Cave Rock, NV Update:
Access Fund Lawsuit Still Pending, Climbing Remains Closed
Over a year ago in mid-August of 2005 the Access Fund filed its most recent legal brief at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the on-going attempt to keep climbing open at Cave Rock, a popular and important climbing area on the shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada. For more background see www.accessfund.org/pdf/CRbackgrounder3-28.pdf
In January 2005 at the district court level in Reno a judge upheld the US Forest Service (USFS) decision to ban climbing at Cave Rock; however, the district court prevented the USFS from removing any climbing bolts pending the lawsuits result.
The AF Board subsequently voted to pursue an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. For now, since all briefs have been filed, we continue to wait for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to schedule oral arguments or render a verdict. The USFS declined to pursue mediation despite the Access Fund's hope that the conflict may be resolved out of the courtroom.
The climbing ban remains in place at least for the duration of the lawsuit, and it's critical that climbers continue to respect the climbing closure at Cave Rock while we work our way through the courtsignoring the ban will only harm our case in court and reduce the chances that it will reopen.
For more information contact Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith at Jason@accessfund.org.
Concho Valley Climbers Association, Texas
By Rob Sparks
Through positive communication with the local government and presenting climbers as a legitimate and viable resource to their community, the Concho Valley Climbers Association (CVCA) works with the City of San Angelo, Texas, through the Parks Dept. to develop and open climbing areas in the region.
The organization has a written contract for the work they perform including conserving the climbing areas, and have already discussed the future projects with them. Two of four climbing areas currently under the umbrella of the CVCA were prior locations that were in jeopardy of being closed and the other two are soon to be newly opened and approved by the San Angelo Parks Dept.
Much of the success of the CVCA is due to the hard work of a small but very active group, and with new and enthusiastic people contacting the CVCA regularly wanting to get involved in the sport of climbing.
AF Note: We are excited to have the CVCA join the Access Fund Affiliate program. Welcome! If you are a local climber and are interested in starting an Affiliate organization in your area, contact Deanne Buck, Programs Director at Deanne@AccessFund.org or 303.545.6772 x112.
Denver, Colorado Climbers Needed
Wanted: Climbers in and around Denver, Colorado interested in becoming active in climbing access and conservation. Please contact Deanne Buck, Programs Director at Deanne@AccessFund.org or 303.545.6772 x112
Proposition 106 - Conserving Arizona's Future
By Erik Filsinger, Arizona Mountaineering Club Land Advocacy Chair
Passage of Proposition 106 on November 7th would allow about 400,000 acres of the 7,000,000 acres total of State Trust Lands to be used for Conservation. Without that designation the current system of selling State Trust Land to the highest bidder would continue and where there are now trails and climbing areas there will be houses and gated communities.
The designation of 400,000 acres for conservation includes urban lands near Phoenix that contain significant climbing areas. Without passage of Proposition 106 the State Trust Land's in north Scottsdale could be sold to the developers. These climbing areas include Little Granite and Cholla Mountains. Elsewhere State Trust Lands could impact climbing at Cochise Stronghold, Upper and Lower Devils Canyon, and Jacuzzi Spires.
Proposition 106 has an even bigger impact for other outdoor recreational users such as mountain bikers and hikers who will lose many hundreds of miles of trails in urban areas of State Trust Land scattered around Arizona's cities.
For more information contact Erik Filsinger, Arizona Mountaineering Club Land Advocacy Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Diego Update
By Dave Kennedy, Regional Coordinator San Diego County
The very popular Santee Boulders, long known to be on private property, now see housing development threatening access. Local climbers are imploring the city of San Diego to set aside the parcel containing the boulders for mitigation. It has proven difficult to penetrate the multi-level bureaucracy overlaying the development plans. Meanwhile, the nearby Magnolia Boulders (which are actually owned by the city of Santee) are seeing much surrounding development; however the top of the hill has been set aside for recreation and is now under the control of the State Fish & Game Dept.
El Cajon Mountain
Through many meetings and letters, the USFS has rescinded a slated seasonal raptor closure of El Cajon Mountain. The meetings have consisted of relationship building, familiarizing USFS staff with climbing and the climbing community, and remaining patient. A decision regarding other crags with raptor nests is forthcoming. To continue to build on these relationships, a San Diego Alliance of Climbers Adopt-a-Crag is scheduled for Nov. 11, when climbers will clean the El Cajon Mt. trailhead and possibly do some trail work. In addition, the climbing community has united against unilateral removal by one individual of placed bolts (which has occurred here in the past). The climbing community believes that once bolts have been placed they should not be removed unless there is consensus among the local climbing community favoring their removal. We will work very hard to ensure that this standard is practiced by all in the San Diego climbing community.
Other News Tom Donnelly has come on board as a co-Regional Coordinator for San Diego County, and as co-head of the San Diego Alliance of Climbers. Fall through Spring is the best time to climb in SD, and with a new guidebook due shortly, don't hesitate to come and sample some of the more than 2000 routes the county has to offer, from boulder problems to 6-pitch climbs. 2006 has seen much happen with regard to San Diego climbing access, and the year's not over yet!
Owls Head Cliff, NH
The 380+/- acre Owls Head Cliff property is currently listed for sale with a real estate broker. If sold on the private market the property would likely be developed into second homes/vacation homes and an incredible community recreation resource and critical wildlife habitat could be permanently lost.
In addition to possessing 800+/- vertical feet of shear granite cliff face of Owls Head (1,967 ft.), the property also contains 6,000+/- feet of stream frontage along both sides of Oliverian Brook (a tributary of the Connecticut River) including a small waterfall. Approximately one-half mile southeast of the property the infamous Appalachian Trail passes through Oliverian Notch and the Jeffers Brook Shelter and Blueberry Mountain Trail are also in close proximity to the Owls Head Cliff property.
The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) with support from the Access Fund is leading an effort to have this property purchased by the White Mountain National Forest. The Trust for Public Lands goal is to permanently conserve the 380+/- acre Owls Head Cliff property for people and wildlife, by conveying it to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the White Mountain National Forest.
Support for this project is needed in the form of letters and other contact with US Forest Service management, elected officials and conservation organizations. This project will take time, at least several months, possibly a few years. This property is too unique to let it be used for anything but public or conservation land. Many people are interested in maintaining the cliff's availability for rock climbing.
Owls Head Cliff, general info. home.usaa.net/~thewebweaver/owlsheadandtheoliverian.html
Thank you to all of you that are active participants in this project,
Southwest Colorado Update
Steve Johnson, Southwest Colorado Regional Coordinator
Falls Wall and Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride, Colorado.
The Falls Wall is located next to Bridal Veil Falls at an elevation of over 9500 feet. It has recently seen development of several hundred sport climbs of up to 300 ft. on high quality conglomerate rock. The Falls Wall is covered in Charlie Fowler and Damon Johnstons guide, Telluride Rocks, 3rd Edition, and is one of the premier alpine sport crags in Colorado.
The Falls Wall cliffs are located on United States Forest Service property. The approach from the Bridal Veil Road (County road K-69), at the base of the tram that connects to the Bridal Veil powerhouse (one switchback below the base of Bridal Veil Falls), crosses private property currently owned by Idarado Mining Company. The Town of Telluride has obtained a large Great Outdoors Colorado grant for acquisition of this property, known as the Kentucky Placer. The Kentucky Placer extends for almost a mile to connect with the Telluride Town Park. Telluride is in the process of completing its due diligence investigation and additional fund raising for the purchase. If all goes well, the purchase will legalize the access to the Falls Wall in time for the 2007 climbing season.
In addition, the base of the Kentucky Placer appears to extend to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. A pending survey should help locate the exact corners, as problematic as it is with steep cliffs, etc. This may or may not prove to be the solution to legally getting to and up Bridal Veil Falls, though it would not cover the walkoff at the top.
Railroad Grade Ice, Ophir, Colorado.
A section of the old Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad known as the Ophir Loop below Ophir, Colorado provides a flat base along several hundred yards of moderate to hard short ice slabs and mixed smears known as the Railroad Grade Ice. This base area is also known as the Galloping Goose Trail which the United States Forest Service has established in the region. The Railroad Grade Ice is located on private property and there are conflicting jurisdictional claims to the Galloping Goose Trail itself.
A federal land exchange was proposed several years ago that would result in acquisition of the Railroad Grade Ice area by the Forest Service. That land exchange, unfortunately, has recently fallen through. The United States Forest Service, however, appears determined to secure ownership of the Galloping Goose Trail and access to it over an intervening parcel from State Highway 145 at the top of Ophir Loop. In the meantime, the Railroad Grade Ice remains closed to the public.
Wilson Peak is a scenic 14,000 ft. peak featured on the Coors beer commercials. It crowns a massif with three of Colorados southwestern most 14ers. Two years ago, a land owner closed trails in Silver Pick Basin which provided access to the classic Southwest Ridge of Wilson Peak, as well as trails also connecting into Navajo Basin for climbers interested in summiting Mount Wilson and El Diente Peak. The landowner did so following USFS denial of his numerous efforts to exchange 38 above-timberline mining claims (constituting approximately 238 acres) for over 2000 acres of developable properties on Wilson Mesa outside of Telluride. The claims include a strip of land near the summit of Wilson Peak.
A Wilson Peak Protection Fund has been set up to evaluate alternative access, provide signage and education to hikers, and possibly to restore access over existing historic trails. Initial efforts may include funding a USFS-led survey to definitively establish trail and claim locations, estimated to cost over $57,000.00. Donations may be sent to the Colorado Mountain Club, 710 Tenth Street, Ste. 200, Golden, Colorado 80401, ATTN: Cathy McGuire. Checks should be made out to the Colorado Mountain Club with a notation in the remarks line of Wilson Peak Fund.
The Wilson Peak Protection Fund was established after extensive negotiations with the landowner over one year failed. The goal was to acquire a recreational easement over the mining claims. During the negotiations, the landowner expressed major concern over liability to hikers and climbers as a major reason for its closure. In 2005, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 1049, which afforded immunity to landowners who allow members of the public to cross over historically used trails for recreational purposes at no charge. While this bill was pending, the landowner instead decided to offer, pay to play access, charging $100 per climber/hiker per day. As a result, the new liability protections will not available to the landowner. The landowners website can be found at www.wilsonpeakaccess.com. The Telluride Mountain Club discourages the public and guides from paying any access fee.
The landowner has also announced plans to commence gold mining in Silver Pick basin as part of an apparent effort to force the public and the Forest Service to approve the unbalanced land exchange proposal.
In the meantime, Wilson Peak climbers can skirt the mining claims by crossing very loose scree slopes above and east of the Silverpick Road and traversing on trails and scrambling into the upper Silver Pick Basin. This leads to the West Face, where the summit can be legally accessed up steep snow or scree and talus. The two other 14ers can continue to be legally accessed from Navajo Basin. For more information, see: email@example.com; www.summitpost.com; www.14ers.com.
Upcoming Changes for Little Rock City, TN
Brad McLeod, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
Below are the current parameters for upcoming changes to visitation at LRC (The Stone Fort)-All changes will be in place beginning October 1 2006. These changes are being made by the landowner with the long-term goal of maintaining access for climbers.
1. Implement a $5 per climber parking fee using an online payment system in conjunction with the current system of registration. To clarify, ALL climbers visiting the boulderfield will be required to pay $5 for each visit to the property.
The number of daily visitors will also be increased to 40.
2. Yearly group/school user fee per institution will be applied. Current schools using LRC as a site for outdoor programs include McCallie, Baylor, and GPS. These institutions will NOT be required to register for visitation during the week (Monday thru Friday). Therefore, these groups will not affect the number of passes during weekdays. However, all participating school programs will be required to register individual climbers during the weekends.
The Triple Crown Bouldering Series will be charged for it's use of the boulderfield as well.
**In regard to all groups and individual climbers, everyone will be required to sign a liability waiver.
3. All climbers will "check-in" at the clubhouse before entering the boulderfield. A Montlake employee will verify each climber by the daily registration page on the SCC (www.seclimbers.org) website. In addition to monitoring visitation to the property, this will also offer a way to educate new climbers to the appropriate visitation procedure.
4. A Montlake employee dedicated to an 8 am to 5:30 pm day will be on duty in the fall.
In addition, the SCC will select 10 representatives from the climbing community. These ten representatives will be required to perform several duties at LRC during each of their visits, and will help maintain and monitor climber visitation to the boulderfield. If you are interested in information regarding one of these positions, please see the SCC message board seclimbers.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=340
5. The name of LRC will be changed to The Stone Fort per the owner's request
6. A yearly pass for climbers who frequently visit the property will be available for purchase beginning October 1 2006. The price for the pass will be $150. Yearly pass holders will still be required to register each day. A yearly pass does not guarantee visitation on high volume days. Once the system has received 40 registrants on a given day, the pass system will close for that particular day-it will still be first come, first served each day for everyone.
Climbers that purchase a year pass will still be required to register for each visit to the boulderfield-all other rules apply to year pass holders as well.
In the meantime, please support Montlake with these upcoming changes; they have certainly supported us.
U.S. Forest Service in Oregon Attempts to Criminalize Fixed Anchors
The Access Fund received news from Medford, OR that the US Attorneys Office contacted a local defense attorney indicating that a citation will be dismissed that charged a climber with illegal bolting (see story below).
This particular citation was dismissed because there appears to be no legal restrictions on the using anchor bolts on the Winema Forest. For the last several weeks the Access Fund and local Oregon climbing community had rallied behind this issue, urging both national and local USFS officials to drop this charge and follow management policies more consistent with national guidelines that allow the use and placement of fixed anchors on National Forest System land.
Law enforcement officers with the Fremont-Winema National Forest in southeast Oregon have made new and unique interpretations of US Forest Service (USFS) policy and regulations in an effort to criminalize the use and placement of fixed anchors. Citations have been issued to climbers who put up routes with fixed anchors on National Forest land with no special management designation such as wilderness.
This is an ominous development for climbers and if not stopped, could lead to severe restrictions on developing new routes and new areas on federally-managed land elsewhere.
In the first case, climbers were charged under 16 USC 551 for failure to remove personal property to wit: rock climbing gear at the Sprague River Picnic Area near Bly, Oregon. The gear that was not removed consisted of bolts and top anchorssafety equipment that is intended to remain permanently in place. The climbers were also issued a written warning that they had violated 36 CFR 261.10(a): rock climbing gear placed and maintained on National Forest when such activity requires a special use permit.
In the second case, a climber was issued two citations under 36 CFR 261.10(a): building or maintaining trails without a special use permit. The climber had put up climbing routes that used fixed anchors for protection, replaced old, poorly located bolts used primarily for top-roping, and had improved a badly-eroding access trail at the Williamson Cliffs near Klamath Falls, Oregon. In these citations, the USFS law enforcement officer claimed that putting up a climbing route was the same thing as constructing a hiking trail, which requires a special issue permit. In both these cases the citations are without merit and the Access fund is supporting local Oregon climbers with their legal defense efforts.
Forest Service policy does not require that a climber obtain a special use permit to go rock climbing, whether climbing established routes or developing new ones. Nor has the USFS previously equated fixed anchors (bolts, pitons, etc.) with abandoned personal property (e.g. junker cars, hazardous materials). In both cases, the climbing occurred on USFS land that was not under a special management designation, such as Wilderness, proposed wilderness, traditional cultural property, or Research Natural Area. Climbing was not prohibited in either area at the time the climbers were cited, and both areas have long been used for climbing, particularly the Williamson Cliffs.
A trial date of August 31st has been set for one of the cited climbers. The climber has hired an attorney, and Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith will testify as an expert witness for the defense explaining why the interpretations made by the USFS law enforcement officers are unprecedented, in opposition to established policy, and therefore unlawful.
This trial will be very important in determining whether the USFS, and likely other federal land agencies, will recognize the legitimacy of using fixed anchors when climbing on federal land.
$1,000 Fee to Climb Denali, AK?
Earlier this year word spread that Denali National Park and Preserve was considering increasing its fees to climb Denali and Foraker from $200 to as much as $1,000. The Access Fund and American Alpine Club have been lobbying National Park Service (NPS) officials and congressional representatives regarding this dramatic and unprecedented special use permit requirement.
Much of the parks justification for the increase is that the mountaineering program already costs the NPS far more than budgeted and that climbers incur more costs than other user groupseven before any rescue expenses are added into the equation.
These points are debatable and the Access Fund feels that such a fee increase is not proportionate with NPS policy governing special uses because mountaineering is specifically written into the purpose for the park and climbers already pay an elevated fee to cover their costs.
The cost of the mountaineering program reflects NPSs administration of the park, not the actual needs of mountaineers. Such an increase will create an affluence based restriction for people who will no longer be able to financially afford climbing Denali and Foraker. See www.accessfund.org/pdf/AFdenali.pdf for the AFs past comments on Denali management issues.
In May, Access Fund Policy Director lobbied agency officials and congressional oversight committees in Washington, DC, expressing concern that climbers were being unfairly targeted with the Denali fees and that there were some potential options to reduce the costs of the mountaineering program such as downsizing the administrative camps on Denali and phasing in more self-reliance among climbers.
The American Alpine Club has also been very proactive in terms of identifying options to reduce costs that at the same time ensure the NPS complies with its mandate. Both organizations will work together moving forward to alert climbers when this fee increase is publicly announced and advocate for the interests of Alaska mountaineers.
Access Fund Organizes Idaho Climbers to Reopen Twin Sisters at the City of Rocks, ID
In late June the Access Fund organized climber meetings across Idaho in Pocatello, Ketchum, and Boise to raise climber awareness, and meet with congressional representatives and park managers regarding the on-going climbing closure on the City of Rocks historic Twin Sisters formation. For background, see www.accessfund.org/display/page/AA/35
The Access Fund urges climbers to take three separate actions that could help reopen the Twin Sisters:
Write congress now and push for an amendment to the Twin Sisters climbing ban (consult www.congress.org to find contact information for your congressional reps).
Submit comments to City of Rocks (CIRO) when the draft climbing management plan (CMP) is released in early Fall 2006.
Submit comments in 07 or 08 when the NPS finally analyzes the Twin Sisters closure in their comprehensive management plan.
National Park Service (NPS) planners will release a draft CIRO CMP at some point in late August or September we will cue you to write comments at that time. CIROs comprehensive plan is a ways out still, but that will be a crucial time for submitting your comments regarding the climbing ban on the Twin Sisters.
Email Kristo Torgersen at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on our mailing list for this issue or keep your eyes peeled for future Access Fund Action Alerts. Additional background info can be found at www.accessfund.org/display/page/AA/35 and www.accessfund.org/pdf/AFciro.pdf
EZ Crack Boulder in GA Now Secure
The EZ crack boulder is now secure after the house and land was purchased by a local climber.
The boulder is especially significant as it is the largest boulder in the entire ridgeline and has been closed to climbing for 20 years. Boat Rock is located in southwest Atlanta and is under constant threat from development to turn the surrounding areas into residential subdivision.
The land and EZ crack boulder will be surveyed and donated to The Southeastern Climbers Coalition Land Trust to become a part of the Boat Rock Preserve. The Boat Rock Preserve is now a community park and greenspace that is owned by The Southeastern Climbers Coalition and open to everyone.
Local climbers known collectively as "The Friends of Boat Rock" have worked steadily behind the scenes over the past few weeks to purchase the house and land before it was bought by anyone who may not be climber friendly.
The boulder has been off limits for the past twenty years as climbers were routinely shooed away from the area. Prior to 1986 the 30 foot tall boulder with numerous hand and finger cracks was led and top roped by many climbers and was featured in the original "Float the Boat" bouldering competition in 1985.
Please do not climb on the EZ crack boulder as there are still details that need to be worked out with the new purchase. The SCC will post info on the opening of the boulder in the near future. Please be patient as we finish out the details of this transaction.
The purchase of the EZ crack boulder is part of the long range plan to create a larger park (approximately 25 plus acres) spanning the forested ridgeline. Donations are gladly accepted to help pay down the current mortgage on the 7.8 acre tract within the Boat Rock Preserve.
You can send donations to:
275 Stone Mill Trail NE
Atlanta, GA 30328
Note: The SCC would like to thank all of it's many supporters including the Access Fund for providing seed money to get the original Boat Rock project off the ground.
Partnership Provides Climbing Access, CO
Eldorado Canyon State Park and the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks are partnering to provide climbing access to Cadillac Crag and Peanuts Wall, as well as reduce environmental impacts on their lands.
The popular rock climbing cliffs are adjacent to Eldorado Canyon State Park and are owned by the City of Boulder. Many climbers challenge their skills on these golden lichen-covered walls every year, resulting in numerous, braided, social trails leading up to the cliffs. Eldorado Canyon State Park leased these two climbing areas from the City of Boulder and the two agencies will work together to plan, raise money, provide volunteer opportunities, and construct sustainable access to these climbs.
Climbing groups Action Committee for Eldorado and Flatiron Climbing Council were instrumental in working out the agreement and will help with constructing the access trails. The installation of fixed climbing hardware on these cliffs will be managed under Eldorado Canyon State Parks fixed hardware review process. Under the lease, Eldorado Canyon will enforce all state laws, including the regulation that dogs must be leashed and under control at all times. For more information on this partnership, contact Eldorado Canyon State Park at (303) 494-3943 or the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks at (303) 441-3440.
Torrent Falls, KY Faces New Threat
After weathering a threatened closure earlier this spring due to problems with climber behavior, the popular Torrent Falls crag in Red River Gorge faces a new threat from the proposed sale of the property.
At the beginning of August, Mark Meyer the owner of Torrent Falls announced his intention to put the property on the market on September 1st, 2006. There is no guarantee that the next owner will be climber friendly. In fact the previous owner who developed the bed and breakfast on the property had closed the climbing area during their tenure.
The Torrent Falls crag has 47 routes ranging in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.13. It is a popular sport climbing destination due to its ease of access and the quality of the climbing including the five star Porter Jarrard routes Centerfire (5.11c), Bare Metal Teen (5.12a), Steelworker (5.12c), Racer X (5.12d) and Dave Humes rarely repeated five star route Paranoia (5.13b).
The entire property for sale amounts to 42 acres and, in addition to the crag, bed and breakfast, and cabins, includes the only true European Via Ferratta in the United States. The asking price for the property is $900,000. For details of the existing commercial operations being conducted on the property please visit: www.torrentfalls.com/
The RRGCC and the Access Fund are interested in seeing that the property is transferred to a climbing friendly owner. If you or someone you know would be interested in pursuing this opportunity, please call and leave a message on Bill Strachans voice mail at 1-888-804-1439 and he will return your call with contact information for Mark Meyer.
Devil's Lake State Park
Recent cutbacks in the state budget have diminished DLSP resources and the park staff has welcomed volunteer efforts from WOA. We have helped with the garlic mustard eradication project the invasive species continues to threaten native flora of the park. Local climbers have been helping to halt its progress this year in addition to establishing a long term partnership with DLSP naturalists to prevent its future spread. We are currently in contact with park staff to organize more such volunteer projects to help out with trail and facility maintenance at our favorite crag.
Negotiations Under Way for New Bouldering Area, Rosendale, NY. Climbers Advise to Comply with No Trespassing Request. On June 6th, following several months of private discussions with Rosendale town officials, the Gunks Climbers' Coalition made its first public presentation to the town board to explore permitting legal access to the Water Works bouldering area. The parcel, discovered by boulderers last year, exists on Rosendale Water District property, where a no trespassing ordinance exists. The site is significant enough that growing publicity and usage of the area had attracted complaints by neighbors, warranting an access strategy developed by boulderers with the Access Fund and the GCC beginning in February; climbers immediately agreed to cease all climbing activity at the site. While the initial presentation generated its share of discussion and concerns from board members- liability and trespassing being the chief concerns - the board was interested enough to advise that the GCC present to the town's Water District board, which the GCC did on Monday, June 27th. Negotiations between the GCC, the Rosendale town officials and the water department are continuing and are expected to continue at least until this Fall or the end of the year. Until some sort of agreement is in place climbers are advised to respect the no trespassing ordinance that has been in effect, and avoid going to this area. For more information g