2020 has been a difficult year, and it ain’t over yet. Little of what we celebrated came easy. There have been frustrating discussions and times of loneliness. Volunteers have put in hundreds of hours of hard, physical labor. There have been times when hope seemed in short supply, and times when we left literal blood, sweat and tears on the ground.
Nevertheless, we’re climbers; challenges make us better and stronger. What could easily have become our worst year ever is shaping up to be our finest moment—and it’s because you, the climbers of the New River Gorge, steadfastly refused to let us walk winding paths alone.
Not everything we wanted to accomplish in 2020 has come to fruition (yet). But today, here’s what we’re celebrating.
1. Two days ago, the Board voted unanimously to partner with and support Kai and Connie Lightner’s organization, Climbing 4 Change. Kai and Connie are long-time NRG climbers, so we’ve got a foundational relationship already in place—and we’re excited to take that to another level. Aside from some sleeve up-rolling and ongoing work, that support includes a donation of $2800 ostensibly for guiding scholarships or similar programs. But we want to stress that the exact use of those funds will be largely up to C4C, with us backing their play. We hope with this partnership, we can take concrete action in support of diversity in NRG climbing.
2. The Rocktober Fundraiser was a rip-roaring success—and in a year in which virtually all of our normal funding avenues shut down, it was sorely needed! In the end, we expanded our number of recurring donors from five to 105 and secured a $5000 one-time match. We gave away a ton of hats, and in the process, built a fundraising foundation that will keep us replacing bad bolts, building trails, securing access and advocating for climbers--all of you—way into the future.
3. Back in September, the Board approved a process by which potentially offensive route names could be addressed. It is true that some of those route names were borderline. It is also true that some of them had unambiguously racist, misogynist or homophobic tones. In all, there were 92 routes flagged. The committee decided against any action on 22. An additional 15 are in Volume 1, and not under any especially pressing time constraints. The process for the remaining 55 is heavily weighted toward working with first ascencionists, who have in the vast majority of cases responded with maturity and with grace. We’re happy to report that of those 55 names, 51 have changed. There are four more yet to address.
4. In the midst of the Rocktober Fundraiser, we undertook perhaps the most ambitious service project in our history to install a steel staircase and rescue a failing shoreline at Summersville Lake. You can watch a short video about it here. Thanks to the tireless work of volunteers who came out to help, we also put a cherry on top of a long and fruitful relationship between climbers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Summersville Lake. It is our hope that together, we’ll be able to increase opportunities for legal climbing at the premier DWS location in America.
5. Expect to see a lot more activity in terms of anchors, bolts and ways in which you can help us literally save climbers' lives. The Anchor Committee replaced hundreds of them in 2020, it's just getting warmed up!
Interestingly, none of the above represent the end of any particular path. All of them lead to more twists and turns. We are honored to be able to continue to move forward with you.
We are all stewards of land once explored and occupied by Moneton and Tutelo tribes, as well as many others now long lost to history. Respect for them must be present in everything we do.