01/11/2023

A Big Year for Access Fund's Conservation Teams

What has eight wheels and moved 450 tons of stone in 2022 alone? Access Fund's two incredible Conservation Teams!

Thanks to support from our sponsors, project partners, and climbers like you, Access Fund was able to deploy four professional trail builders and conservation specialists—the Access Fund Conservation Teams—for 10 months in 2022 to support climbing area stewardship. These teams traveled the country in two custom-wrapped vans, leaving better trails, brand new stone staircases, and plenty of smiles in their wake.

Both Conservation Teams work alongside the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for sustainable and accessible access to Thumb Open Space in Estes Park, CO. Native lands of Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Ute. © Access Fund.

Our Special Projects team worked to assess impacts and climbing area conservation needs, address those needs, and provide training on stewardship project planning, implementation, and best practices for keeping their climbing areas healthy. Our Community Connections Team worked with local climbing communities and affinity groups to share educational resources to the climbing community on best practices for climbing responsibly and stewarding climbing areas.

Read on and enjoy just a few of the highlights of what these teams accomplished in 2022.

Days on the Road: 566
Days in the Field: 296
Total Mileage: 44,000

States Visited: 20
Climbing Areas Visited: 44

Stewardship Events: 93
Events and Festivals: 24

Organizational Partners: 50
Total Volunteers: 828
Volunteer Hours: 4,321

Program Highlights - Special Projects

Loryn Posladek and Kyle Leihsing returned for a third year on the road as our Special Projects Conservation Team. These two powerhouses hit the ground running, completing major access trail overhauls in Indian Creek, UT; Breaks Interstate Park, VA/KY; Pictured Rocks, IA; Central Washington; and more. Here are a few highlights of their work:

Volunteers from the Iowa Climbers Coalition during the Comic Gallery Stabilization Project at Pictured Rocks, Iowa. Ancestral lands of Ioway, Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo. © Access Fund.
  • Created improved climbing access at Breaks Interstate Park, successfully rerouting Froop Shoot and Stateline area access trails for a more sustainable alignment by laying out and constructing 850’ of new trail with two stone staircases and four retaining walls.

  • Managed the Comic Gallery Stabilization Project with the Iowa Climbers Coalition in Pictured Rocks, IA. With the help of more than 120 volunteers, the crew moved 30 tons of stone to construct three staircases with 45 steps and two retaining walls of 624 cubic feet to ensure sustainable access to the Comic Gallery.

  • Led year five of the Washington Climbing Conservation Initiative, working at three climbing areas across Washington state, including the Substation at Exit 38, Snow Creek Wall in Leavenworth, and Rocks of Sharon in Spokane. Over the course of five weeks, the team led 71 volunteers to move 30 tons of stone to construct two staircases with 23 steps, 850’ of new trail, and five retaining walls.

  • Completed two full trail rehabilitation projects in Indian Creek, completely restoring access to the Cat Wall and Fin Wall alongside the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps with members from the Zuni and Hopi Nations.

Work Week in the Creek on the approach to Sparks Wall in Indian Creek. Ancestral lands of Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain, Hopi and Zuni. © Access Fund.
The newly constructed Froop Shoot trail at Breaks Interstate Park. Ancestral lands of Eastern Cherokee, Yuchi, and Shawnee. © Access Fund.

Program Highlights - Community Connections

Emily Hernandez and Karson Leonard made up Access Fund’s inaugural Conservation Team Community Connections. Their mission was to connect with and inspire climbers across the country to help support sustainable climbing areas and recreate responsibly. Here are a few highlights of their work:

  • Partnered with 10 affinity groups and 16 Local Climbing Organizations, including:
    • Southern California Mountaineers Association, Lagartijas Climbing Cru, and Climb the Gap

    • Bay Area Climbers Coalition and ParaCliffHangers

    • Washington Climbers Coalition, Yakima Climbing Community, Bower Climbers Coalition, Color the Crag, and Pride

    • Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, Salt Lake Queer Climbers, and Color the Wasatch

    • Brown Girls Climb and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

    • Mid Atlantic Climbers Coalition and Escala DC

    • Southeastern Climbers' Coalition, American Alpine Club Atlanta Chapter, Tallulah Adventures, Lookout Mountain Conservancy, and WeClimb

  • Attended 11 festivals or community events, including:
    • Tensleep Climbing Festival

    • International Climbers Fest

    • Vermont Climbers Fest

    • Adaptive Climbing Festival

    • BlkOut Fest

  • Hosted 29 Adopt a Crags with 371 volunteers, including:
    • Echo Cliffs, Stoney Point, Holcomb Valley Pinnacles, CA

    • Indian Rock, Berkeley, CA

    • Goldbar Bouldering Area, WA

    • Tallulah Gorge, GA

    • Old Wauhatchie Boulders, TN

  • Visited 15 gyms to table & host “Climbing Responsibly” presentations. Shared information and resources for best practices to minimize impacts while climbing.

  • Hosted Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps Crew Leader Training in Indian Creek with Access Fund’s Stewardship Manager, consisting of a 10 day technical rock training. Constructed three staircases with 33 steps and 13 retaining walls.

  • Worked on the Cynical Pinnacle approach trail in Cathedral Spires, CO with Boulder Climbing Community. Constructed 1 staircase with 24 steps and a 60 cubic foot retaining wall.

  • Hosted “Access Fund takes on Pittsburgh” event with the Southwest PA Climbers Coalition, Public Lands, and Ascend, including four stewardship projects at and a gym event. Worked with 46 volunteers to build 600’ of new trail, one staircase, one retaining wall, and restore one staging area with timber/gravel platforms.

  • Constructed a new trail at Woodcock Cove to approach the Tofu Block with the Southeastern Climbers Coalition during the Petzl Rebolt trip. Constructed 200’ feet of new trail, five staircases with 31 steps, and two retaining walls.

Emily and Karson present on Climbing Responsibly at Dogpatch, Berkeley, CA with the Bay Area Climbers Coalition. © M. Calabres.
Emily and Karson partner with the Bay Area Climbers Coalition Adopt A Crag event. Ancestral lands of Ohlone, Miwok, Muwekma, and Confederated Villages of Lisjan. © BACC.

All of this amazing work happened thanks in part to Access Fund's Conservation Teams sponsors. Thank you to OnX Backcountry, REI, YETI, La Sportiva, and GSI Outdoors for their support!

Credit Photo Courtesy of:
© Adventure Visionaries

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