Updated: Jan 29, 2019
Many experienced climbers will tell you they don’t so much remember details about the routes they climbed, the individual pitches, or the summits — not so much as they remember their climbing partners.
And in the push to permanently protect Rumney’s western crags, The Appalachian Mountain Club has proven itself an unforgettable partner.
In late 2018, the AMC Boston Chapter delivered a $15,000 pledge that supports Rumney’s Final Frontier.
The Final Frontier project aims to permanently secure public access to a parcel which holds several climbing cliffs. The 86-acre tract includes Rumney's western crags: The Prudential, Asylum, Buffalo Pit, Buffalo Corral, Northwest Territories, Very Nice Crack area, Boundary Rock, and part of the Blackjack Boulders.
“Several of these crags are hidden gems where you can get away from the crowds on a busy weekend,” Rumney Climbers’ Association Co-president Chris Smith said. “I hear some people say that Rumney is too crowded, but that’s not true; if you go to one of these hidden spots on a weekend you might not see anyone else all day.”
This $15,000 donation is just the AMC’s most recent Final Frontier support, Smith added. In 2016 the AMC New Hampshire Chapter donated $15,000 to the cause, and that same year the AMC Boston Chapter Mountaineering Committee gave $10,000.
Facilitated by the Access Fund, the RCA purchased Rumney’s western crags from private owners in Jan. 2017. AMC donations, support from numerous donors, and a $120,000 low-interest loan from the Access Fund made the purchase possible, RCA Treasurer Andy Casler said.
“Many generous organizations and individuals financially supported the RCA during the Final Frontier project, and in 2018 the AMC Boston Chapter took a lead role,” Casler said.
The AMC’s $15,000 donation constituted 70 percent of the RCA’s total fundraising revenue in 2018.
Charitable donations allowed the RCA to build a $12,000 gravel parking lot at the Buffalo Pit in November 2017.
The lot created additional off-street parking for climbers and hikers, and it has provided easy access to Rumney’s western crags via several beautiful hiking trails.
“The trails offer three or four really nice views before you even get to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain,” Smith added.
Eric Engberg, chairperson for the AMC Boston Chapter’s Mountaineering Committee, said the need to secure climbing access at the Final Frontier really hit home.
“A number of our members climb at Rumney on a regular basis, and we are pleased that we can help improve that experience by helping secure public climbing access to the Final Frontier,” Engberg said.
After Engberg’s committee donated $10,000 to the cause, he advocated for the AMC Boston Chapter to make its $15,000 donation.
“I’m always in favor of increasing access, so anything that we can do to make land purchases or reach agreements for increased climbing access is a win,” Engberg said. “The Final Frontier purchase solidifies access to several high-quality crags at Rumney; it’s a worthy cause.”
The RCA is now in the final steps of selling the Final Frontier land to the U.S. Forest Service. After the sale is complete, the USFS will own all of the Rumney’s climbing crags, assuring the area’s permanent protection and access for generations of climbers to come.
RCA Co-president Pete Jackson is leading the push to transfer ownership of the Final Frontier land to the USFS. He expects the process to be complete by early spring.
“There are very few steps left,” Jackson said. “We’re just working on completing a few minor lot-line changes and removing a deed restriction, per Forest Service requirements,”
Jackson added that he feels the AMC really stepped up and showed commitment to Rumney.
“We really appreciate the support,” he said. “The donations we received from the AMC and others have allowed us to carry the property and prepare it for sale to the USFS.”
The RCA is looking ahead to work with the Access Fund in designing and implementing a two-year maintenance project that will reduce erosion, improve safety, and minimize user impact on Rumney’s trails and the staging areas for climbs.
The RCA and Access Fund aim to address stewardship needs at Rumney’s Orange Crush crag, The Parking Lot Wall, the Meadows crags, and the 5.8 Crag.
The project will cost about $140,000, and a significant portion of project budget will need to be supported by community fundraising, Access Fund Northeast Regional Director Mike Morin said.
"The Access Fund and RCA will be working to identify and apply for grants, as well as relying on the Rumney climbing community to help us achieve fundraising goals for this effort," Morin added.
If you wish to support the Rumney Climbers’ Association, please visit climbrumney.com/donate.
You can become an RCA member by joining the Access Fund. After filling in your shipping and billing information, click the box that reads "I would like to become a Joint Member with my participating Local Climbing Organization for an additional $15.00," and then select the RCA from a list of Access Fund LCOs.