Welcome to the Fall, 2003, premiere issue of Talus, the newsletter
of the Gunks Climbers' Coalition. Published quarterly, Talus is
available to those who support the GCC. And while our first newsletter
is a modest beginning, in time we plan to include short works of
fiction, trivia, climber bios, and other bits of crag arcana. Stay tuned.

Editors: Dell Bleekman, Christopher Spatz
Contributing Writers: Lizz Bartlett, Dell Bleekman, Christopher Spatz, Sam Vona
Design: Logo, Typography & Layout by France Menk
Illustration: Skink by Gregory Rukavina, with permission by Richard C. Williams
Board News
The GCC steering committee has been laboring along for nearly
a year now and you may be wondering what we've been doing.
The GCC has gone from a small gathering of climbers attending
a day long, organizational workshop to an active organization of
more than 40 members. During this time the steering committee
has accomplished many of the more mundane tasks facing a new
group such as securing  post office boxes, opening bank accounts,
building websites, creating  mission and vision statements, and
ramping up much of the infrastructure needed to be functional.
There's still more to do!

Since June, we have begun to extend the GCC into the Gunks
community. We held a slideshow featuring John Bragg, and
purchased a new backboard and donated it to the Mohonk
Preserve to aid in rescues. In August we held a  trash cleanup
in conjunction with the Open Space Institute on a newly acquired
piece of land, and most recently we sponsored a September
Adopt-A-Crag Day with the Access Fund and the  Mohonk
Preserve. In October we held a second Adopt-A-Crag Day,
this time joining with Minnewaska State Park to clean chalk
off the boulders at Peter's Kill.

All these activities were undertaken in the spirit of climbers
giving back to the community and in keeping with our strategy
of fostering an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration
between the GCC and the  landowners and land managers along
the Shawangunk Ridge. As we go forward, we will continue to
expand our partnerships and become a valued colleague of the
communities and organizations along the Ridge.

What's Going on?
To stay informed with what's going on with the GCC,
check the Gunks Climbers’ Coalition web site frequently at
gunksclimbers.org , and use the public GCC forum on
gunks.com at www.gunks.com.

Recent Events
For those of you who were there, we thank you. And for those
who weren’t, we can only say, what were you thinking? We’re
talking, of course, about the recent chalk clean-up along the Mac
Wall. More than thirty climbers turned out to do their share and
scrub chalk, pick up trash, and generally improve the look of the
Trapps. For more information and pics, please click here.

Committee Reports
We believe that education of climbers and land managers can
be a key component in helping the GCC achieve its stated mission.
With that in mind, Sam Vona, Nick Falacci, and Robert Forrest have
volunteered to create a subcommittee dedicated to education.
So far, the three have surveyed the education activities of climbing
coalitions across the country. Shortly, they will be talking with
land managers from the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State
Park as well as surveying the GCC membership. The subcommittee
plans to deliver a comprehensive education plan to the steering
committee in the first quarter of 2004 with intentions of
implementing for the start of the 2004 climbing season. Those
interested in learning more or participating can contact Sam at

The Gunks are under siege, and not simply from climbing’s
exponential growth. Weekly it seems, a New York daily or
magazine touts the Shawangunk watershed as the new
Hamptons. Tract housing, a possible casino and John Bradley’s
ridgetop cluster development threaten the Gunks from the
Rondout to Mud Pond. More than ever, Fritz Wiessner’s 1960
Appalachia benediction rings clear. “Greatest gratitude is due
to the Smiley family…who, by great sacrifices, have protected
and kept this beautiful land as their grandfathers found it
one hundred years ago…and so it remains today.”
Greatest gratitude is due, indeed.

The major land stewards of the Shawangunks - The Mohonk
Preserve, Minnewaska State Park, the Open Space Institute,
The Nature Conservancy, the Department of Environmental
Conservation, and of course, The Mohonk Mountain House -
view their role of preserving the ridge entirely within the Smiley’s
legacy. As climbers, we cannot forget what these organizations
have committed in untold resources to protect, and that we are
permitted to play in an environment that is so rare.

Climbers have long taken seriously our impact on the ridge.
With varying commitment over our nearly 70 years of tenure here,
we have participated with the Gunks’ land managers in a stewardship
relationship. While John Stannard was making the Gunks a crucible
for the clean-climbing revolution, he would begin and end his
weekends by picking up trash around the overlook parking area.
Community-imposed media bans in the 80's regarding new route
activity and word-of-mouth beta exchanges on the outlying crags,
reflected a concern about minimizing our footprint beyond the Trapps,
the Nears, and Skytop. 1988’s bolting ban was nothing if not about
impact. And this year, the Access Fund joined Vulgarians Joe Bridges
and Dick Williams, with John Stannard, as the recipient of the
Preserve's annual Thom Scheuer Stewardship Award winner. Four
of the first five such recipients have their roots in climbing.

To retain access to the Gunks and open new crags, we need to
pursue a stewardship role on the ridge and re-assert our place in
the Smiley legacy. We now know that some of what we take for
granted as endemic to climbing culture - smoking dope in full view
of hotel guests, playing (and dressing) loudly, toting boom boxes -
are transgressions that closed Skytop to climbing just as surely
as did the issue of liability. Let's remember the Gunks are a very
rare nature sanctuary. Let's also remember what Todd Swain
advised in the introduction to his guidebook, “…remember: keep
your voice low, tread softly. This is for many hallowed ground.”

In close association with the Access Fund, the Gunks Climbers’
Coalition has begun to attend to business. By cleaning up our
chalk and trash, building and maintaining trails, and seeding a
search and rescue team, we are addressing the issue of climbers'
impact. The GCC has also initiated conversations with The Mohonk
Preserve, Minnewaska State Park, and the Open Space Institute
about how we can maintain access, and equally important,  about
how we may open new areas for climbers while respecting the
conservation priorities protecting the Shawangunks. We are
happy to report these organizations have greeted us with their
full support and enthusiasm.

In establishing partnerships like these, we become a viable
organization committed to preserving the Shawangunks’ teeming
natural beauty so climbers will continue to be viewed by the Gunks’
stewards as an asset to the ridge. Before we approach The Mohonk
Mountain House about the conundrum of Skytop, the Gunks
Climbers’ Coalition will be out on the ridge, working to protect
the extraordinary, besieged resource of the Shawangunks,
becoming a partner within the Smiley legacy our most revered
Gunkie saw fit to cherish so long ago.

Rope Up! Tie In!
The GCC began in 2002 with the goal of maintaining and expanding
climbing opportunities along the Shawangunk Ridge. We as climbers
must realize that, although diversified in climbing styles and overall
recreational interests, we enjoy a common goal of maintaining the
pristine nature of our climbing area. Climbers are some of the most
environmentally aware “guests” using the Preserve. Help us keep
it that way. Become part of the solution. Make a difference.
Join the Gunks Climbers’ Coalition today!

Send It!
Tell us what’s going on in your world of climbing. Any
upcoming slide shows, lectures, book signings, or fundraising
events? We’d like to hear about them.

Pop off an email to us at newsletter@gunksclimbers.org

We welcome your comments! Please forward any thoughts you
have, whether on our newsletter, the direction of our organization,
or the future of climbing.

Mission Statement
The Gunks Climbers’ Coalition, established in the fall of 2002, is an advocacy
group dedicated to creating  and maintaining sustainable opportunities for
responsible climbing along the Shawangunk Ridge and surrounding areas.

(12/2015: Edited to update links for new website.)