Access Fund Announces 2013 Sharp End Awards

1/13/2014

The Access Fund announced today the winners of the 2013 Sharp End Awards. Each year the Access Fund recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that go above and beyond to volunteer their time and efforts to preserving climbing access and the climbing environment. These recipients stand out in their commitment to the American climbing community, and the Access Fund is honored to present this year's awards to a worthy group of volunteers and activists. Please join us in congratulating them!

Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award - Jonathan Knight
Access Fund is proud to present Jonathan Knight with a Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of climbing advocacy, stewardship, and service in the Wasatch Range and Salt Lake City area. For more than a decade, Jonathan has been committed to preserving the area’s climbing through hands-on stewardship projects, land manager partnerships, and volunteer service on the board of Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA). Jonathan has served as a board member or volunteer for SLCA since the organization began in 2002, and continues to guide their policy and conservation work. His many years of work at numerous little-known local areas, as well as major, renowned areas such as American Fork, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Joe’s Valley have secured and sustained climbing access for Salt Lake City’s active and growing climbing community. Jonathan’s unwavering dedication to the cause of climbing access is an inspiration to Salt Lake City climbers and a model for the area’s climbing stewards. Thank you, Jonathan!

Bebie Leadership Award - Tim Keenan
Access Fund is proud to give Tim Keenan a Bebie Leadership Award. Tim is the Co-Chair of Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC) and an Access Fund Regional Coordinator. His proactive leadership of GCC has helped the organization grow its membership, host numerous Adopt a Crag events, and strengthen its partnerships with Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska State Park, and other key Gunks-area landowners. Recognizing the need for a new approach to stewardship education for new climbers, Tim created an exciting new educational program for new climbers transitioning to outdoor climbing from the gym. The Gym to Crag Transition program will help instill positive behaviors that preserve climbing access and the environment. Keep up the great work, Tim!

Sharp End Award - Marion Hutchison
It is Access Fund’s great honor to present Marion Hutchison with a Sharp End Award for his longstanding success and dedication to protecting climbing in Oklahoma. Marion’s activism began in the early 90s, when climbing access was threatened in Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. His work kept the area open, and initiated an early local climbing organization which soon became the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition (WMCC). In 2001, with WMCC and Access Fund, Marion drove the purchase and transfer of Baldy Point to Quartz Mountain State Park, forever protecting the area’s climbing. Access Fund recognized Marion with a Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, though perhaps too soon because his work wasn’t done! In 2007, U.S. Fish and Wildlife revisited their management plan for the Wichita Refuge, and questioned whether rock climbing was a compatible use. Marion led a concerted, multi-year effort with WMCC and Access Fund, partnering with Refuge staff, state senators and representatives, and the climbing community to ensure climbing access was preserved in the Refuge. His successful effort once again preserved climbing in the Refuge, while also setting an important, positive precedent for other federal and state wildlife management areas across the country. Marion’s lifelong commitment to climbing advocacy is an inspiration to climbing advocates and organizations across the country.

Sharp End Award - Paul Vidal
Access Fund is thrilled to award Paul Vidal, past President of Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGCC), with a Sharp End Award for his leadership in protecting Red River Gorge climbing. Paul is a longtime volunteer and board member with RRGCC, diligently working to preserve climbing on public and private lands in the Red. He’s spent countless hours helping to organize trail days, put on RRGCC’s annual Rocktoberfest, meet with land managers, and build positive relationships with the local residents and businesses. In 2012, the same year that RRGCC successfully paid off their more than 750-acre Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve, Paul spearheaded the Miller Fork acquisition, working with local landowners and Access Fund to negotiate RRGCC’s successful purchase of the new Miller Fork Recreational Preserve. The Preserve encompasses 309 acres and protects climbing access to miles of sandstone cliff line. Thank you, Paul!

Sharp End Award - Jeff Engel
Access Fund is honored to present Jeff Engel with a Sharp End Award for decades of committed climbing advocacy and stewardship in Minnesota and surrounding areas. In the 90s Jeff and other local climbers were instrumental in keeping climbing areas like Red Wing and Willow River open to climbing. He later worked with the City of Sandstone to open Robinson Park to rock and ice climbing, helping turn the area into a Midwestern ice destination. In 2012, Jeff initiated the purchase of a 108-acre tract of private land containing some of the finest sandstone boulders in the Midwest—a bouldering area known as Sandstone. His proactive work brought the private landowners, Minnesota Climbers Association, Access Fund, Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources together to purchase the property for transfer to Minnesota State Parks. Congratulations, Jeff!

Sharp End Award - Jason Haas
The Access Fund honors Jason Haas for his leadership in protecting climbing access along the Colorado Front Range. Jason volunteers as a board member with the Flatirons Climbing Council and Boulder Climbing Community, dedicating his time to stewardship projects, access issues, and fixed anchor replacement. As an avid first ascentionist and founder of the guidebook company Fixed Pin Publishing, his positive work extends into the South Platte, home of his most recent climbing obsessions. Most recently, Jason played a critical role in partnering with a landowner at Thunder Ridge to educate climbers about access. His proactive stewardship work can be seen at other local crags such as Clear Creek Canyon and Golden Cliffs. Thanks for your work, Jason!

Sharp End Award - Rocco Bocchicchio
The Access Fund is proud to present Rocco Bocchicchio with a Sharp End award for his dedicated work educating climbers on Leave No Trace ethics and promoting the Access Fund at gyms across the country. Rocco is a La Sportiva athlete that currently works as the Head Instructor at Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) indoor climbing facilities. There, he created a program that allows climbers to become members of the Access Fund alongside their gym memberships. He also championed ethical climbing education alongside climbing instruction courses at BKB gyms, helping to create a new generation of climbers in the Northeast that understand how their behavior impacts access to climbing areas. Rocco also guides at Hueco Tanks every season and includes climbing ethics education in his tours. Thanks for your dedication, Rocco!

Sharp End Award - Torne Valley Climbers Coalition
Access Fund is pleased to recognize the Torne Valley Climbers Coalition (TVCC) for their exemplary grassroots organizing and advocacy which successfully reopened the Powerlinez climbing area in Torne Valley, New York. Powerlinez was closed in 2011 due to concerns about increased climbing use from the area’s multiple landowners. A core team of individuals formed TVCC and began working with the local climbing community and Powerlinez’ three landowners. Each TVCC leader brought important skills to bear on the effort. TVCC’s patient, professional, and cooperative approach reopened Powerlinez in 2013 and serves as a model for successful grassroots climbing advocacy. Congratulations, TVCC!

Sharp End Award – Petzl
The Access Fund is honored to present Petzl with a Sharp End Award for their many years of support and commitment to preserving and protecting the climbing environment. A generous supporter of the Access Fund since our grassroots beginnings, Petzl has helped the Access Fund grow stronger and expand our advocacy and land acquisition programs. As one of the original investors in the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, Petzl has helped the Access Fund purchase 14 climbing areas since 2009. Petzl has also hosted the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Moab for past 10 years, donating all proceeds to the Access Fund. We applaud Petzl for their continued dedication to protecting America's climbing.

Land Conservation Award - Minnesota Climbers Association
The Access Fund is excited to present Minnesota Climbers Association (MCA) with a Land Conservation Award for its dedication to protecting the Sandstone bouldering area. MCA originally partnered with the landowner to allow climbing, but access was threatened when the property was listed for sale in 2012. MCA immediately stepped up and the landowners gave MCA an opportunity to purchase the property. MCA found a great local partner, the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota (PTCM), to purchase and hold the property for transfer to Minnesota State Parks. Access Fund was proud to grant a $5,000 award and provide fundraising assistance to help MCA and PTCM raise $30,000 in just 6 months. We congratulate MCA on their success and look forward to securing long-term protection of the area with MCA, PTCM, and Minnesota State Parks!