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Bouldering Access is Back in Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland

After years of deliberation with the National Park Service, the Access Fund and Mid Atlantic Climbers (MAC) have restored bouldering access in Catoctin Mountain Park.

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Catoctin Mountain Park offers the full range of steep low-balls to tall technical slabs. Photo courtesy of Kyle Adams / Access Fund.
After years of deliberation with the National Park Service, the Access Fund and
Mid Atlantic Climbers (MAC) have restored bouldering access in Catoctin Mountain
Park. This secluded area is home to “some of the most sought after bouldering and climbing opportunities in northern Maryland,” says Chris Irwin,
president of MAC. The park banned bouldering in October 2014.

“In 2014, Mid Atlantic Climbers contacted me to help resolve one of the most important climbing issues in the region,” says Access Fund policy director
Erik Murdock. “They said they wanted bouldering access at Catoctin Mountain Park, and we set out to develop common sense solutions that would work
for the park.”

Catoctin Mountain Park is approximately an hour outside both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro areas, and houses over 25 bouldering problems with the
potential for more development. Though the problems primarily range from V1 to V6, they can reach upwards of V10.

Permits are still required for roped climbing, which is only allowed
at Wolf Rock and at a maximum capacity of 25 climbers, but bouldering is now open anywhere throughout the eight-square-mile park. The climbing is varied,
from “intimidating highball mini-solos” to “lowball ass-draggers … technical slabs, overhanging jug hauls, and even a few crimpy problems,”
according to rockclimbing.com.

This access victory comes days after President Obama spoke at Yosemite National Park,
where he simultaneously celebrated the importance of the NPS and commended climbing by awarding prominent climbers with invitations to his speech,
altogether suggesting that climbing is rising towards the ranks of traditionally-sanctioned outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking.

In their collaboration with the NPS, one major goal of the Access Fund and MAC was to help them consider the benefits of expanding climbing and bouldering
access. Both organizations believe that opening climbing access, especially in such proximity to metro areas, can attract a diverse community of urban
climbers. They hope this will help them “escape from the city and enjoy our public lands.”

“It’s gratifying to be able to make additional recreational opportunities available to visitors,” Rick Slade, park superintendent, says. “We would like
to welcome the climbing and bouldering community to experience everything the park has to offer.”

For more information, visit accessfund.org.

Watch climbers tour the boulders of Catoctin Mountain: