Donner Summit Saved!

The Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Access Fund are pleased to announce the acquisition and protection of a significant set of climbing areas on Donner Summit, located just west of Truckee, California. The victory is announced only eight months after going under contract and launching the Save Donner Climbing Forever fundraising campaign.

The world-class climbing at Donner Summit features finely textured granite with deep chimneys, low-angle slabs, overhanging test pieces, and splitter cracks. The climbing is set amidst some of the most dramatic terrain in the Truckee-Tahoe region, boasting stunning vistas. The acquisition protects the historic 400-foot Black Wall that stands guard on the eastern flanks of Donner Summit, as well as the Peanut Gallery and Road Cut climbing areas. The acquisition of this property also protects the access trails to the popular Space Wall and Stealth Wall.

“Now, residents, visitors, and climbers alike can celebrate knowing this scenic landmark and world-class climbing area are permanently protected,” says Perry Norris, the Land Trust’s executive director.

Climbers have been scaling the walls on Donner Summit for 50 years. But in 2013, the private landowners expressed concerns about liability, putting access to the historic climbing area at risk. Local climbers, Access Fund, and the Land Trust reached out to the landowners, and after nearly a year of negotiations, they agreed to sell the property.

The climbing community and partners banded together, and in just seven months they raised over $300,000 to purchase the property. A group of local climbers led the grassroots fundraising effort, and both Planet Granite and Touchstone Climbing gyms played a critical role encouraging their members to match their donations. Hundreds of climbers and local residents donated to protect the climbing resource; athletes gave slideshows with partners such as Tahoe Sports Hub, Mountain Area Preservation, and California 89 donating venues. Outdoor companies donated gear for auctions and raffle prizes.

“We are proud and delighted to have joined with our members and the climbing community to help protect this land for future generations of climbers to enjoy,” says Micky Lloyd, climber and founder of Planet Granite. “It is great to see what we can all do when we rally around an important issue.”

“The acquisition would not have happened without the amazing response of the climbing community,” says Brady Robinson, Access Fund executive director. “This will be a long-lasting partnership among the partners and the entire climbing community that came together.”

Truckee Donner Land Trust will hold the 11.9-acre property, adding it via a boundary line adjustment to the neighboring 65 acres of land they already hold in fee. Access Fund will maintain a permanent conservation easement on the Black Wall property to back up the Land Trust’s long-term commitment and ensure climbing access in perpetuity.

With support from local climbers, the Land Trust and Access Fund will steward the area, work to minimize climber impacts, improve trails and trailheads, provide informative signage, and protect nesting peregrine falcons in the area. The Land Trust has further plans to connect a multi-use non-motorized recreational trail from Donner Lake to the climbing wall and up to the summit area, attracting more visitors to support the local economy.

“Next steps are trail planning, stewardship, and additional trailhead improvements here at the Black Wall and the greater Donner Summit area,” says Gary Allan, local climber and Project Manager for the Save Donner Climbing Forever campaign. “Let’s keep this momentum going.”

To learn more or get involved in stewardship efforts, visit www.tdlandtrust.org.