57 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wombat</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Apparently the epidemic has spread to the Chasm. </div></div>
Speaking of the chasm catastrophe on Sunday...

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: climbingbetty</div><div class="ubbcode-body">How do you educate a group that barely speaks English, yet is pegging out a popular climb in the Kitchen and using the base of another as their personal toilet/kitchen? How do you educate the group of climbers who don't give a s*** what you think because why should they?</div></div>
This is spot on to one of the huge parties there, and a previous description in this thread is spot on for the other group. While there seems to be a large amount of agreement in the posts on this thread, it's clear these parties are not reading it. I've seen these same groups in the past, so it's not a new thing this year. I've seen (possibly) the same groups monopolizing areas at the Gunks as well.

In my opinion, toproping itself is not the problem. Two reasonable people each climbing a route once on toprope does no more damage than a leader/follower. The issue is 10 person teams going siege style on barely formed climbs. For all the anti-beginner and anti-guide sentiment, the perpetrators (at least the ones on Sunday) are not new to climbing and were not guided. I think this will be a difficult problem to fix: it's not a matter of education, but rather a different understanding (perhaps cultural?) of what is acceptable.

I read this thread before going to the Catskills this weekend and was still surprised at how beat up the ice was throughout the area. Hopefully someone has a good remedy.

01-18-2011, 09:01 AM
I think maybe I'm crustier than most and I thought this might help.

From Pg. 31 of the Catskill Master Plan http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/cpslmpwom.pdf

&quot;Groupsize. To provide opportunities for solitude, users will be encouraged to pursue the above described wilderness recreational opportunities in small groups, the recommended group size being 4 to 6 individuals. The maximum group size allowable in wilderness will be 12 persons per group.&quot;

Leave it to NYS to be so middle of the road. From a recommended max of 4-6 to an acceptable group max of 12.

One tack that might work is to identify the leader/instructor of these large groups, and inquire if they are card carrying licensed NYS Rock and Ice Climbing Guides? If they are instructing ice climbing, than additional regs may apply to their group leaders and to their group.

The development of ice climbing in the Catskills has come a long in 30+ years. It would be a sad thing indeed to see it reduced to petty terrotorialism, or the application of excessive and uneccessary governance by the bureaucrats. However, one (or more) group(s) should not be allowed to regularly run rough shod over the region at the expense of the general community.

01-18-2011, 09:31 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: MRoyer4</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I think this will be a difficult problem to fix: it's not a matter of education, but rather a different understanding <span style="font-weight: bold">(perhaps cultural?)</span> of what is acceptable.


If we are all talking about the Koreans (no slight intended!!), then I think there very well may be a cultural component. I have seen photos of Korea's rock climbing scene, and it makes the Trapps on a busy weekend look like a December weekday. I wish I could lay my hands on it - used to have it saved on my PC - but there's this pic of a nice granite dome with maybe 5 routes on it. There were &gt;100 climbers crawling on it like ants. Wanting, dare I say expecting our ice to be in good shape might just be &quot;an American thing&quot;. Sadly.

01-18-2011, 10:16 AM
I want to offer up a word of caution too, in response to the DEC link posted, that there is a group out there as of the summer trying to close off areas like the Kitchen and upper Kaaterskill Falls to access due to the deaths in those areas this last spring and summer. I like the idea of breaking down groups into smaller sizes and distributing them around the area. I also like the idea of summarizing all the material here and having input by experienced and new climbers alike, I think it's important to keep everyone in mind.

01-18-2011, 10:20 AM
found this on rockclimbing.com


01-18-2011, 04:09 PM
Tom beat me to the perfect solution:

Indoor ice park

someone get a hold of that stimulus money quick

01-18-2011, 04:27 PM
There's already an indoor ski slope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meadowlands_%28shopping_mall%29) under construction in Jersey. Why not ice climbing (gang roping mandatory)? Anyone got ideas for a vertical zamboni?

01-18-2011, 04:27 PM
Any of you fish, or Mtn Bike? Heck road biking! What about hunting or how about golfing or skiing (lift serviced.) Of course rock climbing. Crowds are a fact of life and for the most part there's nothing anyone can do about it. Everyone has a right to be there just as much as the next person. Constructive dialog can help ease tensions but little will be done in easing the crowds.

01-18-2011, 06:49 PM
Alternatively, stop bitching and take the necessary steps to avoid crowds. Does that mean longer drives/hikes/etc.? Yep, usually. Is it worth it? Always.

And, if you take that philosophy far enough, the people you DO see will be exactly like you, and there will be no need to talk or interact.

01-19-2011, 05:46 AM
I will accept the &quot;Crustie&quot; title for a bottle of 30+

01-19-2011, 07:16 AM
We need a blanket party for this guy stat!

01-19-2011, 07:23 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: RangerRob</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I will accept the &quot;Crustie&quot; title for a bottle of 30+ </div></div>

Whatever, Iím cheap, I'll settle for younger.. say....18, or 12 if Iím feeling really dirty and cheap.

01-19-2011, 11:54 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: RangerRob</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I will accept the &quot;Crustie&quot; title for a bottle of 30+</div></div>

30+ ! YIKES <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/shocked.gif Yew ain't a cheap date.

From the <span style="font-style: italic">Island</span> Region of Scotland, perhpas you may find this inciting.


01-19-2011, 04:51 PM
For a bottle of 30+ there better be a gagball involved and a YouTube video....

01-19-2011, 06:32 PM
Let's knock a bunch of stuff down so it's a minimum of 5+. They'll lose interest and just go away.

01-20-2011, 03:23 AM
Yo WELLY, the surfer thing is real, some punk butt surfers will cut you off on a wave and or hit you with their board.
The results of their actions depends on how bad azz you are going to be to their actions. As with getto corner crack dealers whom think they own the corners or hoods they do &quot;business in&quot;.

No one in the country I live in has more rights to an area then anyone else, unless they own the land.

When my group meets another group of climbers, we offer our ropes to them and almost always, they offer their ropes to us.

All the posts on this subject are great outlooks to our small community of ice climbing(ers).
As for beating up the ice with large groups of beginner climbers, my two cents worth is, go for it and have fun, just leave some ice for others.

01-20-2011, 04:17 AM
Time to lock this thread I suspect. It stopped being about Conditions a while ago.

01-20-2011, 05:20 AM
You guys are going to absolutely love this:



01-20-2011, 06:09 AM
Yeah baby, such a deal....glad I don't climb in the Catz, waiting in the cold for a line to open.


01-27-2011, 09:08 AM
It would be nice to know which guide service did the draping on Madam G's and call them out on it. If it wasn't one of the approved services then they could be tracked down and given some words and if was one of the OK'd services and kind &quot;what were you thinking&quot; could be issued.

With the NFOP issue of pre group rope hanging. I heard it was one of the colleges maybe St. Lawrence and the outdoor rec director was contacted. This is now and issue because of the easy access made by better plowing because of the houses further back now.

As far as surfing goes. There are many words exchanged in the water but not too many fisticuffs. It comes down to respect, rules and getting your fix when there are waves. When its cranking after a flat spell it can be real bad and its worse now bc everything is online days in advance. If you try to poach/ drop in while someone is already on the wave you'll hear it and paddled right up on given the stink eye and some words. If it happens again you'll probably be boxed out and or dropped in on just for the sake of making you have a real bad day in the water.

Going over with some words from the wise juuust might make a point and they'll be cooler in the future.

01-31-2011, 08:11 AM

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01-31-2011, 10:50 AM
Speaking of Gang Roping.....

Bob Otten
01-31-2011, 02:08 PM
All good points, a conversation needs to happen before we have rules imposed on all of us none of which any of us will like. A beef I have is not only the spagetti fests of top ropes that have proliferated in recent years but also the lack of regard given to fixed gear and the ethic in which routes have been put up previously. To the point, I see a lot of this as one-in-the-same. Purgatory for example is a route rutinely raped by large groups resulting in damage to the thin ice conditions it typically boasts, at times precluding safe passage (after the fact) on the lead. This route went in years ago in traditional style only to be brought down to somebody else's level with an &quot;epyleptic sezure&quot; proliferation of bolts,none of them needed to safely lead the route. Furthermore, some of those same bolts ice over from one year to the next rendering them unusable anyway. What a waste of time money and resource. The official doctrine of the Catskill Park is that of NO fixed gear. Its written in the park's bylaws. That being said, I am personal friends with some of the area rangers. They will turn a blind eye (for now) as long as the park doesn't become overly &quot;pocked&quot; with bolts, pins etc. Their view is one of safety first. Furthermore, they're getting really tired of the number of rescues they are increasingly called to at places like Stoney Clove, feeling they do not possess the skills and/or training to affect a technical rescue in many circumstances. On this point I'll crow just a bit since I've been doing this for many years and have been on my share of VERY technical rescues. The rule of thumb is to stay well within your limits and have climbing partners with the requisite knowledge of traumatic first aid training who can get your ass out of harms way if something bad happens. Does your group have any people fitting this description? Perhaps it should. Back in the day we knew not to fall on (what was then &quot;crappy&quot;) gear. Also, if we got in trouble we had to be our own rescue, it was a given, just understood. What happend to personal responsibility? Unforetunately, an evolving gym ethos applied to ice climbing (to top rope things you otherwise wouldn't be able to climb) severly impacting an area while cutting some people out of the equation, IS one of many symptoms of a growing problem called over use. Lets try and have a more responsible &quot;Big Picture&quot; outlook that is inclusive of many considerations, people, and points of view. Very few of us acctually know how razor thin the line is to having our pastime profoundly affected. As a rule, it is NOT at all a good idea to put in toprope bolts. It encourages more of the same as well as some really silly stuff. Keep your impact to a minimum and think (first) of the longer lasting consiquences to all of your actions. I'll get off my soap box now and yeild the balance of my time to my distinguished climbing slob colleagues. Slobs of one sort or another we ALL are after all....Food for thought
Bob Otten
Windham, NY

01-31-2011, 04:03 PM
A Bus!?!? Really? A Busload of Ice Climbers? Not to Worry, when Hell freezes over, there will be plenty to climb.

02-01-2011, 02:24 AM
Nah dude, haven't you heard? Hell if flat..... it's called Kansas.... just without the silos.

02-01-2011, 06:07 AM
Where did the bus end up?

We saw 18 people up on the right coming back from KFalls/Gottleibs saturday. Moores was looking a bit like Lindsey Lohan, but noone was climbing there. P-corner was as steep as I've been on it. Jeff's was pretty battered.

That is at least a good addition for segregating guided groups since at least from the trail, they dont look that appealing to lead.

Doug provided a nicely worded response earlier in the thread on the cost of climbing leading to groups and how thats the best way to learn. But are we we really supposed to believe that bus loads of Jonny Depp fans are sitting around their apartments after bruch wondering how to break into the sport? This is supply driving demand, not the other way around! I also dont think the four guided golfers (&quot;now i need to get new pants for golf&quot;) on one of 3 ropes on PlatteClove falls were really interested in developing technique and understanding the sport. Guides in this country are under appreciated and underpaid but are actively seeking to build their businesses. This is completely understandable, but they also have to take responsibilty for this and look to manage growth responsibly.

thanks Bob. I'm glad that someone else doesnt find closely bolted mixed lines to be a beneficial evolution in climbing. The lower kitchen area is just silly. There are some hard looking lines at KFalls but I could reach bolt to bolt on them and they are pre-hung with draws! If you are that good, then those lines arent pushing any envelopes!

is there room on that soap box eugene?

02-01-2011, 10:13 AM
This post has evolved from gang roping to a discussion on the ethics of climbing in general. You all know how I feel about bolting ice climbs, particularly in the Catskills. I think Bob said it beautifully. There are so, so, so many trad lines waiting to be done by some with just a little vision, and a little commitment. Just think before you add that bolt(s). Are you adding it because you'd be scared doing that next 15 feet without it? If so, back off, go find someone who climbs harder and tell them about your line. Maybe they can do it without bringing it down to a lower level.

Oh I know what some people are going to say......this is my line and I want to do the first ascent. If you found yourself saying this to yourself you just might be climbing for the wrong reasons. This whole mixed thing is exploding, and everyone's vision of what's possible and not possible is going to evolve quite rapidly over the next few years.


02-02-2011, 03:30 AM
If it dosen't have significant ice on at least part of the route then don't climb it with ice tools. Don't even go there with the anti bolt crying when you are scratching the piss out of the rock with your tools and poons. Top ropeing a rock climb with tools and poons probobly causes even more damage than leading it. Mixed climbers simply have no right to talk anti bolt when their very activity of mixed climbing is so damageing to the rock.

02-02-2011, 11:09 AM
And who determines what significant ice is? It's a good point, but who sets the standard

Bob Otten
02-02-2011, 12:11 PM
I'm glad my long winded expose didn't offend anyone. I'm encouraged by some of the comentary and additional thoughts. To the person refering to the bolt-ups at the KSF's area, I'm not sure but I suspect you're referring to the Asbestos Wall area and some of the bolts/pins to nowhere; regarding which I can't agree more. If you're talking about the draws/gear at the base of KSF's left of the first waterfall pitch, that would be a project someone started but sufferred a serious fall(on something else) and had to abandone. It struck me that the gear would easily be stolen (and since the route looked very enticing) I ran it by a well connected local guide and hardman Ryan Stefiuk and found out it belonged to an injured climber concerned about losing his belongings. A simple request to try the route with a willingness to clean the gear and return it to its rightful owner was recieved wholeheartedly. An example of a small and connected commmunity looking after one another.

What does anyone have to say about starting a collection to provide a first aid cache(s) at Stoney Clove? I think it would be a gesture worthy of a climbing community that has used the resource for many years and not paid a dime for it....Just a thought.
Bob Otten
Windham, NY

02-02-2011, 12:39 PM
The gear belongs to Brad Heller and I (Luke Spangenburg).
Brad started ground up and had the vision to push this through the roof in clean style. There were no rehearsals or top ropes.Sadly Brad was hurt recently on another climb and will be out for awhile.
Try the route and it's challenges,enjoy!! If you collect the gear let us know. Thanks!!!

Bob Otten
02-02-2011, 01:11 PM
I would be happy to clean the gear and return it to you/Brad. You can send contact informatiton to my E-mail. [email protected]
I hope Brad is on the mend and feeling better, I'm glad to help out.
Ryan S. suggested he might be up there today (wed.)If not, I will be tomorrow or Sat. and will take care of the matter of your gear then.

Bob Otten

Mountain Skills
02-02-2011, 01:27 PM
My understanding with rescue cashe's are they not going to be taken care of by the DEC and should be taken out after every season by us, the climbing community. All of the local guide services just did a rescue training with the NYS DEC last week at Buttermilk Falls. We talked about leaving one at Buttermilk. Basically, we came to the conclusion that if you get seriously injured while climbing Buttermilk it ain't gonna be fun for the people involved at any end of the deal. I guess that's pretty obvious to most people. It's a big eye opener to realize just how long it will take to extract someone seriously injured.
I am more than happy to buy/donate as much as I can. I know others sailing in the same boat have said the same thing. We are after all a community that manages itself pretty well, but we could go a step further.

Dispite differences of opinion on ethics and what not. We all share the same love for climbing, it's community, it's people, &amp; the joys/terrors it brings to us all. Even if we differ on opinions, the one thing we shouldn't differ on is taking care of each other if they are in need.

I encourage all of you once again to get involved in your local advocacy group to start to open up more climbing possibilities.

Doug Ferguson

02-02-2011, 03:58 PM

Thanks so much and enjoy the climb.I am in New Paltz as is Brad.
[email protected] 505 795 2081

02-07-2011, 09:50 AM
Back to this gang roping epidemic, I'm not going say what guide service it was, but it was really nice to see them ferrying around what looked like a bunch of city-iots in a huge white bus around. Big Two thumbs up!!!! Would just like to say thank you!

02-10-2011, 04:51 PM
I was back in the Black Chasm a few weeks back and was surprised to see several large climbing groups and that there were climbers on every route that was &quot;in&quot;.

I am sad to say that a large group of 10+ Korean climbers had staked their claim and had top ropes on the &quot;Advocate&quot; and &quot;Mephisto&quot; all day. They were rude, unfriendly; not one of them responded to a simple hello in Korean (I lived in Korea) or English. The leaders were the most gruff of them all, and &quot;Old enough to know better(50's to 60's)&quot;. They were also bashing the %$^&amp; $HIT out of the ice. Just as it started getting dark one of them knocked a VW sized multi-ton chunk of ice down. Still not an expression of emotion of the danger they were introducing to themselves and others.

If anyone knows the leader or the climbers in this group please PM me with their contact information, as I will go as far as to have a translated meeting with them to discuss what is acceptable while ice climbing and what is not.


Erik Goedhart
02-10-2011, 09:28 PM
I second, third, fourth, &quot;eleventeenth&quot; the notion that common sense, &amp; courtesy will better serve us silly ice climbers, or any user-group for that matter, with regard to how to manage ourselves and the limited resources we have.

(Small rant...) I was fortunate enough to be introduced to ice climbing by a friend of mine that equally shared his enthusiam of rock, with that of ice. Both of us, being carpenters, had a distinct learning-curve advantage with regards to swinging tools that made, &amp; I emphasize, ONLY 1 ASPECT of ice climbing seemingly fluid. The rest- reading the ice, understanding color, texture, hardness, stability, temperature, bonding...etc the list goes on, ONLY came through experience and was facilitated by a great mentor and an eagerness to want to understand as many different facets of ice that I could.

I was more &quot;steered&quot; than &quot;pushed&quot; into leading ice. Do any of us truly know when the &quot;right&quot; time to lead is? Some may say &quot;yes&quot;, some will say &quot;no&quot;, some may say &quot;after a certain number of climbs&quot;, &amp; some may say &quot;after a certain grade&quot;. Whatever the time, I was fortunate that my mentor, who had a far greater grasp of ice than I, watched, critiqued, laughed, (sometimes cried), but always ENCOURAGED me to &quot;push&quot;, but with an individual respect to my surrounding, my climb, my conditions. There was always an unspoken accountability for my decisions and actions that was inspired by someone who was more experienced than I, &quot;steering&quot; me in a direction of truly attemting to better myself and my skills in this sport. I understood that I was leading ice relatively early, but with an experienced mentor constructively criticising my every move, allowed me to stay safe and yet learn the nuances of the sharp-end on ice.

I understand that there will be talented climbers who will lead earlier, some later. But in the end you can not rush &quot;experience&quot; or deny the fact that good ol' common sense, respect for your environment, and an awareness that those around you may range from their first day of ice climbing, to possibly their last- will always prove diificult to &quot;regulate&quot;.

Having responsibility for our own actions or taking it upon ourselves collectively, to educate those around us with regards to safety, ethics, experience or anything, should fall on no-one other than ourselves. I'm guilty of having &quot;bitten my tongue&quot; in situations where perhaps I could have or possibly even &quot;should&quot; have said something with regard to safety or ethics- but only experience has taught me the importance as to WHY. I now don't mind saying or pointing out something that seems inappropriate, nor do I mind hearing it around me. Likewise, I've learned to take constructive criticism for what it is worth- friendly, helpful advice.

I was guilty of &quot;crowding&quot; an anchor last weekend at Bridal Veil Falls in which people use a common anchor to rap to climbs beyond that which I was on with my partner. Rather than being cursed at or given dirty looks, a local guide built his own anchor, safely moved his clients, and very courteously explained the anchor scenario to me, who was unaware that there was another party interested in using the rap station. I quickly ran up my next climb, adjusted my anchor, apologized to the party waiting, lowered off, and sincerely thanked the guide for alerting me.

I've been climbing long enough to know better, but I did goof, and it could've been handled any number of ways. The way it WAS handled stemmed from a guide's professionlism, a 3rd party's patience, and an acknowledgement from me that I was in the wrong. 5 minutes later, we were all sharing the same piece of ice- guide, 1st day clients, 9 yr &quot;veterans&quot;, top-ropers and leaders... We had a great day- in the rain...

Common sense &amp; courtesy ruled the day. Many pitches, offers for shared ropes, comedy and the nervous excitement you feel from witnessing someone's first day on ice (guide's client)- all of this happened on the most rainy day of ice I've ever had... And to boot, my partner led her very first ice climb that day...

&quot;Thank you&quot; to my buddy who shared my nervous energy the day of my first lead. I &quot;thank you&quot; even more for teaching me how to be safe enough to pass some of that knowledge &amp; share many climbs with future partners. I'm grateful for sharing that same excitement with someone who was genuinely appreciative for the patience, encouragenment, apprehensiveness, and sense of release that comes from topping out- from the ground up.

(End rant...)

02-11-2011, 02:00 AM
There's a strong, young male climber in that Korean group that REALLY needs to learn to hook rather than bash on pegged-out pillars. Painful to watch him climb.