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Auburn Quarry climbing ban could be lifted

Advocacy group working with park service, bureau of reclamation
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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The Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento are trying to raise funds to pay for costs associated with making the Auburn Quarry accessible to climbing for the first time in nine years.

The Cave Valley Climbing Area, known as the Auburn Quarry, was closed to climbing by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 2003 due to safety and management concerns, according to Mike Lynch, superintendent of the Auburn State Recreation Area.

During that time, the Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento, or CRAGS, has been pushing to reopen the Auburn Quarry to climbers. Now that the Auburn State Recreation Area is reviewing its general plan, all of CRAGS efforts might result in partial accessibility as soon as mid-to-late September, according to Brian Poulsen, a member of the CRAGS board of directors.

"The Quarry represents a unique resource for Sacramento area climbers," Poulsen said. "It's low in elevation, meaning when all of the other climbing areas in the high Sierras are snowed in, it's climbable in the Quarry year round as long as it's not raining or 100 degrees."

CRAGS is working with the Access Fund, another rock climbing advocacy group, as well as the Bureau of Reclamation and the Auburn State Recreation Area on developing an agreement regarding the Auburn Quarry.

Lynch said that while progress is being made, the Bureau of Reclamation still has to sign off on the deal, which requires CRAGS to raise $9,520 to pay for any costs associated with the Quarry being open to climbers on weekends and holidays.

He pointed out that the area will remain off limits to climbers until a contract is finalized and agreed on by all parties. A violation for climbing in a restricted area can result in a fine that can range between $250 and $1,000.

"Our current prohibition is still in effect," Lynch said.

Poulsen said the Access Fund has taken the lead on most of the fundraising efforts and has already provided a $2,500 grant for the effort. Any donations will go toward portable toilets and trashcans for the area, along with educational signs warning of some of the area's dangers.

RD Pascoe, policy director for the Access Fund, said by becoming an official partner with CRAGS the group has been able to provide insurance for the Auburn Quarry area. He also said the area being open on weekends and holidays is a good start, but his organization would like to see more.

"We're hoping that once it's used on the weekends for awhile that enough people will know how to behave properly and the state park and Bureau of Reclamation will feel comfortable having it open whenever the park is open," Pascoe said.

William Bazargani, an avid climber and general manager of Rocknasium climbing gym in Davis, said he has never gotten to climb in the Auburn Quarry, but would like the chance to.

"Typically we have a lot of granite climbing here, which is fantastic, but this is a limestone quarry, which can allow for different features and holds," Bazargani said. "Just being able to get out on a different style of rock would definitely be something cool to have access to."

Rocknasium will host the Reel Rock Tour as a fundraiser for the Auburn Quarry accessibility effort on October 12 at the Davis High School Brunelle Performing Arts Center. The Reel Rock Tour is a film festival that features professional rock climbers.

To donate to the effort to reopen the Auburn Quarry climbing area, go to accessfund.org/auburn.

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.