Monday, January 28, 2013

Meet the 2013 Access Fund Conservation Team Crew!

Check out this year's members of the Access Fund's Conservation Team!

Last year the Access Fund Conservation Team came to Northwest Branch and installed several stone steps over the course of a few days. A select crew of MAC members worked with the team to haul rocks from across the river, dig placement holes, and fill in gravel to improve the trail between the entrance platform and the warm-up boulders. The steps look great and make the trail safer for climbers and hikers.

While the Conservation Team won't be visiting us this year, MAC will still be back at NWB doing more trail work. We'll be there in the Fall, so keep an eye out on a date and help us protect local climbing!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Call for Action - Shenandoah Rock Outcrop Management Plan 2012

As we mentioned last month, Shenandoah National Park released an update to their Rock Outcrop Management Plan (ROMP).  After reading through the document and working with other organizations including the Access Fund, the Mountaineering Section of the PATC, and the American Alpine Club, we feel the following points are the most relevant to climbers.

- The ROMP focuses heavily on climbing, despite the fact that other activities such as hiking draw far more people into the park and as a result, have far greater impact. To use an example from the ROMP itself, Old Rag is visited by an estimated 50,000 people annually, but the number of climber use-days for the entire park is estimated at only 500.

- Several areas are closed to climbing: Marys Rock, North Marshall, Hawksbills Summit, West Summit of Old Rag, and 35 meters north of the "chute" trail at Little Stony Man.  While the ROMP does provide general information about impact and natural resources at risk, little detail is given on the types of impact in specific areas. There does not appear to be any definitive evidence cited that identifies climbing as a source of significant adverse impact within the park. More detailed information should be provided to further explain the need for restrictions.

- Given the fact that climbers make up only a small percentage of rock outcrop users, the park should consider the possibility that some climbing access could be allowed, even if other user groups are not. Park planners should consider ways to protect the natural resources without prohibiting access to climbing. Climbers have a rich history in Shenandoah National Park, and this history should be preserved as much as possible.

Mid Atlantic Climbers will be filing a letter jointly with the Access Fund voicing these concerns.  However, we strongly urge you to file your own comment, as a climber and an individual, by the deadline, Saturday, January 12, 2013.  No matter how brief, the more climbers that file comment the more our message is heard.  Simply click the “Comment on Document” button at

If you have any questions or comments on this, or about filing your own comment, please feel free to contact us at