Bridger Jacks Site 9. The one down that 4-wheel drive hill past all the more established sites.
Crawling out of a sleeping bag and straight into flip-flops – we’re chasing shade today. A couple shoulder stretches as we hound down that rocket fuel that Rob calls coffee.
Another botched summit selfie. Too excited to put anything good looking together, hands still shaking from that last pitch.
It’s rarely been about climbing for me- the places I’ve seen and the memories I’ve shared ring truer to me than any piece of rock. I’ve developed, with all my close friends, a special relationship to the land – public land – that holds both these memories and the cliffs themselves.
But for all that climbing has given to me, the relationship has been mainly one directional. Sure, I pick up trash that I see out, I stay the trail, but I’ve never sought the opportunity to give something back on a scale that is even close to all that the sport has given to me. That is why I couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Access Fund as a non-profit partner through 1% for the Planet.
The Access Fund helps secure access to climbing areas and public lands through policy work, land acquisition and protection, stewardship and education. If you’ve hiked a trail to a climbing area, parked your car near a trailhead, or waited in line for the port a potty at the Beef Basin parking lot, chances are you can thank the Access Fund. They do an excellent job navigating the tough line that I grapple with when I consider climbing – how do we welcome the hordes that we share the sport with while preserving the magic of the lands where we all climb? They do so much more than build trails and put on seminars. From political lobbying to actual land purchases that they then turn over to environmental stewards, their work is a gift to public lands across our country.
Though I am proud to partner with them, it’s not even a sense of pride that I feel the most at this point. It’s more a deep unburdening, a relief to finally give back a fraction of the joy that I’ve felt on these lands. ‘Now more than ever’ is trite, so I’ll abstain. I’m honored to be partnering with an organization that takes on this task of conservation every day, including recent days. Instead of shying away from a growingly daunting task, they have stepped up to the challenge.
The Access Fund is suing the federal government to defend Bears Ears National Monument from losing its protected status. This is the place where I go to sleep under the Milky Way and wake surrounded by scarlet-red towers. This is the place I want my to take my kids, point to the North Six Shooter and say, ‘Dad’s been up there’. The red dirt that I can’t wash off my bumper is from there.
I’d made the decision about the Access Fund before they announced their lawsuit, but I’m elated they’ve doubled down in their efforts.
As Hidden Woods develops, the chance to give a bit back remains important to me. I can’t put a dollar amount onto how good it feels to sink a pinkies-down finger lock or the joy of not vomiting after a grueling offwidth pitch, but hopefully this helps.