2018 Climbing Advocacy Summit: Conference Proceedings

On September 22, 2018, over 120 climbing advocates from across the country gathered in New York City to talk about conserving America's climbing areas. The speakers this year covered a range of topics from cliff ecology studies to fundraising tips for local climbing organizations. Our event was an incredible success thanks to the support of partners like Patagonia, Reed Smith and the Gunks Climbers' Coalition. Below is the agenda along with copies of each panel's presentations.


Private to Public: Climbing Access Solutions for Private Lands

Staff Moderator: Joe Sambataro/Access Director, Panelists: Dave Quinn/Rumney Climbers Association, Travis Peckham & Seth Maciejowski/CRAG-Vermont

Description: Private land conservation methods are a traditional and increasingly essential way to create or preserve public climbing access. In tandem with Access Fund, more local non-profit climbing organizations are successfully opening climbing on private land, whether through leases, agreements, or outright acquisition. This panel presentation highlights strategies for opening climbing on privately owned land, as well as landowner outreach, community fundraising, conservation finance, and local organizing.

View presentation here.


Be the Best LCO You Can Be: Grassroots Success Stories

Staff Moderator: Zachary Lesch-Huie/Interim Executive Director, Panelists: Tim McGivern/Southern New England Climbers Coalition, Eric Sophiea/Climbing Association of Southern Arizona, Jackie Feinberg/Mid-Atlantic Climbers, Ryan Shipp/South Central Pennsylvania Climbers

Description: Climbing areas get saved when local climbers organize. When we come together, politicians listen, landowners listen, and our community listens. Across the U.S. there are now over 100 non-profit local climbing organizations (LCOs) with a core focus on climbing advocacy, conservation, and stewardship. LCOs have emerged as a fundamental way to effectively organize climbers around the cause of protecting climbing. But starting and sustaining an LCO is no cakewalk. This panel discusses successes and failures in the occasionally cruxy R/X world of LCO operations.

View McGivern's presentation here.
View Sophiea's presentation here.

View Feinberg's presentation here.
View Shipp's presentation here.

Public Lands Success Stories

Staff Moderator: Erik Murdock/Policy Director, Panelists: Mike Whelan/Thacher Climbing Coalition, Courtney Curtner/Ohio Climbers Coalition, Peter Horgan/Gunnison Valley Climbers, Jason Keith/Access Fund

Description: Whether federal, state, county, or municipal, most of our climbing areas are on public land. This panel explores a variety of public lands advocacy approaches, from New York state parks to BLM land in Colorado. Panelists describe their local efforts and experiences, and shake loose the methods and strategies that work to open publicly managed climbing areas.

View Whelan's presentation here.
View Curtner's presentation here.
View Horgan's presentation here.

How to Engage Our Diverse Climbing Community to Increase Conservation

Staff Moderator: Jessica Dauchy/Operations Director,

Panelists: Kareemah Batts/Brooklyn Boulders, Justin Forrest Parks/ Sending in Color

Description: Protect America’s Climbing—but for whom? There’s a measurable lack of diversity in our climbing and outdoor recreation community. Conservation groups and outdoor industry groups are recognizing the gap and making efforts toward broader inclusion and representation. What can we do at our home crags and boulders to make our work welcoming to all backgrounds? Ultimately, if we can’t represent diverse communities, we’ll lack the very broad base of support we need to protect our climbing areas. This presentation gives an overview of diversity in outdoor recreation and conservation, and provides some practical approaches to take home to your climbing area or LCO.

View presentation notes here (password is accessiskey).
View Batts's presentation here.


Educational Strategies for Low Impact Climbing

Staff Moderator: Ty Tyler/Stewardship Director, Panelists: Andrea Hassler & Annabelle McClure/Access Fund

Description: There are more climbers than ever, and our impacts have never been greater. So, how do we ensure that our use has a manageable impact? How do we instill the values of climbing stewardship in climbers young and old? Finally, how do we translate those values to behavior, so we can teach and embody a way of climbing that will preserve our climbing areas? We asked these big questions and talked solutions that made an on-the-ground difference.

View presentation here.


Cliff Ecology, Fixed Anchors, and a Gunks Case Study

Staff Moderator: Mike Morin/Northeast Regional Director, Panelists: Laura Boggess/Carolina Climbers Coalition, Jason Beaupre/Gunks Climbers’ Coalition

Description: Cliff faces, talus, boulder fields—these rocky cliff and boulder environments are our playgrounds. But they’re also home to animals and plants where unique biological communities, rare species, and important wildlife thrive. This workshop explores the intersection of cliff ecology and climbing management, and presents an instructive case study from the Gunks, where Mohonk Preserve and Gunks Climbers’ Coalition worked together to preserve climbing and cliff vegetation.

View Boggess's presentation here.
View Beaupre's presentation here.

Membership, Development, and Fundraising: Strategies that Work

Staff Moderator: Jordan Fisher/Marketing Manager, Panelists: Melissa Whalen/Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, Bethany Lebewitz/Brown Girls Climb

Description: How do we rally the support and generate the resources we need to reach our goals in advocacy and conservation? This workshop hones in on two big, effective ways to rally your community and raise money for the cause: good old-fashioned community events and the brave new (well, not that new) world of social media. Panelists discuss a few example communications projects.

View Fisher's presentation here.
View Lebewitz's presentation here.
View Whalen's presentation here.


Climbing Trails and Infrastructure

Staff Moderator: Ty Tyler/Stewardship Director, Panelists: Jody Chinchen Matz/White Mountain National Forest, Kate Johnson & Chris Wu/Access Fund

Description: The climbing stewardship game is changing. Decades of one-off trail days and clean ups have laid a foundation for longer-term, planned stewardship initiatives at climbing areas across the country. LCOs and land managers are responding and digging in for the long haul. The impacts and threats are real: Climbing areas get shut down if our impacts aren’t managed sustainably. That’s why Access Fund, LCOs, land managers, and other groups are joining in long-term, multi-year stewardship initiatives—to make a positive impact that lasts not for a day, but for a generation.

View presentation here.


Photo credit: Chris Vultaggio and Brad Wenskoski