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Delaware Water Gap Climbers

Original Post
Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

I don't usually see many people climbing at the water gap. Typically just a group of guides and maybe one other party on a nice weekend.

I'm looking to find out who the other locals are, see who else climbs there often. Maybe organize some stewardship/ route cleaning activities. There are over 100 routes on the PA side, but by my count only about a dozen are frequently climbed, and the rest are mostly avoided because they're dirty/overgrown. Anyone here consider themselves part of this community?

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

I'd be happy to help out. Would be a great way to explore and re-open a lot of these forgotten routes. My partner John and I were planning on heading out there Memorial Day Weekend (Sat or Sun). Would be willing to work on a route or two and discuss future plans.

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

PA side is still closed, that's the part that will really need some work when it re-opens. I don't know the Jersey side too well yet, spent most of my time over in PA, or avoided the place entirely because it seemed so dirty. There's some routes on Tamany that could use some gardening for sure, but they seem alot cleaner in general over there. For Minsi, I'd love it if the place were a little more cleaned up and more traveled so the routes could be better sustained.

Two routes I'm looking to clean / reopen are Point of No Return 5.8+ ** on the Land of the Giants wall, and Morning Wall (5.9) and it's Variations.

Point of No Return is very overgrown with bushes/prickers for it's first half and needs some serious gardening.

Morning wall looks dirty like it hasn't seen action in a long time. It was bolted in 1989, and i suspect the bolts might need replacement too.

I'm really open to suggestions, and want to try and promote a little stewardship that we can clean this place up a bit and get a better place for us to climb close to home.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 14,482

As of a couple of years there was at least one person seriously interested in "stewardship" of East PA outdoor climbing generally, and DWG in particular.

I could be a good candidate to help with cleaning, because I have cleaned other climbing rock, and have all the equipment and the beginning of a clue how to use it. And I'm often around that area.

But I've never climbed there (because the one time I went it closed for raptors, something the MP page for DWG doesn't warn about). There's other people I often climb with who could enjoy the routes you mentioned, but they've been uninterested in DWG so far.

Have you talked with people at North Summit climbing gym?
Seems like that would be a likely place to find local supporters of DWG outdoor climbing.

Is there a reason you're focusing on DWG for your "stewardship" -- as opposed to other PA crags not more than an hour's driving from it?


Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

Ken - I'm looking at the gap because it's the closest climbing to my house, the only real trad multipitch closeby, and it definitely has some potential. I do climb at north summit often and i'm trying to drum up some interest there. There's also an outdoor club at Lafayette College in Easton which has some interested members too.

As for other crags closeby - Mocanaqua could possibly use some bolt replacement, but is far for me. Stoney Ridge is pretty well managed by Joe Forte, Ralph Stover doesn't need any help, and birdsboro has a dedicated group of people there already.

AEM · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 0

Snips, a hand saw, and a brush have been along with me on my last few trips up to the Gap. Sometimes those can be required to even complete a route. I often consider bringing along the hornet spray as well. Some bolts were replaced/installed on the jersey side recently, so someone is out there installing hardware.
I would be interested in some improvement opportunities, how are you going to get the word out?

In other news, last time I was there some asshole NJ cop tried to tell me that I needed to register to climb, "where do you think you are climbing?" Wad the first thing he said to me. The dude had his hand on his holstered sidearm and was trying his best to intimidate. After I explained to him that climbing was a permitted in the National Recreation area, as opposed to state, and I talk to rangers regularly to inquire about conditions he backed off. Anyone else get this treatment? It was the week after Boston, so maybe dude was just on edge.

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

The bolts that were added to The Rib on the Jersey side were totally unnecessary. I am not anti-bolts but they were put in at belay/rap stations that had adequate natural protection. I think this was done by a guide in order to facilitate quicker climbs and give clients a better sense of security. In any event, I hope we can keep trad climbs as trad climbs and only bolt when necessary. Some R and X rated routes could use bolts in order to open them up, but PG routes like The Rib certainaly don't need them.


I never had issues with The Man. I found the rangers to be pretty friendly.

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

I agree that they're (bolts on the rib) not necessary, though i did find them usefull 2 weeks ago, because, knowing that they are there, i didnt need to haul up a second rope just for the rappel. Two single rope raps down the rib worked out just fine.

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

Also, Michael, You mentioned adding bolts to R/X routes to open them up. While I personally would love to have more routes that I could climb closeby, If they're established routes, bringing them down to our level by bolting the scary parts is ethically questionable at best, and shouold only be done with the support of the community at large and the FA party, if they can be reached.

Bolted rap lines, however, rather than trees/cracks/fixed gear covered in sling salad, i beleive are a different beast, though still raise some ethical questions. I feel that well placed, safe, common descent descent lanes (shared for an area), are much lower impact, both visually and on the trees than the old slings and fixed gear that litter the cliff. In short, they're much more sustainable for future climbers. But again, the argument can be made that the creation of rap anchors like this changes the nature of the climbing, because the descent is now straighforward and because if placed on a route, they change the nature of the protection on the route.

Betsy Steele · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2013 · Points: 81

The adventure, scenery, funkiness, loneliness- that's the charm of the Gap. But anybody that is a local should do their bit of cleaning and maintenance. Just pulling out some grass hummocks and using snips to trim back some of the shrubs is somewhat needed to keep some of the easier climbs, like Triumvirate, from becoming overgrown.
About bolts; I think we have enough of the bolted belay/rappels. I don't understand why Crackpot was bolted up while climbs like Getting Bent aren't. It seems some bolts at the Gap could have been avoided by using ball nutz or micro cams.

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

I don't mean to turn this conversation into a bolt discussion...

I respect ethics in trad, but I'm not cool with taking 30ft whippers on micro gear or running out a lead and risking bone breaking ground falls. Yeah, I know...then don't climb that route. But the problem with The Gap is nobody is climbing a lot of routes there anyway, so why make it harder?

I climbed Crackpot a couple of months ago. If I remember correctly, there's only three bolts at the bottom and after that we were able to put in 2 or 3 peices of pro until reaching the bolted anchor. From what I understand, bolts later were added to Crackpot. But from what I saw, it made sense from a practical standpoint.

But let's look at the new bolts on The Rib (bad call) vs. adding a bolt to the traverse pitch on a nearby climb, Martin's Fall.

From, regarding Martin's Fall:

"Its a good climb. But that traverse! ok holds but not well protected. Both leader and followers could take a big swinging fall which possibly could cut your rope. This has happened to 1 party climbing on 9mm doubles. The 2nd fell on the traverse and one of the ropes cut completely through!!"

"Be careful beginning the traverse because it does not protect well and the 2nd could go for quite a ride."

Anyway, I don't own a drill so I'm not going to be That Guy who puts bolts on climbs. I'm just saying, sometimes it makes sense while other times, like with the Rib, it doesn't. If there's natural pro, use it. Otherwise bolt judiciously, and use forums like this to discuss it with local climbers who seem to have in genuine interest in the area instead of going off on your own. Throughout The Gap there are climbs with bolts to prevent death run-outs or for rappelling. And the area still holds its reputation for trad climbing.

Paul H · · Pennsylvania · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 5

I've been looking to climb here for quite a while - but I just can't find much/any information on routes. I typically avoid going somewhere for the first time without any kind of a guidebook or online beta.

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

PJ, I'd be happy to give you all the route beta I have, though every route I've done there is already on this site (both PA and NJ sides). The New Jersey falcon guide is currently the best guide book for the water gap. The routes listed here are the popular ones that are typically the most clean/accessible. You typically need two ropes to rappel routes there, though there are exceptions.

Michael - I might have some free time this Sunday or Monday if you're interested in heading up there. And I agree with you to an extent - It would be nice to have some more accessable/safe climbs, but it's a slippery slope.

Betsy Steele · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2013 · Points: 81

Ethics vary, so are apt topic for discussion. Personally I would never place a bolt if gear was available. Mainly because its twice the excitement, making the moves and fiddling in the gear. Of course others don't like that as much. I've lead my share of r and x rated climbs, by choice and mistake. But I completely disregard the frequently touted statement that the "1st ascent" person sets the standard. Nobody owns the cliff and that was never a "rule".
I climbed the Smith Rock classic Zebra/Zion again last year. It seemed so silly that in the "land of hundreds of bolts" everyone has to suck it up for that dangerous 5.8 traverse on an otherwise very well protected climb, just because what's-his-name back in the day lead it that way. If a bolt was put on that, or say Martin's Fall at the Gap it wouldn't bother me at all. Likewise if someone bolts a climb that can be lead okay with gear and the bolts get chopped; that doesn't bother me in the least either.
But since I don't place bolts or chop them, no worries, since this is just an individual ethics rant. As far as the belay/rappel bolts at the Gap: I'm distasteful of them. Maybe others and the guides aren't. I wonder how many more routes will receive the treatment. I've never led Crackpot although soloed it a few times. Yes, it had no protection at the bottom half but it was very easy until you moved around the overhang. I could have possibly seen putting in 1 bolt, 2 would have been plenty. To me its somewhat laughable now. Is this again the guide's equipping of their routes to their ethics?
Maybe because I'm a anarchist regarding others ethics I have no cause to gripe? And I may not see danger as others do because I am good with gear and don't mind a bit of run-out (PG-13 can be so exciting!)
I guess when I'm there in fall and winter I'll try to ignore those bolts on Crackpot and hope for some pins or bolts on Getting Bent so I could give that another try without crossing into R/X land again.

AEM · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 0

Honestly, the bolts on The Rib don't bother me too much. The place sees so little use that it really should not make a difference, and its hella convenient for an end of the day route now (did I just trample on someones ethics?). Are guides really taking clients along the side of I-80 to climb 2 pitches of 5.3? Really? How much are those clients paying?

Pay 150 bucks, grab some jugs, and spend the next 2 weeks itching some kind of strange rash...... Gap climbing or red light district??

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

Since we're having the bolting discussion anyways, would anyone following this thread object to a bolt on getting bent or martins fall? I dont know these climbs at all, but they keep coming up as good climbs if they weren't so dangerous, one apparently with a rope cutting pendulum. I doubt the fa party had that in mind.

Tony Lopez · · NJ · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 745

I would be happy to help out. Let me know when you want to meet up and get to work.
I don't mind a bolt if it keeps things from getting R/X.

AEM · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 0

Wait, have you even done the climb? It sounds like you are ready to bolt it based on a quote from

I would be willing to bet that SOMEONE might have a problem with that.....

Adam Fernandez · · Matawan NJ · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 90

I would probably be interested in helping out when I could... Have been meaning to try some climbs out this way since they are so close to home, just can never find anyone who would rather spend a day close to home instead of just heading for the Gunks. Cant say I blame them most of the time but its always nice to try something new.

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

I'm not ready to bolt it. I'm just asking what people think about that kind of change to a route.

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

There seem to be a number of people thinking that kind of action is a good idea. i'm asking the question to give those who might disagree a voice.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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