Sometimes the Only Way to Save a Climbing Area is to Buy It

Everything’s for sale at the right price—even climbing areas. Developers don’t think twice about blowing up a boulder field to make way for million dollar vacation homes or turning a perfect granite cliff into a quarry. Access Fund has seen it happen firsthand at climbing areas across the country, and for the last thirty years we’ve been leading the climbing community to fight back.

Imagine climbing with your friends in the woods, on perfect granite blocks, only 20 minutes from downtown Atlanta, and returning a week later to see the forest and boulders razed, bulldozers destroying the rocks and land before your eyes; this happened at Boat Rock in Georgia. Or a locked gate in front of the most famous desert tower in the world; this almost happened at Castleton Tower in Utah. Or the perfect granite splitters of a gorgeous wall overlooking a river valley, reduced to nothing more than rubble and a massive scar across the mountain to make a quarry; this almost happened to the tips testpiece pictured below at Index Town Wall in Washington.

Index, Washington. Ancestral lands of Tulalip and Skykomish. © Nathan Hadley.

These are all true stories of developers gobbling up open spaces—or, they would have been true stories if climbers hadn’t stepped in to protect and conserve these special places.

Conservation means a lot of things—showing up for trail days, joining forces with other conservation groups, holding land managers accountable—but one of the most powerful and direct forms is to buy the land outright for everyone to enjoy, forever. That’s why one of the most effective tools in Access Fund’s arsenal is our ability to help climbers buy climbing areas.

Buying climbing areas may sound audacious and impossible, but it’s not. Access Fund is the only nationally accredited land trust dedicated to protecting climbing areas. We’ve helped local climbing communities across the country purchase and conserve almost 90 climbing areas since 1990.

Saving land is the foundation of conservation and the foundation of Access Fund’s work. Without land we don’t have climbing areas. We protect the land and these incredible climbing experiences because they give us life.

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