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Published: Tuesday, August 7, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Volunteers spruce up climbing area near Index

Volunteers are busy building trails to improve the world-famous rock wall

  • Washington Climbers Coalition board member Matt Perkins sends an empty bucket up the trail so that it can be filled with small rocks and sent back dow...

    Joe Dyer / The Herald

    Washington Climbers Coalition board member Matt Perkins sends an empty bucket up the trail so that it can be filled with small rocks and sent back down and poured over a newly made path near the Index Lower Town Wall climbing site during a work party last month.

  • Jay Johnson and Lawrence Stewart clear a new trail near the base of the Index Lower Town Wall climbing crag. Volunteers are making the area more acces...

    Joe Dyer / The Herald

    Jay Johnson and Lawrence Stewart clear a new trail near the base of the Index Lower Town Wall climbing crag. Volunteers are making the area more accessible for climbers and hikers. Members of the Washington Climbers Coalition and the Mountaineers worked to improve trails in the area July 29.

  • John Leo (left) and other volunteers carry buckets down the trail after collecting small rocks to fill gaps in their newly constructed pathways around...

    Joe Dyer / The Herald

    John Leo (left) and other volunteers carry buckets down the trail after collecting small rocks to fill gaps in their newly constructed pathways around the Index Lower Town Wall climbing site during a work party last month.

INDEX -- Rock climbers have put up the money to save one of their favorite local haunts.
Now they're investing sweat equity.
During the final weekend of July, dozens of volunteers arrived at Index Lower Town Wall to man bucket brigades.
They've been busy building trails, grading the parking lot and planning to install a permanent bathroom.
"We try not to make it hard labor," said Matt Perkins, secretary and board member for the Washington Climbers Coalition, one of the groups involved in the work. "We want people to come back again. We try not to work them too hard and try not to work them too long if it's hot."
A few years ago, the world-famous Index Lower Town Wall appeared destined to become a rock quarry.
After no trespassing signs went up in 2009, climbing enthusiasts raised more than $300,000 for the purchase of the wall and adjoining land parcels from a private owner. That money also funds an endowment to pay for improvements at the site. The state has agreed to add the property to the adjacent Forks of the Sky State Park.
Perkins, 55, has been climbing since he was about 10 years old. By day, he's a state administrative law judge. His love of crag climbing and mountaineering has taken him throughout North America as well as to Europe, Asia and New Zealand.
He first visited Index in 1978.
"It was alarming to see the 'no trespassing' signs go up," he said.
Perkins estimated he's spent about 20 days volunteering at the Lower Town Wall and that several other people have put in a similar amount of time.
Typically, the work parties begin with a safety talk before volunteers divide into work teams.
Volunteers at the site have come from local climbing gyms, as well as several nonprofit groups: the Washington Climbers Coalition, the American Alpine Club, the Access Fund and various Mountaineers branches.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Story tags » IndexRock ClimbingVolunteer

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