2014 Sharp End Awards Announced

Each year the Access Fund recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that go above and beyond to volunteer their time and efforts to protecting America's climbing. These recipients stand out in their commitment to the American climbing community, and the Access Fund is honored to present this year's awards to a worthy group of volunteers and activists.

Liz and Rick Weber Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award
Access Fund is proud to present Rick and Liz Weber with the Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award for establishing an incredible legacy for one of America’s greatest climbing destinations: Muir Valley. In 2004, following retirement from their engineering and automobile industry careers, the Webers embarked on a one-of-a-kind retirement project – the acquisition and management of a 300-acre valley surrounded by seven miles of the Corbin Sandstone cliff line that the Red River Gorge is so famous for. For the last eleven years, the two have driven down from their home in Indiana each week to establish and steward this world-class climbing area and nature preserve. They’ve invested more than $1 million of their own funds into Muir Valley to ensure that it will continue to be available as a climbing resource beyond their lifetimes. Thousands of volunteers have assisted in this vision, and the Webers are now poised to hand over ownership and management of the property to the Friends of Muir Valley, who have stepped up to fundraise and take on the responsibility of this world class climbing area. Join us in congratulating Rick and Liz for making this remarkable gift to the American climbing community!

Hawaii Climbing Coalition – Bebie Leadership Award
We are pleased to honor the Hawaii Climbing Coalition with the Bebie Leadership Award for their persistent effort to re-open climbing in Hawaii after Oahu’s premier crags were closed in 2012. The local advocates, assisted by the Access Fund, attempted to re-open the crags via a legislative approach. After admirable lobbying efforts by the local climbers, State legislators ultimately closed the door on the legislative solution and left the future of Oahu’s crags uncertain. These dedicated climbing advocates brushed themselves off and began to explore an administrative approach. The State Attorney General’s office and the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources were so impressed with the efforts of this group that they eventually agreed, after months of negotiations, on a contract that allows the crags to be opened after more than two and a half years of closure. These leaders of the Hawaii Climbing Coalition are prime examples of our community’s finest advocates.

Leif Faber – Reese Martin Regional Coordinator Award
We’re proud to recognize longtime climbing advocate Leif Faber. Leif served on the board of Illinois Climbers Association (ICA) for six years, and was the Illinois Access Fund Regional Coordinator from 2010 to 2014. In both roles he was a tireless steward and advocate for Illinois climbing areas. At Jackson Falls, Leif worked to replace fixed anchors, steward the area through volunteer trail days, and maintain a good relationship with land manager, Shawnee National Forest. Leif has also worked on climbing management policy at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and Rockwood Reservation in Missouri. More recently, he initiated ICA into the Access Fund joint membership program and played a key role in permanently protecting Holy Boulders in Illinois. Thank you for your service to the climbing community Leif!

Adam Baylor – Sharp End Award
We are excited to present a Sharp End award to Adam Baylor for his climbing advocacy leadership in the greater Portland area. Adam’s passion for protecting climbing access and stewarding areas in Western Oregon and Southwest Washington has been an invaluable resource to the local climbing community. Adam serves as Access Fund Regional Coordinator, Mazama Stewardship and Communications Manager, and organizer of Beacon Rock Climbing Association. At Horsethief Butte, Adam led the way in revising the climbing management plan with Washington State Parks. Most recently, he teamed up with Outdoor Alliance Oregon to join fellow human-powered recreationalists to advocate for recreation support and funding at the federal level in DC and at the local level in Oregon. Adam continues to host stewardship events and foster partnerships across the region. Thanks for your work, Adam!

Friends of Muir Valley – Sharp End Award
The Access Fund honors Friends of Muir Valley (FoMV) for its great accomplishment of 2014—raising over $200,000 towards the stewardship and management of Muir Valley and demonstrating their commitment to continuing the legacy created by Rick and Liz Weber. Year after year, FoMV has organized annual trail days, greeted visitors, completed restoration projects, and galvanized volunteers and community support. With special thanks to the hundreds of climbers and partners who supported their cause, FoMV and its dedicated board of directors met their fundraising goal and FoMV is transitioning into ownership of Muir Valley via a gift of the land from the Webers. Congratulations, Friends of Muir Valley!

Brian Payst – Sharp End Award
We are excited to present a Sharp End Award to Brian Payst for his exceptional organizational leadership and outstanding local advocacy in the Carolinas and beyond. Brian joined the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) board in 2009, and now serves as the organization’s president. He also serves as Access Fund Regional Coordinator for North Carolina, and his initiative has led to new partnerships and major successes for CCC and the climbing community. After years of closure, he spearheaded negotiations with the private land owner of Sauratown, NC, successfully reopening this important cliff through a seasonal lease. With Access Fund, he led CCC’s purchase of Hidden Valley in Virginia, reopening yet another major crag in the region. And alongside CCC board members, Brian continues to bring an engaged, proactive approach to public land managers in the Carolinas, fostering strong relationships with state parks and Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest. Brian has also provided hundreds of hours of voluntary IT and website services to CCC, increasing capacity and improving communications. Big thanks for your work Brian!

Bennett Scott – Sharp End Award
The Access Fund is proud to recognize Bennett Scott for his dedication to protecting the climbing resources of Northern Colorado and the Fort Collins area. As a board member and president of Northern Colorado Climbers Coalition (NCCC), Ben has led dozens of trail days at popular areas like Horsetooth Reservoir, Carter Lake, and Arthur’s Rock. He spearheaded a successful effort to open roped climbing in Lory State Park, working with the park managers to create a fixed anchor initiative and new route process. This past year he successfully worked with Larimer County to replace fixed anchors on Horsetooth Mountain, bringing new life to the area’s historic routes. A graphic designer by trade, Ben has also donated thousands of dollars in design services to provide beautiful guide books, which serve and educate the climbing community. Ben continues to inspire many climbers to be better stewards of the places we love to climb. Nice work Ben!

Matthew Ulery – Sharp End Award
Its with great excitement that the Access Fund presents Matthew Ulery a with Sharp End award for his dedication and relentless energy to climbing advocacy in the San Francisco Bay area. Matt not only dedicated his experience motivating and pulling together volunteers for the creation of the Bay Area Climbers Coalition, but has organized and lead several Adopt a Crag events at local crags. Matt’s positive outlook and relationship building skills have helped foster friendly relationship with local land management staff and neighbors. Matt assisted the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team throughout their visit to the Bay area, providing housing for the team, co-tabling at local gym events, and working alongside program sponsors at a variety of events. He continues to be an invested and motivated partner in one of the highest climber populations in the US.

Black Diamond Equipment – Sharp End Award
The Access Fund is honored to present Black Diamond Equipment with a Sharp End Award for helping to launch Access Fund’s new climber education program, ROCK Project. Black Diamond’s support of ROCK Project expanded Access Fund’s education capacity, allowing us to continue to build awareness and knowledge of responsible outdoor climbing ethics for years to come. A generous supporter of the Access Fund since our grassroots beginnings, Black Diamond has helped the Access Fund grow stronger and expand our advocacy and land acquisition programs. As one of the original investors in the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, Black Diamond has helped the Access Fund purchase 17 climbing areas since 2009. We thank Black Diamond for their continued dedication to protecting America's climbing and helping educate the next generation of climbers to be responsible stewards.

Clifton Climbers Alliance – Land Conservation Award
The Access Fund is excited to present Clifton Climbers Alliance (CCA) with a Land Conservation Award for its dedication to protecting Eagle Bluff in central Maine. When Eagle Bluff was unexpectedly closed in 2013, the local climbing community came together with support from Access Fund to purchase and re-open the popular granite bluff. Local climbers quickly formed CCA, gained 501(c)(3) status, helped raise over $150,000, and secured public funding from the Land for Maine’s Future program. After just six months, Access Fund assigned its Option Agreement to CCA, who became the proud owner of Eagle Bluff, permanently securing climbing and hiking access for the local community and climbers across New England. We congratulate CCA on their success and look forward to supporting this new local climbing organization in their management and stewardship of Eagle Bluff for future generations to enjoy.