Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC) and Access Fund are pleased to announce the purchase and opening of a new section of cliffline in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York. The newly acquired property includes 1,000 feet of the Millbrook Mountain cliff line, including the historic Ant Lion Crag. This acquisition adds a new, backcountry climbing area to the Gunks, offering a uniquely remote experience that boasts traditional climbing, top roping, overhangs, vertical faces, and even a little crack climbing—ranging from 5.5 to 5.13.
“We were given a rare opportunity to secure access and protect a beautiful portion of the Shawangunk Ridge,” says GCC Chair Peter Cody. “This acquisition is an important milestone for climbing conservation and will showcase and safeguard the diverse nature of the ridge itself.”
Although there is some historic evidence of climbing on the cliff, dating back to the 1970s, the area has never been officially opened to climbing or route development. This prized section of cliff line, situated along the southern portion of Millbrook Mountain, was not only privately owned, but also surrounded by other private land, making it inaccessible to the public.
In the spring of 2018, GCC and Access Fund began working in earnest to find a conservation and access solution to secure the property. The organizations partnered with neighboring landowners Robert O’Brien and Kevin Abberton in a unique, three-way purchase to secure the cliff line and the undeveloped forest below, as well as provide public access.
GCC worked with Access Fund to purchase the climbing area, using funds from the Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan Program (CCLP), and struck a deal with the two private landowners, who purchased additional forested acreage around their existing home sites and agreed to an access easement across their land to make the cliff line publicly accessible. Access will be established via a new trailhead off South Mountain Road and a mile and a half of trail to reach the cliff.
“This was a complex acquisition project that required the collaboration of numerous parties working on their individual pieces of the puzzle,” says Access Fund National Access Director Joe Sambataro. “This partnership allowed us to acquire and permanently conserve a property that was out of reach of each individual buyer alone.”
Ant Lion is the 29th climbing area conserved through the CCLP, which provided $109,000 to allow GCC to purchase this property. The CCLP is a revolving loan program, which means loan funds will be repaid so that those dollars can be used to open or save other threatened climbing areas. Since the CCLP’s inception, Access Fund has loaned $3.2 million to local climbing communities around the country to secure and permanently conserve climbing areas.
Community Support Needed
We now need the community’s support to raise $200,000 toward the Millbrook Mountain Conservation Initiative. Donations will go directly to the acquisition, long-term stewardship, and site-improvement costs for a new access road, parking area, trailhead amenities, and construction of a new trail to the cliff. GCC will notify climbers when the parking and trail system are open for public access, which are expected to be completed by fall 2021. Donate today at gunksclimbers.org/antlion.
About Gunks Climbers Coalition
The Gunks Climbers’ Coalition is an advocacy group dedicated to creating and maintaining sustainable opportunities for responsible climbing along the Shawangunk Ridge and surrounding areas. The GCC is committed to working with the extended climbing community that visits the Gunks, advocating for responsible gym-to-crag transitioning, and to the protection of the ridge itself. For more information visit at www.gunksclimbers.org.
About Access Fund
Access Fund is the national advocacy and conservation organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. Since 1990, Access Fund has supported 81 land acquisitions by land trusts, public entities, and local climbing organizations, totaling 17,421 acres across twenty-seven states. For more information, visit www.accessfund.org.