Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition Preserves Access to Mother’s Buttress in Unaweep Canyon

Date: 10/15/2010

We are pleased to report that the Western Colorado Climber’s Coalition (WCCC) closed on the 13 acre Mother’s Buttress parcel in Unaweep Canyon, securing climbing access that was threatened by private property restrictions. The effort was made possible with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Access Fund, a $5,000 grant from REI, and donated services by Telluride surveyor Dave Foley, Grand Junction engineer Marc Kenney and Telluride attorney Steve Johnson, Western Colorado Regional Coordinator for the Access Fund, not to mention the dedication of the WCCC.

The granite cliffs of Unaweep are unique in the region, where most climbing venues are soft sandstone. Most of the climbing in Unaweep Canyon is on private property. About 20 years ago, the Access Fund and local climbers purchased a number of lots in the canyon to secure climbing access. Over time, some of these parcels changed hands or never had formal recreation or conservation easements that established climber access in perpetuity. Recently, a few of the parcels have come up for sale, leaving climbers scrambling to negotiate with the landowners or raise funds to purchase the cliffs outright.

“One of the major hurdles for us is that most climbers tend to be ‘rugged individualists’ and don’t have deep pockets or the inclination to be part of a team effort, even when our crags are at stake,” said Jesse Zacher, President of the WCCC.

Local climbers John and Marti Peterson heard about the threatened access to Mother’s Buttress and stepped forward to help. Having been involved in a climbing access negotiation in Connecticut prior to their move to Gunnison, the Peterson’s understood the importance of private citizens stepping up to ensure access. They agreed to purchase the parcel with a promise that the WCCC would raise funds to buy the cliffs from them. The Petersons are left with a home site with a beautiful crag in their backyard and a joint venture with local climbers to build a required driveway and parking area for climbing access.

The nearby Moab-based Friends of Indian Creek have donated a kiosk for the trailhead to educate visiting climbers about the Mothers Buttress partnership, Leave No Trace ethics, and club activities. The WCCC is working hard to engineer the driveway and parking area, and is seeking donations of culvert and pipe.

Neighboring crags are also for sale and interested investors are urged to contact the Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition to find our more information. http://westernslopeclimbers.blogspot.com.