Thursday, May 24, 2007

Austin: A model climbing community

I just got back from a long weekend in Austin and had the opportunity to get out to both Reimer’s Ranch and the Green Belt (New Wall & Great Wall). Although it was slightly humid, the conditions were ideal.

The crags in Austin are definitely getting crowded. I think it has a lot to do with the open climbing community and social scene in Austin. Having been out of Austin for a couple years now, I have realized that Austin has a very unique climbing community. It’s the only place I have climbed where you can just show up with your shoes and a harness and have no trouble meeting a crew of folks to climb with…almost any day of the week.

Many of the climbers are active in ensuring access and developing climbing areas as well. Just recently, the future of climbing in Reimer’s Ranch was solidified with help by the Central Texas Mountaineers and the Access Fund who assisted the county in purchasing the land rather than it going to a private developer. Additionally, the county bought up another area next to Reimer’s that holds the promise to nearly double the amount of routes in the area.

In my opinion Austin is a benchmark city for climbers to strive for. It would be excellent to have that camaraderie when road-tripping.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Access to Williamson Rock

This week I have received several “calls to action” by fellow climbers and the Access Fund aimed at reestablishing access for climbers in one of LA’s most popular crags that had been shut down years ago for conservation reasons. I invite you to assist us in regaining access to the crag.

The below Action Alert was sent to me by the Access Fund:


Forest Service Proposes Williamson Rock Trail to Reopen Climbing Opportunities in the Angeles National Forest at Williamson Rock, CA

Your Comments needed by June 6th

The Angeles National Forest is requesting public comments on a proposal to construct a trail from the Angeles Crest Highway to Williamson Rock, located in the upper reaches of Little Rock Creek within the Angeles National Forest. The proposal will analyze reopening the popular recreation site and rock climbing area to the public, while protecting the mountain yellow-legged frog (MYLF) and its critical habitat.

The information can be found at: and

Positive comments from the climbing community are URGENTLY NEEDED in the form of a written letter (preferred over e-mail).

Quantity is CRITICAL we need a lot of climbers to write in, so forward this to your climbing partners!

Here are some points you may wish to include in your comments:
1. State why climbing at Williamson is important to you.
2. The climbing resources at Williamson Rock are very valuable to climbers locally and around the world.
3. Due to its high elevation and proximity to the Los Angeles basin, the High Desert region, San Bernardino, and even San Diego, Williamson Rock is the most heavily used and most important resource available to climbers that live in or are visiting the Southern California region in the summer.
4. The MYLF and climbing can co-exist.
5. Climbers respect the wilderness and are committed to access and conservation.
6. Climbers are willing to help with monitoring and to work with the USFS and other agencies to mitigate the problem.
7. Contact info (include name and email)

Your comments may be sent through the mail to the following address:
John F. Capell, District Ranger
Attn. Jonathan Schwartz
Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District
30800 Bouquet Canyon Road
Saugus, CA 91390
or preferably via email to:

Background: The Williamson Rock area is a well-known recreation site used predominately for rock climbing. It has been used by climbers since the 1960's and is widely regarded as a unique rock climbing resource for the entire Southern California region.

The Williamson Rock area has been temporarily closed since December 2005 to protect a frog, which is an endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Populations of the frog are known to exist within the closure area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated approximately 615 acres along Little Rock Creek within the closure area as critical habitat for the MYLF in October 2006.

For more information, please visit or email

Friday, May 11, 2007

Trinity Rocks – Bulgarian Climbing

The north central Bulgarian limestone crag is over one kilometer wide with hundreds of bolted routes (some of the routes are up to 80 meters tall) according to the Trinity Rocks Farm website The rock seems to have plenty of juggy overhanging goodness and vertical climbing, but it’s hard to tell what the rock quality is like from the pictures.

Beyond the views, it seems there is a bit of history in the area as well with a 14th century convent located near the central area of the cliff band. As far as accommodations go, it appears there is affordable and conveniently located cottages for rent as well as camping. The crag is also near a university town, Veliko Turnovo. “Veliko Tarnovo is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria, having a history of more than 5 millennia,” according to Wikipedia. There also appears to be plenty to do at Trinity Rocks to occupy rest days and tons of water for swimming or fishing.

I have been in contact with Cliff and his wife Morag who seem like solid folks that are running one of the accommodations out there. You can check them out on Myspace (link below) to get more info on accommodations and things to do. They also seem to be largely responsible for the development in the area and are actually offering a few climbers free accommodation in exchange for route setting and help around the accommodations.

Here’s Cliff’s add:
Climbers needed to work for Board and lodgings.
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Trinity Rocks Farm Accommodation.

Climbers needed. climbing routes and writing notes, bolting new routes on virgin rock and a bit of work on the Accommodation centre. free board and lodgings. limited numbers obviously.

Contact me through:

If you’ve had any first hand experiences with Trinity Rocks or have any beta on the climbing there please leave a comment or email me with more info:

Trinity Rocks Website:
Cliff’s Myspace:

Friday, May 4, 2007

My rant on rallying climbing partners

Sometimes it seems like pulling teeth trying to get climbing partners together these days. I started climbing in Austin, TX where the climbing community is exceptional and have yet to find a similar scene. In Austin you can be 90% certain that if you went out to one of the local crags that you would have no trouble finding someone to climb with…even if you didn’t know them.

When I moved from Austin to NYC a couple years ago I realized it was going to be nearly impossible to find people to climb with. We were within an hour and a half from one of the world’s most spectacular crags, The Gunks. I posted notes at climbing gyms, left messages on forums for climbing partners…nothing. It seemed no one wanted to take a chance with someone they didn’t know. I even got so desperate I offered to pay a guide to belay me on some routes…with my high rent at the time I ultimately couldn’t afford it. Luckily, an old climbing friend from Austin, Bill Pierson, ended up moving to the area and I gained a climbing partner and trad climbing mentor for the entire season. But, in NYC it almost made sense that it would be a struggle. There aren’t many climbers living in the “Big City” and if they were, they were likely busy like everyone else trying to afford their rent.

A year later I moved out to LA…surprisingly enough, finding consistent partners has been my crux. I have a couple friends that climb, but our schedules often do not match. I have tried heading out to the crag solo and received mixed results. Most people don’t seem to be open to sharing their rope with strangers, but I did end up lucking out once or twice. It’s still surprising. LA has a huge population and a ton of climbing, but you rarely run into the same climbers…making it hard to meet consistent partners.

This weekend I ended up posting a “climbing partner needed” add on and a local Myspace climbing group. I am excited to say, I will be roping up this weekend. Luckily, a few climbers saw my plea and were in a similar predicament. Maybe I can get the Austin-style unspoken agreement to meet and share ropes every weekend to spread in LA…