Dear GCC supporters,
Happy 2024! It has been the GCC’s pleasure to represent and support the Gunks climbing community with a number of projects and events in 2023. Here is a recap of our 2023 year.
Early in 2023 we launched our first annual WinterFest in partnership with the Gravity Vault in Poughkeepsie. Partnering with an all-star roster of local guides, we hosted over 25 sold-out clinics on topics from knot-tying to multipitch efficiency, training techniques to self-rescue. As usual we offered women’s and affinity clinics, and wrapped up the event with a pizza party sponsored by Rock and Snow featuring a panel and slide show by Hans Florine.
Peregrine Closure Discussions with the Preserve
In the spring of 2023 The Gunks Climbers’ Coalition, GunksApps, Access Fund, and representatives of the bouldering community met several times with the Mohonk Preserve to discuss their peregrine falcon closure policies. The easing of restrictions on bouldering along the carriage road to the limited group size and noise levels was a positive result of these conversations. The Mohonk Preserve Peregrine Management Plan continues to evolve based on science and coordination with other conservation groups and land managers. This has included working with the Access Fund and researching how closures have been handled nationwide to better understand climber’s impact on nesting success.
Antlion Cliff is Opened to the Public
Summer 2023 saw the opening of the Antlion Cliff. The opening of the Antlion Crag is the culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work establishing the 1 mile approach trail. Thank you everyone for your hard work and dedication! The Antlion Crag adds approximately 100 new routes to the Gunks in grades ranging from 5.3 to 5.12, all in a beautiful backcountry setting. If you go, be sure and reserve a parking spot ahead of time and sign a liability waiver. Antlion apps can be found at GunksApps. Links to the parking reservation and liability waiver can be found in the app.
In the summer and fall, the Gunks Climbers’ Coalition joined forces with Athletic Brewing, GunksApps and Rise Outside to host two community events -with the BIPOC Climbing Collective, and ParaCliffHangers. The events were sponsored by Athletic Brewing’s “Two for the Trails” grant program. This collaborative effort aimed to break down barriers to outdoor and rock climbing experiences, fostering inclusivity and diversity within the climbing community.
The BIPOC Climbing Collective leadership team were hosted for a two-day event, and were taught about anchor building and bouldering basics.
GunksApps provided participants access to digital guidebooks to help accelerate their independent enjoyment of the outdoors.
The Paracliffhangers event focused on learning trad climbing and enduring inclement weather with positive attitudes. Together, these events marked significant strides towards making outdoor spaces and climbing accessible to all, fostering community support for these great organizations.
Fall 2023 GunksFest
For our second annual flagship GunksFest, we doubled our education efforts, putting together dozens of outdoor technical clinics from guide services including Rise Outside, EMS, and Genuine Climbing. Our a la carte education offerings expanded beyond hard skills, with sell-out clinics on local mushroom foraging, women-specific movement, and introductory Gunks beta from a Gunks local.
The Mohonk Preserve and Stone Mountain Farm were strong partners, allowing us to offer bouldering/climbing on the northern Shawangunk Ridge, and a home-base for a campground, within walking distance to the rock. Hundreds of climbers came to enjoy clinics, climbing, and bouldering during the day, and were then treated to our Gunks Film Festival at night – this years film fest included a local focus, featuring two very different and very talented local filmmakers. Exhibitors, gear demos, and vendors helped round out the social part of our event.
Ongoing Efforts to Save Hemlocks on the Ridge
In spring of 2022, as the GCC began to build a trail to the Antlion cliff, they became aware of the presence of an invasive insect, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), which has decimated hemlock populations in the U.S. We began working with the New York State Hemlock Initiative at Cornell University, who have supported us with invaluable advice and guidance. At this time we began surveying trees for the presence of HWA.
2023 saw the continuation of our Community Hemlock Project. As a result of this survey we identified over 1500 infested trees, on 218 acres, on five properties, including .75 miles of cliff line habitat. Our efforts have led us beyond our own property, and with permission from adjacent landowners, we have been able to determine the geographical boundaries of this specific hemlock population, as well as the extent of the HWA infestation in this area. Through a “Two For the Trails” grant from Athletic Brewing Co. and money allocated from our annual spring raffle we were able to complete the first phase of treatment in the Spring of 2023. Phase II was completed this fall with remaining funds from our raffle and a private donation. In 2024 we will be finishing the treatment of the remaining trees, and setting up monitoring plots.
Membership in Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM)
In 2023, As a result of our conservation efforts, the GCC was invited to become a member of PRISM, is a network of 55+ organizations dedicated to invasive species management, education and outreach. Our membership is in keeping with our strong stewardship mission, and is a step towards building stronger relationships between the climbing/outdoor recreation community, and organizations involved in sustainability efforts.
The GCC Needs Your Support
Thank you everyone who has supported us in 2023. We could not do any of these things without your help. There are many ways you can get involved to help strengthen your local climbing community, and to help create and maintain sustainable climbing practices on the Shawangunk Ridge.
- Consider making a donation on our GoFundMe page.
- Share a skill—writing skills, computer skills, event organization, fundraising, grant writing, social media community management and trail work are but a few of the examples of services that are needed to make these projects run. If you would like to explore ways you can be involved send us an email.
- Volunteer—Volunteers are always needed and the calendar is already filling up with events across the ridge for 2024. Sign up to hear about volunteer opportunities on our volunteer sign-up form.
- Become a member—Join the Access Fund and be sure to designate the Gunks Climbers’ Coalition as your local climbing organization, for membership in both organizations.
Safe climbing and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming events.
Peter Cody, GCC chair