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Gunks: Ribs / Middle Earth Rappel Traffic


Original Post
Live Perched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 11

While I was climbing on P1 Middle Earth,  a party above called ‘rope on Middle Earth.’  My belayer yelled immediately ‘there is a climber on Middle earth.’ And the rappelling party responded ‘ok, I’ll lower the rope.’

The first rope was lowered and the second was dropped on my head and shoulders without warning.  The end of the whipped and welted my flank.  

(Queue the chorus of people who saying “you’re gonna die,”  “so what climbing is dangerous,” “why do we care.”)

Judging by the comments on MP, several changes have already been made to the Middle Earth anchors.  

Is the current configuration considered final?   The rappel line is creating an additional hazard on an impeccable pitch.  The situation on Ribs is the same but worse in that the ledge people rappel from are strewn with pebbles, so climbers are showered with pebbles and grit was well as falling ropes.

Are the Preserve and GCC considering or against adjusting rappel stations so to don’t run down high quality climbs?

Are the Ribs and Middle Earth chains actually in the best possible places despite the obvious drawback of rappel traffic on quality climbs? 

Dillon Schwertz · · New Paltz · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0


Where would you move the rap to?

Joe M. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 9,805

Sorry to be a wise ass, but your use of the phrase "welted my flank" game me a good laugh (though I'm sure it was painful)....

Live Perched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 11
Dillon Schwertz wrote:

Where would you move the rap to?

The routes there all have at least a star and are close to each other.  Why I ask if the current location is deemed best.  Still I would think farther left toward Faithful Journey.  But who knows maybe Faithful is the 5.7+ R that gets climbed 10 times every weekend.  

Dillon Schwertz · · New Paltz · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0
Live Perched wrote:

The routes there all have at least a star and are close to each other.  Why I ask if the current location is deemed best.  Still I would think farther left toward Faithful Journey.  But who knows maybe Faithful is the 5.7+ R that gets climbed 10 times every weekend.  

Ah you're saying move it like, just a few feet off to the side then. I was just curious where you thought might be better. I have no say in any of this stuff ha.

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 253

I saw this happen! My partner and I were collecting our stuff from the base of Wonderland when the rope was dropped on you. I thought your partner overstated her outrage just a bit-- she told them they weren't even supposed to rap there, which I don't think is really true given the bolted rap station that is installed. But this is just a quibble-- they shouldn't have dropped the rope end on a leading climber, AFTER they'd been warned and they indicated they understood! And then the first guy who rapped down wasn't remotely apologetic.

If I recall correctly, there was a full-length rap route established down Middle Earth, but the top two stations were removed because of a bunch of loose blocks on the GT Ledge. The station atop pitch one remains.

In my opinion this remaining station should also be removed and any tat anchor which appears should be chopped.

I've never understood the rationale for any kind of rap route at this location. If you top out it is an easy walk to the Arrow rap route. There was never any good reason to send people straight down Middle Earth, one of the most popular easy moderates.

As it stands now, the bolted station encourages people to stop after one pitch when there are several high-quality ways to go to the top after you do pitch one of Middle Earth. 

Gunkie · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 0

Middle Earth is basically a one pitch climb now.  As I understand it the upper pitches aren't doable any more.  My recommendation would be to move it to the left over, say Wonderland or Wisecrack which receive less traffic.

MojoMonkey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 66
ebmudder · · Bronx, NY · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 55
Gunkie wrote: Middle Earth is basically a one pitch climb now.  As I understand it the upper pitches aren't doable any more.  My recommendation would be to move it to the left over, say Wonderland or Wisecrack which receive less traffic.

what happened to the top pitch?

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 253

I guess I forgot the details of this earlier discussion. I did not recall that some people find this area unclimbable! I'm not sure I agree with that. The Gunks App warns of loose rock in the band around the GT Ledge but does not go so far as to advise people not to climb there.

Yesterday my partner and I did Wonderland P1 to the bolted anchor at the top of P 1 of Middle Earth, and then I led up the common middle pitch shared by a bunch of these routes and carried it straight into P3 of Bombs Away Dream Baby. I noted the loose blocks and warned my partner about them, but then found it easy enough to keep climbing without incident. I don't think you have to run it out a ton to climb the combined pitches two and three the way I did, although I confess I found this territory very easy and wasn't particularly worried about runouts.

Care should be taken here. A person climbing through here could knock off something big. But this is true in climbing generally-- and in many places in the Gunks.

If the GCC and the Preserve think people should be discouraged from climbing above pitch one, then I guess I can't disagree with the fixed anchor there. But it's a shame that it sends people straight down Middle Earth.

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 253
Gunkie wrote: Middle Earth is basically a one pitch climb now.  As I understand it the upper pitches aren't doable any more.  My recommendation would be to move it to the left over, say Wonderland or Wisecrack which receive less traffic.

Wonderland and Wisecrack are both excellent climbs-- you shouldn't send rappellers over these climbs either! Probably the best choice would be Faithful Journey or the (second choice) Bombs Away-- but perhaps the station could be placed so that it doesn't go directly over any of them, but rather falls between the lines?

Bill Kirby · · San Francisco CA · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

 That station should be chopped. There's a better place to rap just a short walk to the left.

EFS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 50
SethG wrote: 

I've never understood the rationale for any kind of rap route at this location. If you top out it is an easy walk to the Arrow rap route. 

i havent been near the arrow wall in a long while. what happened to the free hanging rap off nurses aid?

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 253
EFS wrote:

i havent been near the arrow wall in a long while. what happened to the free hanging rap off nurses aid?

I think it was eliminated once they put in bolted rap stations on the Arrow Wall. The nice thing about the Arrow rap is that is doesn’t actually interfere with Arrow unless a leader is at the very top.

Live Perched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 11
Bill Kirby wrote:  That station should be chopped. There's a better place to rap just a short walk to the left.

As related to the P1 M.E. rappel chains, this is incorrect.  Moving left the next possible spot is Wise Crack which is a well trafficked route.

Chris W · · Somerville, MA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 233

Can confirm top pitches are not a chossy death trap... They are nice climbs. The warning was I think originally put in place to ward people away from rapping the route when the anchors were still in place not to discourage people from going to the top. There is chossy rock, but nothing that is too crazy. YMMV.

I remember having the misconception that they were unclimbable, but it turned out that that reputation was over blown a bit.

Live Perched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 11
SethG wrote: I thought your partner overstated her outrage just a bit-- she told them they weren't even supposed to rap there, which I don't think is really true given the bolted rap station that is installed. But this is just a quibble-- they shouldn't have dropped the rope end on a leading climber, AFTER they'd been warned and they indicated they understood! And then the first guy who rapped down wasn't remotely apologetic.

If I recall correctly, there was a full-length rap route established down Middle Earth, but the top two stations were removed because of a bunch of loose blocks on the GT Ledge. The station atop pitch one remains.

In my opinion this remaining station should also be removed and any tat anchor which appears should be chopped.

Quibble if you must, but direction to Arrow is far more restrained than an unexpected fireman's belay which was my first thought when this happened.  Obviously, I did not interfere with the dude's rappel.  This sh*t happens and its annoying, that's why rapping with saddle bags or simply saying "look out" or "my bad" go along way.  Telling a leader you are not dropping a rope and then hitting him without warning is sh*tty.  And yes there are several published directions to use the Arrow rappel station.

Due to guides and comments curating-out the sections above P1 on Middle Earth chopping the P1 chains would be pretty annoying and chopping bolts leaves more of a mess than a bolt puller. The Preserve and GCC have tools to test and replace bolts and pins.

The rappel traffic is not a new problem,  but is the current configuration the final compromise or is there desire to make a change?
 
Live Perched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 11
Chris W wrote: Can confirm top pitches are not a chossy death trap... They are nice climbs. The warning was I think originally put in place to ward people away from rapping the route when the anchors were still in place not to discourage people from going to the top. There is chossy rock, but nothing that is too crazy. YMMV.

I remember having the misconception that they were unclimbable, but it turned out that that reputation was over blown a bit.

Interesting...I have not been up there but I was wondering how bad it is.  Folks at the base, were very positive on the upper pitches, linking them, and different variations through the roof.  Hard to beat first hand knowledge.  That said kicking a rock down on someone is one of my fears.

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 253

Hey LP I agree with you, we are on the same side. When they dropped the rope on you it was shitty.

I wasn't advocating bolt chopping. I was saying the Preserve should remove the bolt anchor and if someone puts a tat anchor around a tree there I would be on board with that being chopped.

Do you know where these folks came from? I would presume they did not come down from another full-length route because there is no rap station atop the cliff there any more. I figure they did one of the first pitches at that wall, right? I doubt they had the option to go to the Arrow rap.

bridge · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined May 2016 · Points: 10

Reminds me of the time I was leading Still Crazy and someone dropped a rope on my head without warning.  This line isn't usually in play, but they were rapping on doubles from the top of the cliff.

"Hey, you just dropped your rope on a leader, can you lower the other end?"

Fwap! Other end comes down 2 feet to my left.  

When I spoke to the group a bit later, they were confused as to how they had done anything wrong.  "How are we supposed to know there's a leader down there when we chuck our ropes?"

So perhaps the best policy is to just assume there are idiots afoot and don't climb anything R-rated anywhere near a probable rap line?

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

I was astonished when the Preserve bolted Middle Earth in a way that (1) created two-way traffic and (2) routed rappellers from the top over some of the most unstable ground in all of the Gunks.  There was no excuse for the dangerous second rappel from the top, and the Preserve rightly removed it after various people investigated.  Without that anchor, the anchor at the top was removed as well.  The anchor on the first pitch of Middle Earth remains, because the Preserve was trying to reduce stress on the big tree.  I never thought it seemed to be particularly stressed, and it is perfectly situated for rappels that don't interfere with P1 of Middle Earth.  Now, during crowded times, there's an unpleasant mess on one of the best moderate routes in the Gunks.

I'm not so sure the bolts can be moved left over Faithful Journey, as the rock at the ledge level over there isn't as solid as one would want.  If they chop the bolts, folks will go back to rapping from the tree (and probably top-roping too with a directional).  I'm not sure there is really a solution, given the way today's demographic climbs.

The idea that the rest of the route is undoable is absurd.  It is the same as it always was.  The middle pitch has unremarkable easy climbing and some loose rock that has to be handled with care, but nothing more than one might encounter at hundreds of climbs around the country and thousands of climbs around the world.  I think the Gunks App got the severity of this section all wrong.   The really unstable part of the section is off to the left of the Middle Earth climbing route and there is no reason to venture over there.  There is, however, a problem with where to belay.  If you go up to the ledge at the base of the final wall, the anchor possibilities are poor.  The best strategy is to stop at one of the big trees part way up P2.  In fact, probably the best way to climb Middle Earth to the top is to extend the first lead to one of those big trees and then do a second lead to the top.

A rappel descent is best accomplished via the Arrow raps a few hundred feet North of the Middle Earth top-out.  Of course, that's going to be a clusterf#ck on a busy day.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northeastern States
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