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.
After the season was over, we met with the camp to talk about how things had gone and potential future agreements. The meeting started with the camp director saying that from their perspective, things could not have gone better and everyone complied with the agreement and respected the camp facilities and staff. Needless to say, that was a great way to start a meeting.
We were able to build on the positive experience and are psyched to announce that we now have a five year agreement in place with the camp for access 7 days a week from December 1st to March 31st. This should help reduce the crowds, eliminates the need for us to reschedule due to bad weather and it opens the cliff during all of the prime months for Sauratown climbing. We will still be paying the camp for the lease, so keep donating to the Sauratown fund to help offset those costs. Climbers will likely need to register before climbing at the cliff, there is a registration box at the first shelter you come to as you start up the trail from the camp.
On behalf of the board, many thanks to everyone who demonstrated that climbers can be responsible stewards and that we are able to work with private land owners to enjoy rock on their land without impacting their day to day activities. This is a huge win for climbers, let's keep up the best behavior and we'll see you at the crag!