The schist walls of Rumney, New Hampshire attract climbers
from the world over, who come to test their strength on test-pieces such as Jaws II (5.15a), Livin’ Astro (5.14c), or
Predator (5.13b) [watch Weekend Whipper: Victory Backflip],
or to savor any of the 5.3 to 5.15 routes offered by the wooded crags.
Rumney is growing in popularity as one of the premier sport climbing crags in the northeast. But that brings bigger crowds, higher traffic at the crags,
and as a result, more need for conservation.
Rest assured, the area is in good hands. The Access Fund and Rumney Climbers Association (RCA) are in the process of ensuring continued climbing access
to a large portion of Rumney by setting the stage to purchase the final set of privately owned crags in the area, known as the Northwest Crags.
Dave Quinn, co-president of RCA, says that, “The Northwest Crags will be a big step forward in making life at Rumney a better experience.” The land acquisition
will maintain climbing access at six different crags.
The majority of Rumney’s climbing areas are already under protection from the National Forest Service. In 1994, the Access Fund helped RCA purchase 36
privately-owned acres in Rumney, which gave access to many of the area’s most popular crags, including The Meadow, 5.8 Crag, and Monsters, and allowed
volunteers to build the trails and area’s main parking lot.
The last privately owned area in Rumney is what RCA has called The Final Frontier – an 86-acre swath of land known formally known as the Northwest Crags.
The area accounts for 12 percent of the area’s established routes and includes the crags Northwest Territories, Buffalo Pit, Northwest Passage, Prudential,
Asylum part of the Black Jack Boulder. These crags are off the beaten path, and offer a quieter experience than the closer and more popular cliffs.
In a press release by Access Fund and RCA, Jay Knower* states; "The routes [at the Northwest Crags] are less travelled, and the experience is less urban
than the more frequented crags at Rumney. Given the issues of overcrowding at popular crags, adding this area will provide climbers more options for
their climbing days."
land is being purchased from Gary and Robyn Zielinki, who have held it for 25 years and recently showed interest in conservation. According to Quinn,
“The landowners are committed to working something out with RCA and Access Fund, and wanted to make something happen.
Now, after two years of discussion, the land is set to be acquired for $185, 000 from the family. The Access Fund has granted $10,000 to the RCA for short-term
funding, and the RCA has until December 2016 to raise the necessary funds to complete the purchase.
Purchasing the land, however is just the beginning. RCA plans to build a parking lot and bathroom closer to the Northwest Crags to decrease traffic at
the main lot. The organization also needs funds to hold on to the land for at least two years before final steps are made to transfer ownership of
the Northwest Crags to the National Forest, and ensure that the land is federally protected.
RCA needs $300,000 to fund these upcoming projects at the crags and will be fundraising all year. They will also host a climbing festival geared towards
raising money September 9 to 11, 2016 called the Rumney Rendezvous.
If you're a climber in the northeast and frequent Rumney, or just want to help out, please consider a donation to help ensure climbing access to the Final
*Correction: Jay Knower's last name was incorrectly spelled in a previous version. The mistake has been fixed and we regret the error.