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How would living in Syracuse be for a climber?

Nick K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 30

I'd suggest looking at Boston over Syracuse any day of the week. Two years out west (1 in San Diego, 1 in Denver), and I'm moving back to Boston in the fall for grad school (admittedly if there weren't a bunch of family reasons to be back East as well, I might have gone for a school out West).

Boston is a great place to be a student, the economy in the area is pretty good if you have actual skills, and there's a huge variety of schools to choose from. There's good food and beer to be had, and health insurance is relatively affordable. You can be in Rumney, NH for your world-class sport climbing in two hours (maybe less if you have heavy feet), with a similar time to North Conway for your multi-pitch trad. For shorter days, you've got a whole bunch of small trad crags in MA itself, and some excellent bouldering. The Daks, the Gunks and a bunch of other delightful spots are within weekend trip range.

But you will probably need to take up ice climbing if you want to be climbing year round in the NE. I'm certainly planning to. Fortunately it seems like everyone I've met here who climbs harder than 5.10, climbs ice in the winter, so it shouldn't be too hard to find partners for that either.

Oh, and I think pretty much anywhere you go in the NE, the cost of living is a slap in the face compared to the South West.

Brandon Howard · · Denver, CO · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 25

Being from upstate / western NY I can say with full conviction it is not the place for a climber to live. There is no rock, the weather is terrible most of the time and the people are not at all like those in the climbing community. The only city I would recommend in NY would be Albany, strictly because of its proximity to the Gunks and its not super far from the Dacks as well. Otherwise, if you can afford to go more off the map lives in the Dacks. Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Lake Placid are all great towns with amazing atmosphere, food and people besides the obvious factor of being located close to / in one of the biggest overall climbing areas in the continental US. That being said, a climbing day in the Dacks does not consist of driving to a parking lot and a five minute approach to a wall with ten or more perfect sport routes. The climbing in the Dacks is very spread out and very mixed, but packed with hidden gems, theres a reason why many hardmen have chosen to spend theor careers hidden in the back woods here. Being from NY state I am a little prejudice, some people can't stand being out in the sticks, personally I love it, but what you think is the only thing that counts. Good luck man.

PS - what is with you people and Wegmans. Many other grocery stores are just as good and actually care about their employees and community as compared to just making profit. Dont support the machine.

Ben Brotelho · · Albany, NY · Joined May 2011 · Points: 520

Brutally honest answer: Syracuse would be a shitty place to live as a climber...or as anyone.

HOWEVER: Wegmans is the best grocery store/ food-destination, EVER...so you have that going for you. Syracuse would be much better than Buffalo or Rochester, in my opinion, but I suggest Albany if you want to be close to climbing...on the other hand, there are no Wegmans in Albany, which sucks.

Jim Lawyer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 5,007

Lots of Syracuse haters here. I'll clarify a few points.

I've lived in the countryside just south of Syracuse for 35 years, and have been a serious climber for a good portion of that time. Here's the scoop:

We're 3 hours from Chapel Pond (in the Adirondacks), 3 hours from the Gunks, 6 hours from Cannon, 7 from North Conway, 7 from Seneca Rocks, 9 from New River Gorge, 12 from the Red River Gorge, and 12 from Asheville, NC.

Closest Rock Climbing: Little Falls (1:45), Eagle Falls (1:50), Old Forge areas (2 hrs), Caroga Lake areas (2 hrs).

Closest [legal] Ice Climbing: Salmon River (45 min), Tinkers Falls (15 min).

Closest [illegal] Bouldering: Clark Reservation (sucks), Split Rock Quarry (really sucks), Oakwood Cemetery (really illegal, but surprisingly good).

Closest [legal] Bouldering: Nine Corners (2 hrs), Little Falls (1:45).

Climbing Gyms: There is no worthwhile climbing gym in Syracuse...nearest is at Cornell (which kinda sucks) or Rochester (also sucks). There's a really good one in Albany (2 hrs). There is talk of a mega-gym to be built in Syracuse (search Facebook for "Syracuse Rock-Climbing Gym" for a status).

There isn't really a climbing community, probably because of the lack of climbing gym, but there are many climbers that live here. The Syracuse University Outing Club (SUOC) has had active periods of climbing, depending on who's in the club that year. Many of my climbing buddies were once SUOCers.

There's some great mountain biking nearby: Skytop at the University (awesome, illegal, hugely popular), Highland Forest (legal, 15 minutes, very good cross-country), Morgan Hill (great cross-country)...to name but a few. Check CNYDirt if this is a sport you're interested in.

There are several ski areas south of the city, but are small and only good for a couple of visits. Most people take trips up north to Gore (2.5 hrs), Whiteface (3.5 hrs), or the tons of places in Vermont (4+ hrs).

As far as the city is concerned, I don't go there much because [in general] it sucks. There are the normal cultural things, and Armory Square is pretty hopping most weekends, but I think the suburbs is the place to be, and the quality of life is pretty good. If you have to live near the university, then the Westcott area is pretty nice. I used to live there.

Regarding jobs...there are jobs. I started a company here with friends out of college and we were very successful. There are many high-tech employers, and many incubated high-tech businesses. There's 300K people living here (Syracuse and surrounding areas), and no, they don't all flip burgers or work at Wallmart.

The weather: I love snow and cold, so this climate suits me just fine. If you're into ice climbing, the Adirondacks has some of the best, reliable, road-side ice in the country. The Catskills has a ton of ice too, but is less reliable. Both are within reasonable driving distance.

Syracuse does receive it's share of snow, but the surrounding areas get even more. In Pompey where I live, we have snow covering the ground from late October through May. This makes for great cross-country skiing (Highland and the Tug Hill). It's worth mentioning that the Tug Hill, just north of Syracuse and the place where Salmon River ice climbing area is located, gets 400+ inches of snow annually.

In short, if you're a serious climber, you'll need a car and willingness to put on the miles (and a second set of snow tires). Syracuse does have a good airport (big enough to be useful, small enough to be easy and convenient), but is not a hub, so you have to fly to Chicago, JFK, or some other hub to get anywhere. But this is also true of Buffalo, Albany, Rochester, and most small-to-mid sized cities in the country.

AdamB Bunger · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 1,035

12 is about right from Syracuse.

ErinN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 15

I moved here 13 years ago, leaving Boulder, my family in Denver, and my native state of Colorado in the rear-view mirror, for what seemed like good reasons at the time. My "former life," as I once described it to friends, was as a climbing, backpacking, and river guide in the Rocky Mountains. I am living that life once again... not as a guide these days, but as a strong outdoorswoman and a better climber than ever before. I have an amazing partner right under my roof, so I consider myself spoiled. We love being in the Adirondacks, and we have climbed many routes in Jim Lawyer's guidebook. I think the key here is defining community and accessability according to local terms. If you are willing to take beautiful drives lasting three to four hours, weaving past countless Adirondack lakes, with great people and conversation in tow, you will have a very full life. We seek a good crag, have an awesome day of climbing, then have a beer and snacks on the tailgate after a swim in Chapel Pond or another nearby lake. We eat, we camp, we laugh, we approach, and we climb some more. Ben and I have tons of play and exploring under our belt and still have a long long list to go. We have good friends who join us. There are many cool, positive, welcoming people, many beautiful places, and I have found the constant remains true-- "Life is what you make it."

pdubz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 0

It's all what you make of it.

I was in Syracuse last year between living in Boston and now SLC. Laywer wrote the book so take his post a little more seriously than all the complaints.

Eagle Falls is only 90min away (and 1000x better than Little Falls) and you can get to Stewarts in Keene in 3hrs if you're motivated. I did Gunks as a day trip. I climbed at Colgate once a week during winter. There is ice around.

Not amazing, but you can make it work. There are worse places. Wegmans, Middle Ages Brewery, The Mission & Alto-Cinqo mexican, growing music scene...you'll be fine.

P

Ben Brotelho · · Albany, NY · Joined May 2011 · Points: 520

Not to mention: Dinosaur BBQ!

Tom Fralich · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 0
foodgeek wrote: Alright, so the food is terrible, there's a complete lack of jobs, the awful weather, and a complete lack of decent climbing in the area, but you forgot to mention that flights from Syracuse to places worth visiting are expensive and often delayed or canceled. On the bright side, after you live in Syracuse for a while you'll be psyched about the culture in Fresno.
Ha! I use this comparison all the time. I grew up on the east coast and my brother went to college in Syracuse. Whenever people from the east coast ask what Fresno is like, I always ask, "Have you been to Syracuse?"
scott rourke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 15

Quebec is within striking distance though. For a climber it seems to be a whole new frontier. When I lived in Vermont we never went up there. Now that I'm in Colorado I took a cragging trip up there while visiting the family in New England and it was super cool. Plus, endless ice, big walls over the water, cooler temps in the summer, great food, friendly locals...

Ben Brotelho · · Albany, NY · Joined May 2011 · Points: 520

did you just refer to French-Canadians as "friendly locals??"

eligebler · · maryland · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 45
handon broward wrote:Being from upstate / western NY I can say with full conviction it is not the place for a climber to live. There is no rock, the weather is terrible most of the time and the people are not at all like those in the climbing community. The only city I would recommend in NY would be Albany, strictly because of its proximity to the Gunks and its not super far from the Dacks as well. Otherwise, if you can afford to go more off the map lives in the Dacks. Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Lake Placid are all great towns with amazing atmosphere, food and people besides the obvious factor of being located close to / in one of the biggest overall climbing areas in the continental US. That being said, a climbing day in the Dacks does not consist of driving to a parking lot and a five minute approach to a wall with ten or more perfect sport routes. The climbing in the Dacks is very spread out and very mixed, but packed with hidden gems, theres a reason why many hardmen have chosen to spend theor careers hidden in the back woods here. Being from NY state I am a little prejudice, some people can't stand being out in the sticks, personally I love it, but what you think is the only thing that counts. Good luck man. PS - what is with you people and Wegmans. Many other grocery stores are just as good and actually care about their employees and community as compared to just making profit. Dont support the machine.
YO this guy is totally right

i live in syracuse as a student and there is NOWHERE close to climb! the weather is terrible from october to april every year so unless you live here and are close to the gunks or adirondacks, then i wouldnt EVER recommend living here.

as a matter of fact i am transferring to UC at boulder next year, one reason being the stellar rock climbing!
TWK · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 160

Having grown up in NY, NJ, and PA, and gone to school in Ithaca and then moved to California, I believe I can speak with experience.

I'd recommend taking up kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, and deer hunting if you have to live in Upstate New York. If you take up deer hunting, you'll have a weapon available to put yourself out of your misery.

ErinN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 15

I have replied to this thread before, and have pretty much said my piece.

However, as a former guide in my native-born state of Colorado,and as a graduate of CU Boulder (ahem, for those who know, it is CU not UC), and as a resident of the great Republic of Boulder for 8 years, I can say you will be one of thousands who climb and mountaineer. True, there is plenty of terrain. With it comes the lines, the competition, and the ego. It is Mecca.

This summer and fall my partner (also from Boulder)and I tackled a dozen or more crags in the Adirondacks alone. We never waited in a line, always had splitter weather, and we always have stellar folks to go with. We are looking ahead to some great days of backcountry skiing and ice climbing this winter.

A large gym is breaking ground in Syracuse this winter. Granted, this region is slower to pick up where the west has been for decades, but it is happening. For those who choose to bash where they are from, I believe you gave up before you began. I believe you may be starry-eyed about the west, and dismissive about a place you may not have ever made a true effort to know. Maturity, openness, and attitude make for a fertile experience wherever you choose to live.

I for one respect the hard climbers of the east. The climbs are rated tougher. But if one is a true climber, you are a climber wherever you go. I send sincere best wishes for a rich experience as you move west.

Kevin Heckeler · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,599
ErinN wrote:Maturity, openness, and attitude make for a fertile experience wherever you choose to live... But if one is a true climber, you are a climber wherever you go. I send sincere best wishes for a rich experience as you move west.
As an aspiring mountaineer, there just isn't enough in the East to satisfy. Compared to out West, within 2-4 hours of Boulder there's a lifetime of technical, 500+ foot ascents to be had. MP says so at least.

I agree that as far as cragging goes, there's definitely plenty around between the ADKs, Whites, and Gunks.
TWK · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 160

It pains me to have to admit it, but for once I find myself in agreement with Mr. Heckeler.

Having spent lots of time, opportunity, and gas money wallowing around in the mud and slush back east, I headed west. For the common reasons (woman, employment) I found myself in those dreary depressing eastern environs not once, but twice again, and have since left for the west, hopefully to never return to those gray, sodden, humid, poison ivy infested, under-educated, economically deprived regions where the crags often fail to penetrate the treetops.

I took up hunting and whitewater to maintain some sanity, as both of those activities can be pursued in foul (fowl?) weather. Give me the reliably indigo blue skies of the Sierras instead, where the California girls are one-third the size of their eastern and midwestern counterparts.

Yes, I loved the Gunks (I'd love to climb there again, on the annual fine day), and was introduced to mountaineering in the Whites, and tackled hard water ice in the Finger Lakes, but in comparison to the West, the East is a drag.

The only thing wrong with California is that 39 million people love it. Thankfully, most of them never even make it to the trailhead.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northeastern States
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