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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Meetings Have Taken Place

So I've met with Michael Lary and Gary Rall of the the Carver Climbing Club separately and feel they are working to keep the area open and here are the updates: (all depend on our actions going forward)

  • If you are currently a member, access is open and should remain so as long as we police ourselves
  • Don't expect new members to be added until next spring
  • Expect to see some sort of a membership "reset" starting in January (current members will be given an opportunity to rejoin without repaying)
  • The Club is also committed to better communication of the happenings and expectations of climbers visiting the Carver Bridge Cliff - expect to see some flyers/posters show-up at your gym or favorite shop.
  • Please leave your dogs at home
That's it for now. The weather is good today. I'll be at Carver. You should be as well, unless your not a member.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

What I Know and Some Rambling

In my last post I asked some pointed questions of the Carver Climbing Club. If they came across as hostile I apologize, but I like many others have/had reached a level of frustration with the Club and their lack of communication and transparency.

Since then, I've had a couple of beers with Michael Lary, secretary of the Club, who gave some insight into what the Club is doing right now - biggest example is their new website for the Carver Climbing Club - and what they hope to do going forward as long as Carver remains open.

One of the big challenges is just the growth the Portland Climbing Community has gone through over the years and the tensions in our community. When the club was started in 1991 it was done for three main reasons:
  1. To be a point of contact for the landowner
  2. To collect the release waivers the landowner required
  3. To be stewards of the property
I moved to PDX in 1998 from NC and was extremely fortunate to have found/bought an original copy of the Portland Climbing Guide in a used bookstore back in NC for $4.00. By 1998 the book had been out of print for quite awhile and I had climbers offer me up to $50.00 for it.

I really started climbing at Carver in the summer of late spring/early summer of 1999 and quickly transitioned to bouldering after the Rampage video came out and inspired new bouldering development around the country.

There was no restaurant then and you parked down near the Pioneer Church and walked in the long way or down on the road near the Rock Garden Tavern and hiked up through the Bonzai Boulders. New boulders and problems were slowly being cleaned in different parts of the woods. It was still wild out there. You could be out bouldering and if your friends showed-up you might tell them about some new boulder and how to get there, only to have them come back 20 minutes later without ever having found it.

Those were the days: new boulders, thick woods, quiet, no crowds and a small community.

Then the restaurant was built and the Circuit Gym opened and bouldering exploded with new, inspired climbers who don't know the roots/history of Portland Climbing. They didn't buuy the Portland Climbing Guide because it was out-of-print again or because they didn't care about rope climbing. The growth has been great for climbing. It has been hard on local resources and strained an already dysfunctional larger Portland Climbing Community. And it put a lot of under-informed climbers out at Carver.

Yes, I said the larger PDX community is dysfunctional, even fractured. It has been like that since I moved here. You started with the PRGers, the ClubSporters (I managed the rock gym from 2000-2001: full disclosure) and the climbers from Stoneworks.

Then more gyms/climbing walls started opening after 2000/2001. The Sherwood YMCA, PSU, Mt. Hood Community College, Nike (where I manage the rock gym now), the Multnomah Athletic Club, Hawthorne Farms, Firstenburg Community Center (Vancouver, WA), Vault Climbing Gym (St. Helens, OR), Sunset Athletic Club and a host of walls at other fitness centers, schools and garages.

When you have growth like that and mix in a lot of elitist attitudes you end up with junior high cliques and and all of the negative things you remember from junior high.

Now is the time for us, as a community, to move past that attitude and get back to the glory days of Kindergarten when still shared toys and had birthday parties where everyone was invited.

This isn't rope climbers vs. boulderers or the PRG vs. the Circuit (historical aside: the first gym in town was a bouldering gym), this is the time where we have to play together. I admit the boulderers have more to lose if Carver is closed since the next good bouldering area is out in the Gorge.

So if we work together and the Club can rise to the higher purpose to represent all of the climbing at Carver we should be able to keep tugging on the little rocks at Carver and our soon to be found unity can spill over and help to re-open the Madrone Wall and make it easier to develop the other cliff near there (yes there is still potential to develop new climbing in the Portland area.

Please be respectful to Mr. Rosenbaum, his staff and other users of the area we should be able to get through this rough patch. Please be sure and checkout the updated rules on the Club site and you are hereby deputized to ask climbers you meet in the woods if they are members of the Club. If they are not, then politely ask them to leave.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Letter to the Carver Climbing Club

I emailed the following to the Carver Climbing Club:


I wrote the bouldering guide for Carver with Jered Bernert and also maintain the blog, Carver Bouldering. Follows are questions that are of interest to me and readers of my blog.
  1. What is the club doing to keep access open?
  2. What is the club doing to inform the climbing community (feels like I'm the only person bringing attention to what's going on)?
  3. Why doesn't the club communicate when they are having meetings?
  4. What is the meeting schedule?
  5. Can you please send me a copy of the club bylaws?
  6. When are the next elections for officers?
  7. Is there any sort of scheduled clean-up for Carver (even if Mr. Rosenbaum shuts the area down, the club should organize a clean-up as a, "Thanks for letting us use your land as long as you did.")?

I eagerly await your timely response,


I'll let you know what I hear back.