Climbing is at a crossroads. As the climbing population continues to explode, under-resourced crags keep getting busier. The result? Habitat strain and possible loss of access.
If you step up now to help the Access Fund protect over-burdened climbing areas, Black Diamond will give you a boost.
Through Dec. 20, the brand announced it would match all Access Fund donations up to $80,000. The initiative aims to relieve stress on crags that continue to mount due to overcrowding.
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By now, everyone knows about climbing’s meteoric popularity. Between the pandemic, the Oscars, and the Olympics, rock climbing is no longer on the fringe. However, many crags are still treated (and resourced) as if they are.
No matter where you climb outdoors, you’ve probably seen signs of stress. Trampled, expanding belay areas, errant litter, and eroding makeshift trails are common.
Human presence can and will alter any natural habitat or resource. The impact is most extreme in places where we meet those resources on the most significant scale — especially if little structure for human presence exists there.
Shots like this one, taken in the world-famous Buttermilks boulder field, drive home the effect:
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What Your Money Will Support: The Access Fund’s Plan in Context
There’s no indication that the number of climbers at crags will dwindle. So to protect the areas and our access to them, structures and resources that support our presence need to increase.
The Access Fund’s plan to preserve access and improve facilities at climbing areas includes three parts:
- Bolster climbing areas at the ground level for long-term sustainability. Professional trail construction, reinforced belay areas, composting toilets, and educational signage are on the list.
- Deploy more climber stewards. Last season, climber stewards worked at Indian Creek to help visitors recreate responsibly. They relayed information on Leave No Trace strategies, native vegetation and cultural heritage, and nuts-and-bolts guidance like trail maps and how to find less-crowded crags. This year, the Access Fund seeks to expand the program elsewhere.
- Build relationships with land managers to improve ongoing access conversations. In most areas, climbing access is a puzzle between government entities, private owners, local climbers, and advocates like the Access Fund.
Donate before Dec. 20 to trigger a matching contribution from Black Diamond. While you’re there, check out some of the Access Fund’s other current initiatives. Local communities rely on climbing resources for healthy recreation all over the U.S. and the world.
As climbing continues to grow, maintaining positive relationships with land managers and the land itself will require focused intent.