This week we're introducing you to Bill, who is one-half of the Climber Stewards Team. Throughout the Summer and beginning of Fall, make sure to catch them in the mornings for climber coffee chats! Here's where they will be:
Fridays: Kaymoor Parking Lot
Saturdays: Summersville Lake Parking Lot
Sundays: Sandstonia Parking Lot
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself (where you're from, when you started climbing, your background)
I’m from a small town in central North Carolina and found climbing in the late part of 2018 after a Groupon deal at my local climbing gym. I first climbed in the New in 2019 but spent a fair chunk of time hiking around the area and viewing wildlife. Prior to rock climbing I am an avid hiker and a balanced naturalist, with a specialty in Reptiles & Amphibians. I graduated with an Associates in Science during the start of the pandemic and hope to return to school soon to pursue a bachelors in a biology-related field.
2. Why did you pursue the opportunity to become a Climbing Steward here at the New?
I pursued the opportunity as a climbing Stewart in the NRG because in my few years of climbing outdoors I have seen just how impactful our sport can be, especially on well-loved areas like the New. I hope to bring awareness to issues like erosion and overcrowding, to users who are not aware of it.
3. What's something you hope to be able to help educate climbers on through the Climbing Steward Program this year?
I hope to educate other climbers and recreational users on how we impact our outdoor areas as an individual and as a group, how to best mitigate it, and also share with them about what flora & fauna calls that spot home.
4. What's your favorite climb here at the New and why?
This is truly a tough question, the New has so much variety to offer in all disciplines. I’d have to say Under The Milky Way is at the top of my list right now.
5. What's your favorite crag snack?
All my friends know that I stay loaded up with fruit snacks, rice crispies, and tuna packets!
NRAC, the New River National Park Service, and the Summersville Lake US Army Corps of Engineers have teamed up with the Access Fund to bring two stewards, Ryan and Bill, to the New River Gorge area for the 2022 season. The program launched the weekend of May 6-8th and since then, the stewards have been busy holding climbing coffees and crag chats.
This week, we're introducing you to Ryan!
NRAC: Why did you want to become a Climber Steward here at the New?
Ryan: I heard about this opportunity and got excited about the prospect of being a voice for this place that is so dear to my heart. I hope to get others to care about this area and start thinking about what impacts their actions have. I've traveled all over the US climbing and I've seen the impacts that more and more climbers can have on these unique ecosystems and I got excited about the prospect of being able to help this area.
NRAC: What's something you hope to be able to educate climbers through the Climber Steward Program this year?
Ryan: I hope to get others to care about this area and start thinking about what impacts their actions have. I'd love to get people to take responsibility and ownership for their actions and the conditions and health of our climbing spaces.
NRAC: What's your favorite climb here at the New?
Ryan: Puppy chow. What a wild and unique pitch that is one of the best anywhere. I'll take a lap on this mega pitch anytime I'm at the lower meadow.
NRAC: What's your favorite crag snack?
Ryan: Gummy bears all day, every day. Cold pizza is a close second.
[Edited for length and clarity]