Gunks Middle Earth psa


Original Post
Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 282

Hi Gunkies, 

Probably old news to many, and well documented both here and on the Gunks App, but I topped out on Middle Earth for the first time in a year or two and found that the chains and hangers at the top as well as the tree tat on the GT have been removed. This was done because of major rockfall originating on and just below the GT.  Care is definitely still needed on the 20 feet of looseness just below the GT. 

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 926

Thanks, Optimistic.

For these reasons, folks should also be very, very wary of hanging out on the ground anywhere between Wisecrack and Middle Earth (so, including Faithful Journey and Wonderland).  I think the changing anchor configurations mean that people end up moving and pulling ropes over loose rock in different ways than before -- so major potential for rockfall.

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,361

Bump.  I somehow missed this and I bet others have too.  

I don't usually check the guide for info on routes I've done several times before.

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

The bolts were placed on pitch one because of perceived stress to the tree.  Unfortunately, in spite of years of critical feedback, the bolts were placed so as to route rappellers directly down the ascent line, a problem that didn't exist with the tree.

The bolted anchor at the top of the second pitch was the most ill-advised placement the Preserve ever made.  That anchor sent rappellers down an extremely unstable portion of the cliff, and inexperienced users caused some bad rock falls that could easily have killed people on the ground between Middle Earth and Absurdland. Here's some of the unstable ground the P2 anchor sent rappellers over:

  

Once this horrendously located anchor was removed, the top anchor had to go as well because there was nothing reachable via single-rope rappels.

Folks topping out on Middle Earth can take a short easy walk North (climber's right when arriving at the top) to the Arrow bolts.

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 25

Semi on topic - there  was a pretty big chunk broken off in the Nears Sunday. I think it was somewhere a little right of Gelsa (my party was on Roseland/Eraserhead)

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0
rgold wrote:

Folks topping out on Middle Earth can take a short easy walk North (climber's right when arriving at the top) to the Arrow bolts.

What? Actually *walk* to a set of anchors? And not use the tree?  Now that's just crazy talk.

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 926

Jon, there was a big rockfall between Elder Cleavage and YYYY on July 2nd (cf: Gunks Climbers' Coalition).  You're reporting a separate event?

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

If the rockfall was to the right of Gelsa it is certainly something else.

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 926

The other problem with the GT ledge at Middle Earth, aside from dragging ropes over the plaque of bad rock that is a rappel hazard, is the utter lack of appropriate anchor material / placement there.  

The dead stump that was the rappel anchor, is (was) also the only place for an anchor for P2 of ME or for P3 of Bombs Away.  There's a smaller tree to use for P3 of ME, but.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40
Marc801 C wrote:

What? Actually *walk* to a set of anchors? And not use the tree?  Now that's just crazy talk.

I know, I know, it might be as much as 400 feet.

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

The other problem with the GT ledge at Middle Earth, aside from dragging ropes over the plaque of bad rock that is a rappel hazard, is the utter lack of appropriate anchor material / placement there.  

The dead stump that was the rappel anchor, is (was) also the only place for an anchor for P2 of ME or for P3 of Bombs Away.  There's a smaller tree to use for P3 of ME, but.

Although I haven't actually tried this, I think the way to do ME is in two pitches.  The first pitch goes past the bolts, up the easy stuff, and belays at a large solid tree well before the GT and that scary stump, and the second pitch would go from that big tree to the top.  A problem could be that the initial moves off the GT ledge would then be very runout.

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 25
JSH wrote:

Jon, there was a big rockfall between Elder Cleavage and YYYY on July 2nd (cf: Gunks Climbers' Coalition).  You're reporting a separate event?

Yep this was 7/9. I did not speak to the party involved. I was sitting at the Roseland anchor while it all happened. Just heard it

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 926
rgold wrote:

Although I haven't actually tried this, I think the way to do ME is in two pitches.  The first pitch goes past the bolts, up the easy stuff, and belays at a large solid tree well before the GT and that scary stump, and the second pitch would go from that big tree to the top.  A problem could be that the initial moves off the GT ledge would then be very runout.

Yes, this would be doable in rope lengths although a bit runout; but the bigger problem is that's not how it is described in the dozen or so places that describe the route.  We can idealize solutions to our hearts' content, but reality is that most climbers will still go to the GT to do upper pitches.  And a once-extant anchor has deteriorated to the point of absence.

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

The solutions don't have to remain idealized.  For example, I just posted the two-pitch options to the comment section for ME on this site.

gtluke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 3
rgold wrote:

If the rockfall was to the right of Gelsa it is certainly something else.

I climbed Land of the Giants yesterday and didn't notice anything. Which is just to the right of Gelsa. I could have missed it, or it could have come from further above as I only did the first pitch. But I didnt' see any smash marks or notice any rubble at the bottom. 

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

For folks who haven't been up there, I've added a picture to my post upthread, https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/113166740/gunks-middle-earth-psa#ForumMessage-113322403, that shows what the terrain under the now-removed P2 anchor looks like, and makes it clear, I think, why that anchor had to be eliminated.   Note that you wouldn't normally climb any of that stuff when doing P2 of ME, the mess is to the left of the climbing route.

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 926

I did see new rock scars below Lonely   challenger  today.

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,361
rgold wrote:

For folks who haven't been up there, I've added a picture to my post upthread, https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/113166740/gunks-middle-earth-psa#ForumMessage-113322403, that shows what the terrain under the now-removed P2 anchor looks like, and makes it clear, I think, why that anchor had to be eliminated.   Note that you wouldn't normally climb any of that stuff when doing P2 of ME, the mess is to the left of the climbing route.

That's not as bad (or only as bad) as some other climbs.  Red Pillar has similar potential as the supporting dirt washes the belay for Pitch 2 away.   Bloody Bush's Pitch 2 belay contains a lot of small to medium sized rocks sitting there rather precariously at the top of the corner.  Frog's head Pitch 2 ledge needs attention.  These are just the climbs I've done recently where I noted above average rockfall potential.

It's actually less common to reach the GT and not have some type of obstacle course awaiting me.  I always figured this was part of climbing in the Gunks.

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

I haven't seen Red Pillar P2 recently, but the area in the picture is  much worse than anything on Bloody Bush and Frog's Head, and the now-removed anchor forced you to rappel right through the most unstable parts.

There are, of course, many areas where rocks could be dislodged by climbers who are either inattentive or ignorant, but usually the problems can be avoided by simply staying away from the worst regions.  The ME anchor was notable in that it forced people into an unstable region. Nor is this perception hypothetical, as at least one very serious rockfall was caused by people rappelling through that area.

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,361
rgold wrote:

I haven't seen Red Pillar P2 recently, but the area in the picture is  much worse than anything on Bloody Bush and Frog's Head, and the now-removed anchor forced you to rappel right through the most unstable parts.

There are, of course, many areas where rocks could be dislodged by climbers who are either inattentive or ignorant, but usually the problems can be avoided by simply staying away from the worst regions.  The ME anchor was notable in that it forced people into an unstable region.

Push on some of the rocks on the routes I mentioned.  They're barely there, in most cases eroding soil is all that's left keeping them in place.  Dislodging is inevitable.

I don't disagree about the rap placement, but I fail to see how it's any more dangerous than some other places not being mentioned here.  It would seem the same standards should be applied across all climbs with such eroded areas.  The GT ledge, in my experience, has been mostly ignored regarding cleanup since there's no easy or safe way of clearing it except trundling.  

Bloody Bush P2 belay (GT) is just a pile of choss sitting at the top of the corner, and below it a short area of eroded soil and some medium sized rocks precariously waiting their turn to find their way to the bottom.  This isn't even the worse I've seen, just one of the more recent examples I've climbed.  Wrist is another that comes to mind.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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