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PA's Cliffs of Insanity
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synrock


Nov 17, 2008, 3:13 PM
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PA's Cliffs of Insanity  (North_America: United_States: Pennsylvania)
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PA's cliffs of insanity.

Ok,

Now I'm not really one to feud.

And the point of this rant isn't to feud with Rob Holtzman but to clarify an issue about an area that Rob posted on his web site about a series of 300 ft cliffs Rob Holzman calls

"the cliffs of Insandity"


Rob states:

"A 250' high quarry near the Juniata River. The area has a few good sport climbs if you do only the first pitches. Anything above the first pitch is hazardous and could result in death. Many bolts are in bad shape and the second pitches should probably have never been bolted because they are extremely dangerous due to very loose, large rock. Climb only the first pitches and wear a helmet!"

I find I must take issue with this.

Not because what he says isn't true, the place is truly death waiting to happen, but because he said this:

"second pitches should probably have never been bolted because they are extremely dangerous"

The only way this statement makes sense to me is if Rob is thinking that the area was bolted in sport climbing style from the top down. If that were the case then I agree.

However, nearly every route at the cliffs of insanity was put up from the ground up, standing on small holds drilling with a bosch.

You see, I had this bosch and there was this giant virgin cliff thing and there was no way I wasn't going to put the two together to have some fun. Good old, ground up fun. No pre-inspection.

The procedure was simple. Tie the bosch to a 20-30 ft piece of rope,
attach it to the last bolt you drilled with a fifi hook and climb up. When you start to get scared take your hammer out and start tapping the rock, hoping for a ringing sound. If you get a dull thunk, that's bad. You don't want to put the bolt in rock that makes a dull thunk when you hit it with a hammer.

Now if you tap around and you don't get that ringing sound, your only option is to keep climbing higher, tap, tap, taping with the hammer until you find a piece of rock solid enough to actually hold a bolt.

So sometimes you end up in the middle of a bunch of unholy crap that makes you WISH you climbing at the fisher towers and you can't see your last bolt below you.

Now you have two options - you can take the longest lead fall of your life, tumbling and knocking jagged quartzite bowling ball things down the wall along the way, or.....

be a man, suck it up and keep going for it. Maybe you will find a piece of rock that makes sort of a ringing thunk sound.

And you do.

And you get to the top.

And you lived.

And you feel good about it.

Or at least I did until I read Rob's description that the second pitches should not have been bolted. That's like saying half the climbs in the canadian rockies shouldn't have been done.


Now I may have been stupid enough to have repeated the above adventure scenario perhaps more often than sanity would guide (there are around 50 routes there), but I guarantee you I was extremely thankful for every single bolt I placed on any second pitch of a climb at the cliffs of insanity as they were generally placed to augment my own personal survival at the time and not to satisfy some sport climbers wimp ass, putt putt mini golf sensibilities of what makes a safe route.

Having said that, there are actually 3 or 4 second pitches there that do push up against the line of sanity and are for sure worth doing considering the rush of climbing a big wall in the middle of pennsylvania.

Anyone planning to visit there should email me for beta. Rob has done myself and the climbing community a disservice by claiming that the cliffs of insanity is a sport climbing area when it was never intended to be so and not approached in that manner.

The place is a traditional ground up area, with the routes put up by a raving madman who was simply after a good adrenaline fix.


(This post was edited by synrock on Nov 18, 2008, 3:20 PM)


pendereki


Nov 17, 2008, 3:38 PM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed your perspective---makes me view a few routes that I have climbed a little differently.

Yes, I do know that was not your intent.

CM


Hennessey


Nov 17, 2008, 4:04 PM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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I can't believe I wasted my time reading that stupid-ass rant about absolutely nothing.


chossmonkey


Nov 17, 2008, 4:11 PM
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Re: [Hennessey] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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Hennessey wrote:
I can't believe I wasted my time reading that stupid-ass rant about absolutely nothing.
You should learn to skim.Wink


rockgoat


Nov 17, 2008, 4:11 PM
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Re: [pendereki] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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Rob is a good guy and he and I have climbed there. I think your a little strong with your words. He did not trash your climbs but is warning people that they could be a little unsafe. Some climber out there see bolts and think everything is safe. It was just a warning. Relax......


synrock


Nov 17, 2008, 4:40 PM
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Re: [rockgoat] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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rockgoat wrote:
Rob is a good guy and he and I have climbed there. I think your a little strong with your words. He did not trash your climbs but is warning people that they could be a little unsafe. Some climber out there see bolts and think everything is safe. It was just a warning. Relax......

I can see why you might think that - but Rob has made it a point to denigrate the state college locals whenever he has the chance in print.

Whenever I talk to someone about the area I always tell them to never do a second pitch and I am glad that "beta" has gotten around.

Rob's statement that the second pitches "should never have been bolted" is what I take exception to.

That is a value judgement, based on the mistaken assumption that these were planned, top-down affairs.

What I find distasteful is that Rob, in his quest to document the climbs and history of PA climbing has never bothered to ask any state college locals ANYTHING.


jaablink


Nov 17, 2008, 4:50 PM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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That looks like a fun place to play. Is there afternoon sun there in the winter?


minibiter


Nov 17, 2008, 5:10 PM
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Re: [jaablink] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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Yeah where is this place? Is it south facing? Where's the topo?


synrock


Nov 17, 2008, 6:11 PM
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Re: [minibiter] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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It faces west and is a rather good winter area unless there has been lots of snow.
I was working on a topo a while back, dong all the climbs again (and the second pitches) - I'll try to find the file.

There is enough info posted to find the place (esp with google maps).

It is the southernmost 2 quarries that have the climbs. There is a state game lands parking lot (new) south of the last quarry. That is the main reason (other than potential death) that I hadn't been spreading word of the place. Until recently there wasn't any parking.

You don't need a topo - all climbs are in the range 5.8-5.11b. The best concentration of good stuff is in the left quarry.

Follow the old overgrown macadam road past the obvious entrance to the southern quarry (swamp here) until it opens up to a sandy flat leading to the more northern quarry.

Head to the orange wall. Look for bolts. The other far southern end (shown in the photo) also has good stuff.

Suggest you bring quick links for the anchors.


joeforte


Nov 17, 2008, 6:55 PM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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Nice rant Synrock... I like how it took you 100 sentences to badmouth Rob, and then another 100 to glorify yourself. What a waste of space. You might have a problem with him, but I know plenty of people who respect him and are very thankful for his endless contributions to PA climbing and local access. You're a coward for posting such a childish thread, and I think anyone with half a brain can see that it was clearly a bitter personal attack at Rob. Good luck promoting your company!


jaablink


Nov 17, 2008, 8:08 PM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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Thanx, I will definitely check that out.I will be in that part of the state next week Ö>I love Google Earth<Ö
and please excuse Joey . He did not mean to be so disrespectful. He did not get enough hugs growing up. Its ok Joey, Iíll give you a hug.
>:D< and a :-*


synrock


Nov 17, 2008, 8:31 PM
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Re: [joeforte] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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joeforte wrote:
Nice rant Synrock... I like how it took you 100 sentences to badmouth Rob, !

Now I'd be hard pressed to count more than 5 sentances bad mouthing rob. I can add more....


Partner j_ung


Nov 18, 2008, 8:06 AM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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synrock wrote:
joeforte wrote:
Nice rant Synrock... I like how it took you 100 sentences to badmouth Rob, !

Now I'd be hard pressed to count more than 5 sentances bad mouthing rob. I can add more....

No, you can't.

This isn't one of our aggressively moderated forums, so I'm going to let what you posted lie, albeit locked. But you walked a pretty thin line by posting this on Rockclimbing.com. I don't know either of you in the slightest, but I do know that RC.com is not a vehicle for your personal vendetta. You have a point to make? Fine make it, but leave the personal attacks out.

If you feel like I'm in error here and he's done the same to you on RC.com, then feel free to PM me and point me to it. I'll be happy to let him know the same thing.


Partner j_ung


Nov 18, 2008, 2:50 PM
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Re: [j_ung] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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Unlocked for self editing. Thanks, synrock, for understanding. I really appreciate it, and I hope you guiys can eventually settle your differences.

Everybody else... case closed. Please don't make it otherwise. Smile


(This post was edited by j_ung on Nov 18, 2008, 2:51 PM)


synrock


Dec 11, 2008, 3:37 PM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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One more safety issue with regard to this area. If you look at Rob's climb pa websites photos of this are you will see a girl sitting on top of a large pile of sand and rocks against the wall.

THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS PLACE TO HANG OUT!. A little common sense will tell you that perhaps there is a reason WHY there is a large pile of rocks pilled up against the bottom of the cliff. Where did this pile come from?

Well one spring right after a thaw we found out. At the top of the cliff here there are a few large trees that are undercut by erosion and the very large mass of tree roots hold a lot of rocks suspended in air. After a thaw we were noticing a rock coming down every 5 minutes or so. This is where the rock pile comes from. Don't sit there.


roclimb


Dec 12, 2008, 10:52 AM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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The place the girl is sitting while she is shoeing up is at the base of a slab climb you bolted.


synrock


Dec 12, 2008, 12:12 PM
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Yes. Said rock falling down behavior was discovered later.

Which brings me back to my original point that the area was not developed as one would normally develop a sport climbing area.

It was ground up adventure climbing.

Knowing the style that an area was developed in is a sometimes important concept.

For instance, when Eric Horst started putting up climbs at the New in the 80's he would rap down a line, put in say one bolt and maybe a fixed pin. Totally marginal often R rated protection, and then top rope the climb, and then lead.

The style Eric was using was Headpointing with preplaced gear. Not that the term existed back then. But anyone assuming that the climb was done ground up - or conversely was bolted as a sport climb, was in for a surprise.


hildenmw


Jun 15, 2013, 7:25 PM
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Re: [synrock] PA's Cliffs of Insanity [In reply to]
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Darn the legendary wall is real


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