2017 AMC Rock Climbing Program


Original Post
Aaron Guillotte · · Boston · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

Hey All - so I know most everyone that frequents MP is a climber, but I thought perhaps some of you may have a friend or family member who was interested in starting to climb outdoors, but didn't trust you (kidding!). In any case, the Mountaineering Committee for the Boston chapter of the AMC puts on this great outdoor rock climbing program every year (I'm a former student), and I thought I'd make a little announcement about it here. **AMC is a non-profit, so I'm hoping there are no issues with me posting this here**

The Rock Program covers the basic skills to climb safely outdoors: belaying (with an emphasis on belaying a leader), toprope anchor building, ascending a rope, and rappelling. The emphasis is on learning to safely follow a leader on multi-pitch trad climbs. The weekends are led by experienced volunteer instructors and it's a great way to meet other local climbers!

The program consists of:

- an optional information session on Wed. 3/15, at Cabot Hall in the AMC Headquarters at 4 Joy St in Boston.

- a required intro lecture on Wed. 3/29 at Cabot Hall

- four instructional weekends in the Blue Hills Reservation/Quincy Quarries.

The cost of the program is $170 for AMC members and $220 for non-members. A climbing harness or helmet can be borrowed at no cost (w/a deposit). Online registration opens after the 3/15 information session.

More details are over here:
http://amcbostonclimbers.com/rock-program

Aaron Guillotte · · Boston · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

Also, after the program, there are a few organized trips to places like the Gunks and Acadia, which give the newly minted climbers some great first experiences putting all they've learned to use. Even an opportunity to have your first freak out when you can't pull that roof on pitch 2 at the Gunks (no that never happened to me)!

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 90

This is definitely a great program.

However, the problem has become one of volume. They can't accommodate the number of people interested. So there is this crazy "lottery" to try and get in.

Aaron Guillotte · · Boston · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

You're right - the last few years have filled up very quickly after registration opened. Last year it only took 2 hours.

So, the lottery idea is new, with the intent of reducing the penalty for not immediately registering post-Info Night. We'll see how it works. I didn't design the lottery system, but I understand a lot of thought and math went into it.

Again, I know I'm kind of preaching to the choir here at MP, and I'm sure there are a few MP'ers who have gone through the program themselves, but worth increasing awareness.

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 465

Adjacent AMC Chapters (Narragansett, CT, etc.) offer similar instruction for new climbers and monthly trips to climbing destinations.

http://www.climbri.org/AMC/NarragansettChapterTechClimbing.htm

Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

The Berkshire AMC Mountaineering Committee also has a spring training program and follow-up trips--and you get to climb on our wonderful crags.

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 90

Aaron:

Implied in my comment was the notion that it doesn't help matters to tout the program too much at this point! It's way too exploding, they can't handle the demand. Needs to be on the DL for now. People are just going to get shut out and disappointed.

Aaron Guillotte · · Boston · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0
Russ Keane wrote:Aaron: Implied in my comment was the notion that it doesn't help matters to tout the program too much at this point! It's way too exploding, they can't handle the demand. Needs to be on the DL for now. People are just going to get shut out and disappointed.
Ah, okay. Gotcha. Yeah, I would agree with your notion to some extent, the program will probably be back-logged for years to come (until it isn't, of course). That's good feedback though, and something I can bring up at future meetings.
Aaron Guillotte · · Boston · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

Brian and Alan - thanks for sharing the info regarding the other chapters, too!

It'd be nice to maybe try to get a coordinated trip among some of chapters (obviously size being somewhat of a limiting factor, so the destination doesn't get overcrowded). I know this has been a topic at Boston chapter meetings in the past.

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 465
Aaron G wrote:Brian and Alan - thanks for sharing the info regarding the other chapters, too! It'd be nice to maybe try to get a coordinated trip among some of chapters (obviously size being somewhat of a limiting factor, so the destination doesn't get overcrowded). I know this has been a topic at Boston chapter meetings in the past.
A coordinated trip would have to be to an obscure destination (Clifton?). The last thing we want to do is descend in mass on a place like Rumney or the Gunks. The downside of these successful programs of introducing new climbers to outdoor climbing is there are now so many outdoor climbers there are overuse issues. I recommended to the WMNF, in a WMNF Summary of Use report, that they limit groups (commercial, gyms, school/college, AMC) to no more than 10 participants at Rumney. They actually called me back and thought it was a good idea. Enforcing it would probably be impossible as there are almost never any rangers beyond the parking lot.
Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

The Berkshire AMC--and the other smaller chapter climbing committees, usually have very small 'groups' and go to places both popular and little visited. While limiting group sizes in certain areas is not unreasonable, the reality is that the climbing population is growing, many folks are transitioning from gyms to crags, and it is better for all that they do so under the tutelage of folks who are knowledgeable and aware of both safe climbing and crag conservation approaches and who use their courses and trips to pass on such knowledge and attitudes.

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 465
Alan Rubin wrote:The Berkshire AMC--and the other smaller chapter climbing committees, usually have very small 'groups' and go to places both popular and little visited. While limiting group sizes in certain areas is not unreasonable, the reality is that the climbing population is growing, many folks are transitioning from gyms to crags, and it is better for all that they do so under the tutelage of folks who are knowledgeable and aware of both safe climbing and crag conservation approaches and who use their courses and trips to pass on such knowledge and attitudes.
Totally agree with you Al. The AMC has a long history of fostering the sport safely and responsibly. I can't say the same for the van loads of climbers that the rock gyms bring to Rumney. I've seen these groups of climber's doing things that would make you shudder. Still overuse is an issue and I wouldn't be opposed to limiting group size for all groups. Let's face it the AMC, especially big Chapters, can overwhelm a location.
Aaron Guillotte · · Boston · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

The "proliferation" of active, outdoor climbers is certainly a double-edged sword, and without a doubt, groups like the AMC, at the very least, help spread the word about the sport, but as Al pointed out, in a way that fosters safety and responsibility.

That said, there are probably a few ways to deal with it including less popular locations, restricting group size on official trips, and perhaps even going somewhere large enough where the impact of a large group is less noticeable and groups can spread out.

I think it's a topic that is worth exploring - would be nice to have some connectivity between the chapters.

Ken Hamel · · Bristol, RI · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0

Hello,
Brian just advised me of this 'conversation', and as a mentor of mine(on and off the rocks), I agree with his thoughts and sentiments.
Joe Vaglio and I took over as co-sub committee chairs for the Narragansett AMC climbing group. We've been working hard to keep all that happened before us intact, and add a little something here and there.

Both of us have been through the AMGA SPI course, and we tried to integrate that training into our classes last year, and moving forward. We've been fortunate to turn out some very talented climbers and leaders. Joe and I have also been focused on increasing the number of qualified leaders in our group, with the idea that more leaders can handle more seconds and that allows more freedom for leaders to have the chance to climb together.

The other thing that we think is important is to improve/increase chapter communications, as Aaron indicated.
We've often had some overflow from the Boston, CT and NY chapters when there wasn't room in their respective programs, and we welcome this.
We tend to set a max for our classes, as we want to turn out quality, vs. quantity, but it almost always seems to work out(by itself) with a reasonable ratio of students to teachers. We simply do a first come, first served basis of sign up. We have late sign ups, and then people that back out at the last minute. It evens out to about 15 or so for the beginner class, and 10-12(on average) for our intermediate.

We run 2 separate classes, as Brian's link will show.
A beginner class, because some are just getting outside(or even climbing) for the first time. That tends to focus on the basics...belaying, top-rope set up, rappelling, basic knots, etc.
Our 2nd class is the Intermediate...geared towards taking the more experienced, and/or the stars of the beginner class and introducing them into seconding on multi-pitch, and all that goes along with that responsibility.

Feel free to let me know how the Narragansett Chapter can be more involved, and help out in our quest to turn out more local and regional quality climbers! We want to work with our other chapters, and coordinate efforts as appropriate.
Thanks! Ken

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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