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3 Rivers Outdoor Company selects SWPACC as Impact Partner

We are thrilled to be 3 Rivers Outdoor Co‘s Community Impact Partner for the second half of 2022! This is a great opportunity for SWPACC to raise some much needed funding and better connect with our community members.

We were grateful to join members of the climbing community, along with 3ROC and Old Thunder Brewing for a kick-off on July 17 at the shop in Regent Square. Thank you to all who stopped by to support our work. It was great to both meet new people and see familiar faces. We are excited to begin this partnership for the next six months!

Next time you’re at 3ROC, check out the in-store tap of Old Thunder Brewing’s Stairs Ascending Pale Ale. A $5 donation to SWPACC gets you a cold one while you’re shopping.

Please join us for future events this year with 3ROC including:

  • August – Date TBA – a meetup at Seldom Seen
  • Sept. 16 –  5 Point Film Festival (raffle proceeds benefit First Waves; beer sales support SWPACC)

As details are finalized and more events are developed, we’ll add information to the SWPACC events calendar. Check back frequently to stay in the loop!

State Game Lands Update

thumbnail of a link to a video on vimeo.com

This is a recording of the update from Ginette Walker Vinski (SWPACC Vice President), Joel Brady (SWPACC President), and Caleb Hills (Access + Stewardship Co-Chair) on May 4, 2022. We were joined by general members of the climbing community, as well as representatives across the state from other LCOs (Southcentral Pennsylvania Climbers – SCPC, Eastern PA Alliance of Climbers – EPAC) and Access Fund.

Summary:

  • SWPACC is in the information gathering stage to determine what actions can be taken to regain climbing access.
  • Please continue to abide by the closure and do not climb in the areas closed to climbing.
  • If you have further concerns, questions, suggestions, resources, expertise, etc., please contact us at info@swpacc.org

Reference links:

Additional Resources:

Further public updates to this issue will be posted under #sgl on this blog.

IMPORTANT: PA Game Commission announces closure of State Game Lands 51 and 138 to climbing

On April 5, 2022, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced the closure to all rock climbing activities on State Game Lands 51 and 138 in Fayette County. The official statement indicates the reason for the closure is habitat preservation of “several rare, threatened or endangered plant and wildlife species.” Last week, upon notification of the impending announcement, the Southwestern PA Climbers Coalition (SWPACC), together with other PA Local Climbing Organizations and Access Fund, submitted a letter to the Game Commission, stressing our commitment to the conservation of wildlife, consistent with Access Fund’s Climbers Pact and “Leave No Trace” ethic, and requesting that we work together to address habitat management concerns while exploring options for maintaining climbing access. Representatives from the Game Commission received and read our letter, and we remain in communication. The Commission has nevertheless moved to implement the closure of Game Lands 51 and 138. You can read the Game Commission’s official press release here:  https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/Game-Commission-Details.aspx?newsid=537

SWPACC and other PA Local Climbing Organizations, including Eastern PA Alliance of Climbers and Southcentral PA Climbers, with the support of Access Fund, remain committed to the vision of balancing rock climbing activities with habitat conservation on State Game Lands, and will continue to work toward that goal. We ask that, in the meantime, all climbers abide by the closure and do not climb on areas located in SGL 51 and 138, the most well-known of which are Coll’s Cove, Lost Crag, The Vault, Casparis, Rob’s Knob, Fish Rocks, and Zebley Flats. We also ask that, rather than contacting the PA Game Commission or other state agencies directly at this time to express your concerns, instead please contact SWPACC at info@swpacc.org  or your local climbing organization and help us in our focused efforts to reopen our beloved climbing areas. As we have updates, we will share them on the SWPACC website and via social media. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Map of State Game Land 51

Map of State Game Land 138

Community Committee Meeting: Thursday, 2/24 6-7pm

The next community committee meeting will be open to the general public; please feel free to drop in and invite some friends!

Meeting link: meet.jit.si/swpacc-community-committee

At this meeting, we will identify tasks to put into our 6-12 month plan, along with a preliminary budget to submit to the board for approval. We welcome any input from the community to raise ideas and contributions to this plan; if you cannot attend this meeting, please contact us at community@swpacc.org to be included in the conversation!

Used Gear Drive

photo showing gear donation box

Climbing, like many outdoor sports, has a high cost of entry: the gear. It ain’t cheap. To boulder in the gym, in addition to a membership (>$60/month), one needs to purchase a chalk bag (cheap) as well as climbing shoes regularly (often >$100 a few times a year!). If you’re roping up you’ll tack on a harness ($50-$150), and a belay device ($100 for a GRIGRI, the most common assisted braking belay device in use). Wowza! That’s upwards of $1,000 for your first year of gear in climbing. If, of course, you’re venturing outside – which is our hope, as your local climbing org – you’re spending hundreds more on crash pads, tents, helmets, warm puffy jackets and hiking-worthy shoes…the list goes on and on.

If you’re into climbing or want to get into climbing, you already know this. When we talk about making climbing more accessible, we have to be realistic. Climbing isn’t free, even if sometimes accessing outdoor boulders can be. To do it safely, well, and to have fun, there is a high cost of entry – especially if you’re not someone with buddies who are lending you gear to make it possible!

SWPACC recognizes this huge barrier to entry in climbing, and in order to begin to try to level the playing field, we are holding our first USED GEAR DRIVE! If you’ve been in the game for a while, you probably have extra gear lying around. Whether it’s extra shoes (like new or resoleable), a spare jacket (that could still keep someone warm), or even hardware like an ATC or GRIGRI, someone can use it if you’re not. Below are some guidelines for donations.

Donation boxes can be found at the entry to both Iron City Boulders and Ascend Pittsburgh. Please ask the front desk if you can’t find it! THANK YOU in advance for your generosity.

photo illustrating items accepted for donation

YES!

Clean, usable condition:

  • climbing shoes
  • belay gloves
  • belay devices + carabiners
  • technical outdoor gear
  • Gear that needs minor repairs (small rips, re-hemming, resoling) is okay!

 

photo of gear not accepted for donation

NO!

Do not donate:

  • Stinky, soiled, moldy, or otherwise gross gear
  • Anything shredded, cracked, or presents safety hazards
  • T-shirts, jeans, other street clothes not fit for outdoor use
  • Helmets, harnesses, or other soft gear (for new-in-box donations of safety equipment, please contact us ahead of time!)

Feel free to contact us at community@swpacc.org for any clarifications!

Community Committee Meeting: Monday 12/6/21 7-8pm EST

The next community committee meeting will be open to the general public; please feel free to drop in and invite some friends!

Meeting link: meet.jit.si/swpacc-community-committee

Meeting topics:

  • Setting committee goals for 2022
    • Sketching out a committee budget
    • Identifying a chair/co-chair for 2022
  • Ongoing project updates
    • Merchandise
    • Spring climbing comp
  • New projects
    • Used gear redistribution

–Vincent, interim committee chair

Help secure access to stellar climbing areas in Maryland: write a letter!

[Okay, actually, send an email 🙂 ]


The Background

Climber at Locust Grove
Locust Grove

The area known as Locust Grove, just outside of Cumberland, Maryland has a 40-50 year history of rock climbing, albeit as a “secret crag.” Over 70 routes exist on impeccable rock, half of which are fully equipped sport routes, some reaching 100 feet high.  The majority of the routes are in the 5.9-5.10 range, but there are many excellent beginner routes also, and a handful of excellent 5.11s and 5.12s.  Less than one mile away, in an area called The Narrows, there are close to 200 additional routes (multi-pitch, trad). 

Recently, Locust Grove has been posted with “No Trespassing” signs and climbers have been told to leave the premises. 

Both locations are in close proximity to Wills Mountain State Park in Western Maryland. The park’s current boundary includes part of The Narrows but does not include Locust Grove. There is no legal access to either climbing area.

After 18 months of spearheading a campaign to find a solution to this situation, and pulling in support from the Access Fund and various regional LCOs as well as numerous levels of local and state government (most notably the the Maryland Department of Natural Resources – DNR), SWPACC has learned that the initiative is gaining great momentum. Currently, Maryland DNR is in negotiations with the owners of the rocks at Locust Grove as well as with the various owners of the access trails to The Narrows, with the hopes of extending the boundaries of Wills Mountain State Park to include all of the climbing at both areas as well as the properties necessary for access. Acquiring these lands will allow rock climbers to gain legal access to arguably the best roped climbing within 100 miles of southwestern Pennsylvania. SWPACC is also excited to share the news that as a result of all of this work, a new Local Climbing Organization called the Western Maryland Climbers Coalition (WMCC) has formed to take the lead on this campaign. 

We need your help!

In full solidarity with WMCC, SWPACC is encouraging all regional climbers to send emails to the Superintendent of the Maryland Park Service, Nita Settina, and DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio sharing why these land acquisitions are important to you.  Please send one email addressed to both women: nita.settina@maryland.gov and jeannie.riccio@maryland.gov.

Given that these areas are within 100 miles of not only Pittsburgh, but also DC, Baltimore, Harrisburg and Morgantown, the opportunity for growth in tourism and a subsequent boost in the local economy is high. The proximity is fully within the reach of day trippers. Additionally, the camping accommodations at Rocky Gap State park are of such high quality, that many will begin choosing this area as a much closer option to weekend climbing getaways than Seneca and The New River Gorge that are twice the distance.

Thank you for helping SWPACC support the WMCC to re-open this incredible resource!

 

Fall 2021 Access + Stewardship Committee Updates

Many hands…


On August 28 seven members of the SWPACC Access and Stewardship Committee installed 16 mechanical and 14 glue-in bolts, using all stainless steel bolts to replace rusted bolts across 10 different routes in the main climbing area of Breakneck. The Committee also recommended and the board approved purchasing a drill for SWPACC which enabled to replacement at breakneck and will facilitate future projects.

SWPACC has formally agreed to a lease with the owner of the parking lot for Breakneck which included repairing the parking area. In addition to the Breakneck parking area we are also working on other low cost leases related to securing access to climbing areas.

The last area of focus for access is publishing information about areas where access is already secured but there is no public awareness. Multiple other areas have been initially added to Mountain Project and we’re working to continue to flesh out those pages. In addition we’re finalizing a map similar to Lost Crag for a top rope and trad area and also evaluating other climbing areas for bolts that need to be replaced.

rusty bolts

 

Group of rebolting volunteers at Breakneck

Fall 2021 Governance Committee Updates

Building the foundation

Over the past several months, the SWPACC Governance Committee has been hard at work with the behind-the-scenes functioning of our growing local climbing organization. With the new committees being formed in the past year, the Governance Committee has facilitated the smooth transition from a club that was primarily governed by a board of directors to a member-led organization with shared roles and responsibilities at the committee level. Most recently, we put together SWPACC’s second annual election meeting and successfully had SWPACC members elect three new board members, as well as re-elect some experienced members. Being on the Governance Committee is a great way to get involved with big-picture climbing issues and a great way to get experience leading a community organization! We’re always looking for more dedicated volunteers so check us out at our next committee meeting!