Giving back, the hard, physical way at our climbing areas with the Access Fund and the U.S Forest Service
Trail building, stopping erosion, and moving rocks — hard work to be sure. But, MM guide Jake Skeen puts a positive spin on making things better and the rewards of some hard work.
It was a fun and unique experience getting to work on trails with the Access Fund between a couple of guiding trips this summer. It is easy to take certain things for granted in the climbing community. How many people think about all of the work that goes into maintaining belay platforms, preventing hillside erosion, and clearing trails around popular crags in the US? It is the mission of the Access Fund to keep climbing areas open and conserve the environment.
Mountain Madness owner Mark Gunlogson and I first met our trail work crew at the Fun Rock crag in Mazama. It was comprised of full time Access Fund staff, US Forest Service rangers, and other volunteers. Some may think that guiding is a physically demanding job… Try working on trails. We moved huge boulders all day. When the rocks were too big for me and Mark to move we called in a heavy lifter volunteer who was built like a football player. But there were even some that he couldn’t move — and that’s when they introduced a complex system of drilling holes in granite, sledge hammering steel wedges into them, and hauling the remaining blocks with systems and equipment make crevasse rescue look easy. This was an honest day’s work.
I was accompanied by MM guide Kyle Hornor on my next trip with the Access Fund. We hiked 6 miles into the enchantments and set up camp next to Nada Lake. Alpine swimming conditions were prime with lowland temps in the triple digits. Kyle and I joined the Access Fund staff and three other volunteers on a couple days of trundling huge rocks off the trail. This work should be the prescription for ADD in teenage boys. It involved building mechanical advantage systems (the biggest one I calculated was 128:1) and prying rocks with steel levers down the hillside. When we became fatigued from this we recovered with some hillside weedwhacking.
The Access Fund staff members, Anna and Jake, travel around the country hitting up famous climbing destinations during their peak seasons. I encourage you guys to look them up and offer a day of volunteer work, as it is a demanding workout with a rewarding outcome!