PHAR/UP supplied local climbers with a grant of 50 Fixe hangers, 5-piece bolts and ring anchors for upgrade of existing anchors and new route development at Old House, in the Lower Canyon. Those same area climbers are currently working towards a grant for trails development and human waste disposal at this remote crag.
Last week, I met with Julie Fosbender, Troy Waszchy and Brandon Olinger of the Monongahela National Forest's Cheat-Potomac Ranger District, to talk about the upcoming guide and impacts. We visited Long Branch and the Guide Wall, talked about the private property hodgepodge (the trail to the Guide Walls is on private land, the developed routes are not, the section between the developed walls is private, as is the top). We talked about the impact of other user groups like fishermen and hunters, as well as the global importance of Smoke Hole Canyon from an environmental perspective.
We drove out to Reed's Creek, were the folks from the MNF were understandably impressed with the amateur efforts of a college group from Vermont, a score of local climbers, a disabled homemaker and one toothless old curmudgeon, working without support from any national organization.
At this point, we have a great relationship with these folks. They are excited to see climbing expanding in the forest, since climbers are perceived to be more environmentally active and aware. Our efforts to mitigate impact while respecting local landowners has given them a great example of how climbing can be.
If I sound just a bit proud, it comes from the days of paper chasing and the hundreds of phone calls it took to get here; building trails as steadily as I developed routes, maintaining a conversation with the National Forest and the landowners who were still willing to talk to climbers, building bridges to the community even as I bash away at the clay feet of their advocates and idols.
I'm discussing distribution with the publisher, and the feedback we've had from the folks who have seen the sample guide has been nothing but positive.
We're working on new designs and ironing out some wrinkles (no pun intended) in our T-shirt production and distribution, which supports a small local start-up. Some of our Kickstarters have already seen the first efforts, if you have not, rest assured... more will be making their way to your doors in the coming days.
Registration for Hallowe'en Trail Daze continues... register before 9/30 by sending me an email at email@example.com