The 'Gunks of Yore- 1956-63www.atkinsopht.com/download/gunks50s.p.doc
After having joined the AMC people (the only climbing group there), I was shown a few knots, and tied at my waist into a rope which went up thirty feet or so to a man (Cran Barrow) perched on a ledge and holding the other end. … Cran's rope handling, it was explained, was "belaying".
We few "beginners" did not belay others; not until we had become "seconds" and knew the ropes, a process requiring passage through an "intermediate" stage over a dozen or so weekends, possibly even extending into the next fall or spring season. The Club advertised weekends in the tiny AMC NY Chapter newsletter as for "Beginners", "Intermediates", "Leaders and seconds", and "Leaders only". …
In a few weeks they classified me as "Intermediate" which opened up the weekends for which I was eligible to register. We drove up on Saturday mornings to meet at the Uberfall. I went as often as possible, gradually getting to know the others on climbs, during the two-hour carpooling from Manhattan, and relaxing at day's end around the bar at Schleuter's Mountaincrest Inn where we stayed.
The inn was a kind of bed-and-breakfast on NY 44 a mile or so south of the present Brauhaus. Dinner followed "Happy Hour", and often members showed slides or offered instructional lectures. The inn served breakfast and I think one could order a box lunch for Sunday. The Club kept its ropes and equipment in Schleuter's basement.
The AMC was the sole organizing entity at the cliffs and, until the late fifties, pretty much oversaw all climbing activities. They supervised with what some others had begun to feel as an unwonted obsession with procedure--an understandable outgrowth of the fallout from a fatal accident at Arden earlier in the decade. Parties signed out for climbs and signed back in upon returning safely. The Club trained and the Qualifying Committee approved its leaders and ranked them by experience
and ability as "all fours", "all fives", or "unlimited" leaders.
Fred Saxe on Frog's Head (1956)
Increasingly the Club viewed, with suspicion and some hostility, unapproved leaders from other, especially unfamiliar, groups who had begun to increase in number. College outing clubs such as those from CCNY, Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Syracuse, and the University of Pennsylvania showed up occasionally and increasingly put unwonted pressure on the AMC hegemony.
Friction gradually developed between the Appies, the self appointed arbiters of safety and standards, and the outliers who chafed at the notion of restriction and formality. The AMC felt responsibility to the property owners and looked with suspicion upon the activities of those exploring new and more dangerous territory. A rift opened which culminated in the coalescence of a group of bold and skilled climbers under the rubric of the "Vulgarian Mountain Club", and the history of their press into the realms of higher standards of difficulty, and of their raucous crusade to shock Appie sensibility, became legend. … To my knowledge, before and during my early years at the 'Gunks, no AMC climber there had fallen on the lead.
Although the cliffs occupied the private property of the Mohonk Mountain House, the hotel had no presence at the cliffs. After about 1960 the management asked for fees from the Club to cover changes in insurance but there were never rangers or officials in evidence.