The Tieton River area hosts a wide variety of sport and trad climbing, and some excellent bouldering as well. In 2017 the Access Fund Conservation Team was in the state for a couple of months and, working on contract with the Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC), they supervised volunteers working to stabilize the base of the cliff and some access trails at Royal Columns.

In April 2017 a pillar fell over in the Royal Columns area and the Department of Natural Resources closed the area temporarily to allow us to assess the area and advised them as to safety. WCC Board member Andy Fitz visited the area, undertook an assessment and, with volunteer assistance, completed some remedial cleanup before advising the Department of Natural Resources that it was safe. They reopened this crag a few weeks later.

Access Fund Conservation Team/WCC crew in 2017.
Here, a 2017 team works to clear the trail from remains of a pillar that collapsed in the Spring of 2017.

Over the years, Fish and Wildlife has worked with climbers and others to manage Golden Eagle nesting activity in the area and, in part due to the trust we’ve built over time, they try to draw nesting closures rather narrowly to allow climbers to visit their favorite haunts during the vulnerable nesting period.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife manages some of the areas we visit. A 2017 update to their Oak Creek Management Plan provides:

Goal 11 is to
“Support and maintain appropriate recreation opportunities.” First, the plan identifies an objective to “Maintain access [to] Tieton River rock climbing” with three tasks: 1) coordinate with the WCC to implement a 2017 REI grant for trail maintenance; 2) meet with user groups to develop trail maintenance projects; and 3) perform trail maintenance as needed. Second, the plan identifies an objective to “Include climbing group representation on [Wildlife Area Advisory Committee] and partner on stewardship opportunities,” with one task: “Work with local users and Washington Climbers Coalition to identify potential members.”

Our work in this area has paid off in terms of enhancing the climbing experience, building relationships, and educating climbers and land managers about climbing management and access concerns.