Welcome to the Gunks, please be safe and considerate


Original Post
MojoMonkey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 63

Met some new folks out at the Preserve this weekend and wanted to pass along a few thoughts. Maybe good for some election day distraction and I'm looking forward to learning how I'm probably a jerk!

1) Please do not rap directly off of trees. This is not explicitly stated in Preserve climbing policy or any other location I am aware of. They do forbid environmentally damaging practices:

Mohonk Preserve Climbing Policy wrote:In order to maintain the cliffs as far as possible in their natural state, however, the Preserve forbids all environmentally damaging climbing practices. These include but are not limited to trundling rocks, chipping holds, affixing new holds, cutting trees, placing new bolts and pitons and dry-tooling.
I'd think most folks would agree this practice is environmentally damaging if they examined the grooves on some trees at the Gunks and imagined every party climbing Ken's Crack or Boston utilizing the technique.

2) Smoking is explicitly forbidden on the Mohonk Preserve.

3) If you are new to climbing (or at least outdoor climbing), be aware that the person offering to take you out may not be as experienced as they seem. Of course this is hard to judge when you are new, but feel free to ask questions about their safety systems and practices both to learn and address any concerns or misunderstandings you may have. Your butt will literally be on the line so use your best judgement.

4) Please don't draw huge chalk arrows on the rocks to indicate the route. Apparently there were a few on Beginner's Delight, including one on the third pitch at the last corner under the roof. I guess that was for leaders unsure if the 5.3 route went around the roof or straight through it? Was also told there was a giant blue arrow on P2, with a smiley face. I don't think that counts as discretion in accordance with:
Mohonk Preserve Climbing Policy wrote:the Preserve views chalk as environmentally degrading and urges climbers to use it with discretion
There was a party of four to the right of Ken's Crack. I hadn't paid them much attention but noticed when I topped that their anchor out looked unorthodox. Searching a bit I’d say it was arborist gear called a "cambium saver"? At any rate the rope ran through the rings of that from a tree well back from the ledge to a single 'biner redirect slung on a smaller tree near the lip. Both strands of the TR went through the one 'biner. Not an ideal setup but nobody was at imminent danger so I went about my business. I'm guessing their ropes were designed for tree work as well - there was a fixed loop at the end to clip rather than tie in, and they were pretty fat.

Their last climber finished and broke down their setup as I cleaned mine and was about to walk off. He seemed to be getting ready to drape his rope around the tree at the lip to rappel so we chatted a little and he confirmed that was his plan. I mentioned that it was bad for the tree and (I thought) against Preserve policy. He was new to outdoor climbing and said his leader with 20 years of experience told him too and asked how many years I’d been climbing. He called down, saying I said not to, but was told to rappel directly from the tree. Not my place to try and put a new climber in a tough spot so I offered to sling the tree for his rappel, clear it after and walk off. He agreed and left with a handshake. Very slowly though - he had to fight that fat rope through his tube :)

For those not familiar, the walk-off from there back to the base is short but does include an (easy) downclimb. This is not the first time I’ve encountered people rappelling from above Ken's crack either, and I've seen it elsewhere at the Gunks.

That climber indicated they would be hitting multipitch the next day; I hope all went well. And I hope they all get a chance to climb with some partners with different experience. No idea on the design of tree ropes so I hope they were alright for the leader to be using.
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865

My biggest concern would be if head up a multipitch route with that arborist rope.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

As so-called "leader" who abandons his charges to set up and carry out their own rappels unchecked and unsupervised belongs in jail.

A cambrium saver is a tube, usually leather but also sometimes made of electrical conduit, that one runs the rope through so that pulling the rope doesn't abrade the cambrium. I've actually argued (to deafening silence) that installing cambrium savers on rappel trees would be a far better solution than slings.

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 730
MojoMonkey wrote: Maybe good for some election day distraction and I'm looking forward to learning how I'm probably a jerk!
Not a jerk at all but really what did you expect in that area on a weekend?

rgold wrote:I've actually argued (to deafening silence) that installing cambrium savers on rappel trees would be a far better solution than slings.
I've argued that all of these beginner magnet climbs need bolts to keep people away from the trees completely (at the most busy crag in the East coast).
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

FWIW, I didn't happen to be suggesting cambrium savers for "beginner magnet climbs," quite the opposite actually, but never mind, no one is interested anyway.

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

Don't sound like Eeyore :=)

But seriously how is a cambrium saver better then a loose sling with rings?

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

It is a tube you thread your rope through, so there is never any deterioration in the anchor, which is the rope.

MojoMonkey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 63
rgold wrote:A cambrium saver is a tube, usually leather but also sometimes made of electrical conduit, that one runs the rope through so that pulling the rope doesn't abrade the cambrium.
So maybe the wrong term on my part. It was a section of cord with rings on either end. It was looped around a tree with the rope running through the rings. This page called similar devices cambrium savers (and I saw friction saver some places too). Obviously I'm not an arborist :)
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

I guess anything that keeps a rope from rubbing on bark is a cambium saver.

I was thinking of things like this:



I actually have one made from electrical conduit tubing.

The way these are used by arborists, a knot is tied in one end of the rope and when it is pulled, the knot eventually wedges in the tube and the whole thing is pulled off the tree. This might work for certain short rappels but doesn't seem at all practical in general, so the protectors would have to be left installed. (It is easy to think of various ways of keeping them in place on the tree.)

The advantage, for certain locations that are now served by trees, is you don't get a build-up of slings over time and the danger from weakened slings is completely eliminated.

In some cases, friction through the tube might make pulling the rappel difficult.

In any case, the modern climber wants bolts and will probably get them. Everywhere.

MojoMonkey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 63

(originally was an edit to my post above, but moving here since you replied in the mean time, partially answering)

rgold wrote:It is a tube you thread your rope through, so there is never any deterioration in the anchor, which is the rope.
Any photos of one of these setups? I'm not clear on how the tube is attached to the tree to stay put for pulling the rope but avoids choking the tree. And it seems like plastic or leather would wear pretty quickly from regular rope pulling through them, no? Though I guess you said they weren't for beginner magnet climbs so maybe you are picturing less common rappel areas? I am interested to understand the setup and where you see them fitting in at the Gunks.
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

I can't answer all those questions since I haven't done the appropriate experiments with the gear. There are a large number of tree rappels in the Near Trapps on routes that aren't magnets for any group yet, certainly not beginners, that might benefit from something other than slings.

But bolted anchors, not simply for rappels but also for belays, are the wave of the future.

In all honesty, the fact that there are now climbers capable of climbing up Ken's Crack but incapable of safely descending the Uberfall is mind-boggling to me.

Cortney · · Golden, Colorado · Joined May 2015 · Points: 5
rgold wrote:In all honesty, the fact that there are now climbers capable of climbing up Ken's Crack but incapable of safely descending the Uberfall is mind-boggling to me.
^^this, I have never understood why people always defer to repelling, especially near the Uberfall.

this isnt a thread about bolts in the gunks though. To OP - i agree w. your first post. I am glad i had someone (and the common sense) to implement these things while i was still a beginner there. Unfortunately that isnt the case for everyone. But i have always believed that it is a lack of education, rather than outright negligence, leading gumbies to do the things they do.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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