Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fundraising goal met for Vantage toilet!

The Washington Climbers Coalition, the American Alpine Club and The Mountaineers announced on July 18 that they have reached their fundraising goal to install a toilet at the Frenchman Coulee climbing area in central Washington. “It is going to be a great day when, after a two or three hour drive from Seattle or Spokane, there is some place to ‘go’,” said Washington Climbers Coalition president Dave Haavik. 

Climbers at Vantage's Feathers.
Photo by Brad Stracener.
Climbers have been asking for a permanent toilet facility at the popular Frenchman Coulee climbing area (often referred to as "Vantage") for 20 years.  In February 2012 the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife authorized the project, saying they would built a toilet if climbers could fund it.  A fundraising goal of $50,000 was announced in March 2012.  The Washington Climbers Coalition reports that the $45,000 mark was met in June 2013 when they received a grant from the Spokane Mountaineers.  The American Alpine Club holds another grant from the Access Fund in the amount of $5,000 which is dedicated to this effort.  Virtually all of the local climbing clubs in Washington and several gyms and climbing shops, have hosted fundraising events or made significant donations to the effort. 

This project presents challenges above and beyond the simple matter of building a toilet.  State regulations required a cultural resource study to insure that no sensitive artifacts are disturbed.  The hole for the holding tank is going to have to be blasted into bedrock.  An ADA ramp will serve the entry.  But it will all be worth it: the planned facility will be a concrete vault toilet similar to those at many recreation sites across the state and it will replace porta-potties and cat-holes to provide a much more enjoyable and environmentally sustainable climbing destination.  “We are on track for an installation in the fall,” said Washington Department of Wildlife
Assistant Manager for Frenchman Coulee, Chad Eidson.

This popular climbing and hiking destination features outstanding rock climbing in a desert environment and attracts climbers from around the region.  The area includes climbs for virtually all ability levels, and hundreds of climbers can be found here on a busy weekend in the spring or fall.  Frenchman Coulee is a Northwest gem where thousands of climbers left the ground for the first time.  The construction of a toilet facility will be a big step toward taking care of this valuable recreation area.     

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