Last Friday, December 17, The American Alpine Club purchased a 40-acre tract of land within walking distance of the crags at the New River Gorge. The acquisition is the first step in the Club’s plan to construct and maintain a “full-service” climbers’ campground–the first at the New River Gorge–that would allow for extended stays at a low cost to climbers.
Currently, the NPS does not maintain any “full-service” campgrounds at the New River Gorge. Located along the river, the five “primitive” grounds have no drinking water and limited restroom facilities.
“We hope to create a facility that meets climbers’ needs and adds opportunities for climbers to gather and share their stories,” AAC Executive Director Phil Powers said.
Chosen by local climbers and the New River Alliance of Climbers, the property is located on the rim of the gorge. It will have 50 to 60 campsites with bathrooms and showers, a cooking pavilion, library and manager’s quarters. There is also limited bouldering on-site. About one-third of the funding for the purchase came from a loan from the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, supplementing AAC donations and other financing.
Campground and ownership plans are still developing; however, the AAC stated definitively that it would hire a host and manage the camp as it has done at The Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming since 1970. The Club expects that per-night costs will be similar to those at the Teton Ranch: $20, or $10 for AAC members.
The AAC expects that the facilities will be available to climbers no sooner than 2012.