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Boston AMC "Gunk" Show!

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City Dweller · · New York, NY · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 10

For the second year in a row I was surprised on a spring Saturday to find the carriage road crawling with New Englanders at 8:30am. Oh! Right! It must be "New Seconds" weekend! Despite early rain showers yesterday was beautiful. The clouds disappeared just as the sun was moving around the cliff and the temps were perfect. Spring at the Gunks doesn't get much better (a few black flies notwithstanding). I had a nice chat with some of the Boston AMC folks as well as some Canadian climbers taking advantage of the Victoria Day long weekend to visit the area. We had a great day of climbing.

Although friendly, the Boston AMC has made an enormous impact on the Preserve this weekend. This impact could be mitigated in a few ways:

  1. Please consider posting your plans on Mountain Project in advance of this weekend in the future. It's the courteous thing to do.
  2. Stop yelling across and up and down the cliff. If that guy from your club who's never climbed before can't figure out the tricky roof on that classic 5.4 (e.g., Bunny), just give him some space and let him work it out. No need for 6 people to scream beta at him.
  3. If you're bouldering, you don't need 12 pads and 6 spotters clogging the whole carriage road while that girl from the gym tries to pull over the lip on the Andrew boulder. She'll be fine.
  4. Leave your dogs at home. Seriously.
  5. Pick up your trash. Obviously.
  6. Finally, please consider re-thinking this whole "new seconds" business. Maybe 20ft off the deck on some classic 5.8 (e.g., Birdie Party) is not the place to be teaching someone how to use a nut tool, especially if the "teacher" is still learning how to place nuts. I'm sure you've figured out a way around the Preserve's system for permitting and licensing guides and instructors, but I'm a little wary of all the blind leading the blind I'm seeing out there.

Does this seem unreasonable?

PS. For those interested, there are at least 6 brand new pink tri-cams currently "stuck" on routes between the West Trapps lot and the East Trapps Connector trail. 


Emmett Lyman · · Somerville, MA · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 480

Funny, it felt like a lot of NYC dwellers to me.

Alicia Sokolowski · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 1,075

I was elsewhere that weekend, so I have nothing to say about how anyone behaved anywhere.  I do want to mention that they posted up notifications on Facebook groups, so I was aware beforehand.  Maybe they could have done a better job with getting word out, but there was, at least, some attempt.

kswissto · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 20

No one from the AMC drives to the Gunks to boulder. Especially on "New Seconds" weekend. 

FWIW, this weekend I walked up to ultra-classic climbs - Jackie, Horseman, Bunny, Classic, Strictly from Nowhere - no wait whatsoever. 

Alissa Doherty · · Boston, MA · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 105

Most of these suggestions seem to be generalizations about a diverse group of climbers, many of whom you probably had no idea were affiliated with the AMC or clearly misattributed as AMC climbers. To that point, nobody with the New Seconds group brought dogs or bouldered, and we support a strong leave no trace ethic. I'd guarantee more of these climbers quietly picked up trash that belonged to others before leaving their own.

The rock program has a long history with many of the Northeast's finest climbers graduating from it and going on to impressive careers and first ascents. Yes, cliffs are getting incredibly crowded and we are not alleviating that problem. But we are teaching strong outdoor ethics and traditional skills as a basis for climbing outdoors. These new climbers may otherwise be clipping rap rings with a few sport draws and toproping classics (as we saw several times from other groups this weekend). For reference, every new second graduated a month-long program that prepared them to follow multi-pitch climbs.

I don't mean to say your points aren't valid, but you're clearly pinning all your frustrations from this weekend on one group. This group happens to consist of dedicated volunteers who puts in hundreds of hours and in some cases, decades of volunteering, to teaching new climbers strong climbing ethics. The Trapps may have been crowded this weekend, but they were crowded by more considerate and competent climbers than you'd find in most places. 

Christopher Woodall · · Somerville, MA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 138

General agreement with the commenter’s above. Most of your frustrations are shared by many of the AMC leaders and students. I know I try to be low impact and if I think we are going to be an especially slow party I try to stay off of 4-star classics where and when necessary. I can say that no/few boulderer's or dogs were brought by the AMC this weekend. I do agree it would be courteous for the AMC to announce it's presence on Mountain Project (especially when it comes to smaller crags like Crow Hill and Quincy where the impact of climbers to total number of climbs is larger); However, if it is of particular interest to you the AMC Boston Climbers keeps an up to date list of events here, which you can use to help plan your weekends accordingly to avoid, or join the Boston AMC as you see fit:

I will warn that the climbers in the  AMC, like all climbers plan trips to places sponteneously. So just remember if you see a bunch of AMCers sometimes its just because we love climbing too! :) I think some of the climbing gyms are getting into organizing trips with even less experienced climbers (, these trips may actually cause more impact and as a community I think we need to be patient, but also proactive in enforcing our boundries and making sure that our crags stay in good health and we stay on the good side of land managers, so I totally understand where you are coming from.

That said I saw a lot of new fixed gear on Gelsa! It's basically a sport climb now! :P'

Mark Berenblum · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 105

I'm inclined to agree with Alissa.... I'm another "city dweller", so this post would seem not to apply to me, except that most of this is just basic manners (though I'll disagree with the "no dogs", "no teaching" commandments). FWIW, there were an awful lot of Cliffs and Brooklyn Boulder tags hanging from harnesses... I'm not sure why you seem to think the "other" was the biggest problem. The AMC folks are getting people out on the rock, and that's a very good thing for access, for our sport, for the environment, and for peoples' health. I'd say more power to them. As far as minimizing the impact goes, I'd say the most important thing would be to carpool and not drive the ~450 miles there/back by yourself. This applies to us city dwellers, too. 

I spent the day in the Uberfall area yesterday (Sunday) and, although crowded, it wasn't that bad. I got on every climb I was interested in trying, and didn't have to wait. People were nice. Everyone had fun. I hope you did, too, and weren't too preoccupied passing judgment on the Boston newbs.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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