Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, and Other Climbers Take to Capitol Hill to Fight for Public Lands

All the members of the #climbthehill event gathered in the Senate. It was a super educational day of meeting with our representatives in Congress. And honestly it was really inspiring to see so many climber come together to #protectpubliclands. If you zoom in you can find the elusive Peter Croft who spoke about climbing on BLM land around Bishop. And @sashadigiulian, who managed to lure in her fellow Virginian @timkaine. Super humbling to speak in front of such a knowledgeable and passionate group. And certainly a first to speak in front of a Vice Presidential candidate. All in all it was a great opportunity to learn firsthand how much work the @accessfund puts into keeping climbing areas open for us. And it was important for me to realize that our members of Congress and the Senate are more accessible and more receptive than I'd though. Sending letters and making calls work – they care about feedback. Certainly when they get enough of it… All climbers should be a member of the Access Fund – accessfund.org.

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On May 11 several prominent rock climbers joined the American Alpine Club, Access Fund, Adidas, and other outdoor industry representatives on Capitol Hill to advocate for maintaining public-land protections and climbing access.

The second-annual “Climb the Hill” event was hosted by two rock climbing non-profits, the American Alpine Club and the Access Fund, and sponsored by Adidas. It aimed to “advocate for public lands, outdoor recreation, and improved climbing management,” according to the AAC. The Access Fund estimates that 60 percent of rock climbing areas in the United States are on federal land.

Sasha DiGiulian, Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Conrad Anker, Kai Lightner, Libby Sauter, Caroline Gleich, and 38 other representatives spoke with federal-land policy makers and Congressional representatives — including former vice presidential candidate and current U.S. Senator for Virginia Tim Kaine — about their opposition to privatizing federal land.

@sashadigiulian is making Virginia and the country proud. Besides being one of the most high-profile climbers in the world, Sasha is a powerful advocate for fighting climate change, achieving gender equality in pay, protecting public lands, and ending discrimination. She is a great role model, and I was excited to meet her – and her mom! – along with such an incredible group of climbers from @alexhonnold to @tommycaldwell , @ljsauter , @kailightner , and so many others in the Senate making their voices heard on the importance of the outdoors. Thanks to the outdoor athletes and public lands advocates, including the many in Virginia that stopped by my office on behalf of the @americanalpine and Access Fund. Hearing directly from you is critically important!

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“Outdoor athletes have an intimate relationship with these lands because we’re out in them almost every day,” says professional climber Tommy Caldwell. “Hopefully, relating our personal stories to these policy makers showed them how much the climbing community cares about protecting public access.”

The coalition also discussed the importance of preserving the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives the President of the United States the power to create national monuments. In April the Trump Administration debuted an executive order calling for the Department of Interior to review all national monuments established within the past 21 years for possible disbandment.

“Write letters to the Department of Interior and call, email, and tweet at Secretary Ryan Zinke,” says professional climber Libby Sauter. “Policy is determined by those who show up. The climbing community continues to grow. Together, we have a powerful voice.”

Since the Outdoor Industry Association began hosting an annual summit in Washington, D.C., a few years back, public land protection and environmentalism have become major issues for the outdoor recreation industry’s nascent, but powerful, lobby.

A 2011 report by the Outdoor Industry Foundation cited the outdoor recreation economy at $646 billion. In February Patagonia, Arc’teryx, Polartec, and other prominent companies successfully threatened to boycott the twice-annual Outdoor Retailer Convention in Salt Lake City after Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution asking President Trump to abolish the 1.35-millon acre Bears Ears National Monument. Emerald Expositions, which owns the show, is searching for a new host city — the move will cost Salt Lake $45 million annually.

“I think allocating public land was one of America’s greatest ideas,” says Sauter. “Their continued protection ensures that generations to come will get to experience the same wild, remote beauty that shaped my life for the better.”