Washington Climbers Coalition

By Jonah Harrison, Access Fund Regional Coordinator

The Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC), an Access Fund Affiliate, Reiter Trail Watch and state land managers have improved safety from objective hazards in Index, Washington. Reiter Trail Watch is a not for profit group of volunteers working to preserve, protect, increase awareness and maintain accessibility for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Index is a popular climbing area outside of Seattle, with hundreds of steep granite sport and traditional routes up to Grade IV in length. The area around Index is also very popular with off-road vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts. ORVs allow access to the top of the Upper Town Wall, a large wall perched on the mountainside outside the town of Index. In recent years, various objects have been thrown from the top (from beer bottles to car fenders) and there has been many close calls with climbers narrowly avoiding being hit.

Washington State Parks put up several signs at the top of the wall, warning of the danger to climbers below and threatening prosecution of those who throw objects off the wall, but these measures have proved ineffective.

During the past summer, Reiter Trail Watch and Washington State Parks devised a road termination plan involving placing a barricade that would prevent motorized access to the top of the wall. Recently, with a generous donation from the Washington Climbers Coalition, the Reiter Trail Watch installed a sturdy, permanent barrier in late October that will keep ORVs from accessing the top of the cliff. This reduces the risk that anyone will be able to drive to the top of the wall and throw objects down on climbers, and is a great example of meeting goals through cooperation between local recreation groups and government land managers.