Hidden Valley Reopened!

09/25/2014

9/25/2014

The Access Fund and Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) are thrilled to announce the acquisition of a large portion of the Hidden Valley climbing area (also known as ‘Abingdon’) in southwest Virginia.The property is located next to Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and creates access to hundreds of single-pitch sport, mixed, and traditional climbs on unique, high-quality sandstone. .

Hidden Valley was a popular southeastern and mid-Atlantic climbing destination in the late 90s and early 2000s. Access to the area was privately owned and later closed to the public in 2004 due to vandalism and management concerns. The area remained closed despite efforts from local climbers and volunteers. In April of last year, landowners Jeanean Dillard and Suichi “Koma” Komaba approached the Access Fund with an interest in selling a portion of their property that would provide public access to the nearly one mile of cliffline that abuts their land. After kicking off discussions with the landowners, Access Fund reached out to nearby local climbing organizations to see if one of them would be willing to acquire and hold the property for long-term management and conservation. CCC was immediately interested.

“Hidden Valley was a popular spot for North Carolina climbers, so we were very familiar with the area,” explains Brian Payst CCC President. “Our board quickly recognized the need for a local group to step up and conserve this historic climbing area.” CCC has a long history of climbing area acquisition and management, including the popular Laurel Knob and the West Side boulders of Rumbling Bald. CCC also leases access to Asheboro Boulders, and most recently, Sauratown cliff. Hidden Valley marks their third successful climbing area acquisition.

Access Fund southeastern staff worked in partnership with the CCC for the past year and half to complete the initial survey, due diligence, and finalize negotiations with the landowners. The Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign provided a loan to the CCC for $30,000 to bridge the gap between available funds and the $45,000 price tag. The CCC closed on the 21-acre property today, putting down $15,000 of its own funds and covering the due diligence and transaction costs necessary to secure access to almost half of the Hidden Valley climbing area. CCC now needs your support to pay off the remaining portion of the loan and steward this climbing area for generations to come.

“The Access Fund is proud to be a part protecting the Hidden Valley climbing area,” says Executive Director Brady Robinson. “We are also proud of our partnership with Carolina Climbers Coalition, who stepped up to purchase and steward this important area.”

The landowners are also excited to see Hidden Valley re-opened to the public. “We’re happy to see the area enter a new era of public access,” says Jeanean Dillard. “Climbers can now cherish, protect and enjoy Hidden Valley as much as our friends and family have,” says Suichi Komaba.

CCC will manage the climbing area in partnership with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries whose adjacent WMA includes the current parking lot and a large portion of the area’s cliff line. Climbers using the area must have a valid Access Permit, or a Virginia hunting or fishing license. Permits may be purchased online at www.dgif.virginia.gov/permits.

CCC’s stewardship of Hidden Valley will also be supported by the Southwest Virginia Climbers Coalition (SVCC), a new local climbing organization working to preserve and protect an expanding number of high quality climbing resources in Virginia’s southwestern corner, including the popular bouldering at Grayson Highlands.

This acquisition reopens access to almost half of the routes at the Hidden Valley climbing area. It also ensures that climbers have a permanent entry point to the entire area from Hidden Valley Road. Access Fund, CCC, and SVCC are continuing to work together to secure access to the remaining portion of Hidden Valley’s cliff line.

To donate to the project and learn more about the upcoming opening date, work days and ways you can help visit www.carolinaclimbers.org.