The first time I heard someone describe the scene at a crag as “a show” I was at 5.8 crag with a medium sized group of friends and we shared the cliff with a medium sized group of strangers. A local used the phrase to describe the situation and even though I was a gumby back then, I could tell a “show” wasn’t a good thing. In the ten or more years that have followed, I have learned that for a setting to be called a show, or sometimes a gong-show, all you really need is a crowd; to have more climbers than a stretch of cliff can comfortably support. Add to that, a crowd made up of sport climbers who haven’t embraced Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics or behave in an unsafe way and you have a gong-show.
We like to avoid, “The Show.” It’s never fun waiting in line while someone projects your warm-up, or listen to climbers shout bad beta for what they think is Armed and Dangerous but is actually Clusterphobia. But in 2020, while climbing during a pandemic, it is more important than usual to avoid crowds, even outside. To that end, I’d like to offer an alternative to the best known crags in the region which is far smaller and less well known (and never hosts, “The Show”). Let me tell you about Longstack Precipice near Alton Bay, NH.