The CCC board met on January 15, 2017 at the new Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery after the Rumbling Bald trail day sponsored by Chimney Rock State Park. We sat on the porch by the Broad River and discussed our current affairs.
Brian Payst, President
Phil Hoffman, Vice President
William Goodson, Treasurer
Cameron Cassan, Secretary
Mike Trew, Northern Mountains Rep
Mike Reardon, Southern Mountains Rep 1
Jeremiah Haas, Southern Mountains Rep 2
Brad Caldwell, South Carolina Rep
Tom Caldwell, At-Large Board Member
Laura Boggess, At-Large Board Member
Corey Winstead, At-Large Board Member
Instead of hosting the Rumble competition this year, we focused our efforts on supporting Chimney Rock State Park in the wake of the Party Rock Fire. Around 70 volunteers were coordinated by park rangers into work crews. Together, we were able to remove trees downed in the fire, build a new rock staircase by the Flakeview area, install railings at switchbacks to prevent short cutting, and spread fresh gravel near the trailhead.
This kind of support speaks volumes regarding our integrity as a user group. Chimney Rock State Park gave CCC board members and our select representatives permission to replace fixed anchors at Rumbling Bald as necessary. We hope to see progress on the new parking lot funded by the NC Connect Bond next fall.
Pisgah Trail Leaders
Jeremiah reminded the board about a certification meeting with the U.S. Forest Service taking place the next day, January 16 (MLK Day). In order to perform trail work in Pisgah National Forest, we needed to get a group checked off as Trail Crew Leaders. The board members who were able to attend agreed that the meeting went well. After the paper work is finalized, we should have close to 10 CCC members that can supervise trail work in Pisgah.
In response to the Virginia Department of Fishing and Game’s closure of the Low Gap parking lot to climbers, we built our own! Although it was finished in time for the fall season, the parking lot cost twice the initial estimate: instead of $10,000, the final bill was close to $20,000. We paid for the lot, but have not fundraised enough to recover the cost. Also, the contractor covered some trees near the wood’s edge in gravel. We will have to invest more capital to remove them, because the gravel will eventually kill them and cause bigger problems.
The CCC acquired $1,500 in bolt replacement funds specifically for Hidden Valley thanks to the Access Fund and American Alpine Club grant. After purchasing the gear, we distributed it to representatives in key locations. Mike Reardon has a stash for Asheville replacers. Mike Trew has a stash for Boone replacers. Kyle King lives at the base of Hidden Valley and can supply those able to replace hardware.
In the process of replacing hardware, CCC representatives have been encountering occasional homemade permadraws. Because our current by-laws prohibit this type of fixed gear, we discussed how to equip these routes and preserve the first ascentionist’s intended style. Following some debate, we agreed to re-write the bylaws to allow permadraws on a case-by-case basis if consistent with area ethics and the intention of the first ascent party. Bolt replacement volunteers may exchange the few chain permadraws on our property with modern permadraws once they have arrived.
Our current lease with Camp Hanes opens access to the cliff line from December 1 to March 31 for $5,000 a year. This sum helps pay for under-privileged children to attend YMCA camp. We are interested in helping Camp Hanes cut a sustainable trail to their climbing area, but the quote calls for close to a $40,000 investment. The board agreed that if we are to commit to the project, we would like to first pursue a cost-share agreement with Camp Hanes or at least achieve a long-term access guarantee. Otherwise, we can’t afford to invest that much capital. We need money in our reserves in case of emergencies (Ex. Hidden Valley lot) and possible acquisition opportunities (appraisals).
In response to a fixed anchor dispute at Looking Glass and illegal power drilling in the Wilderness Area of Linville Gorge, we established a precedent this year to intervene in any activity that could jeopardize access. The CCC is not interested in taking sides; we want users to recognize the value of history and appropriate means. First and foremost, we must adhere to the rules established by land mangers. Beyond that, local communities should be in charge of establishing and enforcing their own ethical boundaries. Face-to-face communication between parties with dissenting ideals will lead to solutions more effectively than highly public social media arguments. We want to show land managers that local communities of climbers are capable of policing themselves!
As the authority of our local climbing organization grows, board members must volunteer more of their time. We decided to explicitly detail the responsibilities of each role. Additionally, as a way to increase internal communication beyond emailing, we agreed to hold an evening phone conference on the third Monday of every month.
Next year, both Brian and Phil will have completed two terms in their respective roles of president and vice president. While they do not have to the leave the board, we will need new faces in their current roles. We discussed the pros and cons of hiring an executive director. For the time being, we decided that fundraising would best benefit specific access and stewardship goals, rather than a salary.
We agreed to increase our Stewardship Fund in order to have a safety net that would allow us to pay for two years of Sauratown and Asheboro leases in case of emergency.
In order to gain climbing access to this unique crag in Pickens, South Carolina, we helped the Naturaland Trust purchase adjacent property last year. They will use this land to construct a parking lot that will shorten the approach for all user groups significantly. Tom and Brad will maintain communication with Naturaland Trust representatives to help keep this project on track. Hopefully, we will see progress beginning in the spring.
Rock and Rave
Because the CCC is a primary beneficiary of this massive fundraiser in Atlanta, Georgia, we need more Carolina climbers to attend. In fact, it’s our biggest annual source of revenue! Local area representatives should be promoting the event. At the very least, the majority of the board needs be present and available for volunteering on March 4.
Cameron Cassan, Secretary of the Board - Carolina Climbers Coalition