Community sports

Climbing workshop a necessary first step towards longevity

By Chap Grubb
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 10/17/18

Members of the National Forest Foundation hosted a group of rock climbers at Mesa Vista Consolidated School near Ojo Caliente Oct. 11.

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Community sports

Climbing workshop a necessary first step towards longevity

Posted

Members of the National Forest Foundation hosted a group of rock climbers at Mesa Vista Consolidated School near Ojo Caliente Oct. 11.

The NFF was brought in as mediators by Taos local U.S. Forest Service representatives to start creating a rapport between locals and the rapidly growing number of climbers in the area. In addition, Taos County is becoming a coveted destination for rock climbers from all over the country. As the crags (climbing areas) are becoming busier, the Forest Service has indicated it wants to have a conversation with climbers regarding conservation.

According to a U.S. Forest Service press release, the goal of the two workshopswas, "to build an understanding of regulations and land use ethics and opportunities related to rock climbing on the public lands of the Carson National Forest, and create a respectful dialogue among our community members of recreationists, outfitters and local residents."

The Oct. 11 meeting included approximately 25 Forest Service employees, outfitters and local climbers. Two of the meeting's participants included two local guidebook authors, Jay Foley and Owen Summerscales. Forest Service officials and members of Northern New Mexico's climbing community discussed issues, including access, private lands, waste management, longevity, increased tourism and development.

The meeting focused on climbing areas on the west side of the Río Grande. These areas include Tres Piedras, El Rito and a number of smaller bouldering destinations in the Ortega Mountains. The conversation touched on issues of access, ethics and maintenance. With increased traffic comes wear and tear.

New Mexico's Climbing Resource and Advocacy Group (CRAG)is a group that appeared at the workshop. Their mission statement states, "(CRAG) wants to protect access to our climbing areas, while improving and preserving them for the future."

NM CRAG spent time a few years ago building a trail for the El Rito climbing area that aims to prevent erosion in the parking area and at the base of the rock climbs. NM CRAG is an organization affiliated with the Access Fund, a nonprofit that aids local climbing communities around the country.

Some of the issues local climbers at the meeting were focused on included

• the lack of bathrooms or established camping areas in the majority of New Mexico's climbing areas.

• the possible use of waste alleviation and gelling bags, or wag bags, instead of portable toilets or installation of permanent bathrooms.

• And, clearer signage and demarcation so as to build awareness among visitors to keep the area clean and to communicate Leave No Trace principles.

Out of the 25 members of the audience, nearly all were local climbers and outfitters.

To contribute any thoughts contact USFS liaison Eric Garner at the Questa Ranger District office via phone at (575) 586-0520 or via email at ericdgarner@fs.fed.us.

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