Madrone Wall Opens After Twenty Years

After 20 years of being closed to the public, Madrone Wall outside of Portland, Oregon will finally open this Saturday, October 21th. The 44-acre county park features over a hundred basalt sport and trad climbs within thirty minutes of Portland, making it a big score for local climbers. This victory was made possible by two decades of persistence, leadership, and advocacy of the Madrone Wall Preservation Committee (MWPC).

Photo courtesy of ©Sam Wilson

In 1997, the climbing community partnered with Clackamas County locals to save the Madrone Wall from being destroyed by both a logging and quarrying operation. In 1999, the Madrone Wall Preservation Committee (MWPC) formed as a volunteer non-profit organization to help protect the area and begin plans to develop it into a county park. MWPC identified and worked with a pro bono civil engineer to create detailed park construction plans, established a partnership with Oregon Army National Guard to donate their labor as a training activity, and organized countless hours of volunteer support to build trails and remove illegally dumped trash and invasive plants. Although the County planned to dedicate the site as a park by 2010, to include public access and rock climbing, the site still remained posted “No Trespassing” for another seven years.

The climbing community continued to apply both pressure (in the form of action alerts) and support to encourage the county to open the park. The Access Fund awarded $15,000 in grants to help MWPC with start-up costs, public outreach, trail work, a vault toilet, and trailhead kiosk to help get the park opened. The Access Fund, with the Mazamas, were the first partners to assist the early MWPC. "Without the expertise and initial financial contributions of the Access Fund, which helped get the word out and strategize advocacy, this amazing civic treasure could have easily been blown up and lost forever. Access Fund stood beside us and prevented a catastrophe,” says Keith Daellenbach MWPC Board Director.

The Clackamas County Tourism Development Council also provided a grant for $88,590 along with two large donations from individual families and that, combined with pro-bono labor, completed all of the trailhead, access road, and parking improvements necessary to reopen Madrone Wall.

“So many individuals, businesses, non-profits, and community leaders helped to preserve this treasure from being quarried, logged, and developed,” says MWPC Board Director Kellie Rice. “We all won, and we’re incredibly grateful for the community’s support.” Rice, along with founding board member Keith Daellenbach, have been the driving force behind the organization.

“This closure and all the hard work to reopen Madrone Wall are the epitome of why local advocates and climbing organizations such as MWPC are critical,” says Access Fund Northwest Regional Director Joe Sambataro. “We’re grateful to all of the local climbers that supported this advocacy effort through all the twists and turns.”

Local volunteers recently replaced the wall’s aging fixed hardware with stainless steel bolts provided by American Safe Climbing Association and shared a new Rakkup guide to reorient climbers to the area’s routes.

For more details about park hours and rules, visit www.clackamas.us/parks/madronewall.html. Please respect the seasonal raptor closure, which starts in February 2018, and show Clackamas County that climbers are stewards of this treasured landscape.

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