As responsible hikers, please continue to follow the NYS guidelines to avoid the spreading of the virus.
- Hike with social distancing always in mind and use face masks when encountering other hikers
- Avoid crowded trailheads and be prepared for alternatives
- PLEASE know your abilities, conditions and limits. DO NOT assume you will be rescued and choose appropriately based on what your comfort level is. Questions to ask yourself. If you are doing a bushwhack do you have enough map reading abilities to get out if your GPS fails? Does your pack have first aid supplies and could you spend a night in the woods if injured or lost? Most first responders are volunteers and the protocol to protect themselves in this time of COVID is serious, expensive and time consuming. Make your outdoor decisions wisely and with that in mind.
THE NEW 3500 CLUB TALLY LIST
The 3500 Club Board met on January 31st of 2021 and decided that on March 22nd, 2021 (the first day of spring), the Club tally list will consist of 33 peaks versus the current 35. The four winter climb requirement will remain as is. With Doubletop and Graham permanently closed to public access, we concluded that we will not continue with the current substitutions of South Doubletop and Millbrook Ridge after 3/2021. That decision to not add in two other peaks may surprise some of you, but, after much discussion, the vote was unanimous.
There were two main reasons for our decision:
1) We are the 3500 Club, not the 35 Peak Club
Prior to 1990, the tally list had 34 peaks and SW Hunter was added in that year. So there is precedence for less than 35 mountains on the list. Our thought process evolved into why add peaks just to stay at 35? If we are the 3500 club, let us stay consistent with that. And, yes, Rocky is under 3500 feet now, but there is such history with that mountain, it really needs to be grandfathered in as has been done in the Adirondacks and the Whites. The same occurred there when mountains were discovered to be under 4000 feet in elevation after those lists were already well established.
With all the increased hikers and lists out there: single season, double single season, grid, etc., any bushwhack we choose will see a mountain top receive expanded traffic and no longer be the wilderness peak that it was. The amount of hikers is not going to decrease and we need to be mindful of what that means to these mountains we treasure. South Doubletop would start to see more and more herd paths and impact, as Doubletop has. Would people really respect the private property lines if they are trying to "bag" the peak quickly versus the longer and more physically challenging approaches? Would people still pop over to the summit on Doubletop hoping they won't get caught? All those were concerns that led to our decision to not keep South Doubletop as a replacement or go with another bushwhack peak.
Could we add another trailed mountain in to mitigate that?
That brings us back to reason #1. Rather, we will encourage people to explore on their own and not be focused on a list but perhaps navigate to a mountain with the skills learned while working on the (soon to be) 33. Use the tally list as a stepping stone to other explorations - climb a peak from a direction you haven't or choose your own bushwhack! Hopefully the challenge of not having a set list will be inspiring!
But, if you want another list, I want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to check out three that will bring you to more places off the beaten path. Many of those trailheads will not be overcrowded and you will have the solitude you may not find on the more known routes.
The Scary 19 Hikes in Schoharie County; currently only a Facebook page, but really fun hikes to explore.
Finally, why are we waiting to make that change until March 22?
We are mid-winter and it seems more straightforward to finish this season as it is now versus changing mid-stream. That way those who are working on their winters fulfill the same requirements this year as everyone else. We realize that does mean those finishing next year will do less peaks. If you want to wait, that is your choice, but we want to give people advance notice and make a decision on how and when they want to finish. South Doubletop and Millbrook will still count as substitutes through 3/22 and are required to get a winter number this year or regular membership before 3/22.
The board understands well that there will be many opinions after reading this! But do know we all gave it a great deal of thought and did not come to this decision and the timing of it lightly.