Climbers Partner with LDS Church on Stewardship of Little Cottonwood Canyon Climbing

The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and Access Fund announce the signing of an unprecedented lease for 140 acres in Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC). The parcel, known as the Gate Buttress, is about one mile up LCC canyon and has been popular with generations of climbers because of its world-class granite.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Burr

The agreement secures legitimate access to approximately 588 routes and 138 boulder problems at the Gate Buttress for rock climbers, who will be active stewards of the property. The recreational lease is the result of several years of negotiations between LDS Church leaders and the local climbing community.

A lease signing ceremony will be held to commemorate this historic event, which coincides with National Trails Day. Media are invited to join us.

What: Lease signing ceremony for climbing access to the Gate Buttress parcel in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Who: Scott Trotter, Presiding Bishopric of the LDS Church and Julia Geisler, Executive Director of the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance. The Access Fund Conservation Team, Chip Powell and Lindsay Anderson, will be facilitating an environmental stewardship Adopt a Crag event for volunteers on site.

When: Saturday, June 3rd, 9 a.m.

Where: Parking lot of the Gate Buttress, one mile up Little Cottonwood Canyon. (Signage will be present marking the site)

Brief tours and video opportunities available of the ceremony, volunteers working on the trail and access point, as well as climbers on the rocks.

The first recorded climbing route in LCC was established in 1961 by former Salt Lake City Mayor, Ted Wilson and Bob Stout. Over the years, Wilson worked with Rick Reese, Allen Sanderson, and other local climbers, in conjunction with the LDS Church to assure recreationalists, predominantly rock climbers, access to the Gate Buttress parcel. However, no formal agreement had ever been established to allow climbing and land improvements. This lease is an evolution of this relationship.

“The LDS Church has always been gracious to climbers regarding climbing access,” says Wilson. “The Church, Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, and Access Fund now, by the agreement, take this relationship to a whole new level. Because of the agreement, the canyon will have needed environmental improvements to continue to enhance a wonderful recreational site open to individuals and families.”

“Agreements like this lease benefit climbers and landowners alike,” says Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson. “By teaming up, Access Fund and SLCA can ensure a lasting partnership with the LDS Church.”

The SLCA and Access Fund are preparing a stewardship plan that will incorporate climbing area improvements, erosion mitigation, and more. This stewardship work will replicate successful efforts that SLCA is spearheading at the lower Little Cottonwood hiking and climbing access trail network. In addition to hosting climbing, the property is also part of the Salt Lake City watershed system that provides drinking water to more than 400,000 Salt Lake County residents.

“The Gate Buttress is a world-class climbing resource that is near and dear to many climbers’ hearts both here in the Wasatch and across the nation,” says SLCA Executive Director Julia Geisler. “The climbing community is deeply committed to the environmental stewardship of the property. This lease not only secures access for climbing at the property, but also allows the community to be better stewards of the places we love to play. The SLCA is actively planning for recreation infrastructure improvements to begin in 2018, including trail and staging area work that will reduce erosion and impacts on the Salt Lake City watershed.”

Stay tuned to SaltLakeClimbers.org for volunteer environmental stewardship opportunities at upcoming Adopt a Crag events. The SLCA will also be responsible for funding recreation infrastructure at the Gate Buttress parcel and will have fundraising events that the public is encouraged to attend, including one on June 8th at Black Diamond Equipment. For tickets, visit saltlakeclimbers.org/events.