The property owners want to subdivide to set the Walls aside for a future city park. Photo submitted

Climbing group launches fundraiser for Castlegar cliffs

TAWKROC wants to raise $60,000 to purchase the property from the owners

A West Kootenay rock-climbing group is taking steps to secure another popular climber’s location.

Having just finished paying off the acquisition of the Kinnaird Bluffs, the Association of West Kootenay Rock Climbers (TAWKROC) has announced the start of a campaign to buy the Waterline Walls.

The Walls, located off 14th Avenue, are the most popular sport climbing destination in the West Kootenay region and this past summer the private property upon which they are located came up for sale. A developer expressed interest but prominent local rock climbing couple Mirek Hladik and June Ray stepped in and bought the property in November, with the main intention of saving the cliffs. The duo now wish to subdivide the land and have asked that TAWKROC purchase the parcel that the cliffs.

They say they’ll sell the property for $60,000.

The land includes six walls with about 70 rock-climbing routes.

TAWKROC began a fundraising campaign to raise that money this week.

The group says it will use a three-tiered approach:

• A Go Fund Me page has been created (https://www.gofundme.com/protect-climbing-at-the-waterline-walls) through which climbers, recreationalists and concerned citizens can donate.

• For donators of larger sums who wish to receive a charitable tax receipt, contributions can be made through the Climbers’ Access Society of British Columbia website (access-society.ca/Donate) . Be sure to indicate the funds are for Waterline by writing, “I Support Waterline.”

• And the final tier will include contacting other associations for grants. TAWKROC hopes to raise enough funds to purchase the property before the start of the 2019 rock climbing season.

“Our membership recently voted and decided that owning the Waterline Walls and retaining access to it is integral to TAWKROC’s mandate,” says president Vince Hempsall. “So we’re once again starting the process to purchase an prominent rock climbing area in Castlegar. And the timing couldn’t be better considering we’ve just made the final payment on the purchase of Kinnaird Bluffs.”

In 2016 TAWKROC organized another fundraising campaign to purchase the private property on which the historic area Kinnaird Bluffs are situated and in so doing, prevented it from becoming a quarry. To complete that $50,000 purchase, a loan was given by an angel investor who wishes to remain anonymous and, with the help of the local climbing community, the loan was completely repaid in October 2018.

“Once the subdivision has taken place and the purchase of Waterline Walls has been completed, we’ll start discussions with the City of Castlegar and, as we’d also like to do for Kinnaird Bluffs, set about donating it as a community recreational park,” Hempsall says.

TAWKROC was established in 2009 to help promote outdoor rock climbing in the Kootenay region by maintaining rock climbing areas. In 2012, TAWKROC became a chapter of the Climbers’ Access Society of British Columbia and its directors are now committed to ensuring climbing areas in the Kootenays remain accessible for all.

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