Moab Oil and Gas Lease Update
On November 25, the Access Fund sent an action alert urging opposition to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) proposed oil and gas leases that could impact world-class climbing areas near Moab, Utah. Once these parcels are leased and put into production, the BLM must build roads capable of accommodating large industrial vehicles. Oil and gas rigs could sprout up near many of Moab's most famous climbs, significantly changing these famous desert landscapes.
After strong opposition from the National Park Service, members of Congress, and public interest groups, the BLM pulled a number of proposed leases, including a few that host climbing along the River Road near Big Bend. See www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2008/2008-12-15-093.asp
Several climbing areas are still on the auction block, including Tusher Canyon, Courthouse Pasture, and Hell Roaring Canyon north of Moab. Climbs such as Monitor and Merrimac Buttes, Echo Pinnacle, and the Witch and Warlock towers could be affected by the BLM's oil and gas auction. The window for comments closed on December 4, and the auction is scheduled for December 19. Thanks to everyone who submitted protest letters to the BLM. Stay tuned for updates.
SCC to Reopen Yellow Bluff, AL
By Paul Morley, The Southeastern Climbers Coalition
After three years of persistent effort, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) plans to reopen a portion of the historic cliff Yellow Bluff, located about 20 miles from Huntsville, Alabama. During the late 1980s, climbers such as Jessie Guthrie and Curt Merchant helped establish many of the classic lines that earned the cliff its reputation as the test piece crag of the South. Yellow Bluff is home to Alabama's first 5.13a and the 5.13d/14a Tour de Jour. In the early 1990s, just as Yellow Bluff was growing more popular, the area was closed to climbing.
In 2005, the SCC began rebuilding a relationship with Yellow Bluffs landowner and has been working for the past three years on possible avenues to reopen the crag. The SCC was recently given an affirmative agreement to purchase the crag at a set price, and went on to lead the acquisition to the recent signing for the right side of Yellow Bluff.
The SCC has just reached its fundraising goal for the acquisition of Yellow Bluff. The land deal should be completed in early February. Many thanks for everyone's donations, interest, and involvement in helping to open another Southern crag. For more information, visit www.seclimbers.org.
Telluride's Bridal Veil Falls Re-Opened to Climbing
Standing 365 feet over Telluride's Box Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls is Colorado's tallest free falling waterfall, and some would argue, one of the most classic and difficult ice climbs in the country. And it has been closed to climbing for the better part of a few decades, with the exception of a few brief openings.
Following extensive negotiations, ice climbers will once again be able to legally climb the classic Bridal Veil Falls, beginning December 5th of this year. This agreement was reached through negotiations between The Trust for Public Land and the Idarado Mining Company, with support and advocacy from Colorado's San Miguel County, the Telluride Mountain Club and the Access Fund. It awards a revocable public access license that grants climbers access to this world-class ice climb.
The opening of the key access point to Bridal Veil Falls was managed by The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit land conservation organization dedicated to helping communities all around the country save special places for everyone to enjoy. Their work has made a real difference around Telluride, Ouray and Silverton, where they have protected over 10,000 acres for the public, including other outstanding climbing resources such as Wilson Peak and the Ouray Ice Park.
A climber's general information meeting will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the county meeting room, Miramonte Building, 333 West Colorado Ave (2nd floor) Telluride, CO. All interested climbers are invited to attend.
The re-opening of Bridal Veil Falls is a big win for the climbing community, but we need your help to ensure its continued access. This area contains a set of innate hazards, which climbers must be aware of to ensure their own safety and mitigate potential access issues.
This new public access license is revocable and is contingent on climber's awareness and compliance with a number of rules. Climbers must sign in at a kiosk and avoid the Powerhouse area at the top of the falls; all descents must be via rappel. A complete list of rules and topo can be found at www.sanjuaniceclimbs.com.
Compliance with these rules is essential to maintain climbing privileges. Please treat this area and its adjacent private land with respect, and help educate others on its proper use. Our combined efforts can help keep this landmark climb open for years to come.
Many thanks to folks at The Trust for Public Land, Idarado Mining Company, San Miguel County, Telluride Mountain Club and many local climbers for coming together to reclaim this Colorado classic. For more information, contact Access Fund Regional Coordinator Steve Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trust for Public Land
Telluride Mountain Club
San Miguel County
Colorado Avalanche Information Center
Access Fund Affiliate Gunks Climbers Coalition Presented with Land Stewardship Award
On October 11, the Mohonk Preserve presented the Thom Scheuer Land Stewardship Award to the Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC), an Access Fund Affilitate organization based in Gardiner, NY that is dedicated to ensuring sustainable opportunities for responsible climbing along the Shawangunk Ridge and in surrounding areas. The award was presented at the 10th Annual New Paltz Climbing Film Festival, held at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Were happy to recognize GCC, which has been a critical partner in protecting and managing land in the Shawangunks, a world-renowned climbing destination, said Hank Alicandri, the Preserves Head Ranger and Director of Stewardship.
GCCs many activities include opening access to new climbing areas, improving climber trails, preventing soil erosion and compaction in heavily used areas, sponsoring events, and raising funds for rescue equipment.
Its a great honor for GCC to be recognized for its achievements as a liaison for the climbing community, said Chris Moratz, Board Chairman of GCC, who accepted the award along with Secretary General Janette Pazer. Our work has been possible because of the support of the local climbing community, the Access Fund, Rock and Snow of New Paltz and local rock climbing guide services, and of course our dedicated Board members.
The Preserves Stewardship award is named for Thom Scheuer, one of the Preserves first Rangers and the first Director of Stewardship, who worked tirelessly at the Preserve for more than 27 years until his sudden death in 1999. Prior award recipients include Dr. Richard McNally (2007), Rich Gottlieb (2006), Dr. Heinz Meng (2005), the Gardiner Fire and Rescue Department (2004), the Access Fund (2003), John Stannard (2002), Dick Williams (2001), Dr. Ed Reppert (2000), and Joe Bridges (1999). For more information see www.gunksclimbers.org/
Bouldering Reopened at Hawkins Preserve. Cortez, CO
By Paul Morey, Four Corners Climbing Coalition
After a 16 month closure, bouldering in Hawkins Preserve in Cortez, Colorado reopened on November 8th. The preserve, located within the city limits of Cortez, contains as many as 100 boulder problems on quality sandstone and is an important climbing resource for local climbers. The private preserve, open to the public, was closed due to liability concerns and impacts to the natural and cultural resources within the 122 acre preserve.
As a result of the closure, the Four Corners Climbing Coalition (4CCC) was formed to work with the preserve's management, the Cortez Cultural Center, to reopen the preserve to climbing. After 16 months of negotiations, legal wrangling, trail building, climbing management plan creation, a memorandum of understanding between 4CCC and the Cortez Cultural Center, and too many field trips and meetings to count, bouldering has returned to the preserve.
To address the liability concerns of climbing in the preserve and the need to educate climbers about the sensitive resources within the preserve, climbers must obtain a permit before climbing or bouldering. To obtain a climbing permit, climbers must fill out a liability release form and attend a climbing orientation within the preserve. Information on how to obtain the permit can be found on the 4CCC website at www.4-ccc.org. Although 4CCC did much of the ground work to return climbing to the preserve, the Access Fund provided important legal advice and help with the climbing management plan that proved crucial to the reopening of climbing within the preserve.
Climbing Access Update: McDowell Mountains / North Scottsdale, AZ
By Erik Filsinger, Climber Liaison with City of Scottsdale Preserve Staff and Land Advocacy Chair for the Arizona Mountaineering Club
Progress has been made to build and open formal access to the trails (and rock climbing) at the north end of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona. Crags like Sven Slab, Sven Towers, Hog Heaven, Granite Ballroom, Rosetta Stone, Morrells Wall, Gardeners Wall, Crossroads Wall, Glass Dome, Toms Thumb, Lost Wall, Fort McDowell, and Half and Half Wall provide some of the best granite rock climbing in the Phoenix area. This area has now been included within the City of Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We have been working closely with City Staff to identify established rock climbing routes and appropriate access from the official City trails.
The exciting news is that construction on the Toms Thumb trail has begun. Climbers need to be aware and communicate with other rock climbers that respecting any temporary closures in the area while construction is underway is imperative. For example, the Morrells Parking Area will be closed for 4 to 5 months beginning this November for construction staging; a gate will be placed and signed for public closure. This means the traditional approach to Morrells Wall will not be available during that time period. Please respect the signage and closures; it is in climbers long term interest to show that we, as climbers, will continue to be good citizens and partners with the City and the Preserve. The other not signed for temporary closure rock climbing crags will remain open, so enjoy a safe time out there! Please contact Erik Filsinger for more information.
Climbing Opportunities Expanded at Mission Trails Regional Park San Diego, CA
By Tom Donnelly, Access Fund Regional Coordinator and Allied Climbers of San Diego member
In September the Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) attended a Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Task Force meeting to voice concerns over recent changes to the Park Master Plan draft. Proposed language included text that specifically limited rock climbing to only one areathe Mission Gorge area of the park to the west-facing side of Kwaay Paayand officially banned climbing elsewhere within the park limits. ACSD felt this language too restrictive and should be removed to allow consideration of climbing in various areas throughout MTRP.
The MTRP voted to incorporate ACSDs request to remove the restrictive language that limited climbing; additional language was included that should benefit the climbing community in the future. A programmatic EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is being prepared in conjunction with the MTRP Master Plan which will evaluate other climbing opportunities within Mission Trails Regional Park. This is wonderful news, to say the least, and is the first step in building positive relationships with the MTRP Citizens Advisory Committee and park staff as we look to the future to create additional "responsible" climbing opportunities within the park. Don't plan on any of these additional climbing opportunities becoming available immediately, but do plan on rolling up our collective sleeves as there will be plenty of work ahead as we move forward and assist the park with the planning and operational logistics. Climbers and the park staff will need to work together to make these "opportunities" a reality! Thank you to everyone who signed the petition. Your signatures-your voices-were heard! For more information, see http://alliedclimbers.org/mtrp.php
Proposed Kentucky Highway Improvements Could Negatively Impact Muir Valley Climbing
By Doris Edwards, Friends of Muir Valley, Co-chair; Rick and Liz Weber, Muir Valley, LLC, owners
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC) is undertaking a project that could have a significant detrimental impact on climbing access to Muir Valley Nature Preserve. The poorly publicized timeline and funding for this project are not definitive, so the final outcome can still be influenced by public comment. Local, non-climbing residents favor an alternative which results in less impacts to their own properties and greater impacts to the Muir Valley Preserve. It is imperative that climbers weigh in and let the KTC know how their alternative plans would impact climbing and other forms of recreation.
In less than five years, Muir Valley has grown to be one of the highest visited climbing venues in the Eastern U.S. In 2007, over 10,600 visitor days were recorded for the Preserve and will rise to over 12,000 in 2008. Muir Valley is privately owned, climber friendly, and free to the public.
Specifically, the KTC is studying how to re-route and improve KY Highway 715 between KY 11 near Zachariah and the Mountain Parkway in Wolfe County. A total of nine alternatives are under consideration. Most of these alternatives would have a negative impact on Muir Valley as a portion of the Preserve would be acquired through eminent domain, possibly closing the emergency and maintenance road entrance to the Valley. KTCs Alternatives A, C, or X (X being nothing changes) would have the least detrimental impact to Muir Valley, but Alternatives E or F would have a disastrous one. The very heart of the Preserve would be lost to eminent domain and the Muir Valley owners would likely close the Preserve to all recreational activities (including climbing) permanently. Click here to view a map of Muir Valley with the study area shown overlaid in pink. The map shows that over half of the climbs in Muir Valley lie in area that could be taken by eminent domain.
Muir Valley owners, Rick and Liz Weber, are in contact with KY officials and have commented on alternatives. They appreciate the support and guidance of the Access Fund, specifically Jason Keith, Access Fund Policy Director, in dealing with the public process. Updated information will be posted on www.MuirValley.com as available.
Climbers and other interested parties are strongly encouraged to help protect their access to Muir Valley by submitting comments. Request that the Alternative selected be one that will have the least impact on Muir Valley. Written comments should be sent to:
Director, Division of Planning
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
200 Mero Street Station W5-05-0
Frankfort, KY 40622
Or contact: email@example.com
Unaweep Canyon Under New Ownership
By Eve Tallman, Secretary of the Western Colorado Climbers' Coalition
Mothers Buttress, a major crag in Unaweep Canyon near Grand Junction, Colorado, has been sold to the Western Colorado Climbers Coalition (WCCC) by the parcel's new owners, John and Marti Peterson of Gunnison, Colorado. Local climbers formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in part to purchase the land so climbers may access the granite climbing area in perpetuity. With grants from the Access Fund, REI, and donations from the National Outdoor Leadership School, as well as gifts from several individuals, the WCCC raised money and in-kind donations to help move the deal forward.
Dave Foley, a surveyor, and Access Fund Board Member Steve Johnson, an attorney, both from Telluride, donated hours of service to ensure the success of the exchange. Realtor John Eakins donated part of his fee to the project as well. The coalition still seeks approximately $4,000 to seal the deal. Tax-deductible donations can be made by contacting the WCCC, www.westernslopeclimbers.blogspot.com
At the Adopt-a-Crag event on October 26, a small group from the WCCC built a new trail to access the crags from the highway. Donations of food and gear made for a happy crew. In other news, WCCC members Kris Hjelle, John Eakins, and Jim Black replaced the decrepit fence crossing at the Access Fund trailhead to Unaweep's Sunday Wall. Thanks to donations from the local Home Depot and the sweat equity of Kris and John, the new ladder should last another 20 years. For more information, email the WCC at Western_co_climbers@hotmail.com
Madrone Wall: Public Involvement Meeting #3, OR
WHERE: Clackamas County Sunnybrook Service
Center Auditorium First Floor
9101 S.E. Sunnybrook Blvd.
Clackamas, Oregon 97015
(Off Exit 14 of I-205 north of Oregon City)
WHEN: Wednesday, October 29; 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Clackamas County is working with the community to complete a feasibility study and develop a Concept Parks Master Plan for the Madrone Wall and is soliciting public input. This is the THIRD AND LAST public involvement meeting planned by the County. It is, therefore, YOUR LAST OPPORTUNITY to provide the County with your input, in a public forum, on the future uses of and improvements to this site, including the potential creation of a park. A park concept plan WITHOUT climbing is still on the table. We need your support to see that one of the plans that supports climbing are overwhelmingly supported.
Comments, suggestions, or questions regarding this Park Master Planning process should be sent to Katie Dunham at firstname.lastname@example.org (503-794-8051), or Chris VanDuzer at email@example.com (503-353-4663). Submissions will be presented at the Public Meeting.
Please continue to respect Clackamas Countys current NO TRESSPASSING posting at the site. This public site remains closed to public access as the County establishes what to do next. The County is working to complete the Concept Parks Master Plan for the site this fall. It is considering what uses may be possible and allowed, how traffic may flow in and out of the site, resource protection, and educational and recreational potential. As part of the budgeting process, the County is also evaluating what capital improvements may be needed (e.g., onsite parking), the cost of capital improvements, and how and when to establish funding, including the possible application for matching grants to fund improvements.
PLEASE ATTEND the last scheduled public parks master plan meeting on October 29 and participate in this future-defining process!
Picture Rocks, IA
By Evan Fales Access Fund Regional Coordinator and President, Iowa Climbers Coalition
The Jones County Conservation Board (JCCB) proposed the formation of a climbing management committee with oversight over Pictured Rocks. It will bring together climbers and land managers on an ongoing basis. The Iowa Climbers Coalition (ICC) elected representatives to the committee and then met with the JCCBs executive director, the Jones County ranger, and the local DNR official at an Adopt-a-Crag in September. The land managers are eager to work with ICC to make climbing a sustainable recreational activity at Pictured Rocks. ICC will be collecting data on all routes in the area and discussing replacement of old bolts. ICC has been trying for seven years to establish a climbing management process with land managers and is looking forward to constructive dialogue.
Ryans Wall Established at Newhalem, WA
By Access Fund WA Regional Coordinator Jonah Harrison
Ryan Alan Murray Triplett passed away on September 7, 2008, while soloing a multi-pitch climb near Mazama, Washington. Ryan left as his legacy his loving wife Jen, wonder dog Makiah, his family, and friends too numerous too mention. He was an avid and talented biker and skier, but his true passion was rock climbing.
Ryan was as skilled a traditional climber as he was a sport climber. In recent years, he developed a slew of hard sport lines throughout Washington. His main focus was Newhalem, Washington on the west slope of the North Cascades. Ryan worked with the Access Fund in their efforts to reopen the crag, which is part of a long gorge (the Skagit River Gorge) filled with incredible new route potential on steep, featured gneiss with road-side access. The minute the Access Fund and the National Park Service entered an agreement reopening parts of the gorge, Ryan headed up from his home in Seattle and began establishing new lines. Ryan was amazingly motivated and quickly established modern classics as well as heady test pieces on the main wall closest to town.
Though climbers have been climbing at that wall since 2000, all new routes stopped in 2003 with the imposition of a voluntary moratorium on new route development. The wall had remained an unnamed work in progress. Since his untimely passing, Ryan's friends and the climbing community have discussed different ways to honor his memory. They decided that naming the wall Ryan's Wall would be appropriate and will use that name in the area guidebook Ryan had begun drafting. Ryan loved the area and his spirit lives on in the lines he established that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Santa Barbara Bouldering Area Reopened Following Forest Fire, CA
Last July the Gap Fire raged through the mountains above Santa Barbara, CA effectively closing down and partially damaging the popular bouldering areas known as The Brickyard and Lizards Mouth. The Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) initially closed the areas down for a month while aircraft applied hydromulch to 1,500 acres to help protect the denuded hillsides during the upcoming rainy season. See www.fs.fed.us/r5/lospadres/conditions. The Los Padres National Forest then extended the closure period to a year to protect the hydromulch cover.
The Access Fund contacted LPNFs Santa Barbara District Ranger to discuss limited bouldering access and confirmed that public access will be allowed to the Lizards Mouth bouldering area immediately because that location is near the road and composed almost entirely of exposed rock that does not depend on hydromulching for rehabilitation. However, because The Brickyard is further from the road and in an area with vegetation, LPNF will continue the closure there through next September unless the groundcover recovers faster than expected. For more information, email Jason@accessfund.org.
Toilets Installed at Joes Valley and Indian Creek, UT
Joe's Valley has become one of the premier bouldering areas in the American West. With this popularity has come increased impact on the natural environment and has also placed strain on the relationships between land owners, climbers, and other user groups.
The Salt Lake Climbers' Alliance, with the help of its donors, has installed latrines at the Mansize and Buoux camping areas. The use of these latrines will help keep campsites enjoyable and also minimize our impact in the area. Latrines will be installed seasonally, depending on donations. To visit the Salt Lake Climbers' Alliance donation page and make a contribution go to: www.saltlakeclimbers.org/donate.
In Indian Creek, the Friends of Indian Creek have installed three porta-potties. These will be located at the Superbowl and Creek Pasture camping areas. Their aim is to alleviate the use of human waste bags and to provide a more cost-effective method of tackling the human waste problem at Indian Creek. The porta-potties will be in place during the busy climbing season at Indian Creek and cleaned on a weekly basis.
Funding for these toilets has come from the sale of Friends of Indian Creek t-shirts and donations received in the donation tubes at the 4 kiosks in Indian Creek. Please help us to maintain these toilets by continuing to make donations. The future of Indian Creek depends on minimizing human waste. By providing human waste bags and toilets, we can do this. It will take a combined effort from all climbers to use human waste bags, toilets, and make donations. These facilities cannot be provided without your help. For more information, see www.friendsofindiancreek.org
Vermonts Bolton Crag Protected, VT
By Travis Peckham, President, CRAG-VT
Through the combined efforts of the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), and Climbing Resource Access Group Vermont (CRAG-VT), climbing at the 82 Crag in Bolton, Vermont has been permanently protected. Very recently, the VLT helped the ANR acquire an easement ensuring conservation and public recreation rights on the land where the cliff is located. CRAG-VT was able to work with the VLT and the ANR to make sure climbing access was included in these protections.
The conservation of this land is part of the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Projecta cooperative effort by many local groups and statewide organizations and agencies to conserve the ecological integrity, rural character, and working landscape of the northeastern uplands of Chittenden County.
The Vermont Land Trust is working hard to protect large parcels of forestlandthey are essential to our land-based economy and provide wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, said Bob Heiser, project manager for the Vermont Land Trust.
The 82 Crag is one of the best climbing areas in Vermont, hosting many classic climbs from 5.8 to 5.13. This project is a great example of how conservation groups like the ANR, the VLT, and CRAG-VT can work in partnership to protect Vermonts climbing and conserve undeveloped lands. CRAG-VT would like to extend its gratitude to ANR and the VLT for understanding the importance of local climbing resources and for the hard work it took to make this project a success.
Castleton Tower Adopt-a-Crag Event, UT
October 24th, 25th, & 26th Trail Repair and Trailhead/Campground Stewardship
Castleton Tower needs YOUR help. On August 7, the Castleton Tower crags received two inches of rain in forty-five minutes. The flash flood severely damaged the access trail. An Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag event planned for this fall will repair the trail. We need your help! Please join us.
Utah Open Lands, with support from the Access Fund and American Alpine Club, will host the first annual trail maintenance and baselands stewardship event at Castleton Tower October 24-26. The event is an official Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag event. It is made possible by Petzls sponsorship of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Moab, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary this March.
The goal of the event is for a group of volunteers, under the leadership of trail building professionals, to repair the access trail and begin to take on the stewardship of the crags at Castleton Tower on both BLM and Utah Open Lands property.
Trail Repair & Maintenance Seminar
Friday, October 24
The Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI), builders of the Castleton Tower access trail and many of the trails at Indian Creek, will conduct a seminar on trail construction and maintenance. Then RMFI will lead us in the trail repair work.
Castleton Tower Access Trail Repair
Saturday, October 25
RMFI will oversee trail repair work on the Castleton Tower access trail.
Castleton Tower Access Trail Repair / Trailhead and Primitive Campground Re-Vegetation
Sunday, October 26
RMFI will oversee trail repair work on the Castleton Tower access trail. Additionally, on this day Plateau Restoration of Moab will lead another group of volunteers in the re-vegetation of a large section of the primitive campground which was damaged by OHV travel before Utah Open Lands acquired the land in 2003.
Participants will meet each day at 8:30 am. at the Castleton Tower trailhead and primitive campground on the LaSal Mountain Loop Road in Castle Valley. We will work until approximately 4:00 pm each day. Participants should bring their own food, snacks, beverages, and water. Water will be available for refilling bottles at the trailhead. You may participate for as little as a half-day. The decision is yours, but we need your help. The event will happen rain or shine so bring some foul weather gear.
Finally, Utah Open Lands would like to thank the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, Black Diamond, and Petzl for their support of this event and the stewardship effort at Castleton Tower!
Please contact Dave Erley of Utah Open Lands at 435-259-4859 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up for any or all of the days.
Climbers Reminded to Practice Leave No Trace Ethics
The following is a press release from Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. The park has had problems with a number of boulderers stashing pads in the park. Pad stashing in National Parks is illegal and could potentially affect climbing access.
The Access Fund operates with the understanding that climbers, by their very nature, care about the natural environments in which they climb. The Access Fund urges all climbers to practice Leave No Trace principles and carry everything out that they carry in - including their pads.
Rocky Mountain National Park News Release September 2, 2008
Climbers Reminded to Practice Leave No Trace Ethics
Rocky Mountain National Park has always been known for an abundance of spectacular alpine rock climbing and mountaineering. Recently, bouldering has also become popular in the park and boulders in Chaos Canyon and near Emerald Lake have become frequent destinations for climbers.
As more and more climbers come to the park to boulder, impacts to the park's natural resources increase. For example, crash pads are frequently left behind so they dont have to be carried back and forth from the trailhead to the bouldering areas. Sometimes these pads are chewed by marmots and rodents, resulting in small pieces of foam littering the area and offering up an unhealthy diet for wild animals. Fortunately, most climbers who recreate in Rocky Mountain National Park minimize their impacts by practicing Leave No Trace Ethics. However, an increasing number are leaving crash pads stashed under and around the boulders, resulting in problems such as the one noted above. During a patrol last summer, rangers found more than 25 pads hidden in the Chaos Canyon area alone. Last week, rangers collected nine pads in one day. Rocky Mountain National Parks backcountry is managed as wilderness. Leaving these pads is illegal.
Issues of concern arent limited to bouldering areas. Several years ago rangers removed nearly four hundred pounds of trash, old slings, abandoned rope, abandoned food caches, and other items left behind by climbers on the east face of Longs Peak.
Rangers hope that users will take more responsibility toward maintaining a natural, wilderness setting by carrying their crash pads to and from bouldering areas and by removing other inappropriate items at the conclusion of each trip. If not, items will be confiscated and owners could risk costly fines. According to Chief Ranger Mark Magnuson, responsible stewardship of public lands is necessary for all user groups, helping to ensure the freest possible access and appropriate recreational use consistent with long-term preservation of park resources. Adhering to the principles of Leave No Trace is one way to help accomplish this.
Access Fund TeamWorks Trail Project Builds on Climbing Access Success at Newhalem, WA
On September 13 rock climbers and three conservation groups joined the National Park Service to build and restore access paths to climbing crags outside of Newhalem, Washington at Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
Since 2003 The Access Fund has worked with the North Cascades National Park, joined by members of the Washington Climbers Coalition (www.washingtonclimbers.org), to negotiate access to spectacular unclimbed cliffs outside Newhalem. Late last year all the worked came to fruition when climbers and the park service came up with a compromise that allowed access to some of the areas many undeveloped crags pending the development of a larger management plan. For more information, see www.accessfund.org/regions/news/WA.
Saturday's stewardship project was an Access Fund-organized TeamWorks event that seeks to educate young indoor climbers on the transition from inside to outside environments by focusing on Leave No Trace ethics and responsible rock climbing habits. TeamWorks is designed to instill and foster a sense of stewardship and pride in caring for our outside climbing environments leading to long term conservation of climbing areas.
For more on this Access Fund program, see www.boulderproject/teamworks. The Newhalem trail project was assisted by kids from Seattles "Vertical World" youth climbing team who got their first chance to climb on a real rock face, rather than on a wall in a climbing gym.
Charles Beall, from North Cascades National Park, says "This really is a success story. The National Park Service, working with the climbing groups and other partners, has found a way to accommodate this recreational use, while balancing our mandate to protect park resources."
Saturdays trail project at Newhalem was assisted by the Washington Trails Associationwho provided trail building expertise and toolsand The Wilderness Society who provided logistical support and help at the event. For more information regarding this event, contact Access Fund Regional Coordinator Jonah Harrison (email@example.com) or the Washington Climbers Coalition (Info@washingtonclimbers.org).
Castleton Trail Damaged in Flash Flood, UT
The Castleton Tower access trail suffered severe damage on Thursday, August 7, 2008, due to an exceptional, localized thunderstorm and the resulting flash flood. The Grand County Utah Road Department estimates two inches of rain fell in 45 minutes. Several large sections of the trail were washed away. The upper traverse below Castleton Tower and over to the Rectory is basically gone and is more exposed in a number of places.
The route has been flagged so that climbers can identify it. This was done to prevent the development of redundant trails and to protect the threatened plant species that exist in the area that, by law, the BLM is required to protect. The flagging is temporary and will be removed after the trail is repaired. Climber cooperation in staying on the flagged route and leaving the flagging in place is greatly appreciated.
Trail work will occur during an Adopt-a-Crag event sponsored and jointly funded by the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and Utah Open Lands. The Adopt-a-Crag event will take place on October 24, 25, and 26. Builders of the trail, The Rocky Mountain Field Institute, will lead the work parties. Volunteers are needed for this event so please feel free to contact the event coordinator Dave Erley of Utah Open Lands at 435-259-4859 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up. Volunteers are welcome to work as many days as their schedules will allow but should coordinate with Dave in order to make sure tools and other resources are available.
The Adopt-a-Crag event was scheduled in May and was not funded to do the scale of work necessitated by the storm. Thus, additional funding is needed to repair the trail. If you would like to contribute to this cause, please send your tax-deductible donation to:
Utah Open Lands
2188 S. Highland Drive, Suite 203
Salt Lake City, Utah 84106
Please specify in the memo section of your check dedicated funds for CT trail work.
Fire Spending Impacts Outdoor Recreation
Climbing Management Initiatives Delayed
US Forest Service (USFS) funding for many programs vital to Americans' enjoyment of our National Forests is about to disappear as the agency redirects money earmarked for those programs to fight fires. Climbing access is routinely affected across the West because the USFS is forced to divert dollars normally used for recreation management to address forest fire emergencies. In late August the Chief of the USFS Abigail Kimbell announced that the agency has depleted its $1.18 billion fire suppression budget for fiscal year 2008 and has initiated a recall of $400 million from agency programs throughout the nation. The result is that many projects benefiting outdoor recreationists will be put on hold until the end of the fiscal year (October) or until 2009.
Chief Kimbell stated, Firefighting activity and costs have risen steadily and drastically over the past several years due to the increased need and costs of protecting homes built near natural areas, drought, and climate change. The agency's fire fighting budget is based on a ten-year rolling average of past fire-fighting costs, which regularly fails to meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment. Read the message from the USFS Chief here: www.fs.fed.us/news/2008/releases/08/fire-impacts.pdf
This $400 million recall will be felt directly by the millions of people that treasure America's national forests as places to climb, hike, bike, paddle, ski, and snowshoe. Collaborative efforts to protect the environment and encourage public enjoyment will be hampered by agency staff's inability to travel to meetings. Recently a formal mediation process between the Allied Climbers of San Diego and the USFS regarding climbing closures to protect cliff-nesting raptors (or the lack thereof) has been stalled because the Cleveland National Forest needed to use its money and staff resources to fight fires. On USFS lands across the country, research efforts will be ceasedright in the middle of the prime data collection seasonwhich will likely delay many agency actions for one year. Grants and partnerships will be frozen and construction and watershed restoration projects will be put on hold.
Forward thinking Federal lawmakers responded to this recurring problem in March of this year by introducing the Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement Act, also known as the FLAME Act. The FLAME Act would create a supplemental funding source for catastrophic emergency wildland fire suppression activities on federal lands and would require agency leaders to develop a cohesive wildland fire management strategy. The FLAME Act, which has drawn wide support from the outdoor recreation community, passed in the House on July 9th and is now under consideration by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Learn more about the content and status of the FLAME Act by searching www.thomas.gov for H.R. 5541 or FLAME Act.