The Southeastern climbing and conservation community lost one of its best people on Sunday, December 20th when Kayah Gaydish died from a fall from the anchors of a route at Hidden Valley, VA. Kayah was a mother, the Secretary of the board of the Carolina Climbers Coalition and the NC Conservation Coordinator for Wild South and she was known for her infectious enthusiasm for wilderness, people and climbing.
The comment period for the forest plan review has closed, but we have had some big successes this time around. The CCC signed on to a memorandum of understianding with 30 other groups that lays out a recreational and wilderness preferred plan for the forests. This is a huge success, bringing varied interests together to provide a united message to the Forest Service about what we want to see. The effort has been well covered by the media, here's a good article from Blue Ridge Outdoors that explains what the group is trying to acheive: http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/issues/new-protections-proposed-for-north-carolina-national-forest/
The annual CCC meeting was held on 12/11 at the Lake Lure Community Center basketball court. We went old school. In addition to general updates, the board proposed the following list of candidates for various positions where current terms will expire and all were approved by those present. Congratulations to new and returning board members!
At the 20th anniversary event we presented 3 awards to 3 individuals who have gone above and beyond to benefit climbing in the Carolinas.
From Bill Webster:
On March 8, 2015 I worked with Alberto Luna to replace the anchors on Black and Blue Velvet. I believe that work completes the Pilot Mountain project that was started about three years ago. I believe that the work has transformed the cliff in many ways. Gone are the scary, old, rusty bolts and pins. New sport routes were added. Many new top rope anchors were set. If I missed something please let me know and I’ll be happy to go back and fix the problem.
William McKee, a Cashiers local, and all around sports enthusiast died too soon and suddenly on Saturday, October 25. Known to many Cashiers locals and visitors, William was a climber, hiker, runner and cyclist. He was active with the Carolina Climbers Coalition, the Tour de Cashiers, Friends of Panthertown, the Cashiers summer music series. He was a savior to many, offering rides out from Laurel Knob in summer storms and was instrumental in helping private land owners better understand climbers. He will be missed and we send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
Last season we were able to reopen Sauratown for a limited number of weekends through a paid lease agreement with Camp Hanes. The decision to commit the funds for only one season of guaranteed access was debated for some time by the board. In the end, we felt like we had an opportunity to demonstrate to the land owner that climbers could be responsible stewards and we could access the cliff and not impact the camp in any way. It was somewhat of a gamble as people accessing the cliff on the closed weekends or other potential issues would have likely meant we would lose access forever.
In March 2014, a climber rescue at Shortoff Mountain in Linville Gorge required a helicopter rescue and resulted in another climber receiving a ticket from the US Forest Service for disorderly conduct during the rescue. This rescue was covered live on local media stations and the ticket resulted in an uproar in the NC climbing community and was also criticized in local media. Numerous conversations among various parties followed the rescue and resulted in an agreement to hold a joint meeting between rescue personnel, including those involved in the Shortoff rescue, and representatives from the climbing community.
There has been some confusion surrounding the tragic incidents leading up to the death of local Piedmont climber Mark Byers. On a personal note, I'd like to start by saying that Mark was an occasional climbing partner of mine and a regular at my home crag of Crowder's Mountain State Park. Media and eyewitness testimony have created some confusion as to the cause of Mark's tragic fall. In an attempt to shed some light on the event, Bradley Woolf, Robert Hutchins, and I met with park staff today to examine the scene.
Chimney Rock State Park is adopting the same climbing permit system that is in place at Hanging Rock, Stone, Pilot and Crowder's. Please be sure to fill out a permit when you head up to the cliffs or the boulders. Since the CCC boulderfield flows into the park, even if you plan on staying on the West Side it would be a good idea to fill one out and it helps the park understand how much value we place in Rumbling Bald. Here's the press release from the park: