Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition (WMCC), Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF) and Access Fund announce the acquisition of Hanging Mountain, a new climbing area in Sandisfield, Mass. Situated on 14 acres, Hanging Mountain may be the biggest find in Northeastern climbing in decades, said the groups.
Once fully established, this hidden gem will provide climbers with approximately 150 – 200 traditional and sport routes, some up to two pitches. Hanging Mountain sits in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, just a few miles from the Connecticut border. WMCC struck a deal led by former board president Jeff Squire, to purchase the lands encompassing the mountain in early August. WMCC worked with Access Fund to secure a $79,500 loan from the organization’s Climbing Conservation Loan program.
Given the crag’s proximity to the Connecticut border, WMCC sought assistance from neighboring Ragged Mountain Foundation, whose mission is to protect recreational climbing and hiking in Connecticut. RMF recognized that WMCC’s efforts to secure Hanging Mountain would contribute significantly to opportunities for Connecticut climbers. With that in mind, RMF contributed more than $15,000 to cover initial acquisition expenses and will assist WMCC with fundraising to pay off the Climbing Conservation Loan.
“We are deeply committed to preserving high and wild places, but at first we were uncertain about supporting the purchase of a crag outside of Connecticut,” said RMF board president Matthew Conroy. “It was only after walking this exceptional property and witnessing the energyand enthusiasm of the WMCC board that we were fully won over to the project. This is an undreamed of win for the region. RMF is proud to be part of the Hanging Mountain acquisition and hopes to continue its partnership with WMCC far into the future.”
“Farley Ledge has long been our flagship crag but it’s starting to see the impacts from increased use. To discover and protect a virtually unknown cliff like Hanging Mountain, including access and parking, is a huge win for climbers in the region, and will help to relieve some of the pressures at Farley,” said Squire.
Access Fund has collaborated with both WMCC and RMF on land acquisition projects in the past, including the protection of the Farley Ledge parking lot in partnership with WMCC, and the acquisition of Ragged Mountain in partnership with RMF. This new acquisition of Hanging Mountain marks the first time RMF and WMCC have collaborated on a climbing access project and one in a handful of acquisition projects pursued in partnership by local climbing organizations from different states.
“Projects like Hanging Mountain are exactly why Access Fund launched the Climbing Conservation Loan program in 2009,” said Mike Morin, Access Fund’s northeast regional director. “Local climbing organizations like WMCC and RMF need quick access to funds and transaction expertise to rapidly secure new or threatened climbing areas for long-term conservation.”
Hanging Mountain is the 26th climbing area that has been conserved through the Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan Program. As a revolving loan program, loan money is repaid into the conservation fund, allowing Access Fund to loan the money out again to protect other threatened climbing areas across the country.
The groups now need the community’s support to raise $120,000 to pay off the Climbing Conservation Loan and complete site improvements that will include an access road, parking lot, and trailhead amenities to facilitate public access. Donate today at right here.
Regarding the property and access, Hanging Mountain is a largely raw, undeveloped cliff that will require road improvements, a parking area and a short access trail before it will be ready for public use. This unusually blank slate creates the valuable opportunity for the thoughtful development of climbing routes accessed by a network of sustainable trails planned and installed by the community. A joint committee comprised of both WMCC and RMF members have begun establishing a broad management plan and long range vision; both organizations will seek input, expertise, labor and financialsupport in the coming months.
Access fund anticipate a gradual opening of sections of the cliff over a period of time as the supporting infrastructure is put into place. In the meantime, please respect the initial closure, contact WMCC and/or RMF if you are interested in becoming part of the process, and stay tuned for an official opening date and access details in early summer 2020.
Photo: Climbing at Hanging Mountain in Sandisfield, Massachusetts, ancestral lands of Agawams and Mohican. | © Christoper Beauchamp