Washington possesses a remarkably diverse array of rock climbing areas, with every type of rock type, landscape, and climate imaginable and a full range of styles, difficulties, and disciplines. There are multipitch moderates, 5.14 sport climbs, V14 boulder problems, alpine free routes both cutting edge and old-school, and 14,000-foot peaks. There is granite at Index, gneiss at Newhalem, sandstone in Bellingham, columnar basal in Vantage, andesite in the Tieton, and limestone in the Northeast. You can put in time on a well-bolted sport route, run out a crack, scrub a boulder, or find solitude in the mountains. You can start a climbing day enveloped in the lush heart of a rain forest and end it basking in the open vista of a sagebrush desert.
It can be tempting to take this incredible gift from granted, but every time we climb, we’re visitors on the land. We’re someone’s – or something’s – guest. Even if it’s public land, we don’t control it. Climbers need to work together to make sure that our climbing areas remain open and free, both for our own enjoyment and that of future generations. The WCC’s goal is to keep Washington climbing vibrant by working with land managers and property owners on climbing access issues, educating climbers about legal, environmental and resource concerns, and promoting climber stewardship of our cliffs and boulders.
These are some of the things that the Washington Climbers Coalition did in 2016:
Vantage, March 10: WCC provided a grant to Department of Fish and Wildlife so they can pump the toilet for the spring climbing season.
Gold Bar Boulders, April 16: 80 volunteers joined the WCC and the Department of Natural Resources, along with partner groups the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, Seattle Bouldering Project, and Vertical World to improve access trails.
Darrington, June 3: 35 volunteers joined the WCC, The Mountaineers, and U. S. Forest Service rangers to improve the hiking trail for Three O’clock Rock on National Trails Day.
North Bend, September 25, 2016: 40 volunteers worked on the access trail at Little Si with Reel Rock, the Access Fund, the WCC, Mountains to Sound Greenway, and the Department of Natural Resources.
Richland, October 15: WCC and Access Fund presented a workshop on building community to promote public access at 2016 Washington State Trails Coalition Conference.
Equinox (Mount Vernon), November 13: WCC and Access Fund secured an agreement for roadway access at Equinox Crag. Ongoing cooperation is under way.
Big things are under way for 2017.
We are the Washington Climbers Coalition
Our mission is to make Washington a better place to climb through advocacy, stewardship, and education. We are climbers who believe that climbers must work together and work cooperatively with land managers and other groups who have an interest in the places where we climb or we risk losing access to these places we cherish. We are an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We take care of the places where we climb and strive to keep climbing areas open.
We frequently partner with the Access Fund, a national organization with a similar mission. We also work with other national and local organizations including the American Alpine Club and The Mountaineers. We join forces with other recreational groups such as American Whitewater and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Association. We work with land owners and land managers at the public agencies that manage, regulate, and patrol the climbing areas we visit. We collaborate with conservation organizations such as Washington Wild. Lastly, we work with – you guessed it – climbers. Washington’s community of climbers is what enables us to pursue our mission.
In addition to our advocacy and stewardship work, the Washington Climbers Coalition also advances climbing access through direct action projects. The WCC currently owns the Lower Town Wall in Index Washington, which is one of the premier climbing destinations in the United States. We acquired the property after it was posted “no trespassing” in 2010 and became at risk of being sold – and even potentially quarried. We are improving the property so that we can donate it to Washington State Parks in a condition that will support permanent climbing activity there, and we are currently negotiating long term management policies that will support the permanent management of the area as a climbing park.
The Washington Climbers Coalition is a member of the Washington Outdoor Coalition, a group of like-minded conservation and recreation groups who believe that public access and public presence in wild places is good for public health and strengthens political support for the preservation of these lands. We are a member of the Land Trust Alliance, a national group that advocates for policies that support the preservation of undeveloped lands to protect them and connect people with those lands.
As an all-volunteer organization, we have very low overhead. All of the donations we receive are channeled directly into education, stewardship and advocacy programs, and we are committed to making sure that all of our expenditures are closely focused on our mission. We invite your participation and we depend on your support.