Giving Back with the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance

Giving Back with the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance

  • Posted by Kaleigh
  • On November 12, 2019
  • Comments

Little Cottonwood Canyon is easily one of my favorite places to climb in the Wasatch. Its cracks and knobs remind me of Yosemite, its old-school-style trad climbing and bolted runouts are reminiscent of where I first learned to climb in New York State’s Adirondack Park and the views while hanging at a belay never cease to amaze.

To help give back to a place that I thoroughly enjoying recreating in, I decided to wake up before the sun and brave the early-morning chill to join the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA) and other volunteers for its November 2 Adopt a Crag event at the Gate Buttress.

Plus, the SLCA is one of The Front’s Impact Coalition nonprofit partners, so I figured it’d be great to further give back to the community that has graciously taken me in since I moved to the Salt Lake City.

The Gate Buttress Project is designed to address 60 years of recreational impact on a 140-acre parcel of land owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, located in lower Little Cottonwood Canyon. With the signing of a recreational lease in 2017, the SLCA and the Access Fund were named active stewards of the Gate Buttress parcel. This parcel contains approximately 588 rock climbing routes and 138 boulder problems spread over 35 areas. The long-term stewardship goal for the property is to create sustainable recreation infrastructure, protect Salt Lake City’s watershed and deepen the relationship and sense of caring for nature through volunteerism within the climbing community and supporting outdoor industry.

The day started with a group huddle in the parking area while sipping warmth from Alpha Coffee and eating yummy treats from Hruska’s Kolaches. As we mingled and waited to get to work, introductions were made from and a history of the area was given by Allan, Carolyn and Lindsay Anderson, leaders of the day who work for the SLCA and Access Fund. Lindsay is the SLCA’s trail crew field coordinator and Allan and Carolyn are part of the Access Fund Conservation Team, which has joined the SLCA in the Wasatch for many years to work alongside staff and volunteers.

People such as Mark and Jenny Overdevest and Libby Ellis also spoke briefly to our group about the importance of volunteering and giving back to the local trails and cliffs we love to play in and climb on. Meeting influential individuals in Salt Lake’s climbing community while also making a difference made this event truly special and unique.

Once our stomachs were full and warm, we all headed to different worksites in the area. One group worked on creating and maintaining a trail to the 5 Mile Boulders, another brushed-in and made more obvious the trail in the talus field leading to the Schoolroom and Green Adjective Gully areas while the group I joined headed toward the Bushwack Crack and Schoolroom area to quarry boulders which would be used to finish a beautifully crafted staircase built by employees of the Access Fund and the SLCA.

While moving rocks and staging them for later use, all the volunteers were able to talk and learn more about one another. I met multiple members from The Front and Momentum who also chose to give their Saturday to work with the SLCA. Everyone came from different states, backgrounds. education and occupations, but all joined for one common cause. Plus, we all became friends and now have future climbing partners.

After a few hours, we moved down trail to finish the day with the 5 Mile Boulders crew. Here, we crushed stone and moved rock and dirt to make the trail more obvious, hard-packed and resistant to erosion. Countless people use these paths day in and day out, so it’s important they’re built to last.

Finally, we cached the tools and ended the event back in the parking lot with a small raffle and more delicious snacks. Each person won a small item, and everyone went home a winner for their efforts.

The next day, I found myself back in the Gate Buttress parking lot to swap leads with a friend in the Green A Gully. As we approached the climb, I found myself that much more appreciative of and thankful for the beautiful trail that the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, Access Fund and countless volunteers have established over years of hard work. The feeling of walking on something we helped build was hard to beat.

*If you’re not yet a member of The Front’s Impact Coalition, consider joining to help local nonprofits reach their goals. Your time and small monthly donations make a huge impact.

**The last Adopt a Crag of the season is on November 16. You can also support the SLCA by attending one of its upcoming events, including Reel Rock 14 on December 8 or the SLCA Soiree on December 12. Proceeds from these events ensure the continuation of its trail crew. If interested in joining the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance for future events or if you’d like to learn more about the organization, check out its website and make reservations/purchase tickets here.

BY TIM BEHUNIAK
BRAND JOURNALIST AT THE FRONT