Mountain Project Map - Harpers Ferry

Friday, December 7, 2012

How to Get Rich in Harpers Ferry

Rich memories, that is. Read on.


As the blogger and web page host for Harpers Ferry Climbing I get a unique perspective on the flow of information on climbing at Harpers Ferry and I get to see some of the feedback mechanisms that are at play
in the shaping of the climbing community that visits Harpers Ferry.  Sixteen years of being immersed in climbing culture, leads me to say that we, climbers, enjoy the charisma and atmosphere of a venue as much as a good crag and that through our patronage we shape the very things that attracted us.  Furthermore, the food, drink, and charisma of an establishment are a major part of what makes an outing enjoyable for us.  A good restaurant, pub, bar, etc. offers us a chance to shift our focus from the challenges or dangers and recount the successes and failures of the day, share beta, relay stories of adventure at local and far away destinations, recharge our energy stores, savor the fermented brews of our liking, and kindle new relationships and passions to carry us forward.

As years pass, and climbing takes a rear seat to the other demands of my life, I nearly value the socializing with food and drink over the gritty adventures of the day. Maybe it's because I have more money than I use to have as a student, a traveling dirt-bagger, a rock climbing devotee, and that I can afford to pay for service. Maybe it's that I enjoy less the lingering anxiety of a brush with death and I would rather spin yarns and recount a brush from the comfort of a chair, beer in hand. Maybe it's that I'm no longer capable of the feats of strength, or stupidity depending on where you stand, that I hold in my minds eye as "Me". Whatever the driving reasons, the ratio of climb time to fine wine, spirits, brews and food is shifting and I have a favorite place, while climbing at Harpers Ferry, for the "Me" that is evolving. That place is The Secret Six Tavern.

I'm saying all of this, with the holiday season coming, with the winter winds and chill setting in, because I'm thinking about past good times with friends, the prospect of making new ones, and what really made the memories; Because I'm thinking about what Harpers Ferry climbing use to be, what it lacked, what was abundant, what it is here and now, and where it will go and what it will become.

It's important to mention, for those that do not visit Harpers Ferry year round, what a boom and bust tourist town the place can be and how the income of a venue will rise and fall with the seasons and the weather. For an establishment to withstand it needs a flow of visitors and for our climbing experience to be better than average I'll risk saying that we need a venue at which we can achieve a more complete, memorable experience.  And, it helps if the venue has charisma to match our unique lifestyles and character, and overlooks the very vertical terrain where our adventures play out.

On a broad stroke with your lifes brush, take a second and think about how we, a longtime and growing user group in the Harpers Ferry water gap, are shaping the place? What we would like our contribution to be? What does the Harpers Ferry climbing experience looks like? and How do you influence a new-comers notion of how to "climb" at Harpers Ferry? Will your experience be to zoom in from elsewhere, park, climb, get pumped, hit a convenience store at most, and dart back to a busy life? Or, will you arrive, climb, savor the movement, the gear, the history, the scenery, and adjourn for a beer and a run in with an old or new friend?

My personal suggestion for us, to create a memorable experience and cultivate a strong community, is to pair visitation of our favorite cliffs and climbs with an establishment that can facilitate, in-the-flesh, completion of our experience.  This is the way to push the day from a primarily physical and mental experience to being emotional, and even spiritual, as well. After all is climbed, what is it that pushes the Red River Gorge, the New River Gorge, Seneca Rocks, Bishop, Hueco Tanks, etc. into the memory banks? It's the off rock mingling in a unique restaurant, pub, brewery, campground, etc. about the vigorous pursuits of the day.

While you are thinking on what you want, peruse the information and photos I recently found in an article on Harpers Ferry and the local tavern called the Secret Six Tavern.

All photos (below) come from the article unless stated otherwise.
View of the inside from the Tap/Bar
View of the Tap/Bar
View of Harpers Ferry, from the top of Maryland Heights, where you can see the Secret Six Tavern.
Looking up at the back porch where many a good adventure has been recounted.
View of the Secret Six Tavern from High Street.
A still image from the movie Gods and Generals of Confederate soldiers coming down High Street. The secret six is the red brick building, on the right side, near the top of the street.
View from the back porch of the Secret Six Tavern.
A photo I took of the back porch at the Secret Six Tavern.
Another great climbing session adjourns to the back porch of the Secret Six Tavern.
Thanks for tuning in.

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