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November 23, 2015



If you’re like most climbers, you pore over guidebooks for weeks or even months when planning a climbing trip. You educate yourself on routes, descents, gear, and camping. But what about the local ethics, issues, and challenges at your destination crag? Part of being a responsible climber is knowing how to tread lightly—both socially and environmentally. In this Inside Scoop series, we’ll connect you with local access leaders at some of the country's top climbing destinations for valuable insight into local ethics and issues. 

Destination: INDIAN CREEK, UT

What does the access situation look like in Indian Creek?

Access remains great at Indian Creek, and for that we are incredibly fortunate. But that can always change. Climbers need to respect and adhere to the policies. I have seen entire crags closed (notably, Donnelly and Supercrack!) and reopened, so we must always be vigilant! Access is earned, not given!

Are there currently any threats to climbing access?

No, but there have been many administrative turnovers at BLM and in the Canyonlands district—any time this happens, there may be shifts in field office policy. One of the greatest challenges in advocacy is maintaining relationships with stakeholders, especially when personnel revolve. It is imperative that climbers understand this and do their best to exceed expectations in any given area, as the next land manager may not be as keen to give us liberties.

Does the Creek experience overcrowding? If so, how do you address it?

That’s a tough question. Indian Creek is vast and can accommodate large numbers of visitors, particularly if folks disperse. But the infrastructure only goes so far. Waste management (human and other), camping, and parking are the biggest concerns. Carpooling and dispersing from the most popular areas on busy days always helps. Climbers should never park along the side of the road or in front of a gate if a parking lot is full.

What’s the deal with new camping fees? Why are they necessary?

Visitation to Indian Creek has skyrocketed over the past decade, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can no longer bear the entire expense to maintain the campgrounds. Waste removal alone is a huge financial burden. If visitors don’t step up to help cover this expense, the resulting impacts will damage this delicate desert environment. The BLM has proposed a fee structure for campsites in the corridor—the effective date is still to be determined.

What’s the best way to dispose of human waste in the Creek?

Plan as best as you can to use the loos. If you have to go and there isn’t a toilet around, pack it out. Desert soil can’t biodegrade human waste. We recommend that all climbers carry a human waste disposal bag, like a RESTOP bag.

How is the relationship between climbers and the land managers?

In recent years, our relationship has been solid. We strive to keep it that way.

What are the local ethics at Indian Creek?

As I mentioned earlier, most of the policies revolve around camping, parking, and waste management. When climbers respect all of these policies, as well as any closures, and follow The Pact, all is well.

Any words of wisdom for folks visiting the Creek for the first time?

Be a self-contained unit and pack it all out! Also, don’t co-opt a route for hours. If the crag is crowded and there’s a queue, keep your party moving. If you’ve fallen or hung three times and others are waiting, be respectful and come down.

How can people support Friends of Indian Creek?

You can become a joint member of the Friends of Indian Creek and Access Fund with a single membership! Just visit www.accessfund.org/join. If you’re signed up for Access Fund emails, keep an eye on your inbox for volunteer opportunities. 

Photo courtesy of Ty Tyler






November 09, 2015

6 Tips to Get Kids Involved in Your Stewardship Projects

By Amanda Peterson, Access Fund Conservation Team

Kid_grip hoist_croppedFor nearly two years, Mike and I have looped around the US, working with passionate and dedicated volunteers on climbing area stewardship projects. The volunteers we get to work with are as diverse as the landscapes we experience each week. But we often find that one rapidly growing segment of our climbing community is underrepresented at Adopt a Crag events—kids. There are definitely some challenges (both real and perceived) to engaging kids in stewardship work. But the value of getting young people involved in caring for outdoor places far outweighs the challenges. They are, after all, the future of climbing area stewardship.

Here are 6 tips for getting more kids involved in your local stewardship efforts.

  1. Consider kids in your marketing strategy. Work with the land manager to identify a minimum age limit, and then be sure that your marketing mentions that kids above the age limit are welcome. Market broadly to reach younger audiences through gyms and social media. Better yet, engage kids to help with the planning process and spreading the word out about your event.
  2. Engage Youth Climbing Teams. Talk to coaches at your local climbing gym and try to get their youth teams involved in your stewardship projects. These kids are the future of climbing, and the earlier they are exposed to stewardship efforts, the more appreciation they will have for protecting their climbing areas.
  3. Make it a family affair. Encourage your regular volunteers to bring their kids, stressing how incredibly important it is to introduce the next generation of climbers to volunteerism. Advise parents to bring plenty of snacks and water. Start with easy jobs and encourage volunteers to work with their kids. Express pride in their work and encourage them to brag about it to their friends.
  4. Identify kid-friendly work projects. Don’t just relegate young volunteers to litter pick-up. While litter removal is important, with good leadership and the appropriate tools, young volunteers are capable of contributing in many rewarding ways, including: graffiti removal, slashing in social trails, restoring and replanting native plants, removing invasive plants, brushing off tick marks, finding crush rock, and clearing the trail corridors.
  5. Make it a learning experience. Focus on doing the work well, not on getting a lot done, and be sure to emphasize why the project is being done. To become lifetime stewards, it’s important that young volunteers understand the positive impact of their efforts and the long-term benefit to their climbing area.
  6. Recognize and reward participation. Be sure to include kids in your event recognition plans. If you plan to offer refreshment, be sure the beer has a non-alcoholic counterpart. For raffles and swag giveaways, include items that appeal to volunteers of all ages, like chalk, brushes, water bottles, hats, youth-sized shirts, and chalk bags. Being recognized will help kids feel psyched, appreciated, and wanting to volunteer again.

Kids_roughing trail