After more than a decade in limbo, the crags at Safe Harbor have been partially re-opened to climbing. With the recent relocation of the high-tension power lines, both Amtrak and Conestoga Township have agreed to allow climbing to resume along the rail trail in Conestoga Township. The cliffs along this section of the old low-grade railway comprise what climbers refer to as Safe Harbor “South”. The cliffs upstream of the dam (Safe Harbor “North”) remain closed, pending Manor Township’s acquisition of their portion of the abandon low-grade line.

Eric Hörst on the classic Wonderama (12b) in 1991.

There are a few important matters that all climbers must be aware of in coming to Safe Harbor:

  • ACCESS – There is no access via Brenner Hollow Road–do not park here! Instead, climbers must park near the tunnel on Green Hill Road (see maps on the Access page) and follow a trail from the east entrance of the tunnel up to the rail trail–from here it’s a 15- to 20-minute hike to where most of the climbs are located.
  • PARKING – There is very limited parking near the tunnel on Green Hill Road. Please car pool! Climbing groups can meet at Safe Harbor Park (on River Road)–leave cars there and squeeze into the smallest number of vehicles possible to drive the final two miles to the parking. Green Hill Road is a rocky one-lane road, so drive slowly and be sure not to block the road when you park.
  • FIXED ANCHORS – As always, climb at your own risk! Many of the bolts and top anchors at Safe Harbor are more than 20 years old. While the majority of them are likely trustworthy, you must still be vigilant in using these rusty anchors. Some of the old rusty bolts have been replaced over the past ten years–either by “bandit climbers” (people who broke the climbing ban), during the brief re-opening in 2006, or since the recent re-opening this fall. Looking ahead, it’s a top priority that we replace all fixed anchors with stainless steel. Of the 130+ routes at Safe Harbor (North & South crags), approximately 50 routes are currently upgraded to stainless, but many more routes need upgraded. That’s a lot of bolts, so please donate to the cause!
  • OVERGROWN/DIRTY ROUTES – While some of the most popular climbs are in relatively good condition, many climbs are dirty and to some degree overgrown with grass, weeds, or vines. We are asking all climbers to careful clean routes you get on (use a wire brush to clean the rock face and a nut tool to clean dirt from cracks and pockets). Watch for loose rock–there’s a lot of this at Safe Harbor–and clean what you can (safely); but be careful not to pry off important handholds or flakes (which can be re-enforced with epoxy).
  • FUNDRAISING - In addition to fixed anchor replacement, we need to install a bulletin board or information kiosk, as well as develop a improved parking. An Access Fund “matching grant” looks likely for next Spring, and so we (the local community) must raise as much $$ as we can this winter. I will soon install a PayPal “donate button” on this site, and I hope we can schedule fund-raising events at the local rock gyms this winter. Please contribute!
  • SWEAT EQUITY – Obviously, we also have a great need for climbers to donate their time and effort. Please join the Safe Harbor Climbing Facebook group to get involved. Also, I’d appreciate hearing from you via email so that I can develop an email list.
  • WALKING OUR TALK  - We all know that climbers are generally positive, proactive, kind individuals and as a national community climbers are held in high regard by land managers. I have no doubt that the land managers (and local residents) of Safe Harbor will similarly recognize our values and virtues as recreational users. To this end, here are a few things to keep in mind: Leave the crags and trail cleaner than you find it; Be friendly to passing hikers and share your  passion for climbing; Obey the dawn-to-dusk guidelines (no camping!); Drive slowly and park in a way that will not effect traffic flow.
Written on November 13th, 2011 , Uncategorized

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    Kevin Kuhn commented

    I do not use Facebook but please include me on the mailing list if developed. I am very willing to donate time and money to keep this place safe and open now that it’s finally officially open. Also, do you know the best place to get up-to-date route information? I’ll look on but was wondering if there is anything else out there. Thank you for all you’ve done!
    Kevin Kuhn

    November 18, 2011 at 4:23 am
      admin commented

      Thanks Kevin, I’ll keep you in the loop. I’m currently revising my old topos and I’ll post on this site within the next few days…they will get you to all the SH South climbs. In the spring I’ll have a full guide available…and hopefully by then we’ll have the SH North areas open as well.

      November 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm
    dave commented

    Climbed on 11-27-11. First time at Safe Harbor. Not bad I must say, did a bunch of moderate 10′s and a 9′s. Fair grading. Definetely not sandbagged. Very nice southern exposure. Nice work on getting it reopened. Cheers!

    November 28, 2011 at 8:46 pm
      dave commented

      oh and feel free to add me to the e-mail list. I am more than happy to help out. I have some stainless hardware I could donate as well or replace some manky bolts I eyed on several routes. Which ever you prefer. Don’t know the policy at your crag for rplacing fixed gear.

      November 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm
        admin commented

        Thanks Dave!

        November 29, 2011 at 12:08 am
    Greg Sudlow commented

    Thank you for your years of hard work to help secure access to this fantastic climbing area. If you arrange a site for donating towards the area’s up-keep please let me know. Also, I notice from the mini-guide that the power lines appear to be gone. Where they removed for the rails to trails project? Is that still on? Are there any plans to try an re-establish plant life along the old rail bed?

    November 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm
      admin commented

      No, Amtrak moved the power lines (a multi-million dollar project) as part of their grid update. Interestingly, Amtrak sprays Round-Up along their easement to keep the weeds down…this of course kills everything along the rail trail.

      November 29, 2011 at 12:07 am

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