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Access Fund volunteer work leavenworth mountain madness

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. 

hammering man giving back with volunteer work mountain madness
moving mountains volunteer with Access Fund Mountain Madness
access fund and mountain madness guide volunteer in Mazama

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.

Leavenworth volunteer work with Access Fund and Mountain Madness
Trail and climbing area work volunteer mountain madness and access fund

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!


Jake Skeen