June 25, 2015. Marquette, MI – The Upper Peninsula Climbers Coalition (UPCC) and the Access Fund are pleased to announce that the historic AAA Walls are reopened to recreational climbing.
The rock formations are in a remote area off County Road 510 outside of Big Bay. “The AAA Walls have a long history,” says UPCC President Phil Watts. “We discovered it as a potential climbing crag in 1979, and Bud Place and Hazel Blandford joined me in those early years of exploration.”
However, the area was closed in June of 2014 due to liability concerns. UPCC and Access Fund began working with the landowners—Longyear Realty Corporation, a Marquette-based company that owns the AAA Walls and surrounding timberlands—to allow limited public access.
The solution, was a collaborative recreational license agreement that will enable individuals to use the rock formations for recreational climbing. The license is valid through the end of 2015, and if successful, it will be renewed the following year.
The areas reopened include the main AAA Wall, first climbed in the late 1970s, and a smaller formation called Secret Crag. The area has a long history of public access—local 4-H groups and Northern Michigan University have led trips there, and numerous youth and school groups utilized this outdoor resource. “We thank all the concerned groups and their work to enable recreational climbing at the crag to resume,” says Phil Watts.
“Rock climbing is a precious resource here in the UP,” says UPCC Treasurer Bill Thompson, “so when it closed last year due to liability concerns, we knew we had to show Longyear that the local community was willing and able to help keep the AAA Walls open.”
“This has been a great partnership with Upper Peninsula Climbers Coalition, Longyear, and local community members,” says Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson. “We are excited to play a small role in re-opening the AAA Walls and could not have done it without local leaders and a community-oriented landowner like Longyear.”
We now need the help of climbers and outdoor enthusiasts in the Upper Peninsula and surrounding region to assist UPCC in raising $5,000 towards the annual costs of liability insurance, signage, stewardship, and management. Learn more and make a donation online at www.upperpeninsulaclimbing.com.
All those visiting the AAA Walls can help ensure continued access by complying with the following simple rules: No paid, professional guided climbing and camping at the crags; organized groups such as schools and nonprofits wishing to use the area for climbing will be required to process requests and provide insurance in advance through the UPCC.
About the Upper Peninsula Climbers Coalition
The Upper Peninsula Climbers Coalition is a Michigan non-profit organization that works with land owners, conservation groups, and climbers to ensure responsible usage and long-term access to precious climbing resources across the Upper Peninsula. Founded in 2012, UPCC has worked in
partnership with land managers and owners to steward areas such as Little Presque Isle, Palmer, and the
AAA Walls. For more information, visit www.upperpeninsulaclimbing.com.
About the Access Fund
The Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, the Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing policy and advocacy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. For more information, visit www.accessfund.org.