I spent most of this season climbing and doing trail work with a stalwart team of volunteers preparing the Antlion cliff, purchased by the GCC last fall, for opening. I have found here a beautiful place, good climbing, and a great addition to the options we have for spending time on the Shawangunk Ridge. I’ve lived in the Gunks nearly thirty years and it’s one of the most idyllic places to climb, anywhere. But part of the magic of this place is the people’s history that it tells—Lenape, Dutch, farmers, and of course the climbers.
As I talked with others about the Antlion, information about the crag’s past filtered in, and a few of the routes now have a known history. The history of off-the-beaten-track crags in the Gunks always begins and ends with the same people. Some of those narratives involve the Vulgarians, or more often, the generation after, of the ’70s: aficionados of untrodden rock, pioneers of new routes, and advocates of clean climbing. But the story just got more interesting, and the history a little longer, and the climbing a little less clean!
Who left this piton at the seldom-visited Antlion? And when? Some stories are easier to decipher than others. The famous berry-pickers of Sam’s Point left their washers and dryers alongside the now tumbledown shacks they lived in. Appliances and cookware can be found (and easily found) about in the fields, left to lie because of our appreciation for the rich cultural legacy they represent.
Some climber of yore has also left a record—though not so easily found as the berry-pickers’ appliances—of early ascents at the Antlion. This single rusty ring-piton was hidden in the leaves at the base of the Antlion crag, an artifact of the Shawangunk Ridge’s climbing heritage, also part of a rich cultural legacy, well worth noticing—and preserving.
Preservation of the remote ridgelines we all value does not come cheap. We are 65% of the way to our $109,000 goal by November—thank you! Won’t you join those generous supporters and help the GCC pay its debt to the Access Fund, whose partnership made the Antlion vision a reality? Whether you give $5, $50, or $500, your support is crucial to the GCC’s purchase of this remote and special place.
Gunks Climbers’ Coalition