The American Alpine Club, Access Fund ‘Climb the Hill’ in Washington

The American Alpine Club (AAC) and Access Fund — two of our country’s foremost climbing advocacy non-profit organizations — brought over 60 climbers from across the country to Washington DC last week to speak with lawmakers about protecting our nation’s most spectacular public lands. The 3rd-annual public lands advocacy event, entitled Climb the Hill, was a show of force from those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around the continued conservation and access to public land, said the group.

Over the course of three days, Climb the Hill participants broke into multiple teams, composed of regional constituents. Altogether, teams met with more than 60 congressional offices (30 meetings included members of Congress) as well as senior staff from the US Forest Service and National Park Service. The event wrapped up with a standing-room-only reception in the Russell Senate Building in which professional climbers Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, Sasha DiGiulian, Majka Burhardt, and professional ski mountaineer Caroline Gleich spoke about their journeys as climbers/mountaineers and what public land has meant for their personal and professional development.

Lynn Hill, the first person to free-climb Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan 25-years ago, was a member of the 2018 Climb the Hill delegation: “I was both proud and honored to join forces with these awesome people in conjunction with the Access Fund and the American Alpine Club to defend our public lands. Listening to my fellow climbers speak eloquently and passionately about public land to a room full of Senators, journalists, and policy decision-makers left me optimistic about our future.”

Access Fund estimates that nearly 60 percent of all rock climbing areas in the US are located on federal public land. Climb the Hill teams advocated for permanent reauthorization and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, balanced energy development, protection of the Antiquities Act, and increased facilitated recreation opportunities on public lands through the Recreation Not Red-Tape Act.

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Bethany Lebewitz, Founder of Brown Girls Climb and 2018 Climb the Hill participant, encouraged more climbers of color to participate in the civic process: “We all need to stand up, speak out, and call our reps. Indigenous history, black lives, and the brown experience are all critical voices for an ethical approach to land management and environmental policies.”

The American Alpine Club (AAC) and Access Fund tapped a broad delegation of renowned professional climbers, including Sasha DiGiulian, Quinn Brett, Tommy Caldwell, Margo Hayes, Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold, Geoff Unger, Chelsea Rude, Libby Sauter, Forrest Shearer, Majka Burhardt and professional ski mountaineers Caroline Gleich and Brody Leven. Grassroots partners included Brothers of Climbing, Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition, Brown Girls Climb, Latino Outdoors, The Wilderness Society, Mazamas, Salt Lake Climbers’ Alliance, Outdoor Alliance, The Mountaineers, and Carolina Climbers’ Coalition.

Keep in touch and learn more at ClimbTheHill.org

Main photo: 2018 Climb the Hill Delegation

 


 Phil Powers (executive director of the American Alpine Club) discussing strategy with Tommy Caldwell, Margo Hayes, and Lynn Hill at the Washington DC REI store



Senator Wyden (D-OR) with Tommy Caldwell at the Washington DC REI store 


 Brady Robinson (Access Fund), Margo Hayes, Lynn Hill, Tommy Caldwell, and Phil Powers (AAC) in a congressional meeting.

Sasha DiGulian speaking to a full house at the Senate Reception (Thursday, May 10)


  Senator Cantwell (D-WA) and Tommy Caldwell

 
Senate Reception (Thursday, May 10)

 

Photos by Stephen Gosling

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