Advocate Spotlight: Tom Addison

Tom is a climbing advocate lifer—he has been working for over 30 years to preserve, protect, and open access to climbing on both coasts. Tom started his advocacy journey in the 1980s at Farley Ledge in Western Massachusetts, and has been a dedicated Access Fund member since 1992. You may also know Tom from his critical work to save Jailhouse Rock outside Sonora, California in 2010. Over decades, he has also worked diligently to maintain positive relationships between climbers and landowners throughout Tuolumne County, California, working with many landowners, county officials, and members of the climbing community to address their concerns. Tom recently stepped up again to help secure access to Gold Wall, a nearby cousin to Jailhouse Rock. Tom’s dedication to climbing access over decades is inspirational to us all.

5 Questions for Tom:

What's your favorite cause in climbing advocacy right now?
I am so impressed by how Access Fund and local climbing organizations in the Southeast continue to secure access to privately held cliffs in the South. There are some crags in Tennessee that I am excited to try to visit in the next year. Climbing there would not be an option without some impressive work by Access Fund and local advocates.

What does it mean to you to be a climbing advocate?
I am lucky enough to have spent over 40 years as a climber, and I treasure the experiences I have shared with my partners, across the country and abroad. For me and I think for most advocates, we are just trying to ensure that others can have the same opportunities to climb in these amazing places into the future.

What's your advice to new advocates?
Just jump in and see what you can do to help. It often makes sense to start at your local crag. There are so many challenges climbers are facing today that there are a host of ways you can contribute: climber education, hardware replacement, interaction with land managers, trail building, and so much more. There are opportunities for people with many interests, talents, and skill sets.

What challenged you the most about getting into the advocacy world?
In the second half of the 1980s and into the 1990s, when I started working on access issues in New England and then California, there were deep divides within the climbing community itself. We wasted time and political capital back then squabbling amongst ourselves, primarily about how bolts were being placed. Those divisions set us back tremendously, almost costing us the ability to climb on public land. I have always seen Access Fund, since its inception, as a uniting force, protecting the interests of all of us.

Who is another climbing advocate whose work is really inspiring you right now?
I love seeing how so many creative people today are sharing innovative ideas on how to replace hardware. It is such physically demanding and slow work, and there is so much to be done across the country. Kudos to everyone getting this tough job done, stepping up and taking care of their local crags. And I am always inspired by Armando Menocal and Al Rubin, early mentors to me when I first started trying to help with access issues.

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