Climbers show unity and momentum for public lands during 3rd annual advocacy event
Golden, CO — The American Alpine Club (AAC) and Access Fund — two of our country’s foremost climbing advocacy non-profit organizations — brought over 60 climbers from across the country to Washington DC last week to speak with lawmakers about protecting our nation’s most spectacular public lands. The 3rd-annual public lands advocacy event, entitled Climb the Hill, was a veritable show of force from those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around the continued conservation and access to public land.
Over the course of three days, Climb the Hill participants broke into multiple teams, composed of regional constituents. Altogether, teams met with more than 60 congressional offices (30 meetings included members of Congress) as well as senior staff from the US Forest Service and National Park Service. The event wrapped up with a standing-room-only reception in the Russell Senate Building in which professional climbers Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, Sasha DiGiulian, Majka Burhardt, and professional ski mountaineer Caroline Gleich spoke about their journeys as climbers/mountaineers and what public land has meant for their personal and professional development.
Lynn Hill, the first person to free-climb Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan 25-years ago, was a member of the 2018 Climb the Hill delegation: “I was both proud and honored to join forces with these awesome people in conjunction with the Access Fund and the American Alpine Club to defend our public lands. Listening to my fellow climbers speak eloquently and passionately about public land to a room full of Senators, journalists, and policy decision-makers left me optimistic about our future.”
Access Fund estimates that nearly 60 percent of all rock climbing areas in the US are located on federal public land. Climb the Hill teams advocated for permanent reauthorization and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, balanced energy development, protection of the Antiquities Act, and increased facilitated recreation opportunities on public lands through the Recreation Not Red-Tape Act.
Bethany Lebewitz, Founder of Brown Girls Climb and 2018 Climb the Hill participant, encouraged more minority climbers to participate in the civic process: “We all need to stand up, speak out, and call our reps. Native history, black lives, and the brown experience are all critical voices for an ethical and inclusive approach to land management and environmental policies.”
The American Alpine Club (AAC) and Access Fund tapped a broad delegation of renowned professional climbers, including Sasha DiGiulian, Quinn Brett, Tommy Caldwell, Margo Hayes, Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold, Geoff Unger, Chelsea Rude, Libby Sauter, Forrest Shearer, Majka Burhardt and professional ski mountaineers Caroline Gleich and Brody Leven. Grassroots partners included Brothers of Climbing, Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition, Brown Girls Climb, Latino Outdoors, The Wilderness Society, Mazamas, Salt Lake Climbers’ Alliance, Outdoor Alliance, The Mountaineers, and Carolina Climbers’ Coalition.
Keep in touch and learn more at: ClimbTheHill.org
About American Alpine Club
Since its founding in 1902, the American Alpine Club has been a force in helping safeguard our country’s wild landscapes and natural treasures. Working alongside our members and partners, we focus on critical issues facing climbers and outdoor recreation nationally, such as keeping public lands pristine, wild, and open to human- powered recreation. The AAC also provides grants and volunteer opportunities to conserve climbing areas; hosts local and national climbing festivals and events; publishes two of the most sought-after climbing annuals; manages a lodging network for climbers; and cares for the world’s leading climbing library and mountaineering museum. All of us at the AAC find great joy and meaning in climbing, and we are committed to a thriving outdoor community sustained by healthy climbing landscapes for generations to come. Learn more at americanalpineclub.org.
About Access Fund
Access Fund is the national advocacy organization and accredited land trust that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing policy and advocacy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. Access Fund is the largest US climbing advocacy organization with over 20,000 members and 117 local affiliates. Access Fund advocates for climbers at the local and national levels, and maintains active Memorandums of Understanding with the National Park Service, US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. For more information, visit www.accessfund.org