LARS Aerial Survey of GSR and COPE & Tower Inspection

2021-01-13 & 14

At 0900 hrs on 2021-01-13, members of the NCAC COPE and Climbing Committee met with Jim Blanchard, ScD, Chief Scientist of the UAS Academy, for an aerial survey of Goshen Scout Reservation. The primary mission was to discover climbable natural surfaces suitable for satisfing BSA training requirements and supporting a program of climbing on natural surfaces.
Recently, we had learned that Section II(A)(7) of Executive Order 72, Gov Northam's stay-at-home order, issued 2020-12-18, was intended mainly to discourage people from after-hours public drinking. More importantly, people were still allowed to stay overnight at private campgrounds in groups of ten or fewer if they wear masks and wash their hands.
This meant there was no state-directed barrier to our traveling to or staying at Goshen.
We would follow the protocols developed for family summber camp at Camp Snyder.
On 2021-01-07, I got a great birthday present; permission from Craig Weston and Phil Barbash to proceed with the expedition.
Jim confirmed he could support an expedition on 13-14 Jan if he had at least one other person to act as a non-flying member of the cockpit.
I could go, and so could Bruce Weir (Chairman of the Climbing Committee) and Alexander Butterfield (member).
Mike Jolly, Goshen Scout Reservation Ranger, agreed to support us.
Mission on!
The following pictures are from that expedition.
Was it a success?
We're waiting on the analysis of the imagery.
I'm working on the report from the Committee inspection of the COPE course and climbing tower.
Not great, but not as bad as it could be.

From Bruce (referencing map at 6B and images at row 7, below):
The bluffs we examined are an exposed band of blocky, sometimes overhanging sandstone outcrops about 15 - 30 feet high with gaps between outcrops that can provide access between top and bottom. The attached photos show some typical examples. The slopes below the bluffs are steep, loose, and covered with leaf litter that obscures unstable rocks. The area above the bluffs is closer to level and much easier to traverse. Greenbriar, rose, blackberry and wineberry thrive in many areas near the bluffs.
We entered the area on the Camp Virginia access road, parking at a cable gate and hiking down a well-maintained road to a river access station with tent pads and an elevated observation platform. We scrambled uphill from there and traversed upriver below the bluffs until we ran out of time, then climbed above the bluffs through a gap and returned via the very overgrown abandoned road.
We saw no evidence that anyone has climbed in this area, not surprising because access from the north and west (over or around The Knob) is arduous, access from the south is blocked by the river and dense tree cover makes the formations difficult to see, and access from the east appears to cross posted private property. When the Goshen Pass climbing area was open there was no compelling reason to explore this area. Now, however, it may be Goshen's best opportunity for year-around, easy-access rock climbing that cannot be closed by the state.
We need to get climbers out there to evaluate routes and anchors and to explore the area further. The topography and geology suggest that The Knob may provide many more climbing opportunities than we were able to identify during this survey. Goshen is officially closed, so you unfortunately cannot just show up and go for it. Council permission is required for each visit. If you can and want to help, please let me know so that I can make arrangements.

  A B C
Dr. Blanchard and the operations van.
01/13/2021 09:14 AM 4856 KB

Bruce Weir, getting his bearings after a LONG drive from Northern MD.
01/13/2021 09:15 AM 7563 KB

Alex Butterfield, boon traveling companion and keeper of years of knowledge of hiking, climbing, and COPE at Goshen SR during summer camp and special events.
01/13/2021 09:15 AM 4507 KB
Me, with Alex in the background.
01/13/2021 09:16 AM 1614 KB

Mike Jolly, with gold; a recent professional survey of Goshen property showing the official boundaries.
01/13/2021 09:25 AM 4025 KB

Photo of surey.
01/13/2021 09:48 AM 3941 KB
From left, Bruce, Mike, Alex and Jim, discussing strategy.
01/13/2021 09:56 AM 3861 KB

Mike, indicating possible sites. Notice the site on his left; the boundary is the northerly bank of the Calfpasture River.
01/13/2021 09:57 AM 3914 KB

Bruce and Jim discussing the scope of the aerial survey and mission plans.
01/16/2021 07:01 PM 4509 KB
Closeup of southwesterly boundary of Goshen SR.
01/16/2021 07:02 PM 5138 KB

Shale pit. Could construct a concrete rock-like surface, erect it, and add sidewalls making a free standing climbing wall with easy access by Scouts from Camp Bowman, PMI, Marriott, and Baird!
01/16/2021 07:04 PM 9516 KB

To the right, a possible hillside that could be developed into "bunny slope" climbing, provided it was inside Goshen property.
01/13/2021 11:32 AM 8455 KB
Lunch. Jim brought MREs to share (Thanks, Jim!). A learning experience for some of us. Far cry from C rations experienced at USAF ROTC camp in 1974.
01/13/2021 11:54 AM 4161 KB

A gift from Alex; high energy chewables. Definitely get again!
01/16/2021 07:03 PM 7024 KB

A second gift from Alex, knowledge of a detailed map of trails around Goshen. Notice the trails southeasterly of the Knob. Notice how they follow the northerly boundary of Camp Virginia and the northerly banks of the Calfpasture River. Looks a lot like the legal boundary. And in the area Mike indicated that had vertical exposed rocks.
01/13/2021 05:41 PM 3979 KB
Nightime review of the data. Notice the huge 4K display screen. Nearly as awesome as the highly informative lecture from Dr Blanchard on the science and art of aerial surveying. Stay tuned as the story develops.
01/13/2021 06:59 PM 4370 KB

Shows The Knob, a portion of the Calfpasture River, and the main entrance to Goshen Scout Reservation. Two promising rock outcrops are identified by red dots labeled G1 and G2. The easiest approach to these outcrops is via an abandoned dirt road (not shown) that forks uphill at G3 from the Camp Virginia river access road and passes above the bluffs.
01/24/2021 06:20 PM 715 KB

Detailed topographic map of same area. Notice steep grades to the left of the explored area.
01/20/2021 09:32 PM 1520 KB
Picture taken by Bruce of proposed climbing area.
01/24/2021 06:16 PM 2951 KB

Picture taken by Bruce of proposed climbing area.
01/24/2021 06:16 PM 2963 KB

Picture taken by Bruce of proposed climbing area.
01/24/2021 06:19 PM 8496 KB

Click on any image to enlarge.

If you would like to suggest an alternate caption for any of these pictures, please send your suggestion along with the row number (1-n) and column number (A-C) to the Webmaster

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