Climbers Acquire Medicine Wall in San Antonio, TX

12/14/2018

Texas Climbers Coalition (TCC) and Access Fund are pleased to announce the acquisition and permanent protection of Medicine Wall, a limestone bluff in San Antonio, Texas that provides an urban getaway for outdoor climbing.

“While San Antonio has a long history of climbing, it doesn’t have as many options to climb outside as Austin, for example,” says local climber Matt Markell. “Having Medicine Wall reopen will be a huge win for San Antonio climbers.”

Despite never being officially open to public access, the privately owned Medicine Wall was a popular sport climbing crag for over 20 years, until a fatal accident in 2015 prompted the landowners to strip the hardware from the wall and strictly enforce trespassing laws.

However, the landowners (a large development company) recognized the recreational value of the property and had an interest in conserving it. They first approached the City of San Antonio hoping they would acquire the property for inclusion in the greenway trails system. The city declined to take ownership, due in part to liability concerns, but put the landowners in touch with TCC.

The landowners agreed to convey the Medicine Wall parcel to TCC, provided that a separate land trust hold an easement on the property to permanently protect it. TCC reached out to Access Fund, an accredited land trust, who agreed to facilitate the transaction and hold a conservation and recreation easement on Medicine Wall to permanently protect the property for conservation and recreation.

The property is now officially owned by TCC, with a conservation easement held by Access Fund. While Medicine Wall is now climber-owned, it is not yet open for climbing until the wall can be rebolted. See below for access details.

“We’re thrilled to have supported TCC in the acquisition and permanent protection of Medicine Wall,” says Brian Tickle, Access Fund’s Texas Regional Director. “Texas is loaded with small, high-value crags just like Medicine Wall and protecting them serves both conservation and recreation interests.”

“Medicine Wall is a great crag for the San Antonio climbing community, and we’re really excited to serve that community through this acquisition. This is something we’d like to repeat across the state,” says TCC President Adam Mitchell.

Despite being home to a vast quantity of climbing resources, only 5% of land in Texas is public property. The state’s population is projected to double by 2050, and public parks like the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Enchanted Rock, and others will continue to face ever greater demands and impacts from public use—presenting unique challenges for climbers and land managers. Acquisitions like Medicine Wall make much-needed recreation space available to the public.

TCC now needs help to raise $37,000 to manage Medicine Wall and pay for the expenses associated with the property transfer, stewardship improvements, and long-term costs of the conservation and recreation easement. Donate today at texasclimberscoalition.org/medicine-wall.

Access Details

Although Medicine Wall has been acquired and protected, it remains closed for climbing until the wall can be rebolted and the City of San Antonio can complete its trail project. For more specific details about public access, or for other information about Medicine Wall, please visit texasclimberscoalition.org/medicine-wall.

Photo courtesy of Ferris Kilpatrick