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Lost Horse Canyon Update, MT
11/16/2007

By Steve Porcella, Bitterroot Climbers Coalition

Things are looking bad for Lost Horse (see www.accessfund.org/display/page/AA/74 for background). Currently the Ravalli County Road Department has submitted a new proposal to the Commissioners to mine rip rap for 5 years. However, because no financial numbers are attached to this proposal and because the last proposals costs were grossly over projected, the Bitterroot Climbers Coalitions (BCC) focus is on repudiating this new proposal as another ill-planned scheme that will surely cost the citizens of Ravalli County too much money while also destroying a valuable recreational asset.

The Lost Horse homeowners are again providing numbers that say Lost Horse rip rap mining is more expensive than the local quarry owners are offering to provide the County. The BCC is asking everyone to send letters to Bitterroot Star, Ravalli Republic and County Commissioners saying that this new proposal is yet again more expensive than what local quarry owners are offering and is a waste of county tax payer money.

The BCC feels confident if we focus on the underlying fiscal implications of this proposal the three commissioners will vote against this new proposal. For more information see www.bitterrootclimbers.org or email steve@bitterrootclimbers.org



Moss Rock Preserve, AL
11/16/2007

By Ken Wills, President, Friends of Moss Rock Preserve

On November 5, the Hoover City Council unanimously voted to authorize the Mayor to purchase 79 acres next to Moss Rock Preserve and Simmons and Gwin schools. City ownership of the land will help protect and enhance Moss Rock, as well as potentially provide a new trail up the gorge from Moss Rock to the highest waterfall in the area. Mayor Petelos and City Council need to be thanked for their great work in making this happen.

Now the question is: What will come next? First, the city will have to close the deal and obtain title to the land. Second, the city will likely decide what portions of the land are suitable and needed for school expansion. These areas will likely be on the roadside ridgetops next to the schools and will possibly include the huge, infamous dirt pile that is already cleared and nearly ready for development. A traditional park has been suggested as a possibility for the former dirt pile area as well. The waterfall gorge on a fork of Hurricane Branch behind Simmons School is still in pristine condition, and the Mayor already mentioned a possible trail in that area.



Petzl Roc Trip Brings In Over $30,000 to Preserve Recreational Access, KY
11/16/2007

Joint Petzl/Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition press release

This fall Petzl America and the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGCC) made history with an unprecedented effort to preserve climbing and recreational access in eastern Kentucky. By joining forces for this years annual Rocktoberfest fundraiser and climbers festival, Petzl and the RRGCC raised over $32,000a ten-fold increase from last years event earnings and more than triple the initial goal of raising $10,000 for the RRGCC. Fundraising power was bolstered by a $10,000 matching grant from the Petzl Foundation that provided added incentive for climbers to pitch in for climbing and recreation access in the Red River Gorge area.

In 2004, climbers and advocates of the RRGCC purchased the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve, a 750-acre plot of undeveloped land now being developed for climbing, hiking, mountain-biking, and human-powered recreation access. On October 1214, an international crowd of nearly 1,000 climbers gathered for a weekend of clinics, competitions, and celebration. The money raised during the Rocktoberfest weekend will help cover the RRGCCs annual $29,000 mortgage payment (due through 2013) to protect the Pendergrass-Murray Preserve. Without funds to cover the yearly mortgage, the preserve could fall into the hands of interested oil developers, which would shut down climbing on the land.

Fundraising by climbers to preserve access even made national headlines! This years RocTrip/Rocktoberfests philanthropy efforts piqued the interest of National Public Radios Its Only A Game. A segment covering Rocktoberfest aired on the nationally broadcast radio program on October 27. Globally, the event generated buzz on 8a (www.8a.nu), the Internets most widely trafficked sport-climbing site, which now spotlights the Red River Gorge as a world-class climbing destination.

This years Petzl RocTrip showed what can be done when a company with heart and soul gets behind something it believes in, says Robb Shurr, Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Access Fund, a national non-profit organization dedicated to keeping climbing areas open and preserving the climbing environment. Having places to climb is fundamental to Petzls business, but they took it one step further and got behind a local access issue with national importance and really pushed for success. Its exactly this sort of involvement, vision, and stewardship that will keep climbing and recreational areas preserved and viable for the future. Shurr continues, The Access Fund has always been proud to have Petzl as one of its biggest and longest standing partnerswere especially proud after seeing the success of this years RocTrip.

We owe the success of this event to the local communitythe volunteers, the RRGCC Board, area businesses, and the 1,000-plus people who came out and put dollars down in support of the Pendergrass-Murray Preserve, says John Evans, Marketing Director for Petzl America. I highly recommend other outdoor companies include this outstanding grassroots event in their outreach programs for 2008. I guarantee Petzl will be back to support this great cause.

The success of Petzl RocTrip/Rocktoberfest 2007 was supported by The Access Fund, Avery Brewing Company, Five Ten, Keen, the climber-friendly Miguels Pizza, La Sportiva, Prana, Red Bull, Red River Gorge Cabin Rentals, Red River Outdoors, Rock and Ice magazine, Sterling Ropes, and The Warriors Way/Desiderata Institute.

Petzl Roc Trip, now in its sixth year, successfully brings the international climbing community together in celebration of the sport, from New Yorks Shawangunks to British Columbias Squamish to Kalymnos, Greece and Millau in the south of France. Open to climbers of all ability levels, the 2007 Petzl Roc Trip/Rocktoberfest featured competitions, clinics, and celebrations of climbing; raised funds and awareness for local and national access issues; and drew over 35 high-profile, sponsored climbing athletes.



San Diego Climbers Face Major Climbing Area Closures and Wildfires, CA
11/16/2007

By Stacy Roberts, Associate Director and President, Allied Climbers of San Diego

San Diego climbers are holding strong and uniting as a community to fight for climbing access, recover after major fires hit Southern California, and to work closely with the Access Fund.

The Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) have been patiently awaiting an Environmental Assessment regarding a proposal by the Cleveland National Forest (CNF) that would deny well-established climbing in order to create nesting habitat for non-threatened golden eagles and prairie falcons based on historical nesting of eagles in the vicinity. This proposal will close off climbing areas that have no indication of eagles nests ever being present on the cliff faces that climbers use, or within view of climbers activities.

This action is unprecedented. No conflict exists between climbers and eagles at the areas proposed for closures. The CNFs proposals encompass 2,640 feet in all directions of supposed historical nests, yet they have refused to provide any evidence to support their claims of these cliffs as nesting locations. The outcome of this proposal could have national implications due to the CNF invoking authority for this action under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The MBTA is an act of commerce that covers over 800 species, some as common as the crow, swallow, and hummingbird. Accordingly, climbing areas across the country could become more susceptible to unnecessary and unjustified access closures because all climbing takes place on crags and in areas that could be considered suitable nesting habitat for birds covered under the MBTA.

In other news, due to recent wildfires in much of southern California, all southern California National Forests have been closed until further notice. These fires also affected a majority of San Diegos crags. ACSD is working to assess damage, educate the San Diego climbing community on the status of these crags, and find out where they can physically help out with restoration, trail maintenance and other volunteer efforts. At this point, local crags that are known to be affected by the fires include Eagle Peak, El Cajon Mtn, and Mt. Woodson. Whether or not the rock has exfoliated on certain routes or entire sections of the rock (due to the extreme temperatures of the fire) is still to be determined. Up to date information will be posted on the Allied Climbers website as it becomes verifiably available: www.allliedclimbers.org.

ACSD has been working closely with the Access Fund to maintain climbing access in San Diego. Recently Brady Robinson (the new executive director of the Access Fund) along with other key Access Fund staff took a trip to San Diego to meet with ACSD members, the Cleveland National Forest, and to check out some of San Diegos precious climbing destinations. Unfortunately, their visit coincided with the fires, but before they left, the Access Fund team got a better understanding of the size and significance of the areas that are being threatened, the commitment of the San Diego climbing community to stand up for their recreational user rights, and of course they managed to squeeze in a little climbing as well.

As we continue to wait on the Environmental Assessment from the CNF, the Access Fund and ACSD will continue to suggest reasonable solutions to the Forest Service. For important background information on this issue and to see the AFs and the ACSDs position on this issue please go to: www.alliedclimbers.org/cnf_timeline.php.

 



Sunset Park, Lookout Mountain, TN
11/16/2007

By Samantha Christen, Sunset Park Representative, Southeastern Climbers Coalition

Civil War veterans established the Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military Battlefield in the late 1800s to memorialize the catastrophic battles that took place in this region. Spread over two states and four counties, the park is not only the oldest and largest National Military Park in the United States, but also home to one of the most historic climbing areas in the Southeast: Sunset Park.

In recent years there have been numerous, and growing, complaints to the rangers at Point Park about climbers and climbers behavior; there have been an equal number of remarks made among the climbing community regarding the rangers. Though we definitely are not the only user-group to enjoy the natural resources of Sunset Park, we are most often the scapegoat due to our high visibility.

In order to maintain the privilege of climbing in this historic area, we must be good stewards of our resources and good ambassadors of our sport. Please help us to foster and maintain good relations with the National Park Service and with individual rangers by honoring park regulations. The following regulations are posted on all kiosks and are available online.

Observe the One Hour parking spots.
Observe the posted "out" times. These times change seasonally; take note as you are hiking in.
Dogs must be on a leash (and you on the other end!) at all times.
Groups of 10 or more are required to obtain a permit through the Ranger Station (423-821-7788).
Do not block the trail. Don't make hikers walk over your rope, gear, dog, food, self or pack.
Observe the "Landscape Restoration" and other posted "Keep Out" areas. The SCC has put in a lot of time and money to re-vegetate these areas; trampled plants equates to wasted SCC money, which equates to less SCC money to buy/lease climbing areas.
Practice Leave No Trace principles: Pack it in and pack it out.
Be considerate of your language and volume.
Most of all have fun and be safe!

As climbers, must do our part to preserve history, not only the history of our country, but also the history of our chosen pastime. It is up to us, the climbers of this generation, to pass along the history of our sacred places.

Feel free to contact your local NPS Ranger with any questions or concerns. The Ranger Station number at Point Park is 423-821-7788. Ranger John Housch may be reached either via phone at 423-298-7137 or email at John_Housch@nps.gov Ranger Doug Briggs may be reached at Doug_Briggs@nps.gov.

You may also contact the SCC directly via info@seclimbers.org, or you may contact Samantha Christen, the Sunset Park representative for the SCC, at s_l_christen@yahoo.com.

 



Update on Oak Flat and Queen Creek, AZ
11/16/2007

By Erik Filsinger, Land Advocacy Chair, Arizona Mountaineering Club

Over the past several months members of the local Arizona climbing community have expressed concern about the substance and process surrounding the proposed federal legislative land exchange involving Oak Flat near the Queen Creek climbing areas. See www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-3301.

The Governor of Arizona raised a number of serious concerns about the states role www.mynewdb.com/QC/GovToEdPastor_Letter.pdf, as have local Native American communities about the displacement of historic lands www.mining-law-reform.info/IndexSup.htm.

These political developments and growing unrest within the climbing community regarding the enforceability and longevity of the access license to climbing in Queen Creek Canyon resulted in considerable discussions with elected officials and the filing of testimony to a congressional hearing on the proposed legislation. See: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=32&extmode=flat. Due in part to these local-based actions, the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, does not appear to be forwarding any legislation this year for further action. For more information on the activities and local concerns, see: www.amcaz.org/main/QueenCreek/amcActionStepsQC.html or contact Paul Diefenderfer at info@friendsofqueencreek.com.



Williamson Rock Update, CA
11/16/2007

By Troy Mayr, Friends of Williamson Rock

As you may be aware, the Angeles National Forest has requested public comments on a proposal, which were due June 6th. The proposal is to construct a trail from the Angeles Crest Highway to Williamson Rock, located in the upper reaches of Little Rock Creek within the Angeles National Forest. The proposal will analyze reopening the popular recreation site and rock climbing area to the public, while protecting the mountain yellow-legged frog (MYLF) and its critical habitat.

The information can be found at: www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles/news/2007/news-2007-05-10-comments-on-williamson-rock-access.shtml and www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles/documents/final-williamson-rock-scoping-ltr.pdf

Curious of how our (your) response to the USFS Scoping Letter / proposal was received?

Troy Mayr spoke with their primary contact at the USFS and asked him how the climber response was going. His response, "I give up. There are 100's, they are pouring in like rain!"

So a huge thank you to all who took the time to write!

The USFS did receive a letter that could have a negative affect for climbers (which was expected). While the group who wrote doesn't appear to be against climbing in any way, they are adamant about protecting endangered species above all else (recreation etc.).

In short they will push for a full E.I.S. as opposed to an E.A. Here are the pertinent definitions.

EA: Environmental Assessment - Generally, an EA includes brief discussions of the following: the need for the proposal; alternatives (when there is an unresolved conflict concerning alternative uses of available resources); the environmental impacts of the proposed action and alternatives; and a listing of agencies and persons consulted.

EIS: Environmental Impact Assessment (Study) - A National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) document. An EIS, should include discussions of the purpose of and need for the action, alternatives, the affected environment, the environmental consequences of the proposed action, lists of preparers, agencies, organizations and persons to whom the statement is sent, an index, and an appendix (if any).

The USFS I.D. Team will review the letters received and make a decision as to how to proceed. In all its off to a great start but the process is cumbersome and slow, so please continue be patient.

Friends of Williamson Rock will keep all up to date as details continue to unfold.

Background: The Williamson Rock area is a well-known recreation site used predominately for rock climbing. It has been used by climbers since the 1960's and is widely regarded as a unique rock climbing resource for the entire Southern California region.

The Williamson Rock area has been temporarily closed since December 2005 to protect the frog, which is an endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Populations of the frog are known to exist within the closure area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated approximately 615 acres along Little Rock Creek within the closure area as critical habitat for the MYLF in October 2006.

For more information, please visit www.williamsonrock.org or email troy@williamsonrock.org

 



Wilson Peak Access Restored! Telluride, CO
11/16/2007

By Steve Johnson, Colorados West Slope Regional Coordinator

After several years of private landowner closure to public access through Silver Pick Basin, public access to Wilson Peak, a popular Fourteener located at the headwaters of the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers in southwestern Colorado, has been restored. In early November 2007, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced that it had closed on the purchase of 23 patented mining claims in Silver Pick Basin. These claims encompass several hundred mostly above-timberline acres, including hiking trails used to access the West Face and Southwest Ridge of Wilson Peak, and which extended near the summit. The acquisition of these claims also opens access from Silver Pick Basin into Navajo Basin, from which two additional 14'ers, Mt. Wilson and El Diente Peak, are often climbed.

The TPL is still seeking to raise $1.6 million of the $3 Million purchase price. Several large private and foundation grants were key to the purchase, including the Telluride Foundation, the Tishman family, and Coors Brewing, which features Wilson Peak on its beer cans and ads.

The landowner will retain several claims at the bottom of Silver Pick Basin and the Rock House area in mid-basin. TPL and the USFS Norwood Ranger District are studying a partial trail re-alignment to avoid these claims. This re-alignment may necessitate a new trailhead which could add approximately 400' vertical and a half mile of trail length for a new, more scenic approach exclusively over Forest Service lands.

Public access over the new trail is not expected to be opened until late summer/fall in 2008. The popular Southwest Ridge route from the Rock of Ages col to the summit of Wilson Peak can be approached in the meantime from Navajo and Bilk Creek Basins.

The Telluride Mountain Club, Colorado Mountain Club, Western Mining Action Project and Sheep Mountain Alliance were instrumental in opposing the closures and related development scenarios that could have included hard rock mining, unbalanced land exchange proposals, and public road modifications. These groups worked with the landowner and public agencies to obtain accurate surveys and explore closure alternatives before the TPL purchase occurred. The late Charlie Fowler was also active in this multi-year effort. For more information email steve@8750law.com



Access Fund and NPS to Tear Down Climber Trail, WY
10/11/2007

By Armando Menocal, Honorary Access Fund Board Member

Actually, its not a trail but a 100-foot wooden stairway built around 1992 to stabilize the badly eroded base slopes of Grand Teton National Parks only true sport climbing area. The stairway is the only passable access to Blacktail Buttes 80-foot Main Wall. Although the stairway was built to protect the heavily used area, it was intended by the Park Service, primarily, if not exclusively, for the benefit of climbers.

And, yes, now the Access Fund and the Park Service want to tear the stairway out. The stairway starts a few feet from a parking area, which is right off of US 26-29 and only a short distance from the Park entrance at Moose Junction. The stairway gives climbers access to sunny, solid rock in a mountain range known for loose rock; alpine climbs; and 3- to 4,000-foot approaches. Blacktail Buttes south-facing limestone cliffs rise prominently above the forest. If youve ever seen a photo of a climber on steep rock silhouetted against the stunning background of the Tetons, it was of Blacktail Butte. Add recently replaced, bomber glue-in bolts on all of its 16 routes, which range from 5.10 to 5.13, and its no surprise that Blacktail Butte has become popular with local and visiting climbers.

The stairway, easily visible from an RV traveling on the highway, also attracts many tourists who assume that the stairway must go to a not-to-be-missed sight. Instead, around the top of the cliff it peters out into various game trails. Camera-toting sightseers in flip-flops may out number climbers.

The heavy use and the Tetons mountain weather have severely shortened the stairways useful life span. Steps are broken. Erosion has undercut anchoring logs and planks. The rope handrail has been gone for years. And, despite the stairway and a good, two-switchback trail to the crags top, climbers have gashed shortcuts.

A repair or rehabilitation of the stairway, however, would have to meet the current Park Service building standards, which would mean, for example, no rope handrailindeed, no handrail at all. The railing would have to be a fence with open space no more than three inches wide. And, large plank stairs staked over scree, dirt, and roots are certainly an unnatural approach to a climbing site in a national park.

The NPS and the Access Fund immediately agreed that the stairway should go and be replaced with a natural trail. The new trail will be longer, traversing out into the forest and returning to join the cliff at the base of the Main Wall. A 5-minute climb up stairs will be replaced by a 10-minute hike through the forest. The upper trail will also be rebuilt.

Tearing out the stairway and replacing it with a natural trail, however, is not the actual challenge. Signage, maps, and physical barriers, such as large, downed trees across eroded slopes, will be employed to keep climbers from attempting to re-impose the directisima of the stairway. After all, the stairway largely followed the original climbers route straight up to the cliff. Will climbers follow a switchback that heads away from the cliffa cliff that they can see tantalizingly close byjust because we tell them its a better way? That is the hope of the project.

The Access Fund and Grand Teton National Park expect to undertake the project in the summer of 2008. Work days for volunteers may stretch over a week or more. Wyoming Access Fund Regional Coordinator Mark Daverin is in charge for the Access Fund.



Access Trails Under Construction at American Fork, UT
10/11/2007

There are a number of construction projects underway in American Fork Canyon that impact climbing access. The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, along with climbers from Provo, are working with U.S. Forest Service representatives to make sure that climbers' access is retained to all of the cliffs in American Fork. One bit of good news is that the Forest Service has included parking for climbers in their restoration project of the Little Mill Campground picnic area. This parking will serve climbers visiting the popular Division Wall. A top agenda item for climbers is bridge access to the cliffs on the south side of American Fork Canyon. A number of climbers are starting to work with the Forest Service to address this situation. Hopefully, some good solutions will be on hand by Spring 2008.

For more information, contact the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance at www.saltlakeclimbers.org or the Uinta National Forest Pleasant Grove Ranger District at (801) 785-3563.

 



Cleveland National Forest Access Threat Update, CA
10/11/2007

By Stacy Roberts, Associate Director and President, Allied Climbers of San Diego

San Diego climbers are anxiously awaiting an Environmental Assessment regarding a proposal by the Cleveland National Forest (CNF) that would deny well-established climbing in order to create nesting habitat for non-threatened golden eagles and prairie falcons based on historical nesting of eagles in the vicinity. In one instance, these speculative preserves would be established where eagles havent nested in well over 15 years! The move would close off nearby climbing cliffs that have no indication of eagle nests ever being present on the cliff faces.

The ACSD, in concert with the Access Fund, is trying to preserve climbing access by working with the CNF on a reasonable solution. For important background information and to see the AFs and the ACSDs position on this issue please go to www.alliedclimbers.org/cnf_timeline.php.

The ACSD invites all climbers to understand why the Access Fund and the ACSD oppose these measures in their current form. This is a national forest issue with national, precedent-setting potential. Stay tuned.

The Access Fund is coming to townthe AFs Executive Director, Policy Director, and Associate Programs Director will be visiting us at the Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) membership meeting on October 23. Please check www.alliedclimbers.org for the location and time of this very important event.

 



Copy of Access Fund and NPS to Tear Down Climber Trail, WY
10/11/2007

By Armando Menocal, Honorary Access Fund Board Member

Actually, its not a trail but a 100-foot wooden stairway built around 1992 to stabilize the badly eroded base slopes of Grand Teton National Parks only true sport climbing area. The stairway is the only passable access to Blacktail Buttes 80-foot Main Wall. Although the stairway was built to protect the heavily used area, it was intended by the Park Service, primarily, if not exclusively, for the benefit of climbers.

And, yes, now the Access Fund and the Park Service want to tear the stairway out. The stairway starts a few feet from a parking area, which is right off of US 26-29 and only a short distance from the Park entrance at Moose Junction. The stairway gives climbers access to sunny, solid rock in a mountain range known for loose rock; alpine climbs; and 3- to 4,000-foot approaches. Blacktail Buttes south-facing limestone cliffs rise prominently above the forest. If youve ever seen a photo of a climber on steep rock silhouetted against the stunning background of the Tetons, it was of Blacktail Butte. Add recently replaced, bomber glue-in bolts on all of its 16 routes, which range from 5.10 to 5.13, and its no surprise that Blacktail Butte has become popular with local and visiting climbers.

The stairway, easily visible from an RV traveling on the highway, also attracts many tourists who assume that the stairway must go to a not-to-be-missed sight. Instead, around the top of the cliff it peters out into various game trails. Camera-toting sightseers in flip-flops may out number climbers.

The heavy use and the Tetons mountain weather have severely shortened the stairways useful life span. Steps are broken. Erosion has undercut anchoring logs and planks. The rope handrail has been gone for years. And, despite the stairway and a good, two-switchback trail to the crags top, climbers have gashed shortcuts.

A repair or rehabilitation of the stairway, however, would have to meet the current Park Service building standards, which would mean, for example, no rope handrailindeed, no handrail at all. The railing would have to be a fence with open space no more than three inches wide. And, large plank stairs staked over scree, dirt, and roots are certainly an unnatural approach to a climbing site in a national park.

The NPS and the Access Fund immediately agreed that the stairway should go and be replaced with a natural trail. The new trail will be longer, traversing out into the forest and returning to join the cliff at the base of the Main Wall. A 5-minute climb up stairs will be replaced by a 10-minute hike through the forest. The upper trail will also be rebuilt.

Tearing out the stairway and replacing it with a natural trail, however, is not the actual challenge. Signage, maps, and physical barriers, such as large, downed trees across eroded slopes, will be employed to keep climbers from attempting to re-impose the directisima of the stairway. After all, the stairway largely followed the original climbers route straight up to the cliff. Will climbers follow a switchback that heads away from the cliffa cliff that they can see tantalizingly close byjust because we tell them its a better way? That is the hope of the project.

The Access Fund and Grand Teton National Park expect to undertake the project in the summer of 2008. Work days for volunteers may stretch over a week or more. Wyoming Access Fund Regional Coordinator Mark Daverin is in charge for the Access Fund.



Fires and Crowds at Red River Gorge, KY
10/11/2007

By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition

Fall is typically fire season in Kentucky, and a severe drought this summer has created particularly dangerous fire conditions. After a lightning-induced fire started above the popular Funk Rock City crag in the Clifty Wilderness, the USFS temporarily closed the area to climbing on September 7, 2007. This fire grew from about 5 acres to over 18 acres, and burning snags falling from the top of the cliff burned 1 to 2 acres at the cliff base. The fire eventually burned out, and the Forest Service reopened the area to climbing on October 1, 2007.

Then on October 4, 2007, the Forest Service issued a 120-day ban on all open fires outside of developed recreation areas in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The governor of Kentucky has also issued a statewide ban on all open burning. Due to the fire danger, the private Muir Valley climbing area has instituted a temporary ban on smoking and all sources of open flames.

The Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGCC)-owned Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) does not allow open fires at any time on the property. Forest fires burned portions of both Muir Valley and the PMRP last fall. Please respect the fire bans and refrain from smoking no matter where you are climbing in the Red River Gorge.

Over Labor Day and, more recently, over the Columbus Day / Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, Muir Valley experienced large crowds that resulted in a serious parking problem. As a result, Muir Valley has issued the following parking guidelines: 1. Please park responsibly. Dont leave 3/4 of a space between your car and the adjacent one. 2. Dont park off of the graveled parking lot anywhere adjacent to it. 3. Dont block other cars or the entrance to the maintenance building. 4. Weekends this fall you may park down the hill past the barn in the lower meadow, unless there has been a recent rain.

In other news, Muir Valley is holding their annual trail day on November 10, 2007. More information about the Muir Valley, their trail day, and how you can contribute to maintaining this area can be found on these websites: www.muirvalley.com and www.friendsofmuirvalley.org.

 



New Climbers Parking Lot and Trail Now Open at Ely's Peak, MN
10/11/2007

By Kaija Webster; Access Fund Regional Coordinator, Minnesota

A new parking lot and trail at Elys Peak were created to help minimize conflicts between climbers and the landowner near the traditional parking area. The Access Fund helped fund the project with a generous Climbing Preservation Grant. Additional funding came from the City of Duluth and the Minnesota Climbers Association (MCA). Climber volunteers from around the region contributed their time to build the trail.

A volunteer day and ribbon cutting for the new lot will start at noon on Sunday, October 14. The MCA will provide free food for the event and climbing at Ely's will take place after the crews are finished.

Climbers can find the new lot off of Becks Road, 2.2 miles from the I-35 Midway Road exit. It's only a 7-minute hike from the parking lot to the climbing.

 



Smith Rock Detour Event Spans Generations
10/11/2007

By Tony Holmes; Access Fund Regional Coordinator, Oregon

As the monuments and spires of Smith Rock State Park sit sun-bleached and glowing in the September sun, the silhouette of portable rock walls set contrast to the cobalt blue sky. In a field, just yards away from this natural climbing wonder-land the Smith Rock Detour event is going off!

Climb Max Mountaineering, a local shop with a heart of gold brings to this event the unique chemistry of one-half kids climbing competition and one-half Reel Rock Film Fest, the Detour draws crowds of climbers and gawkers alike from every generation.

This two-day outdoor event started four years ago with a small collection of industry reps and climbing enthusiasts. Today it is an annual event that brings young plastic pullers face to face with some of the sports top athletes and pioneers.

On September 22nd and 23rd, kids from all over the Northwest threw themselves at the walls of plexy and steel, the sounds of encouragement and achievement echoed through the desert air. Clinics where offered for all ages including Cicada Jenerick, the teen-age phenom, teaching those three-times her senior how to break the 5.12 barrier, Arno Illgner presented concepts from his Rock Warriors Way and some where treated to a priceless workshop on how to build bomber anchors.

As the sun set on the burning walls of orange and red, the grounds filled with locals and those that had spent the day in the park. They came for The Reel Rock Film Fest which found a home under a sea of stars as the premier showing of Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimers King Lines wowed audiences snug in their poly-pro and down.

On Sunday, as the semis raged into the finals, Access Fund Regional Coordinator Kellie Rice hosted a service project in the park and in addition to setting routes and coaching I had the opportunity to run a workshop from the Access Funds Boulder Project initiative, Together we were able to insure that the leaders of tomorrow preserve and protect the climbing environment.

Now the air is crisp and the frictionperfect. As I head into the park to work my latest project I think back on the friends that were made and the routes that were set, climbed and stripped and I know I will be back next year. I hope you can make it too.



Access Fund Helps Protect Climbing at New Hampshires Owls Head Cliff
9/13/2007

By Tom Richardson, Durham, NH

Thanks in part to a grant from the Access Fund, Owl's Head cliffs and about 360 acres which surround it on Route 25 was sold last week to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), in hopes it will soon become part of the 780,000-acre White Mountain National Forest.

The dramatic cliffs are a popular attraction for rock climbers and hikers. It is only one-half mile from the Appalachian Trail. The property is bounded on three sides by the White Mountain National Forest and has more than 6,000 feet of frontage along Oliverian Brook.

Before TPL and the Access Fund stepped in, this property faced potential development for vacation homes.

For more information see www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Rock-climbing+cliffs... or email josh.kelly@tpl.org.

 



Climbers Paradise for Sale, Farley, MA Update
9/13/2007

By Jeff Squire, President, Western Mass Climbers Coalition

How would you like to have over a hundred high quality climbs and boulder problems just out your backdoor? The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition (WMCC) is hard at work selling a house and two acres of land near the base of Farley Ledge in Erving, MA.

The property for sale was part of a larger purchase that has allowed the WMCC to restrict development at the base of the crag and to resolve the historically troublesome access issues to this areas excellent climbing and hiking options. The Access Fund supplied guidance and inspiration via an Acquisition Summit workshop and came through with a significant grant. Additional funding was provided by The Appalachian Mountain Club and local climbers.

Farley Ledge is often billed as the best crag between the Gunks and Rumney. It is home to five-star trad climbing, sport climbing, ice climbing, bouldering, top roping and even multi-pitch climbing. Also, the nationally recognized Metacomet-Monadnock Trail runs near the cliff base. Located only 15 min from Greenfield, 30 min from the college towns of Amherst & Northampton and 1.5 hours from downtown Boston, Farley is a primary rock climbing destination in southern New England.

The house is a well cared for and maintained 1,650 sq. ft. Cape built in 1976. It has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, attached porch and 1 car garage. For more information visit: www.westernmass.craigslist.org/rfs/380901940.html or www.westernmacc.com. Better yet come to Farley and check out the house and the climbing.

 



Climbers Working to Preserve Climbing Access at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK
9/13/2007

By Aaron Gibson, WMCC Board Member/AF Regional Coordinator

The Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition (WMCC) is working to ensure that the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and compatibility review process being conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife Refuge Service will not adversely affect the long-standing tradition of rock climbing in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR) of Oklahoma.

Board members of the WMCC have met with the WMWR Refuge manager and Refuge personnel on several occasions to discuss the upcoming review.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) both issued written responses to the National Director of the USFWS, Dale Hall, clearly stating their concerns about the compatibility review and their support for continuation of rock climbing in the Refuge.

The Wichitas, as they are commonly known, offers a unique wilderness climbing experience that is unmatched by any other area in the Midwest. Climbers went through a similar struggle in the early 90s and, upon organizing, were successful in protecting the tradition of climbing in the Refuge. Since that time the WMCC has maintained a healthy working relationship with the Refuge personnel in managing climbing activities.

The CCP process is expected to begin sometime this year and the WMCC anticipates being a key partner. For more information see http://wichitamountains.org/ or email aaron@fusionfortyseven.com.

 



Lost Horse Canyon, MT
9/13/2007

By Steve Porcella, Bitterroot Climbers Coalition

Lost Horse Crag in the Bitterroot Mountain remains at risk of being mined. This mining proposal has been deadlocked by an even vote of the Ravalli County Commission. Ravalli County Commissioner Kathleen Driscoll is the one abstainer in the currently tied vote (2 vs 2 out of 5 total commissioners) on whether to proceed on the Lost Horse Mining Proposal (slated to start Oct. 2007). Driscoll remains undecided while she waits for cost estimate numbers for mining road gravel at the old Lost Horse quarry versus other gravel pits throughout the county. For more background, see www.accessfund.org/display/page/AA/74.

The Bitterroot Climbers Coalition, www.bitterrootclimbers.org, urges climbers to continue writing to Driscoll. Make it known that citizens and visitors to the Bitterroot Valley and Lost Horse Canyon do not want this issue to be determined by the price of gravel, but rather upon the preservation of the unique recreational and outdoor attributes of Lost Horse Canyon. This important deciding vote should not be cast dependant upon if money will be saved for gravel mining but instead on the long term impacts to the Canyon from an active gravel mining operation and how this proposed industrial site will negatively impact all recreational use and interests in the area. Also worth mentioning are the negative health and safety aspects of running such an operation on a narrow dirt road and the loss of property values for local residents.

Take action now! Write Kathleen Driscoll at the address below. Lost Horse is the best climbing, bouldering, and cragging area in Montana. Operation of this quarry for the next 10 years or more will effectively halt all access to the climbing and destroy a unique recreational area in the heart of the Bitterroot Mountains.

See Joe Josephson's website: www.firstascentpress.com for more information and to order advance copies of the Lost Horse Climbing guide, available in late September.

Write your letters to:
Attn: Kathleen Driscoll
Glenda Wiles, Administrative Assistant
Ravalli County Commissioners Office
215 S. 4th Street, Suite A
Hamilton, MT 59840

Consider the following points in your letter:
The climbing resources at Lost Horse are very valuable to climbers locally, regionally, and across the country. This is the best climbing area in the state.
Re-activation of the quarry will negatively impact the scenic nature of the area, produce noise, disrupt wildlife such as migrating herds, wolverine that migrate through canyon, and peregrine falcons (which nest on the cliff), create a bigger footprint scar in the area (2-3 times bigger and deeper) and basically make the area too dangerous or impossible for climbing.
The Forest Service proposal does not recognize or consider the unique recreational asset of Lost Horse, nor the hundreds of climbers, land owners, and other users in the area. They do not realize climbers and many other users enjoy Lost Horse every month of the year and grossly underestimate the safety and egress issues (access from an upper observation point).

See www.accessfund.org/pdf/losthorse.pdf to view the Access Funds opposition letter.

 



Virginia Land Management Plans Update: Shenandoah and Great Falls
9/13/2007

Shenandoah National Park is nearing completion of the final draft Rock Outcrop Management Plan (ROMP) and Environmental Assessment (EA). This plan includes a Climbing Management Plan and will affect climbing areas such as Old Rag, Little Stony Man, and others.

The EA is being prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze potential issues and impacts to natural and cultural resources, values, and the human environment as well as identifying mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of those impacts. The final draft ROMP/Climbing Management Guidelines and EA will likely be available for 30 days starting in late September.

For additional information and to comment, see www.snpclimbersalliance.blogspot.com/ or https://cms.ner.nps.gov/shen/parknews/newsreleases.htm. Contact Thomson Ling thomsonling@gmail.com for more details.

Great Falls Park
In September 2005, the National Park Service (NPS) released a draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement for Great Falls Park, Virginia. The draft Plan contained proposals with potentially serious implications for climbing at Great Falls, including cliff closures and required permits for climbing and anchor installation. These proposed restrictions are excessive considering the current level of impact that climbers have on the park. Recently, the NPS has indicated that the revised General Management Plan for Great Falls has been approved for printing. It is likely this will be available in October/November 2007.

For more information, see www.friendsofgreatfalls.com/ or contact Friends of Great Falls Chairman Simon Carr at greatfallsaccess@gmail.com; (301) 320 5035.

 



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