It’s a brisk saturday morning in Bend and there’s a pleasant hint of burning ponderosa and plastic bags rustling through the trees. Students and community members convened on Oct. 23 at the Widgi Creek bouldering area for a clean-up and afternoon clinics.
Visitors to Central Oregon’s Smith Rock love their roped climbing. However, when they are itching for powerful, dynamic, un-roped moves, Widgi defaults as the go-to place.
Widgi Creek bouldering area, across from the golf course on Century Drive, receives most of the local bouldering action. Camping and mountain biking both contribute to the area’s notoriety as an outdoor hot spot. Regrettably, this fun also makes an impact on the local flora with dozens of secondary “convenience” trails, topsoil degradation and the occasional piece of trash.
OSU-Cascades student Eric Sorenson organized the clean up and clinics through his non-profit advocacy and user group Central Oregon Rocks and the nationwide Access Fund. Youth members of Bend Rock Gym’s climbing team approached Sorenson with the clean up idea. Although there is the annual Widgi Bash cleanup and party in April, the kids could not leave the trash all winter, and took advantage of the last warm clear day in October to do trail work and clean up their “outdoor gym.”
Sorenson listed items on the agenda as trash pickup, lining trails with rocks, fire ring removal and scorched earth rehabilitation, doggie “leftovers” pickup and chalk removal from climbing routes.
“Educating the younger climbers about etiquette and courteous land use helps with future access,” said Sorenson.
The clinic afterwards was a mix of mentoring, coaching, and high-fiving with climbers of all ages and ability levels trying hard to get to the top.
COR works with many groups including the climbing advocacy group Access Fund, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Bend Metro Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon State Parks, and private owners.
“COR’s mission is to coordinate volunteer trail work and cleanup efforts, to attend important meetings and work with land managers, and generally be good stewards of our bouldering areas,” according to their Facebook page. “Leave no trace principles and low impact strategies will keep these classic areas open for us all.
You may contact Justin King at firstname.lastname@example.org