Deal struck to preserve historic Donner Summit rock climbing areas |

Deal struck to preserve historic Donner Summit rock climbing areas

Climbing routes on Donner Summit offer stunning views of Donner Lake and the Sierra crest.
Courtesy / Susan Johnson |

About Access Fund

The Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment.

Founded in 1991, Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering.

Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing policy and advocacy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education.

Access Fund has supported 58 land acquisitions by land trusts, public entities, and local climbing organizations, totaling 16,251 acres across twenty-seven states, and it is an accredited land trust.

Visit to learn more.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Access Fund last week announced the acquisition and protection of a significant set of climbing areas on Donner Summit.

The purchase protects the historic 400-foot Black Wall that stands guard on the eastern flanks of Donner Summit, as well as the Peanut Gallery and Road Cut climbing areas. The acquisition of this property also protects the access trails to the popular Space Wall and Stealth Wall.

“Now, residents, visitors, and climbers alike can celebrate knowing this scenic landmark and world-class climbing area are permanently protected,” says Perry Norris, the Land Trust’s executive director.

Climbers have been scaling the walls on Donner Summit for 50 years. But in 2013, the private landowners expressed concerns about liability, putting access to the historic climbing area at risk.

“Residents, visitors and climbers alike can celebrate knowing this scenic landmark and world-class climbing area are permanently protected.”Perry NorrisTruckee Donner Land Trust

Local climbers, Access Fund and the Land Trust reached out to the landowners, and after nearly a year of negotiations, they agreed to sell the property.

The climbing community and partners banded together, and in just seven months they raised more than $300,000 to purchase the property. A group of local climbers led the grassroots fundraising effort, and both Planet Granite and Touchstone Climbing gyms played a critical role encouraging their members to match their donations.

Hundreds of climbers and local residents donated to protect the climbing resource; athletes gave slideshows, with partners such as Tahoe Sports Hub, Mountain Area Preservation and California 89 donating venues. Outdoor companies also donated gear for auctions and raffle prizes.

“We are proud and delighted to have joined with our members and the climbing community to help protect this land for future generations of climbers to enjoy,” says Micky Lloyd, climber and founder of Planet Granite. “It is great to see what we can all do when we rally around an important issue.”

“The acquisition would not have happened without the amazing response of the climbing community,” adds Brady Robinson, Access Fund executive director. “This will be a long-lasting partnership among the partners and the entire climbing community that came together.”

Truckee Donner Land Trust will hold the 11.9-acre property, adding it via a boundary line adjustment to the neighboring 65 acres of land they already hold in fee.

Access Fund will maintain a permanent conservation easement on the Black Wall property to back up the Land Trust’s long-term commitment and ensure climbing access in perpetuity.

With support from local climbers, the Land Trust and Access Fund will steward the area, work to minimize climber impacts, improve trails and trailheads, provide informative signage, and protect nesting peregrine falcons in the area.

The Land Trust has further plans to connect a multi-use non-motorized recreational trail from Donner Lake to the climbing wall and up to the summit area, attracting more visitors to support the local economy.

“Next steps are trail planning, stewardship, and additional trailhead improvements here at the Black Wall and the greater Donner Summit area,” says Gary Allan, local climber and Project Manager for the Save Donner Climbing Forever campaign. “Let’s keep this momentum going.”

This article was submitted to the Sun by the Truckee Donner Land Trust, which preserves and protects scenic, historic and recreational lands with high natural resource values in the greater Truckee Donner region. Visit to learn more.

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