Overused Vantage Toilet Needs Climbers’ Help


Four years ago, the Northwest climbing community funded a vault toilet at the Frenchman Coulee climbing area (better known as Vantage) in Central Washington. This toilet has helped to alleviate human waste issues and was widely heralded as a huge success. As the area continues to grow in popularity, a second toilet is needed. Access Fund, American Alpine Club, The Mountaineers, and Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC) are calling upon the climbing community to raise $20,000 towards a second toilet and human waste management at Vantage.

Most climbers elect to use the existing trailhead toilet, rather than taking care of business along the trail or out at the crag. However, lines for the single toilet often stretch across the parking lot on busy weekend days, and some climbers – frustrated by the long lines – are forgoing the toilet. If you’re lucky enough to make it into the toilet, you quickly see that it has fallen victim to its own success. Climber Katy Pfannenstein explains it more vividly, “The problem is there’s now a huge turd tower that is about to poke above the toilet seat. And the smell is so bad in there – it’s like huffing from a bottle of ammonia in high school chemistry class.”

A second toilet is needed to alleviate these issues. “We want people to use a toilet,” says Dave Haavik, WCC President. “Once out at the crag, not all climbers bring a wag bag to pack it out or follow proper disposal methods.”

WCC, Access Fund, and The Mountaineers have been the working closely with our partners at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to address the spike in use. Following outreach and 123 letters of support, we are excited to announce that WDFW approved installation of a second toilet!

Now, we need the climbing community’s help to fund this second toilet. Together, we need to raise $20,000 to cover the high costs of installing the vault in subsurface basalt, the toilet’s construction and transportation costs, final planning documentation, and additional human waste management strategies such as wag bag dispensers. Please donate today at washingtonclimbers.org/index.php/vantage.

In 2012, WCC, American Alpine Club, and The Mountaineers co-launched a fundraising campaign with the support of climbing gyms, Spokane Mountaineers, Access Fund, and hundreds of individuals in the Northwest climbing community. The coalition successfully raised the necessary funds for the cultural resources survey, permitting, and installation of the first toilet. We sincerely thank the WDFW for supporting and maintaining the toilet facility.

Land management agencies need our help as they continue to face budget cuts and balance multiple recreation and conservation needs. Climbers need to play a role in stewarding Vantage. You can learn more about human waste basics of disposal methods here. Remind other climbers and visitors at popular sites like Vantage to treat the facilities with respect, pack out waste, and have a plan for when nature calls.