Climbing Advocate John Peterson Honored at Unaweep

Categories: Community

Access Fund friend and supporter Dr. John Peterson lost his life on March 5, 2017 as the result of a climbing accident. On August 5, John’s friends, family, and the local climbing community gathered in Unaweep Canyon to honor him with a plaque at the base of Mother’s Buttress. John was an inspiration for the climbing community, supporting conservation and climbing access for decades across the country.

John and his wife Marti. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

In 2008, John worked with the Access Fund, Western Colorado Climbers Coalition (WCCC), and local climbers to acquire and protect a parcel of land in Unaweep Canyon outside Grand Junction, Colorado. The acquisition allowed climbers to organize and take ownership of the cliff and provide a new point of public access.

“John was instrumental in the formation of the WCCC because he and his wife, Marti, purchased the land that was on the market in Unaweep Canyon that includes Upper Mother’s Buttress,” says WCCC Secretary Eve Tallman. “Now, WCCC owns six parcels along the cliff band.”

As a board member of the Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF) in Connecticut, John played an integral role in acquiring and protecting the climbing area’s main face and helping RMF become one of the first land trusts in the United States to specialize in protecting and ensuring access for climbers.

“Because of his experience, intellect, and outgoing personality, John Peterson was an influential board member of the Ragged Mountain Foundation during this crucial time period,” says David Fasulo, former RMF President and author of Rock Climbing Connecticut and Self-Rescue. “I was privileged to serve alongside John as an officer of RMF and spend time with him at the crags. His passing was a sad day for climbers around the country.”

View additional memories and words about John at the Western State Colorado University site, where he taught in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. In addition to the Western Foundation, donations in his name can be made to the Access Fund. The climbing community will miss John Peterson, but his legacy in climbing conservation will live on for generations to come.